Ever felt like someone knew how to push your buttons and despite how uncertain you were of believing or doing something, somehow they were able to make you believe or do something else? Ever felt like someone was trying to control you or force you into situations you do not wish to participate in?
This is not limited to behaviour in romantic relationships. You can be manipulated by partners, family, friends, carers, colleagues, teachers - any situation where you feel you are being emotionally abused or manipulated into actions and situations you do not want to be a part of.
This guide is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but is rather a compilation of subtle and more outright examples of manipulation and control, how you can identify them and remove yourself.
Not everyone who acts in the following ways may be deliberately trying to manipulate you. Regardless, it’s important to recognize these behaviours in situations where your rights, interests and safety are at stake.
This is a list of things you can think about, to help you increase your safety.
If you are still in the relationship:
See what are the different options for a safe and happy future - do you want to confront your significant other, or do you want to leave? Or do you think you have a third option?
Keep important and emergency telephone numbers with you (see the resources section below)
If you decide to leave:
Try not to place yourself in a vulnerable position or to isolate yourself
Consider telling your employer or others at your place of work - particularly if you think your abuser may try to contact you there
If you live with the person, spend time planning where would be a safe place for you to stay as soon as you leave
If your abuser continues to (try to) manipulate and control you:
Keep detailed records of each incident, including the date and time it occurred, what was said or done, and if possible and relevant, photographs of any damage or injury caused to yourself or others. Also, see“How to build your own Domestic Violence case without a Lawyer” guide.
These three scenarios have an emphasis on romantic relationships, but the principles behind all of them apply to any manipulative situation you may find yourself in, and need to remove yourself from.Even if you don't feel your safety is at risk, you could still be in a manipulative relationship. Please do read on if you feel this could be the case.