Part 2: Threats and Control: Real Implied and Imagined

Learn the differences between real, implied, and imagined threats. Stacy Phillips focuses on implied threats in this segment and teaches you to understand where and why this intimidation technique is being used against or from you.

By Stacy D. Phillips
Updated: March 17, 2015
Health and Well Being

In the continuation of the series of excerpts from the book, Divorce: It’s All About Control—How to Win the Emotional, Psychological and Legal Wars (ExecuProv Press) by renowned family law specialist and managing partner of Phillips Lerner, A Law Corporation in Los Angeles, CA, Stacy D. Phillips, she discusses threats—real, implied and imagined. In this second segment, Phillips tackles implied threats. In her closing segment of this four-part tutorial, Phillips will offer some suggestions on how to handle them if they are aimed at you, and how to handle them if you’re inclined to make them.

As I mentioned in my last excerpt, Threats are a masterful way to assert control over others.

Implied threats can be just as menacing as Real threats.

Implied threats are inferences that a person may get hurt or harassed. Implied threats are connotations—implications and insinuations that something aggravating or disastrous may occur. Some Implied threats should be taken seriously. Others are as transient as the moment in which they are made. Implied threats may be comments like "If you start dating right away, you might get hurt," or "you will live to regret this," or "…so you think you’re going to leave me, do you?"

Implied threats are more "veiled" in nature, but nonetheless can be just as catastrophic as "Real" threats, because they can also be acted upon with dire consequences. Sometimes those on the receiving end of Implied threats are not certain what the "Threatener" means, since the threats are often vague or subtle in nature. For your reference, I’ve selected a handful of those that seem to be made most often.

  1. "You’ll be sorry."
  2. "You just wait."
  3. "I wouldn’t do that if I were you."
  4. "You’ll see what I mean."
  5. "Oh, you think that was bad?"
  6. "You’re going to wish you hadn’t said that."
  7. "You will not get away with this."
  8. "You made a big mistake, ________ (your name here)."
  9. "You better say your prayers."
  10. "You might want to think twice about that."

Some of the most classic Implied threats—those repeated by many spurned spouses—are ones that have originated from great feature films. Here are a few of the most memorable:

  1. "You’re gonna be sleeping with the fishes."
  2. "Go ahead, make my day!"
  3. "I’ll be back."
  4. "I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse."
  5. "You will never see the light of day."

One last note about Implied threats: they tend to be the most common. Why? Because most people do not like confrontations, but under duress they will face off with their perceived

"Tormentor" by saying things that are ominous in concept but vaguely stated. Real or Implied, threats are of equal concern.

Realize that if you are the Threatener and you tell your therapist you plan to hurt someone, your therapist is obligated to report it. Be careful how you vent your frustration—choose your words wisely. This information can be used against you, especially in court hearings and proceedings.


Stacy D. Phillips is a co-founder of Phillips Lerner, A Law Corporation, which specializes in high-profile family law matters. She is co-chair of the Women's Political Committee and a member of Divorce Magazine's North American Advisory Board. She can be reached at (310) 277-7117. View her firm's Divorce Magazine profile here.

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August 16, 2007

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