Have you ever felt confused or at a loss for words in front of a spouse, colleague or parent, to the extent that you have felt inadequate or, worse, a failure? Do you ever wonder why someone close to you seems to endure humiliation without resistance?
Manipulators are everywhere. At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey – but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim.
In this collection of short novellas, you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself, followed by a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Lastly, there is Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth.
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MANIPULATED LIVES by H.A. Leuschel
Hello and thank you very much for inviting me to ‘A Bookaholic Swede’!
Despite existing research and data about abuse, statistics cannot reflect the sad fact that too few victims report to the police, seek help or treatment, therefore remain unaccounted for. Toxic manipulation can be found anywhere, at any age and in many guises.
What is the manipulator’s greatest weapon? Diversion!
There is always something or someone else a manipulator can blame. It can be a tearful tale of having been unloved as a child, worse abused and misunderstood by people at home and school. Strategically employed these personal stories will be effective in getting what the manipulative person wants: appear special and fulfil their need for domination.
The day that their deceit is discovered, it is often too late for the victim to backtrack. Their very emotions and beliefs are in pieces if they admit to themselves that the person who has been telling them to understand their outbursts and frustrations has actually used them purely to achieve their selfish goals.
In the fifth novella of my anthology ‘Manipulated Lives’ called ‘My Perfect Child’, the reader meets Lisa, a woman whose own neglected childhood turns her into an overzealous and obsessive mother. She believes that you can never love enough but believes that loving no matter what is enough for her child to thrive. The story explores in more depth how crucial it is for manipulators to surround themselves with facilitators.
In the beginning
‘Oh, look at him. Isn’t he just the most beautiful baby in the world?’ Lisa exclaimed, holding her baby wrapped in a soft, light blue blanket, beaming with pride and joy. She had quickly brushed through her thick blonde hair, applied a little layer of lip gloss, powdered her face and changed into a freshly ironed light cotton shirt, prior to receiving her first visitors. It was a day she’d never thought would come to pass but it finally had. At the age of thirty-nine, after one failed marriage, a string of boy-friends and a few fleetingly unimportant infatuations – each time with the wrong guy, as she’d announced to her family and friends – she had eventually met and married the father of her son. She had been attracted by his multi-lingual and distinguished English education, his background of many professional successes, and his ability to tell stories with wit and historical accuracy. And, most of all, he was a gentleman in the truest sense: charming and honest and always ready to acknowledge her need to look generous and be pretty. They seemed a couple made in heaven, she with a job in marketing, he with the sale of a clever investment in sunny Spain, some rental properties and a small collection of valuable pieces of art. So far, their various occupations had kept them busy, never too stressed nor too worried. There had been no children in both of their lives until now, which had added to a lack of expense not to be underestimated.
‘Yes, he is, Lisa! Gorgeous and … oh look, he’s got your bright eyes. I’m sure they’ll be green soon!’ he said, and smiled.
‘Oh, Allan, aren’t we just the luckiest parents in the world? He’s perfect!’ she replied, giving her husband a list of things to buy and things to pack. Her voice incessantly centred the conversation around the new-born baby, his needs and wants, resolute in telling everyone time and again just how perfect he was.
Helene Andrea Leuschel grew up in Belgium where she gained a Licentiate in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She now lives with her husband and two children in Portugal and recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. When she is not writing, Helene works as a freelance journalist and teaches Yoga.
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