The most severely disordered characters will often make direct threats or even carry them out as a way of keeping others in line. Skilled manipulators, however, are expert at making more subtle, implied or veiled threats to intimidate others into seeing or doing things their way. Sometimes a veiled threat can be no more than a particular “look” or a glance. Sometimes it’s imbedded not so much in what someone says or does, but the manner or tone they employ when they do or say it. The message is always the same. The disturbed character subtly implies that some sort of “holy hell” will break out if he doesn’t get his way or if someone dares to challenge or confronts his dysfunctional behavior.
Folks who are quick to go on the offensive in this very calculated way whenever they face resistance are not likely to take a good look at themselves or the healthiness of their way of doing things. Their combative stance also blocks any chance that they will internalize a more pro-social a standard of self-conduct.
Individuals who are in relationships with persons who use the tactic of covert-intimidation often are at high risk that the relationship will be abusive, exploitive or both. I’ve been posting on some of the more frequent tactics disturbed characters use to manipulate and control others. Observing the frequency with which a person uses these tactics should give you some good insight into the nature of their character and how likely you are to have any kind of healthy relationship with them.