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  1. A demand made from the manipulator. The manipulator will make a clear demand of what they want, tied with a threat. You need to pay my rent or I’ll leave you. You need to let me move in or I’ll tell your sister what you said about her.
  2. Resistance from the victim. After the demand is identified, the victim may resist or feel the need to avoid the person because they are unsure how to handle the demand. The concerning part of this process is it is often an unsavory, unfavorable, or unreasonable demand placed on the victim.
  3. Pressure from the manipulator. Manipulators of emotional blackmail are not concerned about pushing too hard. They will persist to get what they want no matter what it takes. They disregard hurt feelings or fear being created. Creating fear can even be the driving force behind the demand made. The manipulator may put pressure suggesting that the victim is being irrational, silly, or unreasonable themselves. This part of the process can cause the victim to begin to question their sense of reality and if they are wrong in feeling concerned about the demand being placed upon them. They begin to lose their healthy sense of perspective and what their gut is telling them. The manipulator may even turn the situation around to blame the victim or question their motives if they do not initially agree to the placed demand. Confusion is a big part of this process.
  4. Threatening the victim. This is the part of the process where the manipulator is threatening to do or not do something to cause unhappiness, discomfort, or pain for the victim. If you don’t do this…then I will do this… They create a situation where the victim can be responsible for the promised negative outcome if they do not comply.
  5. Victim compliance. The victim gives in, either quickly, or slow through a process of increasing self-doubt. They comply with the demand of the manipulator, often causing feelings of anxiety, guilt, fear, anger, or resentment.
  6. The manipulator gets their way and subsides temporarily until the next demand of what they want comes up. The frequency of these behaviors and tendencies vary in all relationships involving emotional blackmail. Regardless of the consistency of these behaviors, it has a negative and toxic effect on the relationship and on the victim. Now the cycle is in place and the foundation is set for this pattern to continue.

In some situations, there may seem to be a fine line between indirect communication and manipulation. Emotional blackmail and indirect communication can both have passive aggressive undertones. The communication becomes manipulation and blackmail when it is used consistently to control another individual or coerce them into doing what the requestor demands.

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