Manipulative Abusers in Relationships Know the Behaviors and Beware

What is manipulative behavior? It's coercive, shaming and hurtful. We've all been manipulative at times. A manipulative abuser's behavior isn't occasional or situational. It's chronic. Manipulative abuse isn't obvious. It's covert and passive-aggressive. And therefore so much more dangerous. Manipulative abusers have been called different things: sadist, control freak, sociopaths, invalidator. Bottom line--they like hurting people.

 Why do people become manipulative abusers? There are many possible reasons: intense self-esteem issues, delusions of grandeur, religious mania, alcoholism, substance abuse, abuse issues in childhood, even brain damage. Two things are certain: manipulative behavior is sick and dangerous. If you're the target of a manipulative abuser, know it's the manipulator's problem and not yours'. Learn to recognize the traits.


 -Bizarre communication patterns. He'll make provocative statements, ask leading questions, bait you into an argument, trap you into some imagined falsehood. He is trying to back you into a corner.


  -Backhanded compliments. '"Well you finally found a nice shirt." "You made dinner for once?" Their "compliments" are thinly disguised insults. When you call her on it, she gets offended and accuses you of not being able to accept a compliment.


  -Humiliation. When you speak, he ignores, contradicts or belittles. He says "you're not making any sense"though he's been interrupting, twisting your words and arguing with you since the conversation began. He prefers to do this publicly.

-Inappropriate humor. He thinks shaming people is funny. He'll tease and mock. He interrupts your serious talk to say dumb things for laughs. He makes faces behind your back. He says its to "lighten the situation." Funny, if you do it to him, it's not so funny.


  -Second guess. She'll speak "for" you in conversation with others, explain what you mean. She pooh-poohs you. She says she's "translating" or "interpreting" what you said. Her goal is to undermine you, make you feel stupid and make others think you can't speak for yourself.


  -Nonverbal warfare He's an exhibitionist and a drama queen. He uses implication, gesture, body language, innuendo and tone of voice to perfection. He has  a fully-stocked arsenal of psychological tricks and mind games to keep you second guessing yourself and looking over your shoulder. If confronted, he turns the tables in a crazy game of point-counterpoint.


  -Break promises. They lie, arrive late and 'forget' to call. They screw up but do it in such a way it looks like your fault. Then they blame you. They like seeing you awkward, embarrassed, confused and nervous. They remain always the "good guy."

-Exaggerate. They seize upon your every mistake and blow it out of proportion. They manufacture things you supposedly did. Abusers follow you, check up on you, question your judgment and motives. They defend their distrust and disrespect by either blaming you for "being paranoid" or saying you're unworthy of trust or respect.


 -Lack of responsibility. With the same energy they attack your mistakes, they downplay their own. If they admit mistakes, it's in a backhanded way that says it was really someone else's fault.


  -Law unto themselves. They expect the impossible of you and nothing of themselves.
They make up rules as they go. They change rules randomly, expect you to read their minds and adhere to their contorted rules.


  -Manipulators literally live in their own world.


  Manipulative abusers will trample you down and leave you to bleed. They will make you believe that it was all your fault, you deserved to punished and they only did it for your own good. And then they will move on to the next victim and convince him that you were an evil person and repeat procedure. Please. Don't be that victim.


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Freelance writer, Top 100 Yahoo! Voices, Yahoo! News, Shine, Michigan, Detroit), blogger, teacher, mom of 4, happily married 25 years. Graduated GVSU 1986, psychology/general education and special education. continuing ed up to present. Certified MI teacher. Writing Michigan history mystery, children's Gothic fantasy. Areas of expertise: education, relationships, mental health, nutrition, history, world cultures. Passions: faith, Catholic church, sustainable living, interfaith initiatives, living simply that others might simply live. Working on MA in EI education. 

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