Manipulation in all forms is used in every day life. From lawyers persuading a jury to see their point of view, to kids on a debate team trying to manipulate the audience into siding with them.
Manipulation becomes toxic and insidious when it is used as a malicious form of control. Narcissists will use manipulation to get what they want. They will stop at nothing. A Narcissist will use whatever manipulation tactics to gain the upper hand.
Signs of Being Manipulated
So, how can you tell if a Narcissist is manipulating you? Just some of the things that I felt were:
1. A constant feeling of not being heard
2. Giving in when I didn't want to (especially if it's to "keep the peace")
3. A fear of being put down
4. Being told that I was responsible for the abuse
5. Having a constant feeling of shame and humiliation
6. Felt guilty every time the emotional heart strings were pulled.
My NX felt he had the right to treat me this way. He belittled me, humiliated me, judged, criticized. He'd say things like "You're not going to wear THAT are you?" or other things to minimize my accomplishments, or make me feel unimportant.
One of his favorite intimidation tactics was threatening me with going to a judge to get my parental rights taken away if I didn't do what he wanted, when he wanted it. I never did give in to those demands because I knew no judge would do that!
Narcissists are also masters at using emotional manipulation. They will know exactly what emotional buttons to push to get you to do what they want. For example, when we were initially separated between 2007 and 2008 (after that knife incident), to get me back under his control, he KNEW he could say anything involving my daughter and it'd get me hooked. He hoovered me in 2007, claiming to want a reconciliation. He made sure to add in that my daughter "needs her mommy." Boom. And just like that, he had me reeled in.
Narcs and Divorce
Even when Narcissists are divorcing you, they will use whatever tactics they can to manipulate the court system. My NX manipulated the court into believing that HE was the victim and rewarded him full custody of the children. He got people to believe that I was the threat!
In a divorce, Narcs will paint themselves as the calm, cool and collected one. They will manipulate others and say that the victim is the one falling apart, that the victim can't do anything right, that the victim is crazy and needs mental help.
The Narc will go so far as to even manipulate the children! After I was discarded and moved away, my NX once told my then 3 year old daughter, "Mommy is sick in the head and that's why she went away. She needs to get better." (How do I know he said that? Because I was once on the phone with her and overheard him tell her that!)
A Narc's Manipulation M.O.
The main motivation behind a Narc 's manipulation is that they seek out vulnerabilities. They hone in on what makes the victim tick and they latch onto that and play it for all it's worth.
The Narc also likes to have others pity them. Especially you. They think that if they can get you to feel sorry for them that you'll go from focusing on their behavior to any underlying reasons for that behavior (a poor childhood, stress at work, the evil ex, their "poor" health). There's nothing the Narcs won't say to divert the attention away from what you perceive to be their bad behavior. My NX loves to play the "woe is me" card to get sympathy.
The Narc also loves to play the guilt card. Narcs will tell you that their actions are all your fault. If only you were home more, if you dressed differently, if you lost weight, if you didn't yell so much. My NX frequently played this card, too. He said things like, "Look at what you made me do" and "Well, if you didn't act that way, I wouldn't have had to get angry."
Other tactics include diversion, seduction, lying, gaslighting, and projection. (See my posts on Gaslighting: What You Need To Know and Projection for more information.)
Have you experienced being manipulated? Share below. And as always, I appreciate you sharing your stories with me.
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Greetings, my warrior survivor friends! Welcome to my blog. I'm Julianna, the owner and creator of this site. Check out the My Story section to read about why I started this blog. Thanks for stopping in. And feel free to comment on any post, share your own thoughts and stories. I would love to hear from you!
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The content of this site is told from the blog author/owner's personal experience of dealing with a male Narcissist. Narcissists, psychopaths and sociopaths are both male and female, and come from all walks of life. Furthermore, the content contained herein is not intended to be a replacement for medical or legal counsel. This blog's sole purpose is to provide support to those who have endured Narcissistic and Emotional Abuse.