Emotional Abuse and Controlling Behavior in Groups

The purpose of this article is to reveal how abusers use manipulation to control situations and the group dynamic involved, to better understand these behaviors so to be equipped to deal with them. Abusive people would rather keep control by any means and, unfortunately, resort to tricks because they’d rather not be found out. Certain tricks are common and can be found in any group situation in which the abuser creeps. Here we examine the abuser’s manipulations which they apply to gain control and power in various group situations.

Create a Crisis

While all situations can develop minor difficulties, abusers prey on crisis and create crisis to maintain their control. It’s the old trick of creating the problem to create disorder and then, being the creator of the problem, the abuser can confuse others and be the one in charge. It’s manufactured need.


Now that the crisis has been manufactured, the abuser can appear as the hero and solve the problem. Of course, one of their solutions is to single out people who are purportedly “the problem”.

The idea is that the manipulator appears to be the good guy, the one offering help, and the one who needs to be in control. This is an old political game and a marketing one too. It’s how cigarette companies convinced women that smoking made them liberated and how governments institute martial law. On the peon level at work or the lowest-level street game, the technique and dynamic are the same: There is a crisis and you need me, and you need me against them.



Now the abuser has created a problem, jumped in as the hero to solve the problem they’ve created, and will now seek to point out the enemy. The enemy might be you, every move you make can be interpreted as part of the problem, and, people being often gullible, the whole crowd is now against you. Misinformation is spread about you, whispers and malicious gossip, and now no one will talk to you and everyone is suspicious of you. They will unconsciously try to sabotage you.

Propaganda goes a long way in instilling fear, creating enemies, and getting support. Source:

Propaganda goes a long way in instilling fear, creating enemies, and getting support.

Create In-Groups

Nothing more effective than “divide and conquer”. The abuser and manipulator likes to alienate to keep control; conversely, going hand-in-hand with alienation, is the creation of the in-group; the group who is favored; it’s the one that is against you, the one you are purportedly against. This is done in political groups, social groups, at work, at school, and is heavily marketed to us daily. It preys on people’s arrogance, their need to have power and join the gang and to be popular or in control. This is the unfortunate aspect of the abuser’s power; they have power because people give it to them because of their own deep-seated corrupted needs.

The in-group inevitably alienates people, that’s the whole idea. The remedy is to not support or be a part of any group.

What To Do

Clearly, this phenomenon of manipulators controlling people in groups occurs on the microcosmic as well as the macro-cosmic level. The workplace bully and the politician both use this tactic, and the effects are the same, though some more expansive. They create conflict and disruption, alienate people and empower others, at various levels of costs and detriment. It is the desire for power that create these manipulations, a desire to have and maintain power over situations and people. The dynamic is readily recognizable to anyone who’s been in these situations and armed with foreknowledge and awareness, you might be able to shut down the behavior or avoid it entirely.

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