Does family manipulation sound like a new thing? You may be surprised to learn that manipulation can come from anyone – be it, partners, mothers or fathers… even siblings.

Partner manipulation has become pretty common. Many people have managed to get away from this sort of abusive relationship. However, manipulation is prevalent in all sorts of relationships, apart from the intimate sort. In fact, many people are reporting that family manipulation is also a problem. Mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers are all prone to become manipulative and abusive toward one another, and it can become a serious problem.

Family manipulation is mental, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse carried out by family members toward one another. This sort of abuse is generally used to control another for various purposes.

Signs point to an unhealthy relationship

Having grown up with your family may make it difficult to decipher any abusive treatment. Considering the components of manipulation include “brainwashing”, it’s hard to tell if you’ve actually been mistreated at all. Sometimes, it’s not until you’ve gotten away or moved out of the home that you realize the extent of the unhealthy situation.

Here are some warning signs that family manipulation is or has been a part of your life.


You will recognize family manipulation when lies are involved. Family members, especially the narcissistic kind, will tell lies easily. When direct questions are met with vague answers, this is one indication that manipulative lies are being told.

Liars will always be able to give half-truths to convince you that they are honest and reliable people. When in truth, they are only striving for what they want. A liar will always lie and tell more lies to cover the old ones.

Silent treatment

Even family members will resort to the silent treatment. In fact, the closer you are to someone, the more chance that their narcissistic actions will display this sort of behavior.

Silence is one of the manipulator’s choice weapons because it get’s the work done with little effort. For those who are unaware of the tactics, the silent treatment can garner pity and groveling, which is exactly what the manipulator wants. They have won.

The selfless disguise

Truly selfless people are honorable. The manipulator can fool you into thinking they are selfless as well, but they’re really not. They actually have a deeper motivation which includes rewarding themselves and making everyone else think highly of their “outward motivations” – which are false.

While people are busy being proud of the manipulator, they are also falling right into the trap and helping the manipulator win.


Dysfunctional families are notorious for gaslighting. Sometimes you might even find an entire family that constantly tries to convince each other that they are all crazy. The sheer volume of madness present in some families is almost unbelievable.

Gaslighting, in case you didn’t know, is the ability to convince another person that they are crazy while taking advantage of them. I bet you’ve seen sisters or brothers doing this to each other. Honestly, this is so common, it almost seems like a normal aspect of the family unit.


Family manipulation sometimes comes in the form of intimidation. While it might not be straightforward threats, it can still be frightening enough to make you do what the manipulators want. This is what’s called “covert” intimidation which is veiled in a form of kindness, and it is hard to decipher at times.

Pay close attention to the choice words of the manipulator, and these words will reveal true intentions.

Guilt trips

A manipulator will use guilt trips on a regular basis. If you tell them no, they will find a way to make you feel bad about putting your foot down. Sometimes if you ask the manipulator to turn the volume down on their music, they will turn it off completely.

This tactic is used to make you feel bad about asking them to tone something down and will return by taking something away entirely. It is also done to show you they have control, and yet you should still feel guilty. It’s weird, isn’t it?


If family members are shaming your weaknesses, then they are being manipulative. For instance, if you have an insecurity about your weight, a manipulator will make shaming comments about that topic. Their intentions are to keep you beneath them in order to retain control. If they can retain control, they will feel better about themselves in turn.

After all, manipulators, truth be told, have a low self-esteem naturally, and all their tactics are used to fix that.

Is your family manipulating you?

Let’s take this one step at a time. If you’ve always wondered whether your family was manipulators, you can use the warning signs to discover the truth.

After you know for sure, you can research ways to improve your life or get support from others. Maybe you can help your loved ones in the process. It may be a long road to healing, but its worth it.

Are you in a manipulative family? I want to hear from you.



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This Post Has 52 Comments

  1. raghava

    yes i am in a manipulative family. i was wondering for a right person to share my problems so that i can get a solution. plz i need ur help bcz of mental pressure i always want to suicide .

    1. Sherrie

      Hello Raghava,

      I am terribly sorry for your situation. Manipulation is awful, and I can tell you that I have attempted suicide twice in my life and thought about it on many occasions. There is a reason, however, that I was not successful. I had a purpose. Now, when I think about killing myself, I remember the days following my attempts. After I attempted suicide, I had two more children, in whom I love so much. I went on to finish college, divorce and find someone who truly appreciated who I am, and watched my oldest son go off to college. If I had died that day or the day following, I would never have seen or experienced these things. So, when I think about it now, I always think about the things that tomorrow may hold. If I am dead, something miraculous or truly amazing could happen the next day, and I would have missed it. Also, if I am dead, I dont’ get another chance to try and fight for a better life. And yes, I felt like nothing would get better for me in those times, I was abused and trampled on daily. When I decided to keep going, I popened up those possibilites and many of them came true. Please, always think about what might be, tomorrow, next week, next year~ If there is not purpose but this, keep this near to your heart and never give up.

    2. Janice

      Wow, This is my husbands ex. Yes, she made my life a living hell until she succeeded in ruining my marriage through her children and my husband by using all of these tactics. She made me physically ill. These people are relentless. They are ruthless and stop at nothing until they destroy everyone in their family and in their path. The people she manipulates are weak and clueless. Why do people need to be this way? .

  2. Leonie

    Absolutely brilliant everything you described is happenig to me now at age 44. Ive recognised for some time covert narcissist traits in my mother and her abandonment/rejection issues have been projected onto me recently. She will go to arms lengths to ‘act’ a helpless frail sick role to keep me from leaving the family home which was only ever meant to be temporary after a relationship parting and redundancy which meant I relocated back to the North. Eight years later i am still here after complying to her needs to nstay. Aproximately 4 yeasr ago I met the love of my life and we embarked on a love affair with plans to cohabit which have been sneakily sabatoged. I have been subject to a ruthless smear campaign as well as blatantly bullied by other much younger family members recruited unaware by myself as flying monkeys. In addition I have had my human rights violated and my motor vehicles vandalised as well as items stolen from me. I am not budging my boundaries are clear and I will not submit to expectations inflicted on me that I have not agreed nor negotiated. The bigggest mistake in this from my mother is that I dont reuire validation or approval from her or others and as she cant manipulate nor bully me into co-operating she is becoming more and more disturbing in her behaviour. Its true what they say an educated empath is a narcissists nightmare and when I leave to my new abode I wont look back but wave and smile. This article has come at a timely moment for me which I believe to be a synchronicity and I thank you for reinforcing my strength and courage to continue to live the life that I so choose. Cheers

    1. Sherrie

      It is difficult leaving a narcissist. In many ways, you feel responsible for their wellbeing. Considering you know the truth about them, this makes it hard to leave them to their own devices. You actually fear that they will harm themselves or someone else. When you get to the point where you realize your self-worth you will also feel so sorry for them. It’s a tragic relationship. When it comes to someone like a mother, this is so much more difficult. You have to find a balance when it comes to blood family, where you can still check in but not feel obligated to be at their beckoning call.

      I wish you the best, Leonie.

  3. Carly

    Thank you so much for this article. I have a manipulative family member and it has caused me a lot of pain over the years. We were very close as children, but for as long as I can remember she’d ask me for favors and have me doing things for her without ANY show of appreciation or gratitude. It was an expectation. Like I owed it to her. No matter what I did I always felt like I wasn’t doing ENOUGH. I was never up to par. I always found myself doing things I didn’t want to do. She often used guilt trips. Always subtle and passive aggressive. After a while I began to distance myself from her because of it. I dreaded calls from her because it was always asking me to do things for her. I felt so guilty for not wanting to be close to her but the relationship only drained me. This made her worse. When I see her at family functions she will often give me the cold shoulder. It’s very hurtful and often makes me sick to my stomach. For a long time I blamed myself, thinking it must be me. After a while I began to think maybe it’s not me. Maybe I don’t owe her anything. Maybe it’s not my job to please her. I just have to learn to be okay with that. I’ve always been a people pleaser and she took advantage of that. I have another family function coming up where I’m sure I’ll get the cold shoulder. I don’t want to give up the rest of my family so I just want to learn to detach from her and know I’m okay the way I am, even if she doesn’t accept me that way. So I really appreciate this article. Again, thank you!

    1. Sherrie

      You are doing the right thing, as difficult as it may seem. Warning: Her next move may be to slander your name. I just wanted to forwarn you so that it wasn’t surprising when it happened. Most of the time when narcissists cannot get their way, they will talk bad about you to others. It is the only way they can fight back. It’s all a game to them. Just keep being kind and keep your boundaries as you want.

  4. Emack

    I am not going to say that my parents manipulate me. They really do not. But, it always seems that one or both of them try to scheme or come up with an excuse whenever I prepare for a trip overseas or somewhere like Las Vegas. I guess that they are more scared than I am. I however am a 32 year old man who can do and go wherever I am.

    Parents give birth to their children. Parents also raise their children properly (while some parents abuse or neglect their children). However, parents need to realize that they do not control or own their children. Children have their own minds, feelings, desires, needs, etc. So, I as an adult child have a right to go after what I want or need.

    I am tired of doing what parents want or doing what I have to do. That is why I sometimes feel like I am half my age.

    1. V. A.

      Hi, Emack. I totally agree with you on this. I have an aunt who is manipulative. You want to know how someone like her can be manipulative? I have a cousin (her son) who left home for college. My aunt just couldn’t STAND her baby being away from her, so she actually recruited my dad (her brother) to try to talk my cousin into coming back home. Thankfully, he said “no” and stayed where he was. Another time, when my mom told her that I was going to Rio de Janeiro for a destination wedding, she (the aunt) said, “You’re letting her go?” Keep in mind, I was 37 YEARS OLD, old enough to plan a trip, save money for it, get a passport, and JUST GO. I still went anyway and had a FABULOUS time. (I didn’t find out about this, however, until after I came back.) And of course, she just HAD to put in her (negative) 2 cents’ worth when my brother grew a beard and mustache, which he likes having; that’s why he grew them in the first place. But her propensity for manipulation didn’t start just then; it started before I was even born. Back in the 60s, when my dad was in the National Guard, he had the opportunity to go to OCS. But my aunt, ever the “concerned,” dutiful, (over)protective sister, talked my dad out of going, citing my grandmother’s heart condition. Guess what? He didn’t go.

      Because of her behavior, I no longer talk to her. I want nothing to do with a manipulative, selfish person like that. I’m so glad she’s not my mom. God knows how much worse I’d be if I was.

      1. Sherrie

        My aunt was so manipulated by her parents that she let her boyfriend move away because her parents said they needed her to take care of them. My aunt was in her twenties, lived alone and was in love. Her boyfriend had to move a long distance and asked her to go. Everything worked out: her job etc, but her parents made her feel guilty. She died a couple years ago…never married, no children. 🙁 I once caught her running her finger over a photo of the one who got away…she never forgot him, and I sometimes wonder if she was bitter with her parents.

    2. Sherrie


      It’s okay and you are right. I tried this with my son a few years ago when he wanted to go see a girl in Texas. I grew angry and told him that he wasn’t going. Well, he said this: “I didn’t tell you because I was asking…I told you so that you would know where I was.”

      Of course, I was angry when he said this as well. But over time, I have come to realize that I can no longer tell him where to go or what to do. All I can do is be a positive influence and let him learn. Just have mercy on your parents, Emack. Their hearts are just breaking because you’re no longer their baby. lol



    1. Sherrie

      Thank you for reading, Christine

  6. alreka

    yes i am in a manipulative family.

    1. alreka

      how do I get help

      1. Sherrie


        I am sorry for responding so late. If you are in a manipulative family, the first thing you need to do is check your self-worth. Are you starting to feel guilty for things when you’ve done nothing wrong? If so, stop that first. I would say stand up to those who are abusing you, but I do not know your individual situation. This can work differently according to whether or not physical violence is involved. Stay strong and if you are spiritual, pray. Remember that whatever negative things they say about you is a reflection of them and not you. If you can find someone local to talk to, that you can trust, this would be helpful as well, as they may be able to get a clear picture of what’s happening in your family. It’s always good if someone else can see what you are going through because manipulative people can hide who they really are around everyone else. They can do this well, so get an outside eye invovled…just don’t let the manipulators discover this or they will turn it around on you. IF you feel threatened, do not hesitate to get help.

        Sending love and prayers

  7. Aleksandar Pavlovic

    Sherrie, I desperately need a strategy to respond to abuse of my mother and sister since my birthday and sisters birthday. Sister is 6 years younger than I am. She is born in 1983. I am born in 1977. My mother is born in 1953. My father passed away on April 25, 2013, in his 62nd year. He was 1951. My mother literally killed my father. I am the heavy victim of domestic abuse. I am pushed by psychiatric manipulations and psychiatric drugs poisoning since 1997. I am proclaimed for mentally incompetent in 2009. This series of legal crimes happened in Serbia during the 80’s, 90’s, and the third millennium. I need the strength of spirit, cunningness, fitting into the situation, seeing the situation in real light, it wouldn’t be good to make the circus before the circus, I need maximal status secured, my future depends on one moment of the luck. I couldn’t do any of those before. I desperately need strategy and fast implementation to rid off all of that lifetime evil off me.

    1. Sherrie

      I am sorry for the delay in response, as I sometimes do not see my comments from earlier posts. I try my best to go back through them as I can. I am sorry for your stress and anxiety, so I will help as much as possible. Unfortunately, different locations bring different issues, and I may not be able to come up with a perfect solution for everything. My heart’s desire, however, is to help you as much as possible.

      First off, if you are spiritual, any sort of meditation or opportunity for alone time can only benefit you. Stable emotions help to stable the thinking process, so if you can learn to control your emotions, you can thinking more clearly. In order to get out of the influence of any dangerous drugs, you must stabilize your emotions, thus bringing clearer thoughts to do this. Meditation can help you focus so you can stabilize your emotions naturally.

      In simple terms…focus, breathe deeply and then strive to bring down anger, resentment, and fear…under control. Self-control is so important for fighting external enemies, as they feed off your insecurities.

      One step at a time, Aleksandar.

  8. Sarah J LaPlante

    Hi I’ve been in therapy for a long time now. My current therapist has opened my eyes and told me, “Do you realize you are being manipulated?” I had no idea. Now that I look back it is quite obvious. I am going through a roller coaster of emotions. I don’t even know which way is up right now. My therapist suggested that I retain a lawyer. So I am going to file a civil lawsuit. I am waiting for my family to get served the papers because things aren’t going well right now, I can only imagine what’s going to happen when the papers are served. I’m so lost and scared. I have limited my contact with my family but they are holding my nephew hostage and that is killing me. I feel defeated already but at the same time I am spending more time with friends and they are supportive. I’m confused.

    1. Sherrie


      This is a serious situation that you’re in. I cannot imagine going through this sort of thing with my family. I went through this with an ex-husband but I just pretty much walked away. I do have to deal with him a bit because we have children, but other than that, I stay away. Although I cannot tell you what you should do, I do offer my support and love. Please think things through and find emotional support there locally for when these papers get there. You will need support in case it gets really ugly. I wish you the best.

      1. Sarah LaPlante

        Thank you for the kind words. I am sorry about your ex-husband. I am really sorry that kids are involved. I am esigning the papers tomorrow. I am really scared. I hope I have enough supports in place to do this. This is a barrier I have to set and I can’t let anything stop me from setting this boundary. I’ve had enough boundary violations. I am suing for such a small amount of what she owes me and a car that is in my name. (15 months I’ve given her. worked with her. and she ignores everything. she didn’t even touch an insurance payment.) I’m done! I’m tired! I need to stand up for myself for once!

  9. Crystine

    While it’s not myself who is being manipulated, it’s my boyfriend. The story is a novel long, so I’ll list points:
    – In the beginning of our relationship, we broke up twice due to his female friends & sister telling him that I’m no good for him, that I’m a joke, that I’m a trashy wh*re. Etc. Etc.
    – The sister is by far the worst, with always bringing up an event [a lie] that he was never there for when he actually did go. In fact, knowing he was on a date with me, she demanded him home by 8 pm to take care of things.
    – His mother and sister always said that family is more important [as well as used grandparents possibly dying any day now] to keep him away from me every time he wanted to visit me.
    – After his female friends bullied me on social media and in his face, he cut them off. They blamed on me.
    – After his sister attacked him emotionally and mentally, he cut her off too. Because of his decisions, his entire family concluded that it was me controlling him with cult-like behavior, and isolating him. He’s simply choosing to be with me because the people he thought were friends and a loving family failed to support him and respect his decisions.
    – They tried booking us a ticket to Disney without prior permission from us, and wanted to keep us in a room with the mother.
    – The sister wrote a long e-mail to my boyfriend, which was titled “An Apology” when in fact, it was 7 paragraphs of manipulation emotionally and mentally. She compared his relationship when he was 17 to me [I’m 32]. She used a cousin’s death against him. She used memories. She said I don’t bring out his best.
    – His parents insists they only know what’s best. His mother always reminds him of the tears she cried every night when he moved in with me. They insist a relationship work best when there is constant family involvement and interference. She was planning out our weeks with them every 4-5 days to the point where it would leave room for no alone time between himself and I…. and I’ve had it.
    – She invited herself over without asking. We never gave her our address… she found his car.
    – We finally moved 3 hours away. They can’t wrap their mind around it. He’s suffocating. They pushed him away. And everytime he tells them what he wants and needs and would appreciate from them, they shrug it all off as if he doesn’t know what he wants. He’s 25. He’s not a child.

    That’s just knocking out a quarter of what happened WITHOUT the details.
    He told them that this holiday, he wants to create his own traditions with me alone. His mother still won’t drop it. She’s still saying she’s coming up, and will stop by. “Could you AT LEAST do a lunch or dinner? You’ll still have your holiday traditions. I’m your mother for God’s sake!”

    We aren’t cold and heartless. I have a mother too. She accepts my decisions and respects them.
    I’ve never been involved in something like this before, and I recognized SO MUCH of the manipulation and control from his sister and eventually his mother, and his female friends [who are in a relationship of their own] because I was in an abusive relationship prior to this one. I recognize the gaslighting signs and other forms of mental and emotional manipulation.

    I just hope they stop, respect, and accept soon… because they’re losing him.

  10. Martine BIGGS McNerney

    Dear Sherrie,
    I am deepening my healing from childhood trauma, family manipulation. Sibling estrangement.
    Please recommend any leads for good reads to gain a fuller understanding of my role in all of this and how to take accountability for my actions.
    Healing. Lifelong Recovery. 2019 my Retirement Year.
    Thank you truly,

    1. Silkie

      Martine, I would also be interested in Reading those sources. Your situation sounds a lot like mine. I can’t help but feel partially responsible; and wonder what role I play in this ongoing anxious relationship!

  11. Shatha

    My parents are manipulative. They sometimes be little me, my brother, and my sister. They make me feel worthless. I want to know how to deal with that kind of behavior.


  12. T

    Hi Sherrie
    Useful to read these experiences. I am recovering from what I can only describe as questioning my sanity. Twenty years ago my father passed away at the time my sibling , who has studied family dynamics, suggested a story about ‘heads of family’. Not really appreciating the significance I repeated the conversation with in-laws. As a result a family member started acting up, to become the golden child. Due to their behaviour and other members, a breakdown in relationships occurred. No contact for 9 years. Same scenario has occurred again within my own immediate family, with the source of the problem being the original sibling. Have gone through family feuding on 3 occasions and have dragged our children through it too! Don’t have any contact at the moment just keep our heads down and focus on our own unit. Problem is no sense of family, don’t know who to trust and family members are trying to maintain contact with our children. What do we do?

    1. K

      I would like to talk to you. I’m in the same situation right now. Once I uncovered truths about my families past and called it out in nothing more than a kind question I got hit hard. I didn’t realize until I really started to crack what has been going on my whole life. When you wake up from the fog and see from the outside what the gaslighting has done to you it’s amazingly enlightens, I’m not crazy or depressed or ill it’s all been cognitive dissonance and they keep trying to do it. But I’m empathic and I know the truth now. That makes them scared. They have sucked my eldest daughter in and she is believing their lies. My vengeful ex is in on it too. I would like to speak to my daughter but she won’t believe me I don’t think because they and Maher father have her so brainwashed. I don’t know what to do, I’m no contact now, they have tried to reach my son. I’ve shut that down. I am strong for me and my family, but I see what this is doing to my daughter mentally just like what it did to me and I’m scared for her, they want to make me look crazy so I think I’m in a holding pattern until she breaks free.

  13. Mary Diman

    Sounds like my live. At 43 I’m just starting to understand these behavior patterns and how I play a role. I’ve been trained to reacte a certain way to provide everything be else with their needs.

  14. Maria

    My family fits the bill for this. We have a parent with dementia and our nephew was appointed her care giver and after many phone calls from him stating that our father was manipulating our mother’s finances to use on another young lady he had us convinced that he was the best option to be our mother’s power of attorney. He has shamed us for not being there for her 24-7 he has used words such as “useless” and told me personally via a text that is what our mother has told him and how he see’s it’s true. We all do our best to help out I have gone above and beyond to help them with insurance and finances but that household is toxic. We are afraid for our mother but she seems to still want him to be her caregiver and POA for medical only. We fear that he will try his narcissist ways to manipulate our parents to Will their estate to him since he and his wife’s family live there and our parents do not care how we feel about that. My nephews wife’s family takes advantage of our parents generosity because they are elderly. My nephew is a narcissist he gets that from his father, they have no relationship. My nephew has gone so far as to say our father will be having affairs with women and catching diseases from them and has informed our mother about this and with her dementia she believes everything he tells her. It’s a mess! We can’t remove him as POA because our mother just loves her grandson and he’s convinced her that we want to place her in a nursing home, assisted living – which she hates, so that she keeps trusting him over her own children. 🙁

  15. marie

    How to deal with fiancee and older sister , both older than me.she is almost 80 years old and talks to him lies , manipulates and controls him like a little boy , and he believes her ,although sometimes I see him suspicious, she calls behind my back knows im on to her so no longer wants to speak with me and he is afraid to make her unhappy but its ok to make me unhappy. Dysfunctional family I have many years in this relationship he is now with cancer,.I feel I have no say as they want to be the boss, as they are both older than me, all goes back to their confused childhood and upbringing, Sorry to say I put up with it for the time I have invested, and try to remember him when he was more of a man to me

  16. C

    hello all, i am living a life like hell. i am always defamed, emotionally tortured, left alone and insulted by my whole family and relatives. everyone laugh at me when ever i tell my story. it makes is much worst. never wanted to get married, but tactics used by my parents were enough to change my mind. lies, frauds, manipulation, acting and called names daily. have never had a goal. my wife got to know it all, whenever we have had an issue, her whole family stands with her, my whole family stands against me. then they start blaming me for everything. suffering from migraine, had a few accidents after marriage.
    never taken care, always felt ashamed and told that i can not do anything. they are so manipulative that anything i say to anyone becomes a lie. i tried to live away always. but my parents and my wife never wanted it to happen. since childhood. i have always thought of dying on my own. few days back i am insulted like hell by everyone, everywhere. i am having emotional attacks.its just like a nightmare coming true. i don’t know how many days left in my life. everyone around me have a strong believe that parents can’t be wrong. my parents are not wrong for the world (they don’t do a thing that publically can be called wrong, they just hurt me personally and cover it with a lie to the word). they just want me to die.
    i am dying of insult, pain and injustice. I loved my whole family. i wish it is a bad dream but its not. how and why should i live, can i… is there any answer to this

    1. Rumsha

      Hi C,

      I’m really sorry to hear that. I hope you know that you aren’t the only person who is suffering from this. As a child, I was also manipulated by my family in such awful ways. They have continuously questioned my ability to do things on my own, and don’t support my future goals whatsoever. It can be really hard to think differently, especially if you see them often. I’ve been getting therapy for about a year now, and it has helped greatly. You asked how and why you should live, but the best solution would be to find your answer to this. Don’t live for other people. Live because you want to live life to the fullest. Don’t let your family hold you back in any way, and do what you want. Nothing good can come out of harming yourself. Prove them all wrong. Show them that they have no power over you, and that you are perfectly capable of chasing after your dreams and being happy. We all have our own reasons for living. I personally want to live so that I am able to learn from my experiences, and explore different things. My number one goal in life is simple. To be happy. If the people in your life don’t show you love or support, why should they be a roadblock to your happiness? I would highly recommend journaling and writing (or typing) away your emotions and thoughts. It certainly helps me get things off my mind. Meditating can also help you relax, and hopefully lessen the amount of emotional attacks you have. I used to have mental breakdowns every day, but meditating has worked wonders for me, personally. If you’re really adventurous, maybe even try saving up money to travel to another country or state. Things like this can help clear your mind off of things, and focus on yourself instead of what others may think of you. I hope to become a therapist someday, and so I wish you all the best. And always remember to try thinking of the positive and taking things one step at a time.

  17. Tasch

    I don’t even know where to start. So quick recap, I moved to my parents property due to my divorce and my mums health issues at the time. There are three families in seperate houses. Me in one, my brother, wife 4 kids in another and my mum in another. I realised a few years ago my Mum has been manipulating me all these years. Trying to get space between us and stand on my own two feet has caused her to have angry emotional outbursts to try and intimidate me and tearfully blaming me for her sudden depression. When I finally stood on my own two feet and began to make my own decisions and build friendships with other single mums like me, she involved my younger brother. He is showing bullying tendencies entering my house without asking (my mum says he should be able to) demeaning my parenting, my decision making and making it seem like I don’t care for my mum properly causing her to be sad. The two of them together has been very hard to deal with and I feel like I need to walk away from both of them. Is this wrong? I’m at the place I will be happy to leave the home I built and start from scratch. It’s like they tag team me one gets agressive, the other then acts sweet and kind and when I show my hurt it is shared with the other one and then used against me. My grown sons want nothing to do with either of them and they keep telling me to get away from them. I always thought families have issues and you work through it but this is getting overwhelming. I believe I am a strong woman but this has effected my sleep, eating and overall health. I’m in a constant state of dread about what may be thrown at me next. My happiest times are when I am away from home and spending it with my boys and my friends.

  18. Lou

    Hello, I am in a manipulative family situation. My older sister lives with an alcoholic former military husband in another home. She is always judgemental and emotionally repressive. She blames me for her mistakes and when my mom comes in, she agrees with her and says the one thing that scares me the most, “It is the same thing with you,” and later blames me for it. I always feel that sister is wrong on what she says but is pretty smart on volunteering. However, it doesn’t prove to me that she can be a “good sister/mother.” She hides her eccentric attitudes with altruistic ones only to prove others that they are not looking. She currently raises three boys, but I always feel the first two are not happy with her mother due to how hard she treats them, treating them like if they in military boot camp. When she scolds me, mom and sometimes my younger sister, blame me for it when I know first thing that I did not do anything wrong. I absolutely hate fighting with my household family but they give me no other choice. They call me rude for no reason and threaten to disown me or call the cops on me and shove me into a jail cell for no reason. I graduated from high school with a hierarch and bureaucratic principal, but I’m still manipulated by the older sibling when I’m in college. One time she told me that “you may not be able to change your major in college” because she went to college herself and talk about having to someday apply for loans which I would not like to do. I don’t say anything or say that I disagree with their “tips” due to the fear of getting of being told “Well, we cannot tell you anything anymore because you will get mad.” When I talk to someone I trust, let’s say a friend or another relative like an uncle or aunt, they get into my face and say that I am a manipulator myself and a show-off and threaten to take my stuff. I always wonder “Why does this have to happen not only to me but also to those that are going through that? I was a high school male cheerleader, yell-leader as some call it, for only my senior. The reason is because it seems my mother never supported me for that and wanted to take classes that are focused on “making a career.” During football senior night, I was so embarrassed and felt kinda hazed (was not really hazed) when my sister pulled my side to side in front of my fellow cheerleaders, the school’s dance team, the JROTC, the band and football players. Today, it gets harder after my dad suffered a stroke the summer of last year, but he is able to walk with a four leg cane, but struggles with his speech. I’m still struggling with emotional repression and manipulation by my older sister and mom. I just wished they would listen to me and care about what I am going through without their use of repression and manipulation. What must I do to end this situation? I really do need your help. Thank you, very much.

  19. Richard

    I’ve actually been suffering from this type of situation.
    seems like my relative is taking advantage of the fact that I’ve got no one☝ to support me at the moment. hence using it against me

  20. Matthew Thomas

    Our parents had a will that split their estate equally among their five kids. When our sister abandoned her kids, our parents moved near her as they felt sorrow for her. Over a number of years, she began taking their possessions – multiple cars, cash, etc. Then, near the end of their lives, we learned that she had manipulated their will and virtually became the sole benefactor. She was a sister I didn’t know for 50 years. However, I am so thankful that I know who she is now so we will never be hurt by betrayal and lies again.

  21. Divina Castillo

    Hi. Yes I’m in a manipulative family actually my father’s side. We didn’t grew up with them. They always do that to us including my siblings they are scared of them and even when you talk back they’re gonna do physical abuse and verbal abuse even mental abuse to you. And they always blame us for our cousin’s faults.. Then when we get home when our father’s not around they will yell at you and even shame you infront of people outside when you just commit a little mistake like a drinking liquid spilled or a little mess they’ll make the problem bigger. And it’s not new to me’s been 4 years and they’re still doing it..I hope we can find a new living home someday because I hate being in this house it’s not healthy anymore. It’s abuse. They always compare us.. And it’s the first time I’ve heard them say something like “I wished you were never my grandson/grand daughter!”, “You will never be successful! Cause you’re stupid!” “See, Your cousins are better than you” and all we do is just stay silent even we want to let out all the words we wanna say… Because it’s hurtful you can’t just say something like that and not face consequences after saying something horrible. They don’t even like to admit their mistakes. Sometimes I just wanna call the police because our uncle physically abused us. Being slapped 10 times and he lied about me not asking permission to go out when I did before I left. He even gossiped or said everything how horrible we are as grand children. Bad imaging us. I’m sick of these kind of people because we don’t deserve this.

  22. Yusi Warrels

    Yes. They control everything and want that i do things always differently.

  23. Britta

    I am living now since 17 years in an abusing marriage – and manipulative family in law … I am often dying … it’s not just hurtful if they do it with you, even more if your children are manipulated. It’s an mental abuse.
    I just try to hold on for my children – because I am not in my country … but more and more I am so tired

  24. Rahul Kumar (bhola)

    I am 28 yrs old
    I am middle child of my parents
    My mom and dad is very toxic to me not my siblings
    My dad hates me from my childhood and has no feelings for me unfortunately my mom also misbehave me and she also had no emotion for me
    My mom has affection and care to much for my siblings
    Whenever I fall in trouble and difficulty she left me alone and blame me for all thing for no reason
    But when my siblings has problems she do everything for them and talk politely with them
    But her conversation with me is always voilentaly
    I always feel what my fault is
    Now I failed to complete my dream which was to be a doctor
    I am severely depressed since three years
    And my parents not try to fix it
    Why my mom always left me alone and take sides my siblings
    She does everything to make them happy not me
    My mom always blamed me in front of my relatives and friends
    I am very upset what to do
    I also suicided but I saved
    I feel very lonely and upset and helpless but she has no sympathy
    Whenever I go near to her and want to live in my house she misbehave too much
    When I go away from her she take deep breaths and become less misbehaving to me
    What should I do I am totally upset
    My life is ruined
    I also not taking care of myself
    I hurt myself

  25. ss

    Subtly manipulative. So much so that it took so long to see! Until one day I realized that my entire core and authentic reality had been denied! I have done therapy, and years of work. I am now living independently, and yet I find I must stay vigilant, as they will continually attempt to pull me back in only to devour me again. It takes discipline to remember MY freedom and success does not mean THEY have changed….nor has my relationship with them changed.
    And even though I’m doing well now, I still read about toxic families and people occasionally, just to remember that yes, this IS them.

    1 Peter 5:8 also address the need to stay watchful.

    It’s interesting the example you used on shame in the article.
    I was never self conscious about my body. But at a young age, like around 10, my father started pinching my legs when I had shorts on, making comments that I “carried my weight” here like my Mom. He then started obsessing about body fat and numbers and percentages. He would only do this when we were alone, mostly in the car. He would also make comments on people’s bodies. Like if a larger women would cross the street while we were in the car, he’d say things like, “move it, fatty”. And I would witness this.
    This is what I mean by more subtle manipulation. I was never called the name “fat”. I was never told I was less than if I was. But the message came through loud and clear. “Love” was conditional.
    And it was implied I had to be careful in this regard. I witnessed hatred toward others who didn’t meet his standard.
    The toxic person programs shame and hatred into you, whether you yourself feel it or not. And soon enough, you just do.

    Because I will tell you MY reality.
    I am a slender woman. I was a slender child. I did NOT have any fat on my legs, nor did my Mother, who was a size 6. I’m actually a size 2. No, it’s not from an eating problem. I’m just slender.

    So I remember as a child knowing inside there was something wrong with him saying this. I never felt fat nor did other children think I was. In fact, I was quite popular. AND NEVER-THE-LESS, the abuse still got to me.

    Even when you don’t believe them, it still hurts, because you think, this person is supposed to love me. And as a child, you want to be loved.
    So you take in what they say and give it weight.
    Only later do you realize they don’t love you.
    And that’s the real hurt.

    I can not imagine how I would feel if I WAS also self-conscious or if other children thought I was fat when he did that to me!

    To anyone reading this, you are NOT “less than” whatever comparison this toxic person decided you were.
    I never bought this particular idea 100% and the idea was STILL implanted in my head. I know intimately it takes time to unwind. It is best to have a therapist programming in new messages.

    I remember the day in therapy I did a body scan, and was asked to connect with myself. I was in an alpha wave, relaxed state. We are normally in beta waves in waking.
    The therapist was asking me to connect with feelings. Suddenly, I spoke, “my legs feel fat”.

    So 15 years later, as I am lying there, 115lbs. in size 2 jeans, it fully came out. I was completely unconscious I even had that in me.
    She calmly said, “Your legs? They look fine to me. Very beautiful and slendar.
    I almost cried.
    I remember feeling that. I felt my thighs. I’d never heard that before. I just lay their quietly. It felt good to have someone else see something different and say something beautiful.

    And soon you start to learn.
    You learn all the stuff you DIDN’T hear.
    You don’t just learn that the stuff that was said was toxic to hear, you also learn the void that exists in all the beauty in you that went unspoken.
    You must be re-programmed and feel it in you… you felt those negative implants as a child. Except they are now to be positive.
    Every negative imprint must be replaced. It can be. It is possible.

    What I ultimately learned is my father was ashamed of his body in many ways, and he projected his feelings of shame onto me.

    Toxic people make you feel what they feel. They make you think what they think. They can not let you BE, because they can not BE, and they can not see you or allow to you be joyful.

    It is not your job to heal them. Only if the Holy Spirit intervines can they be saved. The best you can do is pray for them and stay away.
    YOU get healthy and joyful and let God handle the toxic person.

    I have numerous examples like the one I shared above. Lots of manipulation, programming, dismissing, and mental and emotional abuse. Some physical.

    Now that I’m healed and older, I see the weakness of my father. I very occasionally talk with him. I am trying to honor the relationship spiritually as best I can while also loving myself.

    I do know EXACTLY what to say to hurt HIM now. I know how to make him feel small and self-conscious and ashamed. Just like he did to me.
    But I don’t.
    Not anymore.

    Because then, what have a become?

    I wrote earlier, “Toxic people make you feel what they feel. They make you think what they think.”
    So if I give back what they gave, then how am I better? How I not them?

    I have found it IS possible to stand up for yourself without putting the toxic person down. I consciously work to do this at the times I must engage. Ultimately, I prefer not engaging, or engaging very little. But sometimes I must. When I must, know it will be challenging, and I know I will need time after wards to re-center.

    One thing is for sure though.
    I did not journey full circle in my healing only to loose the very thing the toxic person was after from the beginning. That is, my soul and my salvation.

    I will keep my light. Keep my beauty. Keep my spirit on fire. And join my place in the future with my true Father, who loves me exactly the way I am.

  26. Charlene haughey

    My sister was like that to me As well she had a baby last yr never let me see it i was the only one that never got to see it i ask her few times I can see it never replied my messages I fought It was rude like I was blank out off the family for some reason.she never invited me n my partner to the baby christening either none off my family members did.But she let my brothers girlfriend see it before me she most toxic person ever controls my brother big time takes his money keeps him in doors she doesn’t even let him talk to us.They all lick her ass my mum n dad too. Till this day after all that the way they treated me was unreal made me feel worthless wasn’t part off them they are still doing it y I don’t speak to them anymore are go near any off them i can’t deal with them they’re are toxic just i just sed s to myself enough is enough my sister made me feel like I was jealous off her to everyone .😂don’t make me laugh i just got out off the situation y I could before i did something to myself.I know suffer from depression and anxiety keeping my distance from them was good for me n my mind i don’t need people dragging me down to there level I don’t speak to them anymore i did that for me n for my state off mind i like peace in my life not drama thanks!

  27. aj

    Yea… I can relate my family makes fun of me ALL DAY EVERY DAY they to manipulate me and me me always feel inferior

  28. Shane

    I my self have a sister that has all the above.i my self have tried the S word and i have come back stronger…i have 3 brothers and 2 sisters…1 sister has had used all the above to control the rest of the family…i first noticed when i was 7 years old as i was put in a sence of trying to put a knife in my hart…but i did not…i still have the scare to remind me on my chest…i am now 54 and i left home at 19 but with the downturn in 2008 i had to move back home…then my sister then first started following me room to room with only 3 foot behind me…un till one day she had the door slam in her face so to try to stop her.but it increased to a level where she broken a window of my bedroom where i was in the back garden… when i rushed in to the house..she was pulling every thing and smashing tv and tables tossing chairs around …i went the the phone to call the police but as i was dailing 999 she riped the phone out of my hand…i noticed she had cut her lower arm from breaking the bedroom window… she looked at her arm then she swiped the blood on to my shirt then proceeded to the kitchen…i ran after her..she went the the knife draw …pulling out a knife from the draw…just as she did ..i had to restrain her and disarm her…she then said…its you or me…so you can do it…DO IT!!!…i looked at her ..and said …no it you…you tried to kill me…its just you,,,i now fear for my life when i am at home…i work and i can not go home some times and fear one day she will kill me…so i sleep now in my jeep sixty miles from home..she got a a year probation and that was up 4 years ago …but not only my life i fear for but my mother and fathers life too as they them self still live there and are getting older..when i do go home the intimidation start when she see’s me…but its not only with me but all so with my brother…she all ways starts with a complement and then the insults dad had a stroke last 2 years and his mind is not well…now my sister has turned his mind against the rest of the family and is wearing down my mother to a state where my mother would agree with her so too have a easy day as my mother agrees with her my mother appologise to us ,,,it is a night mare …one that i do not wish on any one so much has happening to tear the family apart over her ways to control the family

  29. Ellen

    I’m 30 years old with no friends and stuck living with my manipulative aging parents who are in their early 60’s and my younger sister who’s in her mid 20’s.

    Now, many people in the neighborhood where I live say that I’m spoiled when that’s not the case at all, it’s just one of the manipulation’s of my Christian parents since both are leaders of a church my dad a Pastor and my mom a Minister.

    My parents have recently started to threaten me with marring me off to get me out of their house or call me and I quote from my mother’s own words, “shellfish, spiteful, spoiled, and entitled daughter”. My parents treat me like the house maid and whenever I don’t clean the kitchen or wash the dishes the other two women in the house won’t lift a finger to clean them saying that since they work they don’t have to do housework.

    Well if that was the case when I was working mind you I had to work and do housework and they did nothing hell the only thing my dad does is take out the trash and work on other people cars, people who mainly take advantage of him using our house as their storage for vehicles they no longer want.

    As of late I’ve been trying to talk to my mother about how the housework is so uneven that she only get’s mad every time I bring it up and try to guilt me into doing the work anyway. Lately I’ve be so under the weather that it’s affecting my depression but my parents brush it to the side saying, “I’m just being lazy and need to get a job”. Even my own doctors don’t believe me when I say I’m depressed, they only gave me a mild sedative for anxiety which doesn’t work and birth control to which I don’t need because I’m not in a sexual relationship, I’m ACE but my folks won’t allow that, they want me to get married and have kid’s like my cousins who by the way are even more messed up than I am.

    My mom also constantly criticize my weight, what I eat, how I eat, when I sleep which is now early in the morning from 4am to about 5pm in the afternoon. When I try to explain to my mother it’s not so simple to just sleep at the time’s they do she complains saying I need to get a job or go outside more.

    I’m so burned out and manipulated that I don’t even know what I want in life because so much of it is controlled by my parents. Even as an adult the older workers in the local plants would say, “Oh, I’ll tell your parents” or “You should follow what I say because I’m older than you and also know your parents”. One time when I went out to eat with my folks my own mother pulled me to the side and said, “Don’t embarrass me in here” but that’s exactly what she did to me when a co-worker I had at the time said that I don’t go walking with her group during lunch just because they always did.

    I need some advice,
    Severely Depressed.

  30. Lisa

    My grandparents are extremely controlling and manipulative they will use guilt trips all the time if i try to stand my ground on something, they will do anything to put me in a bad light infront of other family members, they have made damn sure i’m isolated from my siblings although they all do have toxic traits. Its had a tremendous effect on my mental health already having had one mental breakdown which i didn’t know at the time was down to being gaslit so much i became ill. Especially being a single mum it has really taken its toll on me, they use it against me when i disagree with something they will ask if ive taken my depression tablets, they make out to the rest of the family if i don’t take my medication i’ll be off to the loony bin. But yet they are very cunning, like tonight I’ve told them i don’t know if i will go on holiday this year with them ( i’m family scapegoat and i feel invisible unless i’m being criticized) and they’ve kicked their toys out the pram and said if i don’t go I will ruin it for everyone else and they won’t go either, then go out and buy chocolate and plants for me whilst i’m there knowing they are emotionally blackmailing me. I feel like im really stuck at the minute and its so draining every single day.

  31. Sherry

    My sister’s daughter is a pathological narcissist and tortures my sister by keeping the grandkids from my sister. This is killing my sister as there seems to be nothing that can be done. Does she walk away from her grand-kids?

  32. daniel

    I am in a manipulative family. All of them are, my uncle, aunt, father, mother and even my grandmother. The only reason why I keep going is because my goal will become reality and I will be able to leave them behind. I will never have to worry about them again. I do not care anymore for any guilt trips they may caused there not my responiabitly. I’m not staying around being insulted and calling names I’m leaving and when I do I will not answer their phone calls. I want nothing to do with them.

    I’ve gotten both physically and mentally sick many times because of them. I ended up with depression and suicidal thoughts. They say not to blame your problems on other people, but when those people call you names like weirdo, useless and worthless weekly I reckon I can blame them. Only when I am away I am less sick and hurt its only when their around me do I get this pain.

  33. Shamed

    I have a manipulative sister. She constantly makes passive aggressive comments about how I won’t move home to take care of our parents. For one, our parents are in good health, for two, she rarely sees them and live within a short driving distance and for three, my parents left home and never went back and don’t expect me to either. When she’s called out on this, she calls me horrible names and then tries to shame my parenting towards my children which is ironic because she doesn’t have children and never will. Then she blocks me from her phone. She’s almost 50 years old. The only thing that bothers me is she has seen my kids two times in the last like four or five years and thinks that she can do a better job and that’s the only part about this that has bothered me. The rest I don’t care about. But how do you deal with someone like this. If we never spoke again, I’d actually be good with it. But the fact that she thinks giving children drugs to help with their focus is making me a shitty parent. Anyway. Yeah. That’s my story.

  34. Gayla R Stivers

    Helpful info!!

  35. Lance V. Corral

    Hi Sherrie, I have a situation that is so involved over many years that I had no idea what taking place right under my nose. My mom passed away last weekend. I reflect over the last 15 years. I feel as though I failed my mom. So I need to review everything thats taken place over the last 15 years, I need someone to share my story with who can help me understand certain things and allow me the opportunity to explain what took place. I really need some help. Please. If theres ever been a time when ive needed the littlest of human kindness. Its now,

  36. Jason H

    My stepfather has brainwashed my mother against me. It started when she lost her job 10 years ago and she’s never really gotten over it and the experience left her feeling worthless, embarrassed, and betrayed by her employer, because they had no reason to eliminate her, especially in the manner that they did. My stepfather, who has always hated me, saw an opportunity. He has slowly convinced my mother that I am this horrible person, and will use bits of the truth, and constant repetition, to cement in her head that I am terrible. It’s to the point now where she doesn’t even want to be around me. To listen to her speak, is beyond frustrating, as you can literally see her working from his script in her brain. When she throws some nonsense he concocted at me, and I respond rationally, she had no leg to stand on because the premise of her point is flawed, and it will be at that point that he will interject to finish her point, and it makes even less sense, but aside from being a brilliant manipulator, he’s not the brightest. I am terrified that I have lost her for good. What makes it even worse, and something that I didn’t count on was the power of group think. They raised a female cousin of mine, and she has two kids that I used to be close to, but once they hit adolescence, he began his magic on them, and now he has the entire family all just running on the underlying premise that I’m a horrible person. He even has their neighbors involved. So my mother, with no friends, no job, and never left alone by him, only hears this same narrative repeated not only by him, but now my cousin, and her two children. So now he has the power of a group on his side, which has left me even more powerless to try to get through. Do you have any advice on how I can get through to my mother? It’s hard when he quite honestly doesn’t leave her at any minute. I know he reads her texts because the minute I tell my mother something, an example being that is 40 years of marriage he has never once apologized for anything, big or small, and the next time I’m around, he’s apologizing for this and that. Just one example of many. I know the only way for this to work is to get her away from him for a bit, but I can’t. Please help.

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