12 subtle ways manipulative people cast themselves as the victim

We often hear about the obvious signs of manipulative behavior. But what about the less conspicuous tactics?

Surprisingly, the most cunning manipulators often play the role of the victim to get their way.

So, pour yourself a cup of tea and let’s delve into “12 subtle ways manipulative people cast themselves as the victim”.

You might just uncover a few tricks hidden up their sleeves!

1) They often recount stories of their struggles

The first thing you might notice is how often they share tales of their hardships and troubles.

In almost every conversation, they somehow manage to steer the discussion towards their problems.

They’re quick to share stories of how they’ve been wronged or treated unfairly, usually painting a picture where they’re the innocent victim.

This tactic serves two purposes – it elicits sympathy and diverts attention from their manipulative behavior.

So next time you find yourself drowning in someone’s sea of troubles, it might be worth taking a closer look.

2) They subtly shift blame onto others

Another tactic manipulative people often use is the blame game.

They have a knack for making others feel responsible for their feelings or the problems in their lives.

They cleverly twist situations to make it seem like they’re never at fault.

They cast themselves as the victim and put the blame on others, often making you feel guilty even when you’ve done nothing wrong.

This can cause you to second guess yourself and even apologize for things you shouldn’t be sorry for.

So if someone always leaves you feeling like the bad guy, it might be a sign of manipulation.

3) They show excessive kindness

It might seem odd, but manipulative people can often be excessively kind or helpful.

They’ll go out of their way to do nice things for you, making you feel indebted to them.

This is a calculated move; by creating a sense of obligation, they’re able to position themselves as the victim when they need something in return.

“After all I’ve done for you” is a common phrase you might hear.

This can lead to an unhealthy cycle where you feel pressured to reciprocate their kindness, often at your own expense.

So remember, genuine kindness doesn’t come with strings attached.

4) They over-exaggerate their emotions

Manipulative people are often masters of drama.

They have a way of amplifying their emotions to gain sympathy or attention.

A minor inconvenience could be portrayed as a catastrophic event, and their reactions often seem exaggerated compared to the situation at hand.

By doing this, they position themselves as the suffering victim in need of support or assistance, and can make you feel obligated to help them out of their crisis.

So, if someone’s emotional reactions often seem over-the-top, it could be a sign they’re trying to manipulate you.

5) They are selectively helpless

One of the more subtle tactics manipulative people use is selective helplessness.

They may suddenly become incapable of doing things they’ve done before or tasks that they’re perfectly capable of doing.

By pretending to be helpless, they force others to step in and take over.

This not only gets them out of doing something they don’t want to do, but also paints them as the victim who needs help.

Take note if someone frequently needs your assistance for tasks they should be able to handle on their own.

6) They use passive-aggressive behavior

Manipulative individuals often resort to passive-aggressive behavior to get their way.

They may make snide remarks, give you the silent treatment, or subtly undermine your efforts while maintaining an innocent facade.

This approach allows them to express their disapproval or anger without openly confronting the issue, and when confronted, they can easily play the victim, claiming they were misunderstood.

So, if you find yourself constantly on edge due to someone’s passive-aggressive behavior, it could be a manipulative tactic.

7) They exploit your empathy

Manipulative people have a knack for identifying and exploiting the empathetic tendencies in others.

They understand that by showcasing their supposed pain, struggles, or victimhood, they can evoke compassion and willingness to help in those around them.

This heartfelt appeal often manipulates good-hearted individuals into doing what they want, all while they maintain their victim status.

If you find yourself constantly giving more than you receive in a relationship, it might be time to reevaluate the dynamic.

8) They create a sense of guilt

One of the harshest weapons in a manipulator’s arsenal is guilt.

They have an uncanny ability to make you feel guilty for things that aren’t your fault, or for simply living your life.

This could be for not spending enough time with them, not doing enough for them, or even for being happy when they’re not.

This unfair guilt-tripping is a powerful tool they use to control and manipulate others into fulfilling their wants and needs.

Always remember, you are not responsible for someone else’s happiness.

9) They’re always the ‘underdog’

I had a roommate once, Jenny, who was a pro at playing the underdog.

No matter what happened, she’d spin the narrative to make it seem like she was always on the losing end.

If we argued about chores, she’d talk about how overwhelmed she was with her studies.

If we discussed bills, she’d bring up her financial struggles.

It was exhausting.

This constant portrayal of being the ‘underdog’ is yet another way manipulative people cast themselves as victims.

They paint a picture of themselves as constantly being at a disadvantage to earn sympathy and avoid responsibility.

10) They never take responsibility

In the world of a manipulative person, they are rarely, if ever, at fault.

They have a remarkable ability to dodge responsibility and instead, shift it onto others.

Any failure, mistake or problem is always someone else’s fault, never theirs.

They are quick to point fingers and slow to look in the mirror.

This constant deflection allows them to maintain their victim status while others take the blame.

If someone never owns up to their mistakes, they might be more manipulative than you think.

11) They use emotional blackmail

The final tactic in our list is emotional blackmail.

Manipulative people are experts at using your feelings against you.

They may threaten to harm themselves, end the relationship, or spread damaging rumors if you don’t comply with their demands.

They use fear, obligation, and guilt to manipulate you into doing what they want.

This allows them to play the victim who’s been pushed to desperate measures due to your actions.

Always remember, emotional blackmail is not a sign of love or care, but of manipulation.

12) They rarely apologize

Lastly, they rarely apologize.

Apologies can be powerful. They can mend broken bridges and heal wounds.

However, when dealing with manipulative people, you’ll find that they rarely apologize.

Instead, they twist situations in their favor, making it seem like they are the ones who deserve an apology.

It’s a deeply saddening trait because it shows a lack of empathy and understanding, key components of any meaningful relationship.

Yet, it’s another way they cast themselves as the victim, skillfully dodging any responsibility for their actions.

Picture of Nguyet Yen Tran

Nguyet Yen Tran

Yen is a freelance writer and a researcher specializing in mental health, self-awareness, and psychology. Her hobby is studying human behavior throughout their reaction upon situations. Be sure to check out her other posts on our blog.

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