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The Difference Between Emotional Vampires/Abusers and Sensitive People

When you grow up in an abusive household, you don’t realize the little ways you may be letting people get away with abusing you as an adult.  For a long time, I would interact with emotional vampires and abusers and find myself feeling empty, hurt, and confused, but not sure why.  I thought I was crazy or that I was doing something wrong in these relationships.  As an empath, I could feel the anger stemming from them but I didn’t know what I had done wrong.  I would try to counter this by being extra friendly, generous, and giving.  I would also be extremely careful about everything I said and did and how it would be interpreted.

I was afraid to be myself.  Having to walk on eggshells to avoid a blow-up or negative reaction is actually the first sign that you may be dealing with a vampire: if you are ALWAYS walking on tip toes around them to avoid making them upset, they have trained you to deal with them that way.  It’s emotional vampirism at best, and abuse at worst, plain and simple.  As I continued to grow and heal my personal wounds, it became clear to me that this co-dependent pattern was not healthy, nor was it serving me–or them!

Some people like to hide their emotional abuse or vampirism as “Sensitivity.”   Narcissists and psychopaths are especially good at mimicking emotions like sadness in order to get their way.  Here’s how you can tell if someone is just sensitive, or if someone is actually attempting to manipulate, control, or abuse you emotionally:

  1. Sensitive people know they’re sensitive and usually are aware of their triggers. They will usually take a step back and honestly assess their emotional reactions to situations. They look for where they are responsible for their feelings. Emotional vampires lack the EQ to do this and will lash out and blame you for their feelings.
  2. Sensitives (also empaths), opt to avoid painful/hurtful interpretations of situations as often as they can, because they experience pain deeply. Emotional vamps will automatically assume you were trying to hurt them, but they do so to use it as an excuse to hurt you back, manipulate you to get their way, or control the situation.
  3. Sensitives will normally approach you about a hurtful situation for clarity, forgiveness, and from a space of possibility and moving forward. Emotional abusers/vampires respond by shutting down or using passive-aggressive behavior to incite an emotional reaction from you. They want to one-up you emotionally or manipulate you into responding in specific ways.
  4. Sensitives/empaths engage in healing work to heal their wounds. Vampires avoid healing and instead make you, others, and the world responsible for their pain and behavior. They will often use painful childhood experiences as justification for being hurtful or self-destructive. They seek coddling and comfort from you while doing NOTHING to heal and grow themselves.
  5. Sensitive people AND emotional vampires/abusers are BOTH worthy of compassion; however, have compassion for the vampire from afar. Do NOT hesitate to remove them from your life. Do NOT let a vampire make you feel like you OWE THEM ANYTHING–you do not! They are good for throwing their abandonment issues in your face to manipulate you into staying. Remember, THEIR issues are not YOUR issues.
  6. Sensitives are always seeking constructive solutions to problems because we want nothing more than HARMONY!  On the other hand, vampires threaten self-destructive behavior when you call them out on their nonsense or let them know you’ve had enough.  They will say things like, “I’m going to kill myself!”  Or, “I only drink like this because you hurt me.”
  7. Vampires can also be sensitives/empaths. As a result, well-rounded sensitives will see the ways they relate to vampires and will overlook the warning signs.  Sensitives/empaths actually attract vampires, because of our innate ability to heal. Vampires are attracted to sensitives for this reason. My best advice is to continue to cultivate discernment and shut that shit down unapologetically.

If you recognize yourself in this post as a sensitive person or empath, please share. If you recognize yourself as the vampire, please seek help. What you are doing to the people in your lives is not fair. You are also perpetuating hurt in your own life, and likely creating self-fulfilled prophecies of abandonment and betrayal because of your toxic energy. We all have the capacity to heal. I will continue to pray for your healing while ensuring you remain out of my life.

Thank you for reading.

Tamara Kellam

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