manipulation, manipulation after tbi, manipulation after brain injury, tbi,


Manipulation is the practice of using indirect or deceptive strategies to change the behavior, emotion, or perception of others. Some individuals with a brain injury may show manipulative behavior due to behavioral and/or personality changes caused by the injury. They may have difficulty expressing their wants and needs and fulfilling expectations of others.   Therefore, they may engage in other behaviors, such as manipulation, to have a sense of control and get what they need or want. Some tactics that manipulative individuals may use on others include: 

Manipulation Tactic  Example 
Using strong emotional connection to control the victim’s behavior 
  • Overwhelming the victim with affection or loving gestures to make them feel indebted to the romantic partner 
Using the victim’s insecurities to control his or her behavior 
  • Making the victim feel like no one else could ever love him or her 
Lying and denial 
  • Lying about infidelity and then lies again when gets caught 
Using broad or exaggerated statements 
  • Accusing the victim of “never” being caring or loving 
Playing the victim 
  • Blaming others for feeling miserable and thinking that everyone is against him or her 
Changing the subject 
  • Attacking parenting skills of the manipulator’s parents when they confront the manipulator about his or her drug use 
Using fear to control the victim’s behavior 
  • Using threats of violence to make the victim do or believe whatever the manipulator wants or say 
Using social injustice or unfairness to control the victim’s behavior 
  • Pretending to have a cognitive disability to shame the victim or justify the manipulator’s behaviors  
Being passive aggressive 
  • Making excuses not to see the victim to express his or her anger towards the victim  
  • Denying that the abuse happened and making the victim question their memory  
Recruiting others to further help with manipulation 
  • Asking family members to remind the child of how much the manipulator has sacrificed for the child to convince him or her that the manipulator is not an abusive parent 

Strategies that victims can use to cope with manipulation are: 

  • Be aware that their behavior may just be a result from their brain injury.  A brain injury may amplify or alter a person’s personality and/or behavior. Understand where they are coming from and why they may feel the need to be manipulative.  
  • Know your rights and recognize when they are being violated. You have the right to be treated respectfully, express your thoughts and feelings, and say no without feeling guilty.  
  • Set healthy boundaries. Keep a healthy distance and avoid engaging with the manipulator until you really have to. Be assertive and firmly say no without arguing with the other person. 
  • Do not take their manipulative behavior personally. Avoid blaming yourself. Ask yourself questions such as: 
    • “Am I being treated with respect?”   
    • “Are their expectations reasonable?” 
    • “Does this relationship make me feel good?” 
  • Stay calm and collected. The more emotional and upset you get, the more they may feel like they can control you.  


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