FOG is a term named by Forward, suggesting that fear, obligation, and guilt are the dynamics in emotional blackmail between the manipulator and the victim. The acronym FOG also accurately describes the confusion and lack of clarity and thinking that can occur in these interpersonal dynamics. Emotional blackmail can create a fog and contribute to feelings of fear, obligation, guilt, and anxiety.
According to Forward, emotional blackmail occurs in close relationships. The manipulator leverages knowledge gained about the victim’s fears. Blackmailers will use the information they learn about what the victim fears to manipulate them.
Forward suggests that one of the most painful elements of emotional blackmail is that they use personal information about the victim’s vulnerabilities against them. Another trigger blackmailers will use is putting the victim’s sense of obligation to the test. They will commonly create undeserved guilt and blame to attribute their problems to the victim.
They make threats related to the victim’s emotional triggers to force compliance. For example, “If you don’t do what I want I will…leave you, tell your secrets, not love you…” They can also take advantage of the victim’s sense of responsibility and obligation. “All I do is work for this family, the least you could do is…” Blackmailers exploit the victim’s sense of guilt to create confusion and get the victim to give in to their demand.