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According to Susan Forward, emotional blackmail is a powerful form of manipulation in which blackmailers who are close to the victim threaten, either directly or indirectly, to punish them to get what they want. They may know the victim's vulnerabilities and their deepest secrets. They can be their parents, partners, bosses or coworkers, friends or lovers. No matter how much the blackmailer cares about the victim, they use this intimate knowledge to win their compliance.
Knowing that the victim wants love or approval, blackmailers threaten to withhold it or take it away altogether, or make the victim feel they must earn it. If the victim believes the blackmailer, he/she could fall into a pattern of letting the blackmailer control his/her decisions and behavior.
Emotional blackmailers use fear, obligation and guilt (FOG) in their relationships, ensuring that the victim feels afraid to cross them, obligated to give them their way and feeling guilty if they don't.
According to Braiker, people with borderline personality disorder are particularly likely to use emotional blackmail.
- ^ Forward, Susan Emotional Blackmail 1997
- ^ Braiker, Harriet B., Whos Pulling Your Strings ? How to Break The Cycle of Manipulation 2006