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I have been a victim of Narcissistic abuse and there are many manipulative tactics an abuser will use to control their victims. Gaslighting is very common and an insidious tactic leaving a victim of emotional abuse questioning their own judgement. This takes place over time and is a form of mind manipulation.
The Dixie Chics have released a new song called, “Gaslighter”. A friend of mine sent me an email knowing I have been bringing awareness on Narcissistic Abuse for the last four years. I am excited to see that there is more awareness about these forms of emotional abuse today. When I first started speaking about Narcissistic Abuse it was if I could hear crickets. People didn’t seem to understand at all . I was shocked and decided to dedicate myself to the cause and not to give into my FEARS. There were others out there doing the same thing and I began to follow them along my journey to gain strength. Knowing you are not alone is comforting and for a very long time, I felt alone in my seemingly forced silence.
Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which a person or a group covertly sows seeds of doubt in a targeted individual, making them question their own memory, perception, or judgment, often evoking in them cognitive dissonance and other changes such as low self-esteem. (Wikipedia)
A person who is manipulative can abuse a victim by trying to gain power over them by manipulating their mind. A movie called, “Gaslight” was made in 1944 where a man used this tactic over a period of time to make his wife think that she was going crazy. It can also be referred to as Crazy Making.
WHAT are some ways you can see the red flags of Gaslighting in any relationships you may have?
- Do you often feel off balance, question your own judgement, feel crazy in your relationship?
- Do you find yourself always saying you are sorry?
- Do you enable your partner by making excuses for their behavior?
- Do you have trouble making decisions that should be simple?
- Do you wonder if you are good enough?
- Do you often feel something is off but you are just not sure what it is?
- Are you wondering if you are just to sensitive and asking yourself this many times during a day?
- Do you notice that these things only happen when you are thinking about situations that involve a specific person and notice it doesn’t happen otherwise?
When there is conflict with a person that is using this tactic it is because they need to gain the upper hand and use this as a deflective tactic throwing you off balance. This is a way for them to regain power and control. They aren’t being fair as they are trying to change your perception of things as they feel the need to be right. A person isn’t trying to resolve things in a healthy manner when doing this. They don’t care how you feel or about the integrity of the relationship. They only care about winning. This is also where you may see the abuser use your vulnerabilities you shared with them during the idealization phase or love bombing phase against you. This is Abuse.
Here is a list of some gaslighting phrases you may recognize if someone is trying to manipulate you in this way:
- I was just kidding!
- You’re being dramatic
- Here we go again…..
- You’re making a big deal out of nothing.
- You’re not really crying, stop acting
- Nobody believes anything you say so why should I?
- You’re so ungrateful, all you ever do is complain
- That just never happened, you make these things up.
- You have an active imagination
- You just want me to be the bad guy
- You are so insecure
- Everyone can see you are overly paranoid
- Nobody cares what you think
- Your not that special you know.
- Here you go again, making everything about you.
- If your so unhappy why don’t you just leave then? huh?
- You are so crazy, you know that and so does everyone else.
- That’s not me in the photo/video, thats just someone who looks like me.
There are so many ways to gaslight someone into questioning their own reality. Overtime even with plenty of evidence in front of the abused they will not be able to use logic as they don’t trust in their own ability to think. The abuser gaslights others that may or may not know the victim (also known as minions or flying monkeys) to isolate the victim more. The abuser then gains power and control over the situation, the victim and the people around them.
In narcissistic relationships the narcissist lacks self-awareness and justifies themselves by saying they are just being real or brutally honest. They don’t care about finding a healthy resolve as the conflict helps as a distraction and eventually will have the abused apologizing when they didn’t do anything wrong. The abuser will use this apology against them as evidence they are the crazy one in the future to help with their facade. They may even learn about emotional abuse as the victim may tell them they are abusing them. They can then use what they have learned to further abuse their victims by using this new information to their advantage and point the finger at their target, blaming them. This can be so serious because the victims realize the position they have been put in and don’t know how to get help. The abuser can even manipulate therapists especially those that are not trained in this particular area. This can cause the victim to start to unravel and help the abuser even more as they set things up to play out this way. This can drive the abused to feel completely controlled, silenced and even feel crazy.
Gaslighting is abuse and now more than ever emotional abuse is being talked about. Emotional abuse is the beginning stages that can lead to other abuse. If you feel you are being emotionally abused and recognize some of these signs, honor those feelings. You can find a therapist who can help you through this and recover as you gain the ability to trust yourself again. There are many people who have been through this type of abuse and have kept quiet out of fear, shame, guilt and more.
Bringing awareness helps victims speak out without the worry of others judging them harshly and maybe abusing them more by shaming or blaming them. It is important for people to have compassion and understand that just because you didn’t see or experience something doesn’t mean someone else didn’t. Many times the abused keep silent and protect their abusers. The victims can begin taking the blame or begin to believe they deserve it , are worthless, nobody would believe them, or question their reality if the abuse went on long enough.
We can see this in many cases such as the Gabriel Fernandez documentary shown on Netflix where this child was abused mentally and physically for long periods of time. He was seen by many and these people would question if what they were seeing was abuse. Gabriel’s mother and her boyfriend would not only gaslight their children but those that were involved with them or would question anything. The blame was being put on this poor child as he behind closed doors was being brutally beaten. fed cat litter, locked in a small space to starve. had his head bashed with a baseball bat, teeth knocked out with the same bat and so many other horrific things. He tried to tell people he trusted as he wanted help. He still loved his mother and was confused as he thought he was bad. If only he could just be good then she would love him. He began to believe this as that is what he was told over and over. The reality was his mother and her boyfriend were sick people who manipulated the system and anyone they came in contact with. This child died because of it. It could have been prevented with more awareness.
It is so important we bring awareness to something that may feel uncomfortable but is happening in our society everyday. If we can become aware, we can begin to make the important changes needed to protect people from losing who they are at the hands of abusers who use them. These abusers use people to make them feel or look more powerful and in control than they really are.
I am a survivor of abuse and l once fell to my knees praying out to God in front of my abuser as he stood over me laughing. He stood above me laughing and mocking me saying , “Where’s your God now?” I knew I wasn’t alone in those moments even though it appeared to my abuser I was. I was being gaslit right then but even though I had lost faith in myself, I had never lost my faith in God. Here I am today along with many other survivors spreading awareness for those who are suffering in silence, for those who aren’t sure what is happening and questioning things, for those who may know the victim and being gaslit by their abuser to further isolate their victim. We shouldn’t be ashamed or made to feel ashamed. Just because its hard to believe doesn’t make it not real.
I am glad to see songs like,”Gaslight,”by the Dixie Chicks, documentaries and hearing people using the language to describe abuse. This means it is being talked about and that the shame around it will soon disappear. Voices will be heard and change can and will happen.
Please help share awareness as you could help save someone or even yourself one day.
World Narcissistic Abuse Awareness Day is June 1ST.