Manipulation of one person or many people by others occurs in many ways and in many forms everyday. It happens in families. It happens at work.It happens among friends.It happens in some religious organizations. And, can you believe, It happens in government ? Wasn't it the former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel who said, " Never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste " ? Those who manipulate usually thrive on control, and therefore they know how to use their skills effectively.
The manipulators I have dealt with do it because they can ! Maybe to hide their own insecurities and secret frustrations and needs, maybe to carry out dark agendas for power, but whatever their motivation, why do we allow it ?
Once we are aware of being manipulated, some might feel anger, even rage. Many tell me their anger quickly turns to shame for being so stupid, so foolish. It can feel demeaning and cut to the core of our self-esteem and confidence and our shame and bruised self-esteem may cause us to be silent.
We may tell ourselves there is nothing we can do when we are up against such people.
We tell ourselves, we do not want that person angry with us.
We fear something bad will happen if we stand up for ourselves, like we might be fired or marked as a whistle blower.
We tell ourselves, it will be ok, it's not really that important or that bad.
We tell ourselves no one cares, so why should we, it will pass .
We tell ourselves that no one will listen.
We just do not like to deal with conflict, so let others do it.
Really, it is ALL about FEAR. Fear of rejection, failure, embarrassment, or REPRISAL if we speak our minds !!!
We are Ruled By Fear, and unless we find the inner strength and join forces with others who also feel as we do, we will wake up one day realizing how much we have short-changed ourselves and our lives and goals because of fear and avoidance. " United we stand, divided we fall ", a quote from the days of the American Revolution is as appropriate now as it was then.
I have had the unforgetable opportunity to work with a number of these manipulative, controlling people, mostly due to my work with their victims, including abused children, victims of domestic violence and homeless kids.These Manipulators have an unquechable thirst for power and control matched with a limitless ability to justify and rationalize their behaviors. Some of these abusers act out in more subtle ways, like an uncle or grandfather who builds trust with a niece over time, only to lure the child into some act of molestation. Some are more open and in your face like a father who molested his daughter for years until she escaped the only way she knew how, by giving up her life. It can be a boss why sexually harasses an employee, or a minister who controls his flock by using guilt and shame.
Those who would control and manipulate us will lie so convincingly, will charm us with their charisma, will promise us with all we wish to hear, will give us just enough to whet our appetites for more and then blame us for whatever goes wrong. Blame, blame, blame, these manipulators know how to divide and conquer, and make every effort to make those who question them feel guilty and shamed, so as to seal their lips.
To be sure, these manipulators can lie with such efficiency, without hesitation, so that normal people with conscience begin to question the validity of their own common sense.They are very good at what they do, and with a lack of conscience , and hidden agendas in their minds, they most often get what they want until their voracious appetite for control leads them to take bites that are just so big, so against the nature of their "subjects ", that rebellion may finally occur. Unfortunately, the havoc they wreak in the meantime is hideous and scars their victims for life.
If this all sounds a bit melodramatic, you might need to open your eyes and listen carefully to the world around you. While we can be lulled into a comfort zone by avoiding the dark side, sit across from a child who has been sexually molested by someone she trusted, and answer her questions of WHY ! Talk to a homeless child, who for no fault of her own, finds herself alone on the streets being physically and sexually abused on a regular basis. Tell her why even a school principle abused her. Look at the histories of most developing countries, including our great nation and take note of the atrocities that occur and ask why ! Look at the games and lies of "some" of our own politicians and ask why so many fall prey to believing them even when they have histories that should turn most deaf to their promises.
My resolution for the New Year is to share, learn and teach in as many ways as I can in order to gain the understanding and support of others who would ban together to challenge the bullies of our lives. It is only by building a Support Group of people who want to make a difference, that we can give a voice to those who have been and are being emotionally, sexually or physically abused, manipulated and controlled by those who can because they know how to use FEAR to silence their victims. Bullies use the technique of "Divide and Conquer" , and mixed with shame, they win all too often.
I have such a group, called The Watch. It is a group of select and trusted people, as well as heads of some powerful organizations that fight against abuse and manipulation. I can share with these people of conscience and conviction and do so when I am dealing with especially heinous abusers, especially the narcissistic sociopathsin our society, It offers me strength when I am in contact with abusers, because they know I am not alone in my endeavors to limit their hateful behaviors.
I will follow-up this article with others that will hopefully be helpful to anyone who has suffered from abuse and manipulation, to aide them in realizing there is support out there,and to also stimulate more to become involved.
You might look into the Nicole Brown Simpson Foundation, The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and The Center for Community Solutions. I have found these, among others, as being very helpful and part of my support system.
Happy New Year !!!
Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
On-Line Support Groups : www.OneStepataTime.com