How to stop emotional blackmail in relationships may start with the victim fostering the belief that they do not deserve such treatment.

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Practical suggestions on what actions to take during an exchange with a blackmailer can be useful.

  • Consider taking a long pause before you comply with the request.
  • Take a break and think about how you are feeling about the demand.
  • Create some distance from the emotion so you can make a healthy decision based on logic, rather than the emotional default.
  • Put it on your timetable. It will create off balance and it can be scary. There will be pressure to get back into the old patterns, so there is likely to be discomfort.
  • Repeating a neutral statement to the demand placed, such as “no thank you.” This stops the back and forth and capitulation of the emotional exchange.

Don’t need to wait until you feel strong to show strength. Do it, then the feelings will catch up. People often wait until they feel the courage, and that time doesn’t come. Do it, then you will feel better. You can’t wait until you feel better.

Establish an SOS before responding to a demand:

  • STOP – I need time to think about it.
  • OBSERVE – one’s own reactions, thoughts, emotions, triggers.
  • STRATEGIZE- analyze the demands and the potential impact of complying. Consider what you need and explore alternative options.

Suggestions are to not take the bait from the blackmailer, yet stay on point with what your key message is. Do not allow yourself to be derailed by their comments, demands, and behaviors. Stick with “This is who I am and what I want.”

Blackmailers are highly defensive and their comments often escalate conflicts. Attempt to stay away from escalating statements and stick with non-defensive communication such as:

  • I can see that you are upset.
  • I understand you are frustrated.
  • I’m sorry you’re angry.
  • I can understand how you might see it that way.
  • Let’s talk about it when you feel calmer.

It is essential to reinforce that victims cannot change their partner only their reaction. The emotional blackmailer has a foundation in deep layers of their insecurities. The victim’s job is to put their welfare and health first. Their energy is best utilized to change themselves and their approach. In addition to changing the behavior patterns during these exchanges, victims can do their own psychological healing outside the relationship.

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