Emotional blackmail can be defined according to the Cambridge dictionary as “the act of using a person’s feelings of kindness, sympathy or duty in order to persuade them to do something or feel something”. In its simple form, it is a process in which a blackmailer makes his/her victim feel guilty by toiling with the victim’s emotions to get his (the blackmailer) request met.
Ordinarily, it is important to note that the blackmailer in most cases isn’t hidden behind the shadows, you know him/ her. The blackmailer may not want money, he/she wants something more valuable: you, your relationship or in general, things you have control over. He attempts to get past your boundaries and set principles.
The victim, however, is compelled to give in, how? There are factors to consider in this:
1. When you are the blackmailer
This seems irrelevant but there are usually two victims of an emotional blackmail, both the blackmailer and the one who is being blackmailed.
The blackmailer in most cases suffers from a personality disorder, he is scared of making friends, he hardly trusts and when he finds a prey, he wants to be the predator and wants the prey completely subject to him. The blackmailer could be anyone, he could be a teenager who wants what he wants at any cost not conscious about the hurt he brings to his victim.
The usual statements of the blackmailer includes:
1. If you won’t do this for me, it means you don’t care about me
2. I will kill myself, if you won’t do this.
3. Why can’t you leave your family/friends for me, they don’t like me.
The blackmailer is a “me-person”, understand that “self” is important to him/her.
2. When you are the victim
Prey should be a better suggestion for this as a prey is being fed on. How do you know you are the prey? Indeed this isn’t really hard because you feel it but you also feel trapped. You know you are doing what you do not wish to engage in but you don’t know how to stop. It is very obvious when you are in an emotional blackmail especially to those who see you but the more you allow it, the more you fall deep in it.
Being conscious of the fact that you have a space of your own and goals can help you realise this. A long term relationship can fall into a lot of regrets of being blackmailed if not carefully watched. This is because, you practically share an emotional space with someone for so long without a commitment in place. The mind gradually adapts to hoping for a commitment, submitting to the will of a partner and so, one or both parties are blackmailed occasionally.
Being the prey means you go against your will at so many instances to settle the blackmailer who constantly threatens to perhaps leave you with your kids, kill himself/herself if you don’t submit. This means the blackmailer comes as a friend, he is more than an acquaintance. He/she makes a space in your life and will not want to leave rather they want everyone and everything to leave for them to be more comfortable. The blackmailer can whisk your money, your trust and things that seem dear to you on the pretext that you do not find time for them anyway.
The guilt takes on the prey. He/she is confused and feels trapped.
But are you exactly trapped?
No, you aren’t. In most cases, the blackmailer feels he has an upper hand which gives him/her the assurance that you cannot leave but that is what you need to do- Leave! Don’t fall prey to an emotional blackmailer. If you are strongly related, you might need to resort to getting a psychologist.
However, most blackmailers are not related to you and they can be dangerous to family too, especially when they wish to haunt their victims. Love is a good cause but remember you cannot change a person. The blackmailer might not wish to change. In this case, you just need to walk out. Take a long break from them to regain stability.
People are tied to their past, and they feel a lot of people have known much about it. They feel ashamed to walk out on it because of the feeling that they will be looked down upon, but the more you tarry in an emotional blackmail, the more you hurt yourself.
The blackmailer and the prey are both victims. Both can be hurt, emotional blackmail can be controlled, everyone has the ability to be in either party. We just have to watch out for it. Being candid and respecting your goals can help against a blackmailer and learning to love yourself and be open to people can help the blackmailer. However, a good advice is to meet with a psychologist.