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MANIPULATION: The Subtle Act of Emotional Abuse

“Have you ever been in a situation where there is food in the house, cooked and uncooked but you just wanna go outside and eat? And to make matters worse, its mama-put I wan go chop. No be juju be this bayi?”

This piece has to be one of the most thought-provoking article I’ve written in a while; reason being-the mere thought of manipulation stems from a place of emotional abuse and a lack of love. There is literally a ton of reasons why and how people get manipulated especially in a relationship but the two most basic things that are easily identified between a manipulator and its victim is:

  1. The manipulator is usually incredibly smart and very good at getting away with subtle abuse.
  2. The victim has an unnatural desire against common sense to be devoted and loyal to this person.

Anybody can be a victim of manipulation; it really doesn’t matter your level of experience or lack thereof (satan pikin no send your papa). Manipulation is such a subtle but yet coercive way of controlling one’s partner and because of its ambiguity, its usually only noticed after the damage is done and the victim is so far in that their identity is nothing but a far dream of their current reality. It is a very high level of emotional abuse that leaves the victim a complete shadow of themselves.


In our desire to love, be loved and enjoy the euphoria therein, we sometimes fall victims to the slimy hands of dark, insidious, controlling vipers who desire nothing but to pleasure in the pain and the desperate look of uncertainty in the soulless eyes of their victims.

An average manipulator isn’t one who would scare you off your feet, or make you running to the nearest MFM church for deliverance; quite the contrary. A solid manipulator is your very spec in a partner you are desiring for. Think about it; what better way to be deceived and destroyed than by the hands of the very person you believe to be “Your Spec”, you certainly won’t see it coming even if he slaps you into reality.


Best believe there are stages to manipulation; a manipulator doesn’t just appear and wreak havoc in your life; No, they love to mark their territory and assert themselves while imprinting their very essence into their victim.

  1. They love-bomb their partners: Women easily fall victim in this category. Intense displays of affection, intimate moments, charisma and charm, proper implementation of all the love languages. This method is used primarily to” break the walls” we all know nothing breaks a woman’s walls faster than money. Once they can successfully prove to you that they are more than capable of making you happy and they have the key to said happiness, they have automatically taken the ability to affect your emotions; in other words, they can choose when you should be happy and when you should not, depending on their mood.
  2. Most manipulators aren’t physical abusers (except for victims who have completely lost their sense of worth and identity), they would not want anything that would bring attention to them and in same manner expose their activities; they use subtle means of abuse such as gaslighting. Gaslighting has always been the most effective form of keeping their partners at bay because it leaves them unsure of their feelings, they start to question themselves and stray away from logic-leaning towards foolishness. Gaslighting remains the best tactic for emotional abuse.
  3. They alienate from loved ones: They would like to present themselves as not being willing to share or as jealous (which makes most women swoon with affection) but truthfully what they are simply doing is isolating you from people who are outside of his manipulative control and thus can call him out for his bullshit.

“P.S. I make use of the he pronoun for neutrality purpose and not as factual purpose, please let’s be guided. T for teinks”.


Its very important to clarify here and now that it isn’t all acts of love or display of true intent that are signs of a manipulator or patterns of emotional abuse. No! But, the intent behind the action should speak more than the action in itself. If you feel the manner at which a person desires you isn’t healthy then you should be smart enough to know when to apply caution; sadly; most women live in a delusion where they believe they deserve the most of everything, the best of everything and not for once do they think that such actions come with a price.


Most of us aren’t even aware that we are in abusive, manipulative relationships until a friend of ours points it out to us or we happen by chance to realise that something is wrong. Infact many victims put away their friends, family and even their life at the whim and pleasure of their manipulative partners.

So how do we know that we are being manipulated?

  1. You’re not yourself around your lover: Isn’t it ironical? The very person you should feel most comfortable with is the very person you are the farthest away from. You really can’t explain it but you feel happier when he’s happy, you can’t be any happier anywhere else, you dread the thought of he not being happy and would allow yourself be an object of his pleasure just to have a dose of the happiness that “only he can give”.
  2. You apologise for everything: Naturally we all know women don’t apologise ”I would know because I’m not trying to play with my peace of mind”, and this isn’t just about women; for any sexuality of the partner, you would see yourself apologizing for virtually everything. One shouldn’t apologise for what they didn’t do, so when one does it for virtually every minute the partner is angry, that right there is a sign of manipulation and abuse.
  3. Your expectations feel too high: But is it? Is it really? You’re really just asking for the bare minimum; but you feel so inadequate that you think maybe your demands or expectations are too outrageous. For the mere fact you even have an expectation feels like a burden that you think could affect the relationship and destroy the relationship “relationship wey na only you dey”.
  4. Your worth is worth very little: You start to question how you lived before, were you truly living? How were you able to smile then but your smile is now determined by someone’s mood? You start wondering if you’re worthy of love, worthy of any form of genuine affection, you start to question any form of kind gesture from people. One thing however is certain; that is, the happiness, welfare and sanity of your partner. You have now become a willing tool for your partner’s happiness and wellbeing (this one pass juju, even your village people go vex say you no dey bind dem again).
  5. You lose your crew: Family, friends, even haters, everyone who had you in their thoughts gradually become redundant and repressive in your new found lifestyle where your partner is the only friend, family and confidant you could ever need; Why, you ask? Well, that’s because they alone know what’s best for you and what you deserve, in what measures, when you need them even better than you know yourself. So what’s the point of having family and friends when you have ojukokoro by your side?



Okay Chima, we don hear-how we go take overcome am since e be like say you sabi everything?

Well the first step really is to acknowledge it. Now most people won’t acknowledge emotional abuse in their relationship or they could feel too scared to think that the thought of them being manipulated by their partner would eventually mean they’ll have to end things with them and so may continue in denial. If however, you are bold to admit that you are being manipulated and would love to come out of it, the next step is to also acknowledge that you may not have the strength to do it alone.

Someone who is being manipulated by their partner has traded their power, worth and in some cases, could have traded their very lives to their partner and could be too powerless to take it back.

  1. Get Help: You need help and fast. Depending on how far gone you are, it is very important to seek help as soon as possible and its best to seek this help with the help of family and true friends. Having people who truly desire your happiness and freedom are the first group of people to consult and seek advice from. Another group of people would be religious leaders, psychiatrists, experienced colleagues e.t.c
  2. Keep your distance: This is why moving with family and genuine friends would help make this point easy as they would give you the strength to stand on the decision (but this would only work if you have chosen to overcome the manipulation of your partner).
  3. Find your voice: You can do this by avoiding gaslighting and self-blame; it is important to note that the key to your happiness and wellbeing can not be in the hands of anyother besides yourself and if you gave it to another, you can take it back. The power is in your hands and is asserted by re-claiming your voice.
  4. Prioritize your needs: Be selfish, shift goal-posts, avoid responsibilities. Allow yourself to breathe (I mean, even the poor are told to breff, how much more you?), as long as divert all the focus from yourself to your partner and get them to become accountable, you will start to notice behavioural patterns that surprisingly was always there but you never noticed; patterns that would help you to realise that the feelings you have were one-sided and would never be appreciated in the way and manner where you would feel appreciated.

Remember that anyone can be a victim of emotional abuse and manipulation is very subtle, however, not everyone is a manipulator; so it takes a twisted, dark, narcistic person to derive joy and satisfaction in seeing another person suffer. Such people are all around us and could be anyone. So how do we stay vigilant? Please love yourself; wear your imperfection with a smile, hold your happiness jealously and be weary of people who target the key to your heart but don’t give out theirs.

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