Image of a woman's face in purple with finger in front of her lips and words We all have stories so its time to acknowledge #MeToo

The advent of #MeToo has revealed so many sexual predators who used some form of emotional abuse or manipulation to get what they truly want, perhaps we should begin thinking of new laws to protect women from predators who spring emotional traps to have sex.

I served in Iraq and was the only female in my platoon. We faced constant threat by the enemy, and I faced daily misogyny and sexual tension from my fellow soldiers. Eventually I was raped by another soldier and now suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). My predators never faced any consequences. I served my country and survived to advocate for other female soldiers, and now for #MeToo.

You may not be in the know, but what follows is a short list of dangerous and abusive ways to emotionally manipulate women or men, for that matter. Emotional abuse leaves no physical scars, but can be devastating to a person’s psyche causing years of anxiety and depression. And now that our dating scene has been aggrandized, simplified and hyper-sexualized by Tinder, Grindr, and the like, perhaps it’s time emotional abuse is treated by the law in similar ways physical abuse is treated.  

Neggingis the practice of subtly breaking down a person’s self confidence with low-grade insults, potentially making them more vulnerable to a sexual advance. Watch out for conditional compliments, “You have such a pretty face for a big girl.” Or being told things like, “You are so brave to wear that dress. I really find it refreshing that you aren’t afraid to dress that way.” This kind of shit should be recognizable from mean girl frenemy types from high school.

Fractionationis a manipulative scheme attempting to get a possible partner to “chase” them emotionally, by ignoring the partner, for instance. This type of manipulator often attempts to incite jealousy by paying more attention to others while ignoring the true target of their desires. They also use emotional appeals, attempting to create an emotional bond with a woman by telling bullshit sad stories. Women tend to be more sympathetic than men. Men share less deep and intimate secrets. If they are spinning alleged tragic stories on the first few dates, you can almost bet it’s bullshit.

Gaslightingis a form of emotional abuse where the manipulator convinces their victim that their own mind, memory, and judgement have been compromised by emotional instability or mental illness. They insinuate that the victim is crazy, for example. They encourage friends and family to also believe the victim is emotionally unstable and unraveling.

The following is something I like to call, “The fragile dick manipulation.” Convincing a woman to have sex without a condom, for example. They will lie, saying they cannot reach orgasm while wearing a condom or how they want to feel closer to the woman. Some younger males may claim if a woman refuses sex, they could be injured or even die from blue balls. Ladies, do not fall for this bullshit. Deny their advances or use condoms and protect yourself from these whining manipulating jack asses. If they try one manipulation, they will try others.

Some more subtle manipulators use what I call “Dream house pandering.” This is a combination of manipulations designed to get a woman to begin imagining a brilliant and loving future when the truth is the manipulator’s dream house is just his penis, which is probably one of those tiny homes. They manipulator may drive by a beautiful home and talk about how they’ve always wanted to have a family and live in a nice house like this. They can use anything that makes their partner begin to have nesting fantasies such as furniture shopping or looking at baby stuff. A lot of women have daydream fantasies where they picture what kind of house they will live in with their Prince Charming and how many kids they will have and what the kid’s names will be. I’ve had some guys try this on me by spilling out an extremely unlikely scenario whereby they buy a multimillion dollar home in a carefully detailed five-year plan they secretly know they can never deliver.

As has become so evident, we live in a world riddled with Weinsteins and Trumps, who terrorize women for their own amusement, and cackle and brag about their exploits.

We cannot leave women vulnerable to sexual violence that’s set up by some form of emotional manipulation. We’re just empowering abusers and rapists by failing when we don’t educate women about these very real dangers they face in this world.

It’s time we make emotional manipulators accountable for their actions. It’s time to teach women how to say “no” to emotional abuse and manipulation. We can fight back by teaching our daughters what real love is, and the difference between love and abuse.

Gena Smith was an intelligence specialist for the US Army in Iraq and a survivor of MST or Military Sexual Trauma. 

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