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What is manipulation?

Manipulation is the exercise of harmful influence over others. People who manipulate attack the mental and emotional sides of others to get what they want. The manipulator (the person who is manipulating) main goal is to create an imbalance of power so that they can take advantage of the victim. Their objective is to obtain control, power, benefits, and/or privileges at the expense of the person that they are manipulating. Manipulation is common in close or casual relationships but are most common in romantic relationships, friendships or with family.

Below are some common manipulation tactics used by narcissists, psychopaths & sociopaths. If one or more of these apply to whatever relationship dynamic you may be in, you might be being manipulated.

1. Lying

A lie is a false statement deliberately presented as the truth. Some manipulators will say anything to get what they want. They will do it frequently and improve over time until it comes naturally. They also use lies of omission which means instead of making deceptive statements, they simply withhold the truth.

The goal of omission is to isolate the victim behind a wall of secrecy in order to exploit the fact that they are unaware of some important knowledge to him or her.

2. Insinuating Comments

The manipulator knows the victim’s weaknesses and buttons. They purposely push and pull on these to get a reaction. Often they will speak with double entendres or innuendos to confuse and hurt the victim simultaneously while maintaining plausible deniability of any hurtful intention.

The goal is to drain the victim emotionally, wear them down, and to feed the manipulator’s ego or sense of power/control.

3. Discourage and Criticize

The criticism is not for negative behaviors but rather to discourage positive outlets the victim may have to express themselves. Any attempts to join a social club, team, or organization will be discouraged, undermined, or sabotaged by the manipulator. Any attempts to be creative artistically, musically, or otherwise will be criticized and the victim’s work belittled.

The goal is to crush the victim’s self-esteem and isolate the person from anything which might garnish him or her praise or attention from others.

4. Diminish and Dismiss

The victim’s ideas, opinions, or cries for help, are either verbally or non-verbally (eye-roll, smug smile, scoffs, etc.) diminished, dismissed, overlooked, undervalued, or simply ignored.

The goal is to make the victim less willing to voice their wishes or grievances.

5. Monitor and Stalk

The manipulator is always present, lurking behind the victim’s back, or from a good safe distance, keeping an eye on him or her. If the manipulator is narcissistic or psychopathic it is common for them to monitor the victim’s computer or phone, and even use surveillance equipment in order to follow the person’s every move.

The goal here is simple, maintain knowledge of everything the victim says and does, their coming and goings, and who they know.

6. Intrude and Interrupt

The manipulator has no respect for another person’s boundaries, they will say and do whatever they please in front of, behind the back of, or towards their victims, regardless of objections or morals. If done covertly the victim will have no idea what damage has been done until it’s too late.

The goal of this manipulation tactic is to cut the victim off from speaking up, gaining support, or making positive changes, either for themselves or the people around them.

7. Deflection, Diversion, and Evasion

When the manipulator is asked a direct question or called out on a lie, they will either deflect the conversation back onto the victim, “How dare you accuse me of that!” or they will steer the conversation onto another topic as a diversion, or will give an irrelevant, vague, and meaningless response instead.

The goal is to create confusion, throw the victim off balance, and avoid any responsibility for their actions.

8. Amplification

The manipulator will shout out your failures and whisper your successes. Any limelight the victim deserves will be diminished. Their accomplishments will go unnoticed and their shortcomings will be broadcast far and wide.

The goal is to drain the victim of the energy to be successful, to make them doubt themselves, so that the manipulator can be the center of attention at all times while belittling the victim.

9. Emotional Blackmail

Knowing that someone close to them wants love, approval or confirmation of identity, and self-esteem, manipulators will threaten to withhold the emotional support the victim desires or needs, or even take it away altogether, making the person feel that he or she must meet the demands of the manipulator.

The goal of this manipulation tactic is to ensure that the victim feels afraid to cross them, obligated to give them their way, or guilty if they resist.

10. Emotional Barriers

Whenever the victim gets upset and question the manipulator or complains about something they’re doing, the manipulator turn the focus on the victim’s angry or upset state. The manipulator becomes demeaning about the victim’s objection to his or her poor treatment. The victim could also be attacked for being happy about something.

The goal of this manipulation tactic is to frustrate and suppress the victim’s emotions in order to dodge the blame for wrongdoing or maintain control of them

Hopefully you found this article as resourceful as I did. We live in a cruel world, with even crueler individuals in it. So it is so important to be aware and educated on the various manipulation tactics that people can project onto you. Where there is knowledge, there is power. I've had all 10 things done to me before, time and time and time again. Yet in my weakest moments, I picked myself up and learned from it. Which is something that I hope you have done as well. If you haven't and may need a little help, never be too prideful to seek it. We all go through things and we all have been played, rather we want to admit it or not. I'm always here if you need an open mind and non judgmental ear.

sending you lots of love & light ❤️

- Maya Benberry

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