Blackmail is a strong word. Fortunately, this crime is not committed very often against ordinary people, but the one that does occur frequently is emotional blackmail. Emotional blackmail is a fairly straightforward concept. It involves putting someone under your control through the use of psychological manipulation and mind games.

10 signs someone is trying to emotionally blackmail you

The problem with this type of blackmail is how subtle it can be. You think you are not susceptible, but skilled blackmailers are able to slowly but surely drag their influence under your skin when you are not paying attention. This is why you should be aware of the red flags when someone tries to emotionally blackmail you.

1. Makes you feel guilty

Making you feel guilty is a very common behavior of emotional blackmailers. The goal is to make you feel bad about something you’ve said or done, or feel bad about them.

Blackmailers hope this will make you give in and compromise your beliefs or statements out of sympathy.
Mainly, this method uses your compassion against you. Things get even worse if the blackmailer has the support of other people.

The tricky part of all of this is that a skilled emotional manipulator will usually never have to blame you outright. They will implicate your guilt in some way, often through phrases like:

  • “The truth is, I think it will be difficult for me, but well I’ll come up with something.”
  • “I did it because I thought it would be a great symbol of our friendship / relationship, but if you don’t feel the same, then I think I’ll learn to stop.”
  • “Well I did this because you don’t care much about me anyway.”
  • “I spoke to (insert person), and they agree with me that you are not being reasonable.”
  • “Like you’re in my debt, right?”
  • “Are you sure you want to leave things like that, with me being so alone in this situation?”

2. Gaslighting

Gaslighting involves twisting situations, events, or statements in ways that didn’t happen. It basically means that emotional blackmailers will try to change a story to better suit their whims, even if that’s not what happened.

This can affect your mental health, positive thinking, sense of yourself and, finally, your perception of reality.

Those who use this method of manipulation have a way of making you feel like you’re losing your mind, and in the long run, this can be extremely damaging. Here are some common phrases these people use:

  • “You’re crazy, that’s not what happened at all.”
  • “Actually, it happened the way I said it would. You do not remember?
  • “Calm down! It’s just a joke.”
  • “You are a bit sensitive, huh?”
  • “You are really exaggerating things.”
  • Why mention this? Let it go.”
  • “I never said or did those things. You must have imagined it.
  • “You always come to the wrong conclusions.”
  • “Don’t be so insecure.”
  • “Maybe you need mental help.”
  • “If you had been listening or paying attention, you would know that …”
  • “You are overthinking things. It’s not that complicated either. “

Confront gaslighting by reiterating that what they said is not your reality and stand up for things as you remember them.

3. Incentives

Some blackmailers offer some incentive to convince someone to do what they want . They may offer a gift or favor, and alternatively, a threat. They may threaten to jeopardize something they know means a lot to you and imply that they could do it whenever they want if you don’t do what they want.

On the other hand, if they’ve already done something nice for you in the past, they can use that old favor to convince you that it’s time you did something for them.

4. “Protection”

When someone tries to blackmail you emotionally , they take on the role of a protector because they can do whatever they want under the guise of that “protection.” Someone who is trying to blackmail you will likely control you and claim that it is for the greater good. They can say things like:

  • “I do all this for you.”
  • “I’m just taking care of you.”
  • “I care about you, that’s why I’m doing this.”
  • “Don’t you appreciate everything I’ve done for you?”
  • “I only have your best interests in mind.”

They use these phrases primarily as a means of controlling those around them while pretending not to be blackmailers, an easy hit for them, as most emotionally abused people have a hard time identifying mistreatment of any kind as abuse. Some even view these actions positively.

It is important to remember that anyone’s kindness towards you does not put you in debt to them. You don’t have to put up with things you don’t like just because someone has good intentions, and especially if those intentions are secretly bad and only in disguise.

5. Punishment

There are healthy ways to get time and space to process a disagreement. Discipline is not one of them. This involves a blackmailer who indirectly lets you know that you are to blame for what happened and that you should suffer consequences:

  • Ignores you for hours and hours after an argument
  • It’s cold with you for days
  • Tries to make you feel anxious, jealous, or angry
  • Refuses to acknowledge your sadness or emotions
  • Withholds information from you to make you angry

They seem like small things, but what they actually do is teach you slowly but surely that fights, disagreements or other problems will lead to a kind of “punishment” that will make you feel even worse. And then you will start to do everything you can to avoid these disagreements.

6. They tell you they will hurt themselves

An emotional blackmailer may threaten to harm himself, rather than threaten to harm others. They are relying on the idea that you would be scared and worried for them, so they are implying that if they hurt themselves, you will be the culprit. They can say things like:

  • “I’ll get hurt if you don’t do this for me.”
  • “If you weren’t even willing to help me, it would probably end my life.”
  • “If you go, I’ll kill myself.”
  • “I hope you know that if I don’t wake up tomorrow, it will be because of what you did.”
  • “I think I’ll have new scars after having to deal with all of this on my own, huh?”

The emotional blackmailers believe that these threats can help them gain control over you. There are also less severe versions of these types of threats that do not include physical self-harm but still count as emotional blackmail. These phrases can include:

  • “Do this for me, or I’ll be really upset.”
  • “I would be so unhappy if you didn’t help me with this.”
  • “I’ll probably cry all night if you don’t do what I asked”
  • “I thought you cared enough for you to do this, and it hurts me that this relationship is more one-sided than I thought.”
  • “You’re going to ruin my whole day!”

7. Calculating behavior

An emotional blackmailer is often calculating , as this is the best bet they have to control you with objective or statistical evidence.

The numbers don’t lie, but a healthy friendship or relationship of any kind doesn’t involve perfectly divided 50/50 rules and responsibilities – it requires give-and-take interaction.

A blackmailer may exhibit the following calculating behaviors:

  • They do things for you to get something in return
  • They keep a perfect score of how much they have done for each other
  • They always expect you to make up for the time they invested in you
  • They use their positive behavior from the past as proof that you owe them something

8. When someone tries to blackmail you emotionally, they make you feel guilty.

Emotional blackmailers will never want to admit they are wrong. They will always find a way to blame you, refusing to take responsibility. Common phrases include:

  • “Look what you made me do!”
  • “I had no way of knowing.”
  • “You should have been clearer.”
  • “I only did it because of what you did first!”
  • “This is not my fault.”
  • “You should have stopped me.”

9. Amenzas

Blackmailers often make threats to get what they want. They behave in this way to gain control over the situation. Practically, you have to obey them or risk the consequences. These are some of the most common threats made by emotional blackmailers.

Threats against themselves

We have already covered this, but it bears mentioning again: an emotional blackmailer may threaten to hurt himself in order to make you feel guilty and will do everything possible not to be at fault for such an event.

Threats against what you care about

An emotional blackmailer can threaten to break your belongings, hurt the people you love, or ruin your chances of accomplishing something. These are all dangerous signs of aggression and should not be taken lightly.

Threats against you

If someone is threatening you, this is serious business, and you should go to the police and spend the night with people you trust. Many people make the mistake of ignoring threats with positive thinking, but many physically abusive relationships begin with emotional abuse. Protect yourself.

10. They remind you of your mistakes repeatedly

It’s okay to be honest and direct about someone’s flaws. But constantly reminding him of every little misstep he made is unhealthy.

Someone who wants to blackmail you can do these things to lower your self-esteem and be able to communicate with you in your most vulnerable state.

This behavior can make you doubt yourself, and it can even make you anxious and scared. You can start to doubt everything you do, only for the blackmailer to assure you that only they are honest with you.

This will make you trust them more than they deserve, and it can make you feel like no one else could love you.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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