Magazine September 7, 2020, Issue

The Abusive-Boyfriend Left

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Claims of victimhood can be a form of manipulation

Many of us are familiar with the type of possessive boyfriend who tells his girlfriend that she’s betraying him by casually chatting with another man. Or the girlfriend who says she’ll engage in self-destructive behavior — go off her medication, binge-drink, or even commit suicide — if her boyfriend leaves her. In both cases, one partner says, “You’re hurting me!” or “You’ll make me hurt myself!” as a means of controlling the other. Most people consider this kind of manipulation to be objectionable in relationships. But it’s equally objectionable — and increasingly common — in political activism.

A case in point:

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Spencer CaseMr. Case is a freelance writer and an international research fellow in the Wuhan University school of philosophy.

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