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Emotional Blackmail Definition:   Emotional  Blackmail  describes  the  use  of  a  system  of  threats  and  punishments  on  a   person  by  someone  close  to  them  in  an  attempt  to  control  their  behaviors.   Description:   In  a  nutshell,  emotional  blackmail  takes  the  form  "if  you  don't  do  what  I  want  then  I   will  make  you  hurt".  In  order  for  emotional  blackmail  to  occur  there  must  be  4   things  present  -­‐  a  blackmailer,  a  victim  a  demand  and  a  threat.   The  Demand  -­‐  In  order  for  emotional  blackmail  to  occur,  a  blackmailer  must  be   demanding  something  that  the  victim  does  not  want  to  give  them  -­‐  otherwise  there   would  be  no  conflict.  So  in  order  for  there  to  be  emotional  blackmail  there  must  be  a   conflicting  interest  between  two  parties.   In  general  the  blackmailer  is  usually  asking  or  demanding  something  which  the   victim  regards  as  unreasonable.  However,  the  level  of  unreasonableness  can't  be  so   great  that  the  blackmailer  believes  that  they  will  never  get  what  they  want  .  In   general  the  demand  is  for  something  that  the  victim  is  likely  to  give  up  if  enough   pressure  is  applied.  For  this  reason  emotional  blackmail  patterns  are  often  cyclical  -­‐   with  both  the  blackmailer  and  the  victim  learning  over  time  what  level  of  demand   will  be  tolerated  without  retribution  and  what  degree  of  blackmail  it  takes  for  the   victim  to  comply.   The  Threat  -­‐  The  blackmail  may  be  a  threat  to  hurt  the  victim  directly,  or  more   commonly  will  be  a  threat  to  hurt  something  or  someone  the  victim  cares  about.   This  could  take  the  form  of  damaging  or  destroying  an  object,  an  agreement,  a   relationship  or  a  trust.  This  could  include  the  blackmailer  themselves  -­‐  and  so  the   blackmailer  may  threaten  to  hurt  themselves  to  get  what  they  want.   The  Blackmailer  -­‐  Although  an  emotional  blackmailer  is  fighting  for  control  over   their  victim,  they  often  have  little  control  over  themselves.  They  may  use   dissociation  to  escape  the  guilt  they  would  feel  over  the  way  the  are  treating   another.  They  may  feel  desperate  inside  and  justify  their  actions  as  a  means  to  an   end  of  soothing  their  own  desperate  internal  pain.  An  emotional  blackmailer  is   rarely  cognizant  of  the  extent  of  the  hurt  they  are  inflicting  on  their  victim  and   ultimately  on  themselves  or  able  and  willing  to  "snap  out  of  it"  or  see  the  error  of   their  ways.   The  Victim  -­‐  In  order  for  emotional  blackmail  to  work  there  has  to  be  a  willing   victim  -­‐  a  person  who  is  willing  to  sacrifice  their  principles,  values,  goals  and   boundaries  to  "keep  the  peace",  "turn  the  other  cheek"  and  give  in  to  the  demands.   Victims  are  often  moralistic  people,  bridge  builders  -­‐  people  who  have  compassion    

Earl  Gardner  Ministries    *    earlgardner.org  


or  pity  on  the  blackmailer  and  are  willing  to  go  the  extra  mile  for  them.  Victims  may   have  low  self  esteem  of  their  own  and  generally  afraid  to  stand  up  for  their  own   ideas  and  principles.  They  are  caught  in  a  vicious  cycle  as  each  time  they  yield   something  important  to  the  abuser  they  suffer  a  loss  of  their  own  self-­‐esteem  and   begin  to  fee  more  powerless,  hopeless  and  trapped  in  their  situation.   In  their  book,  Emotional  Blackmail:  When  the  People  in  Your  Life  Use  Fear,  Obligation,   and  Guilt  to  Manipulate  You,  authors  Susan  Forward  &  Donna  Frazier  invent  the   acronym  FOG,  standing  for  Fear,  Obligation,  Guilt  -­‐  feelings  which  often  result  from   being  exposed  to  emotional  blackmail  when  in  a  relationship  with  a  person  who   suffers  from  a  Personality  Disorder.  It  is  from  this  definition  that  our  site  -­‐  Out  of  the   FOG  derived  its  name.  It  is  our  hope  that  this  site  may  help  some  navigate  out  of  the   FOG  in  their  own  lives.   Examples  of  Emotional  Blackmail:   • If  I  ever  see  another  man  look  at  you  I  will  kill  him.   • If  you  ever  stop  loving  me  I  will  kill  myself.   • I've  already  discussed  this  with  our  pastor/therapist/friends/family  and  they   agree  that  you  are  being  unreasonable.   • I'm  taking  this  vacation  -­‐  with  or  without  you.   • Your  family  hate  me.  How  can  you  say  you  love  me  and  still  be  friends  with  them?   • You've  ruined  my  life  and  now  you  are  trying  to  stop  me  from  spending  money  to   take  care  of  myself.   • I  took  the  money  because  you  always  put  yourself  first  and  don't  seem  to  care   about  my  needs.     What  NOT  to  Do:   • Don't  give  in  to  or  reward  emotional  blackmail  demands  or  attempts.   • Don't  stay  in  a  situation  where  there  is  a  threat  or  an  action  of  violence  towards   yourself  or  others.   • Don't  allow  yourself  to  be  blamed  for  somebody  else's  bad  behaviors  or  poor   personal  choices.     What  TO  Do:   • Recognize  the  characteristic  of  emotional  blackmail  and  understand  that  to  give  in   to  the  demands  of  a  blackmailer  is  only  going  to  make  the  situation  worse.   • Recognize  that  you  can't  love  someone  else  more  by  hurting  yourself  and  that  no-­‐ one  who  truly  loves  you  will  threaten  or  expect  that  of  you.   • Recognize  that  the  emotional  blackmailer  is  not  like  you  and  is  unlikely  to   respond  well  to  reason,  arguments  or  attempts  at  counter-­‐manipulation.   • Work  on  your  own  personal  boundaries  and  be  willing  to  defend  them.   • Remove  one  of  the  4  components  of  emotional  blackmailer  -­‐  the  blackmailer,  the   victim  (you)  the  threat  or  the  demand.  Since  you  can't  control  the  other  

 

Earl  Gardner  Ministries    *    earlgardner.org  


person  that  usually  means  you  have  to  detach  yourself  from  them  enough  to   protect  yourself,  your  children  and  the  resources  and  relationships  that  are   precious  to  you.  Then  allow  the  blackmailer  back  in  only  to  the  extent  that   they  cannot  threaten  or  destroy  what  matters  to  you  most.   • Call  the  authorities  if  there  are  any  threats  or  actions  of  violence.    

 

Earl  Gardner  Ministries    *    earlgardner.org  


Emotional-Blackmail tactics and counter tactics