This technique in keeping a victim confused and down is sometimes called ‘bringing out the flying monkeys.’ (Wizard of OZ reference… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SESI19h4wDo ) When an abuser can’t put you down themselves, they enlist others to do their bidding. Or if they can’t win an argument they will bring in a third party person to ‘gang up’ on you. Of course the third party person heard a version spun to enhance the abuser and make the victim look like the aggressor.
PsychCentral described it this way: “The term is typically used to describe an individual who creates drama or confusion using 3 or more people in a situation.” http://blogs.psychcentral.com/caregivers/2015/10/triangulation-the-problematic-family-member/
The person you email and their reply includes 2 or 3 other people not originally on the post. Or the situation where another person is pulled in to prove their point. I consider it the same technique as the school yard bully that has buddies to back up and be audience to their aggressive tactics. Sometimes we do this unintentionally, trying to garner support for our perspective. Sometimes it happens in a very deliberate and destructive way like hounding a person on the internet or in emails and enlisting others to do the same. I still like the Flying monkeys that do the bidding of the witch. They don’t have minds of their own but only do the bidding of the bully.
How to stop triangulation – in no particular order.
Try to talk to them one-on-one in person. Online or in a group it is too easy for others to be dragged into the melee.
Learn to recognize triangulation and take steps to avoid being ‘put in the middle.’ http://www.sharonselby.com/parenting/threes-a-crowd-how-to-recognize-triangulation-in-all-relationships
Clearly define what the problem is. Ask for the other person’s perspective without including others. (Counselors are sometimes trapped into triangulation….a healthy counselor stops this in a hurry.)
If you are a person that someone is venting to, don’t try to rescue them. Give them suggestions to resolve the issue themselves, if possible. If intervention is required, listen carefully to both sides of the issue. I learned to do this when my children were fighting and I didn’t see the event myself. Some people are very persuasive in making their side look like the only right answer.
Don’t participate in gossip…..Gossip is a lethal weapon used to destroy others. Sometimes gossip is purposely started to destroy another person.
Set healthy boundaries.
Be prepared to walk away from toxic relationships when the other person insists on triangulation.