By Meg Kuck
For some time now I've been having a hard time knowing that someone I care about is being manipulated and has been for several years now. You could say this person is at "stage 3" of "part 1" if you read this thoughtful and intelligent article written (and spoken in podcast) by Sarah May Bates and published by Hello Giggles.
Having had been manipulated myself for nearly a decade, the feeling of wanting to help this person step away and into the light of truth is so strong. And I've tried. And yet. Here I am feeling helpless.
The real struggle is not the knowledge of the existence of the manipulation and pathological lying (which, don't get me wrong: I've lost sleep and cried buckets of tears thinking about how someone arrives at the point of believing their own lies and hurting people they claim to love and still manages to look themselves in the mirror and smile), no, the real struggle is accepting that I have to let this person, my friend, get through this - even though I know how painful it is and will continue to be.
Am I Being Manipulated?
A true sign that someone is manipulating you: they are constantly playing the victim, and are chronically defensive (nothing is ever their fault). The real danger of interacting with a manipulator and pathological liar, let alone being in a relationship with one, is the true loss of self, and of what's real. Manipulators believe their own lies; they hyper-rationalize their behavior and essentially create their own version of the truth to benefit themselves. When challenged (when presented with the absolute, unadulterated - not manipulated or manufactured - truth) they attempt to turn the tables (projecting onto you, and others), back-pedal (scramble to create new narratives), and then proceed with fresh lies, isolation, and with accusations and blame.
Isolation is particularly dangerous and an all too common tactic employed in cases of manipulation and gas-lighting. You've probably heard the expression "divide and conquer" - when one party divides its "enemy" (or often: "enemies") into smaller groups, and baits these groups into fighting against each other, so as to lessen the overall threat. For a manipulator, isolating the victim from his or her family and friends - or what the victim otherwise understands as truth and what is "good" - is a, unfortunately, highly effective method of "divide and conquer" that ensures the manipulator gets what he or she wants: control.
When I say I tried with my friend, and even with the person who is manipulating – abusing – my friend and others, I mean I really tried. If you know me or are familiar with the goals of this foundation then you know I am a survivor of domestic violence – physical, sexual, and intensely psychological - and you know I am fearlessly devoted to broadening awareness and deepening thoughtful advocacy. I’m still fighting my way through my journey of healing, and while I know I am particularly sensitive to cases of maltreatment – especially with those I know and care about – I like to think that regardless of my past I would have taken the same steps and actions that I did. Because I’m unwavering in my pursuit of truth, passionate about standing up for what’s right and directly acknowledging what is wrong. But sometimes, I’ve learned in my 35 years of life, there are situations and circumstances - and people - that are simply out of your helpful hands and far beyond any of your efforts made in sincerity and out of love.
So, then what? For me personally: the only true comfort and relief I have is giving my struggle up to God, and praying every day for "health, happiness, and safety" for my friend, and for this manipulator and liar. There's so much peace in taking action in prayer; in praying so sincerely and so fiercely for those you believe are deeply troubled to the point that they are hurting others. I have to trust that God has a plan for these individuals, too.
If you are questioning whether or not you or someone you know is involved in an abusive relationship, please take a moment to read through our sets of resources on the who, what, why, and how of domestic violence. You may also find immense clarity – I know I have! – in referencing our glossary of terminology.
If you feel that you need to explore intervention methods, or seek external support, then please see our list of local and national resources to find an organization or group best suited to assist you; you may also want to consider utilizing one or more of the hotlines listed therein.
Meg Kuck is the Founder and Director of Shine the Light Foundation, and Owner and Lead Artisan of Moderncity + Main
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By sharing our stories with one another we not only help ourselves heal, but help each other heal, too. We also bring attention to and educate others on the truths of domestic violence.
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