15 Ways Toxic People Use Humiliation to Control Others

15 Ways Toxic People Use Humiliation to Control Others


Relationships require mutual trust and respect, whether they are personal or professional. If these elements are lacking, the relationship won’t work. It may also turn toxic when control issues and humiliation are thrown into the mix.

Humiliation, humility, and humbleness have the same Latin root humilis, which means bringing someone low to the ground. While being humble is a virtue, humiliation is merciless. It’s using words and actions to demean, hurt, control, or even destroy others.

Have you ever played the game “King of the Mountain” as a kid? You and your friends found a small hill and raced to see who could get to the top first. The first person to the top was considered king or queen of the mountain until other players pushed them aside and claimed their royal title.


It may have been a harmlessly fun childhood game, but it’s not so fun in real life. Some people are so self-absorbed that they’ll stop at nothing to gain more influence, power, and possessions. They will push, manipulate, and humiliate their way to the top of society’s hill.

The game rules haven’t changed, but it’s just become personal and malicious in the adult world. Humiliation is a toxic mix of verbal, mental, psychological, and emotional abuse. It often goes unnoticed because the resulting scars are internal and can affect the survivor for years afterward.


Fifteen Ways that Abusive People use Humiliation to Control Others

Abusive control issues can exist in any relationship: family, friends, employers, or coworkers. The ploys usually start with simple problems but gradually escalate to toxicity. These are fifteen ways that toxic people humiliate others to get their way.


1. You Might See Manipulation by Humiliation

Abusive people humiliate others to manipulate their thoughts, words, and actions. They’ll continually needle you until you get frustrated and do what they want. If they have to insult and bully you, they’ll do it to get your cooperation.

2. Gaslighting

A critical element that toxic people use to humiliate others is gaslighting. It’s a cruel psychological game where they try to convince you that you’ve lost your senses. They patronize and shame you until you start believing that every issue in the relationship is your fault.


3. Jealousy

If you’re in a personal or professional abusive relationship, you’ll notice the person’s jealous nature. They are inwardly seething when something good happens, or you accomplish something. If they can’t be the star of the show, they’re not interested.

Sure, they’ll be right at your side during trying times. However, they’re with you to boast and not as actual support. They not only can’t rejoice with you, but they’ll use humiliation as a weapon to downgrade your good news.

4. Judgmental Statements Cause Others to Feel Humiliation

When it comes to condemning others, toxic personalities are the judge and jury. They harshly critique people’s looks and everything about them. Neither family, friends, coworkers, nor strangers are immune from their venomous remarks.

Ironically, the faults these people find in others are often the same ones they have too. So, they hide their imperfections by judgment, humiliation, and hurtful words. Be assured that if they are badmouthing others to you, they are doing the same to you behind your back.

5. Blame Shifting

Blame-shifting is a standard tool in narcissists’ arsenal. An article published by Psychology Today explains it as the person’s way to deflect their responsibility. Rather than own up to their shortcomings and offenses, they blame it on other people, usually those closest to them.

6. Don’t Respect Boundaries

For any relationship to be healthy and lasting, you need boundaries. These are essential, whether it’s personal or professional. Boundaries tell people what you find is acceptable or unacceptable behavior in your life.

Unfortunately, controlling individuals only care about their limitations. They will use manipulation and humiliation to push you past your limits. Little by little, you keep losing ground until they have complete control of the relationship.


7. Constantly Sarcastic to Cause Humiliation

To increase their habit of humiliation, toxic people often use mean-spirited sarcasm. They don’t even have to raise their voice or utter insults upfront. The tone they use and the implications can be hurtful, even when they’re said with a smile.

These poisonous personalities have perfected the intolerable art of the backhanded compliment. They often use these as a twisted form of humor, but they’re the only ones who are laughing. For example: “Your new hairstyle looks great. Are you wearing a new wig to cover your bald spots?”


8. Refuse to Apologize

Since many abusive people are selfish, they can fathom being wrong. It would indicate that they aren’t perfect and in control. Offering an apology is a sign of weakness they aren’t willing to display.



Even when forced to apologize, it’s rarely genuine or heartfelt. They’ll find a way to turn the tables on you as if you made them do it. Physically abusive people often say, “If you didn’t make me so angry, I wouldn’t have hit you.”

9. Insulting

Malicious people are in their toxic element when they’re in a group. The only way they know how to build themselves up is to belittle others. They can be exceedingly hurtful if you’re their partner, friend, or coworker.

They do their dirty work under the pretext of a joke. Their heartless humor often has veiled prejudice and hate. If you get defensive, this person will quickly say it was a “joke,” and you don’t have a good sense of humor.

10. Demand Loyalty

If you’ve been in a toxic relationship, you understand how these harsh people demand loyalty. Although they’ll never admit it, they are insecure and are afraid of losing control over you. So, they constantly expect you to prove that you choose them over everyone else in the world.

When they think you’re getting too close to family or friends, they get agitated and more controlling. They’ll often say things like, “it’s either them or me.” Unless you take a stand, they’ll completely isolate you.

11. Inconsistent Behavior

It’s refreshing to have friends and loved ones who treat you the same way every day. When dealing with a toxic person, you never know who you’ll get. One day, they may be pleasant, ranting and raving the next.

Beyond obvious mental issues, this is another control ploy. They don’t want you to get comfortable and perhaps stand up to them. It’s like being stuck in a house of mirrors, and you don’t know what you’ll see next. Sadly, there could be a condition like bipolar disorder lingering under the surface and fueling these inconsistencies.


12. Humiliation Tactics and Bragging Go Hand-in-Hand

People who are constantly boasting to others lack self-esteem. They think that if they brag about their possessions and accomplishments, others will admire them more. Abusive individuals take it further by belittling others while making their brags.

Not only have they experienced everything you have, but their story is better. They even try to “one-up” people in a hurtful situation.


13. Take Advantage of You

Healthy relationships are all about giving and taking. However, toxic people are always on the take side. The kinder you are and the more you try to give them, they expect more.

They can take advantage of you in all aspects of your life, such as your love, time, and resources. Should your generosity be hesitant, they’ll often use guilt or another abuse to get what they want.

14. Pathological Liars

Poisonous personalities are so used to lying that they may begin to believe the lies themselves. An article published by PsychCentral states that pathological lying happens with little or no empathy. According to the report, it’s usually a symptom of borderline, narcissistic, or antisocial personality disorder.


Unlike compulsive liars, pathological liars can control their behavior. Pathological liars also have an ulterior motive for their manipulative falsehoods. They often create a mythical world where they have absolute control and authority.

15. They Have Control Issues

Some individuals can’t be in any relationship unless they exert control. It can be a toxic mate or a micromanaging boss who must have you under their thumb. Such control issues may stem from low self-esteem or power-hungry narcissism.

If they can control small things, they’ll eventually seize complete control. They’ll criticize and manipulate every aspect of your being until you feel like a lifeless puppet. These people will use every cruel trick and device to break your will so that you will obey them without question.



Final Thoughts on Humiliation and Control Issues

Nobody has the right to humiliate, hurt, or control you. If you’ve identified one or more of these signs in a personal or professional relationship. Assert your requests and walk away with the dignity you deserve.

These narcissists will destroy you if you stay and allow them, but leaving this horrible situation takes a stronger person to break the ties that bind.


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