We’ve all experienced emotional blackmail in one form or another. It is behavior that is defined by coercing some form of behavior by playing on emotions. It often rears its ugly head in relationships or marriages if someone equates attempts to coerce certain behavior to love.
It is often used to prevent divorce when children are involved. “If you leave me I will take the children and you will never see them again”, or “if you leave me I will kill myself” are statements that are frequently uttered. Some of the dynamics that lead to these statements are truly frightening. Doors are kicked in or holes are punched in walls, physical or emotional abuse occurs or drunken rages are a constant factor, so that the emotionally blackmailed parent constantly lives on egg shells as to what will occur next.
To no surprise if you are an immigrant the emotionally blackmailing ex will often use threats against your immigrant status to prevent that you leave him/her.
Often substance abuse or abuse is a dominant factor in emotional blackmail. To no surprise children are often taught the same dynamic. “If you love me you will see me at a park”. “If you love you will get me ______”, (substitute miscellaneous item).
Once a divorce occurs the emotionally blackmailing parent has no hesitation in using children to force contact with the other parent, in particular if abuse is a factor, so that abuse can continue: “If you love me, you will spend time with us and our dad/mom at _____” (substitute venue).
In this dynamic the emotionally blackmailing parent creates an US vs THEM dynamic, where the other parent is the bad guy/gal as they don’t submit to the emotional blackmail attempt. The blackmailing parent simply refuses to allow the other parent the right to care and nurture their own children; in retaliation for leaving them.