What Is Gaslighting?

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“Gaslighting is a colloquial term that describes a type of psychological abuse in which the abuser denies the victim’s reality, causing him/her to question him/herself, his/her memory, or his/her perceptions. The term gaslighting is also sometimes used to apply to the use of inflammatory behavior or language that provokes someone to behave in an uncharacteristic way. Gaslighting is often used an abusive tactic by those with narcissistic and psychopathic personalities. The aim of the abuse is to make the victim doubt his/her perception of reality, and gaslighting tactics can be entirely verbal or emotional.

Often, victims of this abuse may start out by challenging the perpetrator, who then turns the situation around by gaslighting them. In doing so, he or she causes the victim to question themselves and in doing so, draws attention away from the abuse. For example, someone might claim that his or her partner engaged in name-calling, yelling, or breaking of that person’s possessions. The partner might avoid taking the blame with gaslighting techniques such as denying that the events ever took place, or pointing out that other person’s transgressions were at fault.

An individual may gaslight another by:

  • Refusing to listen to any concerns or pretending not to understand them.
  • Questioning his or her memory, denying that events occurred in the way the victim (accurately) remembers.
  • Changing the subject to divert the victim’s attention from a topic, trivializing their concerns.
  • Pretending to forget things that have happened to further discredit the victim.
  • Denying events have taken place, claiming that the victim is making them up”

Excerpted from http://www.goodtherapy.org

 

The Strongest Person You Know

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Dear Victim of Domestic Violence,

You are the strongest person you know. In fact, you might be the strongest person you’ll ever know.

If you have lived through even one day when you were physically injured or emotionally battered by someone that claimed to love you, you are the strongest person you know. If you took the hit, physically or emotionally, and didn’t completely shut down on the spot from the hurt, shame, shock, grief, anger, humiliation, horror, disgust, and confusion that you felt, you are the strongest person you know. If you got up the next day and tried life again – took care of your kids, went to work, cooked and cleaned and saw friends, family and co-workers and went about daily life like your very soul hadn’t been dinged – you are the strongest person you know.

What’s ironic is that because of all of this, you probably think that you’re the weakest person you know. You think that it’s your fault or maybe some sort or failure on your part. You look at your kids and you worry because there’s a chance that they might have witnessed or heard the abuse that was wrought upon you. You don’t want friends or family to find out because maybe they would judge you. Worst of all is that you ‘blinked’; when your partner hurt you, you didn’t immediately rise up and end the relationship, like every *kick ’em to the curb* girl-anthem/pop song says that an independent, strong woman does. Maybe you fought back and maybe you didn’t but ultimately, you stayed. And you let him stay. You let things cool down. You told yourself that it would never happen again. You bet on the hope that deep down, he’s a better man than his actions say that he is.

That’s not a bet I’d be willing to take.

Domestic violence escalates quickly and can be fatal. You feel weak because your soul has been dinged, but believe me when I tell you that you’re the strongest person you know because if you managed to live through even one instance of battery and still got up the next day, put feet on the floor and tried life again, you possess a strength that can never be compromised. Not by your partner. Not by anyone.

If you leave, are things going to be weird for a while? Are you going to have to live somewhere unfamiliar? Will you have to change jobs, email addresses and your cell phone number? Will you have to stay away from social media? Will you have to trade in your car for a different model to ensure yourself a good amount of privacy and anonymity? Will your children be confused and scared and require extra patience while you work through keeping yourself safe? Will loved ones, lawyers, co-workers and others ask you prying, silly or uninformed questions like, Why did you stay for so long?, Why didn’t you call the police? or Why did you have another baby with him? All or some of these things might happen, but you will handle it all and you will handle it well, because you are the strongest person you know.

How can I be so sure? Because I know this: If you were strong enough to have lived through even one instance of physical and/or emotional battery with your partner, you’re damn sure strong enough to live without him.

Love,

A Survivor