manipulation

Manipulative fake apologies

Some apologies amount to someone asking for permission to keep doing something bad.

  • These apologies generally shouldn’t be accepted.
  • (But it can be really hard not to, because who want permission to do bad things tend to lash out when they don’t get it.)
  • (If you have to accept a bad apology to protect yourself, it’s not your fault.)

Eg:

  • Moe: “I’m sorry, I know this is my privileged male opinion talking but…”
  • Or, Moe: “I’m sorry, I know I’m kind of a creeper…” or “I’m sorry, I know I’m standing too close but…”
  • At this point, Sarah may feel pressured to say “It’s ok.”
  • If Sarah says, “Actually, it’s not ok. Please back off” or “Yes, you’re mansplaining, please knock it off”, Moe is likely to get angry.
  • The thing is, it’s not ok, and Moe has no intention of stopping. 
  • Moe is just apologizing in order to feel ok about doing something he knows is wrong.

Another example:

  • Sam is a wheelchair user. He’s trying to get through a door.
  • Mary sees him and decides that he needs help.
  • Mary rushes to open the door. As she does so, she says “Oh, sorry, I know I’m supposed to ask first”, with an expectant pause. 
  • At this point, Sam may feel pressured to say “It’s ok”, even if the ‘help’ is unwanted and unhelpful. 
  • If Sam says, “Yes, you should have asked first. You’re in my way. Please move”, Mary is likely to get angry and say “I was just trying to help!”.
  • In this situation, Mary wasn’t really apologizing. She was asking Sam to give her permission to do something she knows is wrong.

More generally:

  • Fake Apologizer: *does something they know the other person will object to*.
  • Fake Apologizer: “Oh, I’m sorry. I know I’m doing The Bad Thing…” or “I guess you’re going to be mad if I…”
  • Fake Apologizer: *expectant pause*
  • The Target is then supposed to feel pressured to say something like “That’s ok”, or “I know you mean well”, or “You’re a good person, so it’s ok for you to do The Bad Thing.”

If the Target doesn’t respond by giving the Fake Apologizer permission/validation, the Fake Apologizer will often lash out. This sometimes escalates in stages, along the lines of:

  • Fake Apologizer: I *said* I was sorry!
  • Fake Apologizer: *expectant pause*
  • The Target is then supposed to feel pressure to be grateful to the Fake Apologizer for apologizing, and then as a reward, give them permission to do The Bad Thing. (Or apologize for not letting them do The Bad Thing.)
  • If the Target doesn’t respond in the way the Fake Apologizer wants, they will often escalate to intense personal insults, or even overt threats, eg:
  • Fake Apologizer: I guess you’re just too bitter and broken inside to accept my good intentions. I hope you get the help you need. And/or:
  • Fake Apologizer: Ok, fine. I’ll never try to do anything for you ever again. And/or
  • Fake Apologizer: *storms off, and slams the door in a way that causes the person who refused their intrusive help to fall over*.

Tl;dr Sometimes what looks like an apology is really a manipulative demand for validation and permission to do something bad.

Image description: Text "Manipulative fake apologies" next to a picture of a man with flowers an an affected apology facial expression.

Detecting imperius curses

There are patterns of psychological manipulation that have very similar effects as the imperius curse described in Harry Potter. When you’re on the receiving end, it can be very hard to figure out what’s going on and resist.

One way to tell is watching how you change when you’re around someone, especially if you’re not comfortable with the changes. Double especially if they emphatically say that they are not trying to influence you and would never try to influence you.

For instance, if your views change dramatically around someone else in this kind of pattern:

  • You normally think one thing
  • When you’re with this person, your views dramatically change
  • When you’re not with them, you can’t understand why your views changed
  • Or you might even find the views you adopted in their presence repulsive
  • But it keeps happening over and over when you interact with them

Especially if this happens when you try to contradict them:

  • You: I don’t agree with you about x. I don’t see myself that way. I don’t believe that.
  • Them: Why are you telling me that? What makes you think I ever told you what to think?
  • (And then, somehow, you still end up thinking the thing while you’re with them. And not thinking it when you’ve been away from them for a while.)

This can also happen with actions. Sometimes imperius curses mean that being around someone affects what you do. It can mean you do a lot of things you don’t think that you want to do. It can mean being really confused about why you did the things.

Particularly if this happens when you try to avoid doing the things:

  • You: I don’t want to do x.
  • Them: Did I ever say you should? All I did was ask.
  • (Then you somehow still end up doing the thing. And when you’re not with them, you don’t think you want to do the thing and aren’t quite sure how it happened.)

Another pattern:

  • They say they’re not trying to influence you.
  • You try to express a different opinion or desire or choice
  • If you’re trying to express a thought or desire, you don’t get to complete the thought or process why you think it
  • Instead, the conversation drifts into their opinion
  • You end up feeling like you agree, and complying with it
  • It’s not really agreement, because you weren’t really able to think about what they are saying and what you think about it, and why you think what you think
  • It’s being prompted into an emotional state in which disagreeing with their position feels impossible or petty, and in which surrendering is a relief

When you try to express a choice:

  • They pretend that you didn’t express a choice
  • And keep talking about it as though a decision has not been made
  • (And maybe say some things that might be reasonable if you hadn’t already made a choice and expressed your choice)
  • (Or some things that would make sense if you’d asked for their advice)
  • They also say some things that are just prompting you in the direction they want you to go in
  • And somehow, the conversation never stops until you give in to what they wanted
  • (And, often, not until you feel like it was your idea and reassure them that you agree with them, or maybe even thank them for their help)

Another pattern:

  • They say something awful about you in a tone that sounds loving and compassionate
  • The way they speak to you makes it hard to realize that any other opinion is possible.
  • You might end up thanking them
  • (And then possibly getting angry hours or weeks later when the effect wears off)
  • (And being really confused about what happened).

These are a few examples. There are many other ways this can play out.

Changing your opinion in response to someone else’s ideas is not bad in itself. Neither is changing your mind about what you want to do. Those are both important things to do in a lot of situations. The reason that imperius curse effects are bad isn’t that people subjected to them change their opinions or desires. Changing can be good; it’s the *kinds* of changes that imperius curse effects cause that’s the problem.

Imperius curse effects are bad because they short-circuit persuasion and induce compliance. They create emotional prompts that feel like believing something, even if you haven’t actually been persuaded of it. Or prompts that feel similar to wanting to do something, even if you don’t actually want to do it. It makes it hard to tell that the other person ends somewhere, and that your thoughts and feelings matter and might be different from theirs. It’s an intense violation, and it can be hard to detect and resist. I think knowing about the patterns helps some.

tl;dr The effects of the Imperius Curse described in Harry Potter are very similar to a form of non-magical emotional manipulation that happens in the real world. They trick people into feeling like they want things they don’t want, or like they agree with things they don’t agree with. There are some patterns they tend to happen in. Knowing about the patterns can make them easier to detect.

Short version of the post on safety

There’s more to safety than making people feel safe. 

If your whole approach to other people’s safety is based on causing them to *feel* safe, you run the risk of forgetting to make sure that things actually *are* safe. 

If someone’s whole approach to your safety is about managing your feelings, it’s probably a good idea to be cautious about trusting them.

Safety vs making people feel safe

There are all kinds of affective things and cognitive tricks you can learn that make it more likely that people will trust you and feel safe.

It is possible to get really, really good at that without actually learning how to be trustworthy. You can be really, really good at making people feel safe, and still be a danger to people who trust you.

Sometimes it’s not a good idea to focusing on trying to make people feel safe.

Often, it’s much better to focus on learning how to be trustworthy. Two major components of being trustworthy are paying close attention to practical safety; and listening to the people whose safety might be impacted.

For example:

If you want to know what’s dangerous, it’s important to seek out the perspectives of people you’re trying to create safety for. This isn’t something you can do completely on your own.

Part of this is seeking out writing about danger and safety by members of the affected group, or advocacy organizations run by members of the affected group. Another part of this is listening to the individual people who you are actually interacting with about their needs.

It’s important to communicate effectively about the things you are doing that might make trusting you a good idea.

It’s important to talk about safety improvements to make sure people know about them. (Eg: if you fixed a dangerous ramp, people need to know that it has been fixed). It’s also important to communicate your willingness to listen to people about their needs and fix things that are endangering them. It has to be true, and you have to do things to communicate that it’s true. It does not go without saying; willingness to listen and address safety issues in practical terms is actually fairly uncommon.

If you focus on practical safety through proactive research and listening to affected members of your community, you can get very far in building safe and welcoming community even if people do not feel safe.

Some people who do not feel safe still care very much about being there, and are willing to take risks in order to participate. It’s important to honor and accept that.

Some people aren’t ever going to feel safe. (And some of them will be right.) It’s important to accept them as they are, and not make feeling safe a prerequisite for participating.

tl;dr “Making people feel safe” is often the wrong approach. Focusing on being safe often matters a lot more. Some people don’t believe that they are safe, and are willing to take risks in order to participate. They should be allowed to have that perception. They should not be pressured into feeling safe as a prerequisite for participation.


being seen as "manipulative"

Hey! I was wondering what you think about adults thinking of neuroatypical kids as “manipulative,” “charming,” etc. surely not everyone who says that is wrong, but it can’t be a coincidence that it’s usually said about neuroatypical kids?

realsocialskills said:

I think that people jump to that conclusion really quickly with disabled kids. “Manipulative” can kind of become a catch-all category for ways to delegitimize a kid’s interests, opinions, and self-advocacy.

Manipulative often translates as meaning things like:

  • “She resists doing what I tell her to do, and tries to distract me so I’ll let her do something else”
  • (without reference to what it is they’re telling her to do, why she doesn’t want to do it, and what she does want to do)
  • (Sometimes this means that she is 12 years old, and she’s resisting doing a preschool curriculum worksheet for the zillionth time)

Or this:

  • “He keeps trying to say things I don’t want to hear, and to convince me that what he’s saying is important even though I keep telling him it isn’t.”
  • (Without reference to what he’s saying, why it matters to him, or why it’s so unreasonable for them to listen to him about it)
  • (Sometimes this means that he’s in pain, and trying hard to tell them and get it to stop, but they don’t believe him or don’t care if he’s hurting.)

Or this:

  • “Other people sometimes believe her about things when I tell them she’s lying”, or
  • “Other people ask for her side of the story even after I’ve told them mine.”
  • (And expecting you to believe the adult automatically that it’s unreasonable to ever believe anything the kid says)
  • (Sometimes this means that they’re hitting her when no one who cares is looking, and they’re afraid that she might eventually convince someone with power that they’re doing something wrong.)

Charming can also mean “other people like this person more than I do, and more than I think they deserve”.

That said, being manipulative in a bad way is a real thing, and people with disabilities are just as capable of being manipulative as anyone else is.

Being manipulative in the bad sense involves doing things like:

  • Having highly developed skill at getting other people to like them and want their approval
  • Using that skill to ride roughshod over people’s boundaries
  • And/or get them to do things that they don’t want to do or shouldn’t do
  • Convincing people they want to manipulate that they are friends, and not actually reciprocating friendship in a meaningful way

Sometimes people with disabilities are manipulative. More often, they are manipulated. (For instance, adults often have nondisabled kids volunteer to pretend to be the friends of disabled kids. This usually results in the disabled kids being manipulated in really degrading ways and misled about what friendship is.)

Being manipulative is a real thing, but disabled kids are accused of it far more often than they are guilty of it. When a disabled kid is called manipulative, it often means that someone is objecting to their entirely justified attempts to get control over their life. (Which would be seen as normal and acceptable in a nondisabled person their age.)


00goddess:

Nonviolent Communication can hurt people

loriadorable:

agent-hardass:

realsocialskills:

People who struggle interpersonally, who seem unhappy, or who get into a lot of conflicts are often advised to adopt the approach of Nonviolent Communication.

This is often not a good idea. Nonviolent Communication is an approach based on refraining…

agent-hardass said:

Holy shit thank you. Someone finally said it.

00goddess said:

Dear God yes.

When I was in foster care as a teen, we were given therapy and “boundaries” and “communication rules” that (I eventually learned, as an adult) were based on NVC. There was a huge focus on “I statements.” We were literally forbidden to speak in any other way, and punished if we did so.

What no one told any of us, all foster kids with histories of abuse, neglect, or both, was that “I statements” don’t mean a damn thing or have any effect at all when the other party is either not reasonable, or downright abusive. No, they just trained us with what the author at realsocialskills very aptly calls “anti-skills” and tossed us out into the world.

NVC *crippled* me emotionally and socially. It made me even more vulnerable to abusive situations. Why? Because I had been trained, indoctrinated even, for more than two years to not ever hold anyone responsible for their bad behavior or call them out on it. So when I found myself in abusive situations, I would step right up and use my “I statements” and then when this was not effective, I would do that same thing again, and again. I was not taught any other relationship skills. NVC taught me that in any conflict, I had to figure out what *I* was doing wrong and fix that somehow. It never taught me that some people don’t respond to “I statements” by changing their bad behavior because they don’t actually care if they are hurting you, or they might even like it. It never taught me that I didn’t actually have to stick around when someone was being abusive.

In the very abusive group home and foster org in which I was placed, NVC functioned as a tool that staff used to marginalize, manipulate, gaslight, and control us. NVC did not teach us how to spot those things when they were happening, of course, because the org and the staff had an interest in keeping us marginalized, rather than in raising us to be empowered.

That social anxiety “are you mad at me” post, I feel what you answered was a manifestation of the problem. We with social anxiety ask/wonder it an inordinate amount, and our friends get angry, thinking we doubt them. That post was not about actual problems, but the guilt complex and fear of “did I do something unknowingly/did they hate that but are trying to help me save face?” Your answer gave me the feeling of “if you even have to ask, you probably DID hurt them.”
realsocialskills said:
It’s definitely the case that some people think that asking if you’re angry a lot is manipulative in and of itself. It isn’t, and that’s important understand. Some people need to ask a lot, because otherwise they can’t tell, and constantly wondering if someone is mad can be excruciating.

It’s ok to need to check in a lot. If you’re really insecure, chances are that when you need to ask, nothing is actually wrong.

Usually, it’s going to be your guilt complex making you feel ashamed for no good reason. But sometimes, when you feel bad, something actually will be wrong.
If you have to ask, it’s because you don’t actually know whether it’s your insecurities or an actual problem.

Most of the time it’s going to be your insecurities. But if you have to ask, then you have to ask sincerely. Which means being open to the possibility that something actually is wrong, and that the answer might really be “Yes, I’m mad at you.”

If you’re not prepared for the answer to “are you mad?” to be “yes, I am mad”, then what you’re doing isn’t really asking - it’s demanding that the other person reassure you that they’re not mad even if they are.

It’s not ok to demand that someone reassure you that they’re not mad, even if the overwhelming probability is that they are not. It’s ok to ask, but it has to be a real question. (And, in practical terms, asking sincerely is more effective at getting meaningful comfort anyway. If you’re not asking a real question, it’s harder to trust the answer you get.)

Arguing isn't always ok

… If someone acts defensive and argues when you criticize them for touching you, and from then on is very careful not to touch you, then they’re just nervous and don’t like criticism. That’s fine. The problem would be if they really act as if they have a right to touch you after you’ve asked them not to. Or actually the problem would be if they keep doing it, for whatever reason.
realsocialskills said:
 
I don’t think it is at all ok to be that resistant to criticism.
 
Sometimes it’s ok and right to argue if you think someone is misjudging you, but it’s not ok to have that be your default response every time someone says no to you.
 
Especially when what they are saying is along the lines of “I don’t like being touched that way, please stop.”
        
It’s not ok to resist that kind of thing, and it’s especially not ok to try to get them to back down by arguing about it. People have the right not to want to be touched. People who don’t understand this and put pressure on others to accept touch from them are dangerous.
 
It’s definitely better to argue and then respect the boundary from then on than it is to not stop at all. But that doesn’t mean the arguing was ok to begin with. (Everyone makes mistakes, and if you find that you have argued in a boundary-violating way, the first step is to apologize.) 
 
It’s ok that sometimes things hurt to hear; it’s not ok to try to make that hurt go away by arguing or otherwise putting pressure on someone to let you do what you want to them. It’s ok to be nervous or uncomfortable about criticism; it’s not ok to pressure someone else into making you feel better by doing what you wanted.
 
It can be hard to learn to hear no when you really want someone to say yes, it can be hard to learn to respect that and not push someone into something they don’t want, but it’s really, really important.

Relying on others for reassurance

 neonelephantintheroom said: When people rely on the reassurance of someone else it can be very dangerous for everyone involved.

realsocialskills said:

It depends a lot on the context.

I think there are different kinds of relying on others.

There’s relying on others when you know that your perceptions in some areas are unreliable:

  • If you know that you often think things are awful when they aren’t, or that you’ve done something horribly wrong when you haven’t, checking in with others who you trust to have a more reliable perspective can be a good strategy
  • You have to be careful who you trust this way
  • It has to be someone who is both trustworthy and genuinely willing to do this for you
  • And when one or both elements are missing, this can go badly wrong.
  • But this is a strategy that works really well for a lot of people, under the right circumstances

Then there’s the kind of relying on others that’s about needing universal approval:

  • Sometimes people have a self image that depends on other people constantly approving of them
  • And reassuring them that they are good and what they are doing is good
  • This gets really bad really quickly
  • And often leads to people on both sides of it manipulating each other in destructive ways, and pretty much always leads to one or the other person doing so
  • It’s important to be able to accept that not everyone will like you, and that even people who like you will not always like what you do and will be upset with you from time to time
  • People who can’t accept this cause a lot of problems for themselves and others

These things are very different, but they tend to get conflated.

some things I think I know about trust

  • Trust isn’t automatic
  • It’s something that develops over time as you learn things about someone
  • You don’t have to trust someone right away just because they seem like an ok-ish person
  • Someone trusting you does not mean you have to trust them
  • Someone having a strong emotional need for you to trust them does not mean you should.
  • Even if someone says that not trusting them is *ist, you still do not have to trust them
  • You don’t have to make yourself vulnerable just because someone else wants you to

The Presumptive Close

The presumptive close is a manipulative social technique. What it means is closing an interaction in a way that presumes that the outcome will be what you want it to be. This can be applied in various contexts with various effects.

In a business context, the presumptive close is a social move that goes unspoken but is often expected as a part of normal professional interaction. Some examples of situations in which presumptive closes may be used:

  • making a deal
  • asking for a raise
  • interviewing for a job

An example of a presumptive close in a job interview:

Interviewer: We’ll call you back if we’re interested in a second interview.
Job Seeker: Great, I’ll talk to you soon!

When the job seeker says “I’ll talk to you soon” rather than something like “I hope to hear from you,” they are presuming that the interviewer will definitely want a second interview. This communicates confidence, which may in turn make the second interview more likely.

In a social context, or in a situation where the person using the technique has more power than the person they’re using it on, a presumptive close can be used to cross boundaries, and make people feel like they can’t say no. In a social context, the use of a presumptive close may also be less obvious, or less conscious.

An example:

Person 1: Can you drive me to work tomorrow?
Person 2: I’m not sure. I’ll think about it.
Person 1: Okay, I need to leave by nine.

It’s worth being able to recognize this technique, in order to more easily maintain boundaries.

When your right to say no is entirely hypothetical

aura218:

realsocialskills:

Some scary controlling people will tell you over and over how important consent is to them. They will tell you that they want to respect your boundaries, and that if anything makes you uncomfortable, they will stop. They will say this over and over, apparently sincerely.

Until you actually say no.

And then, suddenly, they create a reason that it wasn’t ok, after all, and that you’re going to do what they wanted anyway.

They will tell you that it *would* be ok to say no, and that of course they’d respect it, but you said it wrong. And that you have to understand that it hurts them when you say it that way. (And that you should make it better by doing what they wanted).

Or they will tell you that of course they don’t want to do anything that makes you uncomfortable, but you said yes before. And that this means that either it’s really ok with you, or that you don’t trust them anymore. And that you have to understand that it hurts when you withdraw trust like that (and that you should make it better by doing what they wanted.)

Or that they have a headache. Or that they just can’t deal with it right now. That maybe when they feel better or aren’t tired or grumpy or had a better day it will be ok to say no. (And that meanwhile, you should fix things by doing what they wanted).

Or that by saying no, you’re accusing them of being an awful person. And that they’d never do anything to hurt you, so why are you making accusations like that? (And, implicitly, that you should fix it by doing what they wanted.)

If this kind of thing happens every time you say no, things are really wrong. 

No isn’t a theoretical construct. In mutually respectful relationships, people say no to each other often, and it’s not a big deal

aura218 said:

Totally agree with the above. Also want to add, sometimes people are more subtle, esp in work situations, or if the intimidation has gone on for a long time, like in a family. Sometimes, the message is, “You’re a really great person and we trust you totally, but only if you never fall out of line.” If you say no to someone who thinks you shouldn’t disagree with them, then you’ve disappointed them terribly and you’re a bad person and you’ll lose status.

Sometimes you’re stuck in a situation like this, and you can only defy them internally. The best thing is to get out as quickly as you can. Don’t stay in a job or a relationship where your ideas are constantly denegrated as less intelligent or less important, or you aren’t allowed to say no because someone else’s yes is the only important or rational accepted choice. 

unquietpirate:

Social skills for autonomous people: hedgeclippers: Social skills for autonomous people: Borrowing…

hellolittledeer:

hedgeclippers:

Social skills for autonomous people: Borrowing computers

realsocialskills:

Hi… I have a suggestion I’d really like to see: a post with more about people asking to borrow your computer and similar issues and why this…

hellolittledeer said:

I know the fact that I make visual art with my computer has made it come to seem like an extension of my brain.  It’s not difficult to imagine others feeling this way.  Most of the people I know have good computer boundaries, but some people may not even know what is and is not a problem.  A few years back a friend’s partner asked to look something up on my computer and I said “sure,” unaware myself that they wouldn’t even process the firefox icon as being an internet browser.  Fifteen minutes of Internet Explorer browsing later, I was stuck with spyware and general weirdness that resulted in a complete re-install of Windows.  I’ll take partial credit for that mess, as I could have hopped over and opened firefox, but at the same time I wonder *how* they could have done all that while trying to look up an address on google maps and checking e-mail.

unquietpirate said

I liked this thread because it helped me put words to why I don’t like lending people my phone.

A couple of kids on the street the other day asked if they could borrow my phone to make a call, even offered to pay me and “you can hold my wallet while I do it. I’m not gonna run off with it.” (Not that it would do anyone much good to run off with my beat-up, blurry-screened, five year old flipphone.) I told them sorry, I didn’t have any minutes. Which was a lie because obviously I have Unlimited Everything.

I felt like kind of an asshole after they walked off. If they’d asked me for a cigarette, or directions, or money, or even a cup of coffee, I would’ve said yes without hesitation. But I just don’t like anyone else touching my phone unless we’re very, very intimate. 

On the flipside of this, my current computer was a gift from someone I love, a hand-me-down that has all kinds of wear on the keyboard and case from his years of use, and I’m particularly attached to it for that reason. It makes me feel connected to him. :-)

realsocialskills said:

Someone who puts intense pressure on you to let you use their phone, and who says “I’m not going to steal it or anything” probably in fact has every intention of stealing your phone.

"I would never abuse anyone!"

boystink:

realsocialskills:

This kind of conversation is a major red flag:

  • Bob: I’m going to go to the mall.
  • Stan: Don’t go to the mall. I want you to stay home.
  • Bob: Um, why not? I need new trousers.
  • Stan: Why are you taking that tone?! Are you saying I’m abusive? You wouldn’t be upset if I wasn’t abusive, so you must think I’m abusing you. I’d never abuse anyone! How dare you?!

Another version:

  • Bob: Could you not make jokes about my weight? It makes me feel bad.
  • Stan: I would never do anything to hurt you! How dare you call this bullying!

It’s especially bad when:

  • It happens every time Stan and Bob want different things.
  • Because it gets to the point where it’s impossible for Bob to say no without accusing Stan of being abusive
  • Or where Bob can’t express a preference that conflicts with Stan’s. 
  • This means that Bob has to always do what Stan wants, or else call Stan a bad person
  • This is an awful way to live

In a mutually respectful relationship:

  • People want different things from time to time
  • People hurt each other in minor ways
  • People make mistakes, and need to be told about them
  • Everyone understands this, and can accept that their friend/partner/whatever wants something different, or is upset about something they did
  • They understand that wanting different things, or being upset about something, is not an accusation of abuse.

If someone close to you claims that you’re accusing them of being abusive every time you have a conflict with them, they probably are, in fact, being abusive.

I was thinking about this more because there are so many ways this applies. One thing I’ve commonly experienced that I think is sort of related to this, is when Person A points out something Person B has said that personally hurts them, Person B will immediately react back to Person A with comments along the lines of, “My anxiety is so bad, how could you start this conflict with me knowing you’re making my anxiety worse?“, or maybe, “I’m having such a hard week, why would you make it any harder for me?” Which effectively turns them into the victim of the situation, when all Person A wanted was to tell Person B to stop hurting them. Manipulating a situation to cause the abuser to appear the victim is a pretty common abuse tactic. I’m not sure if this relates to what you’re talking about, but it’s something I experience a lot.

Oh yeah, that too.

And also manipulative appeals to common identity or experiences.

Like “you’re autistic too, how could you not realize that you’re triggering me by talking to me that way?” (When what you said wasn’t remotely unreasonable).

miaokuancha:

not actually achilles: “I would never abuse anyone!”

kaalashnikov:

realsocialskills:

tropesarenotbad:

realsocialskills:

faunils:

realsocialskills:

This kind of conversation is a major red flag:

  • Bob: I’m going to go to the mall.
  • Stan: Don’t go to the mall. I want you to stay home.
  • Bob: Um, why not? I need new trousers.
  • Stan: Why are you taking that tone?! Are you saying I’m abusive? You wouldn’t be upset if I wasn’t abusive, so you must think I’m abusing you. I’d never abuse anyone! How dare you?!

Another version:

  • Bob: Could you not make jokes about my weight? It makes me feel bad.
  • Stan: I would never do anything to hurt you! How dare you call this bullying!

It’s especially bad when:

  • It happens every time Stan and Bob want different things.
  • Because it gets to the point where it’s impossible for Bob to say no without accusing Stan of being abusive
  • Or where Bob can’t express a preference that conflicts with Stan’s. 
  • This means that Bob has to always do what Stan wants, or else call Stan a bad person
  • This is an awful way to live

In a mutually respectful relationship:

  • People want different things from time to time
  • People hurt each other in minor ways
  • People make mistakes, and need to be told about them
  • Everyone understands this, and can accept that their friend/partner/whatever wants something different, or is upset about something they did
  • They understand that wanting different things, or being upset about something, is not an accusation of abuse.

If someone close to you claims that you’re accusing them of being abusive every time you have a conflict with them, they probably are, in fact, being abusive.

A variation of this is when the other person doesn’t get offended/angry so much as immediately turns the situation so that you are in the position to assure them that they are good people. For example, as a child it was always my job to reassure my abusive mother that she was, in fact, a good mother. I was not even allowed to think that she might not be. In fact it didn’t even occur to me to consider wether or not her behaviour hurt me or not, because she always displayed a weird kind of fragility and I always had to focus on her self esteem or make it so she didn’t have to feel guilty/ like a bad person.

It’s difficult to explain because she was such a master at manipulation and gaslighting. But she always turned any topic that was about my wellbeing as influenced by her around immediately so that it was about her and her guilt and insecurities and how she always “tried her hardest to be a good mom" etc and even if I didn’t accuse her of anything she would start crying and I would have to comfort her, even though the start of the conversation was about how certain of her behaviours might be harmful for me.

Oh, yes, this.. Weaponized fragility is definitely a variant on this. And it can be a lot harder to notice.

I’d say one thing that’s a red flag is that if you *always* end up apologizing and offering comfort whenever you have a conflict with that person, something is probably wrong.

Yet another variant: As soon as you give them any sort of criticism on how they are treating you, they leap right into “I am a HORRIBLE person I’m sorry you’re absolutely right please tell me how I should behave.“

This is designed to make it look like you were overreacting. Apologizing to them and saying that it wasn’t that bad and they’re blowing it out of proportion gives them power again. It tells them their behaviour isn’t an issue.

Basically, anything that makes you come running to them saying “Oh no it’s okay I’m here I’m trying to be friends please don’t leave.”

I usually call them on being emotionally manipulative and laying out the expectations of the situation, but that isn’t always possible. 

Yes, this.

I actually wrote a post about that variant a while back.

ah look, a series of posts that perfectly sums up my mother

——————————–

The saddest part of all is that those who accuse others of accusing them of abuse whenever the other asks for regard and consideration (or who use weaponized fragility, or who derail any addressing of others’ needs by requiring constant reassurance that they are good and loving) are often past victims of abuse themselves, and very likely learned this strategy from their own abusers. It’s a dreadful, crippling pattern in which those who wish to offer them love are thwarted, and they themselves are trapped in the injustice of their past pain, transposed into a projected injustice of being accused or found wanting. Oh, what a tangled web the soul weaves. Oh, what economy of threads are used.

~ In memoriam

Yes, that’s true. I think probably most people who do those things have been abused. This can be really, really hard to unlearn.

That doesn’t mean other people should tolerate this kind of behavior, though.

Someone’s abusive behavior may well have been learned from people who abused them. This doesn’t mean you have to let them abuse you.

[Image description: protestors with a banner: This “clinic” lies to women.] 
  bebinn : 
 
    How To Identify Crisis Pregnancy Centers    
 Crisis pregnancy centers, or pregnancy resource centers, disguise themselves as medical facilities, but usually have no licensed doctors, nurses or counselors. They often appear under “Abortion Alternatives,” and may have names similar to abortion clinics nearby in order to confuse patients into entering their buildings instead of the real clinics. 
 Once you enter a CPC, their mission is to prevent you from getting an abortion at any cost. They will use misleading language, delay tactics, emotional manipulation, intimidation, and outright lies to either persuade you against abortion or to make you miss your appointment. The worst part? It’s all completely legal and funded by federal dollars. 
 CPCs do their best to appear as legitimate abortion clinics, so how can you tell which is which? Here is a list of red flags for CPCs: 
  The words “crisis” or “resource” appear in the center’s name 
 Their ads use language like “Pregnant & Scared?” 
 They offer free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds 
 When asked if they provide abortions or contraception, they will not give a direct answer 
 The waiting room has biased pamphlets, sometimes with graphic pictures labeled as abortions 
 They attempt to make you feel guilty about considering abortion 
 They offer baby items, such as diapers and formula 
 They downplay the effectiveness of contraception and emphasize abstinence 
 They emphasize the dangers of abortion (Fact:  fewer than 0.3% of patients experience complications requiring hospitalization ) 
 They discuss the false connections between abortion and  breast cancer ,  infertility , or  mental illness , often referred to as post-abortion stress syndrome 
 Regardless of how you talk about the pregnancy, they refer to “your baby,” the “preborn child,” “post-abortive women,” and say that you are “already a mother.” 
   More on CPCs  
  How to Identify CPCs  
  Beware of Fake Clinics  
  Crisis Pregnancy Centers: An Affront to Choice  
  CPC Warning Stickers  
 A list of licensed abortion clinics in the United States can be found on the  Abortion Assistance Blog . 
 
 I don’t know that much about this through my own personal knowledge, so I can’t vouch for everything in this post. 
 What I do know is that a lot of people who strongly oppose abortions are willing to be absolutely horrible to pregnant people in order to prevent them from having one. 
 (You can see that in the behavior of abortion clinic protestors.) 
 And I’ve definitely seen these deceptive ads for crisis pregnancy centers on Facebook and in the phone book. (And some that are aimed at convincing pregnant teenagers to give birth to provide a baby for childless couples to raise in a closed adoption). 
 I think it’s a good rule that a legitimate clinic will give you a straight answer about which services they do and don’t offer. (For instance, not all Planned Parenthood clinics offer abortions. The ones that don’t will tell you that they don’t.)

[Image description: protestors with a banner: This “clinic” lies to women.]

bebinn:

How To Identify Crisis Pregnancy Centers

Crisis pregnancy centers, or pregnancy resource centers, disguise themselves as medical facilities, but usually have no licensed doctors, nurses or counselors. They often appear under “Abortion Alternatives,” and may have names similar to abortion clinics nearby in order to confuse patients into entering their buildings instead of the real clinics.

Once you enter a CPC, their mission is to prevent you from getting an abortion at any cost. They will use misleading language, delay tactics, emotional manipulation, intimidation, and outright lies to either persuade you against abortion or to make you miss your appointment. The worst part? It’s all completely legal and funded by federal dollars.

CPCs do their best to appear as legitimate abortion clinics, so how can you tell which is which? Here is a list of red flags for CPCs:

  • The words “crisis” or “resource” appear in the center’s name
  • Their ads use language like “Pregnant & Scared?”
  • They offer free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds
  • When asked if they provide abortions or contraception, they will not give a direct answer
  • The waiting room has biased pamphlets, sometimes with graphic pictures labeled as abortions
  • They attempt to make you feel guilty about considering abortion
  • They offer baby items, such as diapers and formula
  • They downplay the effectiveness of contraception and emphasize abstinence
  • They emphasize the dangers of abortion (Fact: fewer than 0.3% of patients experience complications requiring hospitalization)
  • They discuss the false connections between abortion and breast cancerinfertility, or mental illness, often referred to as post-abortion stress syndrome
  • Regardless of how you talk about the pregnancy, they refer to “your baby,” the “preborn child,” “post-abortive women,” and say that you are “already a mother.”

More on CPCs

How to Identify CPCs

Beware of Fake Clinics

Crisis Pregnancy Centers: An Affront to Choice

CPC Warning Stickers

A list of licensed abortion clinics in the United States can be found on the Abortion Assistance Blog.

I don’t know that much about this through my own personal knowledge, so I can’t vouch for everything in this post.

What I do know is that a lot of people who strongly oppose abortions are willing to be absolutely horrible to pregnant people in order to prevent them from having one.

(You can see that in the behavior of abortion clinic protestors.)

And I’ve definitely seen these deceptive ads for crisis pregnancy centers on Facebook and in the phone book. (And some that are aimed at convincing pregnant teenagers to give birth to provide a baby for childless couples to raise in a closed adoption).

I think it’s a good rule that a legitimate clinic will give you a straight answer about which services they do and don’t offer. (For instance, not all Planned Parenthood clinics offer abortions. The ones that don’t will tell you that they don’t.)

About favors/work

About favors/work

It is dangerous to work for someone who thinks they are doing you a favor by employing you.

Because if they think they are doing you a favor, they won’t think that your work is valuable.

And they won’t treat you like someone who is doing valuable work.

And, often, this means they don’t feel obligated to pay you, or don’t feel obligated to pay you on time.

It also means that they’re likely to think that you owe them something aside from the work you’re paying them for. For instance, they might think you owe them free tech support, or to pick up their dry cleaning, or any number of other time-consuming inappropriate favors.

It’s not always avoidable – if you’re in a difficult place, you might not be in a position to avoid working for people like this. But when you can avoid it, it makes life a lot better - and even when you can’t, understanding what’s going on helps. 

Noticing manipulation

chavisory:

josiahd:

goldenheartedrose:

draggle-ella:

goldenheartedrose:

Thinking and being coerced into thinking you need something or something is for your benefit is an easy trap to fall into. I’ve fallen into it so many times. So how do you avoid that?

Lay low and trust nothing.  This goes out to josiahd, too.

That’s pretty much how I’m operating. I just don’t know how people can ever expect us to be super discerning. I am the most gullible person in my group of friends and have always been.

I have to trust something, though. Because I can’t deal with this on my own, anymore.

So I need to figure out what to look out for.

Any time that someone else is disproportionately invested in convincing you that you need something, it is for their own purposes and not yours.  Do not trust.  Run away.

Even if you can’t see how it would affect them.  Especially if you can’t see how it would affect them.  It doesn’t matter what the thing is.  It doesn’t matter how much it might actually be in your best interests.  If someone else’s level of interest in getting you to do something is, like, too high…and you can’t see why, that is all you need to know.

Wow. Yes, this is true and really important.