At one point in our lives, we are all too familiar with these types of characters in one or more areas concerning personal relations who are always trying to make us feel guilty for not giving them what they want by scheming, and manipulating our thoughts to their advantage.
“If you leave me, I am going to kill myself and you will be sorry.”
“If you don’t do as I asked, I will disown you as my child.”
“You don’t have time for me anymore that’s why I am failing at school and my work is suffering because of you.”
These common phrases from the people we care about are enough to force one to feel the need to succumb to their requests to ease our guilty conscience.
The most common type of blackmail prevalent in Botswana occurs between na├»ve young girls and the opposite sex.
A girl and a boy go on a date, the girl really likes the boy; in fact she has had a crush on him for years, the boy can see this and is willing to go with the flow.
After the movie they go to the boy’s house, the boy wants to have sex. The girl is a virgin and is of Christian upbringing.
Boy says, ”If you don’t have sex with me that means you don’t love me, and I will just have to find someone else who does.”
In most cases, girls who do not want to lose the boy would end up giving in, sacrificing their belief and vulnerability to the selfish boy who will only end up leaving them for some one else after getting what they want.
The boy would have used the fact that he knew the girl liked him a lot and would then, therefore, use it to get what he wanted by threatening to go somewhere else.
Emotional blackmailers know how much their counterparts care for them; they know everything that their partners like and pride themselves in, their vices and virtues and they use this against them in every way they know how to get their way.
Even in normal friendships between people of different calibers, there is bound to be that one friend who is always emotionally draining their friends into feeling sorry for them and granting them more than enough attention out of sympathy or obligation.
“You never come to see how I am doing, you know you are my only friend and that no one here likes me yet you are being distant and breaking my heart.”
In yet another series of random interviews carried out by the Sunday Standard, Michael Mosweu, a 26-year-old accountant who lives in Gaborone’s Block 5, has recently been saved from a relationship that was rife of emotional blackmail.
“I no longer had feelings for her because she demanded too much from me every time and it drained me. I tried to break up with her countless times and she would send me soppy smses in which she said she was saying goodbye as she was going to kill herself,” says Mosweu.
Mosweu says that even though he no longer loved her, he still cared about her and wouldn’t want to be the cause of her suicide.
According to him, this went on for months on end with him staying in the relationship so that she wouldn’t harm herself, until one day when he decided that he had had enough and left her.
Later that afternoon he received a call from the hospital that the girlfriend had overdosed on sleeping pills and was in a critical state.
After that he had to stay with her to make sure that she wouldn’t try to kill herself again.
It was a disastrous and trying time for him until she decided to leave him for some other man.
“You cannot imagine the relief I felt when she broke up with me because I was no longer obliged to ensure her safety; that was some other poor man’s job now,” says Mosweu.
Tebogo Molemi, a 31-year-old pharmacist has had his own share of what the youth would call “baby mama drama”.
It so happened that one night out drinking with his buddies, Molemi picked up a random girl at a club and had sex with her.
Unfortunately, as is likely to happen in most cases of drunken sex the condom broke and a child was conceived.
Also unfortunate for Molemi was the fact that he and the girl eventually found out that they had nothing in common and thus this fact caused conflict.
Between them, every time they tried to resolve how they would deal with the upbringing of the baby.
“I didn’t want to be in a relationship with this girl even though she was having my child.
By the time she started showing, she made my life a living hell, made sure to chase away any girl I was interested in,” says molemi.
Molemi says the girl, whom we shall call Neo, would emotionally blackmail him by saying things like:
“You made me fat and disgusting; no man wants to go out with a pregnant woman. Because of you marriage is passing me by. How dare you disrespect me by going out with ma-14 (young girls) and having a good time while I am miserable?”
Keone Diphuka, 34, and mother of two, feels different from Molemi on the issue of baby mamas blackmailing the father of their kids into spending time with them.
“These young boys have to learn responsibility. You can’t get someone pregnant and expect to get away with it; you have to marry the girl. A child is a very heavy burden; both of you were involved in bringing it to the world therefore both of you should take responsibility,” says Diphuka.
Asked on what her take on emotional blackmailers was, Diphuka declared that the only person who was able to blackmail her was her mother.
There were times that her mother would call her and tell her she was terribly sick just so she would drive all the way from Gaborone to Mopipi to check on her.
Normally, when she got there, her mother would be fine and would say that she recovered.
All the time she would ask her boss for more leave until she had spent her days; she was even given a warning once.
According to her, this happened to her a couple of times until she decided to confront her mother whose only reply was ”o tla nkgopola ke sule” (You will remember me when I am dead).
She says she would then feel guilty for not checking on her mother often and would let it slide until she eventually died.
Diphuka says she used to feel responsible but she now knows it wasn’t her fault, people die…
But the most frustrating kind of blackmail would have to be the silent treatment.
I can’t think of how many times in my past I had done something wrong and my parents knew about it yet wouldn’t say anything.
Normally, I would get a spanking so when I did the same thing again I expected it.
The parents would just continue with their business as usual obviously ignoring me when I kept anticipating what their next move would be.
The hard part was I couldn’t ask them when I was going to receive my punishment because there was a possibility that they didn’t know I had done something wrong.
Research helped come up with some words to retaliate to blackmailers.
When they say:
-I can’t make it without you
-you will be sorry
-I really thought you were different from the other men/women I been with, but you are worse
-why do you want to hurt me?
-how can you do this to me (after all I have done for you)
-why are you being so selfish?
-I gave birth to you
-of course you can I only met you some time back, you have been living with yourself longer.
-you may be right
-you are entitled to your opinion
-I’m sure that’s how it looks to you
-I’m sorry you are upset
-I know how angry/disappointed/hurt you are but it’s not up for negotiation.
-We don’t choose our families but I’m glad you are my parent.