This is not the first story of this kind, and it certainly will not be the last.
What started out as another relationship turned sour. In my sophomore year in high school, I met this guy. We began hanging out pretty regularly, even though he went to another school and lived 30 minutes away. He was my first in many things, he was my first serious crush, the first guy I introduced to my parents and the first person to take advantage of my emotions.
Since the first time we hung out, I was hooked. As a reserved person, I was addicted to the chaotic nature he brought into my life. He broke all the rules, and even convinced me to break some of them, too. Even though he was one of the worst influences on my life, I never saw it. I only saw the good. I ignored how he made me feel like the last choice, because sometimes he would text me back. I pushed aside all my insecurities, because he called me “pretty” once or twice. I ignored it when he hung out with other girls, because sometimes he would ask if I wanted to hang out instead of me asking him.
As months passed and our relationship (that was never a relationship) progressed, it became clear to everyone surrounding me that this was not a healthy situation. I stopped acting like myself, I was a person that my friends and family did not recognize. I did not care that my parents did not like the guy, because it was the first time that I felt like I was making my own decisions. I was so happy with this guy that I never realized he was emotionally manipulating me.
People who experience emotional manipulation tend to feel the effects longer than the relationship even lasts. Emotional manipulation can lead to problems with many aspects of life — trust, respect, intimacy and security — all of which are things I experienced after this relationship. You start to question yourself, wondering if things were as bad as you remember. If you have a history of mental health issues, being emotionally manipulated will only make things worse.
Even though my story got a somewhat happy ending, the majority of people who experience emotional manipulation are not so lucky. I walked out of it, for the most part, unscathed. A few months later, I would start a relationship with someone who treats me so much better than he ever did. Until the cycle is broken and nobody is taking advantage of others, we will be experiencing the effects of emotional manipulation.
We have to change the cycle of blame. We need to stop placing blame on victims and instead place the blame on the manipulators. Although there is no real consequence for the manipulators, they get away with these things because society chooses to blame the victim for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. We, more than likely, will never see the end of the cycle of manipulation. We can, though, see the end of victim blaming.