First of all, I would like to make a general comment about manipulation. As such the term may carry a negative connotation and to some extent, it should because we probably have all been in the situation where we enter a shop and minutes later, depart with a product we originally had no intention in buying. It’s as if someone else outside of us has been pulling the strings and controlled our behaviour. The clever, friendly and savvy sales clerk sold us something, which we knew fine well that she would try, but we sometimes wind up feeling tricked. Yet, we accept that these manipulative skills are simply part of life. We apply them ourselves more or less subtly when we need something from someone or wish to achieve a goal. These skills though don’t carry the kind of malice and danger that are employed by malignant manipulators who exert their control over long periods of time, without people realizing it and when they finally do, it is often too late. They have lived in worry and self-doubt for too long. The damage has been done and despite an increased awareness on bullying and abuse, still too many victims either end up as headlines in a newspaper or remain hidden, unable to ever seek help.
Emily is confused. She wakes up after a fitful night, tossing and turning in her bed. She remembers the exhaustion of crying herself to sleep, the anxiety of listening for his footsteps outside her room. She gets up and prepares breakfast like she does every morning. Her three children wake up one by one, each oblivious of what their mother has been through. She has decided a long time ago that under no circumstances would her problems with their dad be theirs. They must be allowed the space for happiness, fulfilment and joy. Then comes the encounter with him. He ignores her and his jokes and hugs with the children make it blatantly clear that he is unaffected by last night’s row, that he will get away with his violent behaviour and make her believe that he was justified to do so, worse that she is hysterical.