Emotional blackmail occurs when a spouse is manipulative and uses threats to try to control their partner’s behaviour. It is a component of emotional abuse that can be difficult to spot. This is because in a relationship each partner has different desires that they wish to be fulfilled. To acquire these desires, one or both partners may use emotional blackmail to get what they want even in a healthy relationship. This can be viewed as a compromise. However, if you are constantly being blackmailed by your partner, then this is a red flag. Here is a closer look at how it may be possible to identify emotional blackmail in your relationship. It is a form of abuse and should not be accepted as normal behaviour.
1. Using Anger Or Sadness To Make You Comply
Babies and small children develop crying as a mechanism to get what they want as this is what works for them. As we get older and can communicate our needs, this behaviour is left behind as it is immature and manipulative. The sad truth is that some men may use this tactic to push their partners to agree to their desires. No one wants to see their spouse crying so this is a very effective ploy. Seeing someone cry makes you think that they are in pain and may make you sympathetic towards them. Anger on the other hand may make you feel fear towards your husband and thus influence your actions. Sympathy and fear are very powerful emotions that are used by abusers to control their victims. If you are being subjugated by your spouse in this way, you need to seek help.
2. Using Negative Reactions Or Intimidation To Influence You
If you feel that you cannot make your own decisions as your spouse reacts negatively towards them ,then this may be a red flag. This does not include things that will harm you such as drug or alcohol abuse. It is one thing if your spouse is concerned about your health and well being and another if they are tryng to control you. Your husband is a major part of your life but you also need your friends, family and your hobbies. Intimidation is a more aggressive type of behaviour that is easier to recognize as abuse but some women may misinterpret this as love. An example of intimidation is withholding something you may need if you do not comply with his wishes. If your husband has done this to you once, it may be forgivable but if this becomes a habit, you may be a victim of emotional blackmail. You should never feel threatened by your husband.
3. Embarrasses You
If your husband frequently makes you feel embarrassed especially in public, then this can be his way of controlling your actions. If you feel as if “you are walking on eggshells” when you are around him, then you may be a victim of manipulation. No one likes to be embarrassed and your husband should be the one protecting your feelings. You should not be with someone who ridicules your ideas or actions all the time. If this is the way your husband feels about you, then you are not valued.
4. False Accusations
This is another tool that abusers may use to get their own way. They may accuse you of doing something they know you didn’t do, for example cheating. They may also twist a situation where they are in the wrong and make you take the blame. This can cause psychological trauma as you may begin to question yourself and how you should act. A person who seeks to justify their wrongdoings instead of accepting that they were wrong may need to get help. Do not allow this abuse to continue at the sake of your happiness.
5. Threatens To Harm You, Someone You Love Or Themselves
Where it may seem romantic to some for a husband to say he would kill himself if his wife left him, this is an extreme form of emotional blackmail. It may be that he needs psychological treatment or it is just plain manipulation. Whatever the reason is, you cannot allow this to continue and you should seek professional help. Do not willingly become a hostage to your husband’s whims and fancies.
If you are in an unhealthy marriage, do not blame yourself or seek to stay for the children. It is best to make a plan and follow through to seek your freedom. If you are unsure of how to proceed, please consult the book “Time To Go”. It contains very valuable information about how to leave an abusive relationship. Also get in touch if you need one-to-one support.