When in a dysfunctional cycle of emotional blackmail, the victim may be inclined to: apologize, plead, change plans to meet the others’ needs, cry, use logic, give in, or challenge. Typically, they will find it difficult to stand up for themselves, directly address the issue, set boundaries, and communicate with the blackmailer that the behavior is inappropriate. They do not consistently set clear boundaries indicating what is acceptable for them.
Forward and Frazier recognize four types of blackmailing, each with varying manipulation tactics.
- Punishers – Punishers operate with a need to get their way, regardless of the feelings or needs of the other person. Their motto is “my way or the highway.” Punishers will insist upon pushing for control and getting what they want with threats to inflict damage or harm.
- Self-punishers – Individuals can make threats of self-harm if the partner does not comply with what they want.
- Sufferers – this is the voice of a victim conveying guilt on the partner if they do not do what is demanded. If they don’t comply, there is a suggestion that their suffering will be the others’ fault. “After all that I’ve done for you, you are going to let me suffer…?”
- Tantalizers – This can be the most subtle and confusing form of manipulation. There is a promise of what will be better if they comply. It sparks hope yet is still connecting a threat to the demand.