Gas lighting and fear conditioning

Fear conditioning

The top manipulation tactic used by abusers is fear. By manipulating fear, they learn to control you through your weaknesses. In order to control and manipulate you, even exaggerating them to the point of telling outrageous lies to try and scare you. They may even use your fears against you, further keeping you trapped in the cycle. Fear is the core aspect to enable abuse and coercion.

What you should do:

If something strikes you as being untrue, look at the bigger picture or talk to trusted friends in order to get the true facts. Another rule of thumb is, ‘if it’s too good to be true, it usually is!’ The more subtle the fear tactic, the more concealed the hook to tempt you to bite!

Their objective is to deceive

All manipulators will try and deceive you to put you at a disadvantage. Typically you will only get their side of the story, which will always be biased in their favour. Their social profile is flawless, they are always maintaining an impeccable image with no flaws to their character, this works in their favour and guarantees their credibility to prove their innocence.

What you should do:

Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you are not sure, to get the whole picture. A manipulator, who wants to control your reaction will try to evade the subject. If you feel like something is off, you could always go to a more reliable person to find out the truth of the situation. If your think it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

They like it when you’re happy.

If we are in a good mood, we are more likely to agree with someone or say yes to favours. This is why manipulators like it when we are happy. It is a prime time for them to take advantage. It’s one of the easiest ways that they can get their hooks into you and drain you of your vibe.

What you should do:

Be aware of your good moods and don’t be taken in just because you are happy at that moment. Try to be more balanced in your thinking. Moreover, don’t take anything they say personally that could affect your happy mood.

They will do you favours so you owe them!

Manipulators will often do you a small favour in order for you to then owe them something bigger. They know that once they have done something for you, it is much harder for you to say no. A common phrase you will notice is, ‘after everything I’ve done for you.’ Which is designed to play on your guilt and shame.

What you should do:

Be wary when these favours come up, and don’t be afraid to refuse them, and always say no if you really do not want to do something.

They always want a home-turf advantage

A manipulator knows that they are stronger on their home-turf. This could be a club they own or somewhere local in the community, their gym, home or office or anywhere you might feel uncomfortable.

What you should do:

Any meetings should be arranged in a neutral space, such as a bar neither of you has been to before. If this cannot be sorted out, take your time to get your bearings before you meet, plan ahead and stay calm.

They ask probing questions

People love to talk about themselves, it’s a fact. But manipulators ask them to find out our weaknesses, our soft spots, or to glean information that could help them use to their advantage. It can be difficult to withhold personal information, especially if the relationship is romantic or intimate.

What you should do:

If you suspect someone is trying to get information out of you, then just be wary of giving too much away. Ask yourself, ‘is it relevant.’ Especially if the person asking is pretty reticent about themselves. You don’t have to reveal or answer, personal questions.

They speak quickly on purpose

Master manipulators will talk at a fast pace to try and unhinge you. They will also use extensive vocabulary in order to unbalance you and make you feel less confident about yourself.

What you should do:

There’s no such thing as a stupid question, so if you don’t understand a point they’ve made, ask them to repeat it, or better still, prompt them for an example. It’s highly likely they won’t be able to come up with one and you have regained the advantage.

They are not afraid to show their negative emotions

Causing a drama in front of people is easy for manipulators, as it makes people uncomfortable to be around them and gives them a quick and easy advantage.

What you should do:

Do not react straight away. Give it a few seconds for the person to calm down and then speak slowly and reasonably in order to diffuse the situation. What you are witnessing is a; a fabricated drama to glean attention, or b; a conditioned reaction to victimisation or c; a early childhood trauma or an ego injury.

They want you to act quickly

If anyone wants you to make a decision in a short space of time then alarm bells should be ringing. This is because they do not want to give you enough time to think properly about what you are about to do. They want to you commit to something without considering the consequences.

What you should do:

Never give in to unreasonable demands. Ask for more time and question why the decision needs to be made so quickly. If their reaction is aggressive, hostile or even emotionally threatening, such as, ‘you won’t get the opportunity again.’

The silent treatment.

Another controlling tactic in order to get the upper hand. By not conversing with you in any manner, the manipulator is saying that they have the power and control in this instant and you must wait for them.

What you should do:

Give the person a reasonable enough time to contact you, after that issue a deadline. If that does not work then walk away.