When we were Young Part 2 – by Abidemi Adebola “Sometimes our best love moments
“Gaslighting is a type of emotional abuse. Nothing more”
Gaslighting is a deliberate way of lying, aiming to confuse the victim or destroy others trust over him, in order to get something out of it.
Just like Ghosting, gaslighting is an undercover form of Emotional Abuse. It’s a form of psychological abuse but almost unnoticeable and very subtle. Violence rarely comes into play when it comes to gaslighting, though there is usually some level of intimidation involved, therefore, it’s difficult to detect.
For a lot of people this term may appear like a new phenomenon, but it has been around for quite some time.
Let me illustrate using one of the simplest examples you can relate with;
You’ve probably found yourself in a situation where someone assures you that you said something or committed to something verbally. Yet, you don’t remember saying it. You dig through your memory and you are convinced that you definitely did not say it.
However, this person insists that you did say it and he does it with so much confidence that you end up giving in and thinking or accepting that maybe you did, even if you don’t remember doing so.
There is a classic case of gaslighting.
It is a form of a psychological abuse involving the manipulation of situations or events that causes a person to be confused or to doubt his perceptions or memories. Gaslighiting causes victims to constantly second- guess themselves and wonder if they are loosing their minds or they are wrong about everything.
Its primary objective is to undermine the confidence of the victim, so this person perceives reality in a distorted way. Failing that or being unable to do that they make a monster out you in front of others.
Gaslighting is a form of mind control. It is one of the worst things a person can do to another as it makes the victim feel totally victimized. If the gaslighter succeeds, you will doubt your sanity and only trust the gaslighter as your support system.
Additionally, the manipulator is usually someone “worthy of trust”, kind and someone you are close to. However, the manipulator is also someone who is grappling with insecurity, but obsessed with exerting control over others. They pretend to be kind and say they’re only looking out for the other person’s well-being.
But this is just a facade. The victim comes to idealize this person. Thus, the perfect scenario for gaslighting is created. When this form of emotional manipulation is sustained for long periods of time, it has profoundly negative consequences for the victim.
The most worrisome of these consequences, without a doubt, is the victim’s submission to the “reality” imposed by the manipulator.
Gaslighting follows a pattern, classified into three unique stages;
In the first stage, the victim presents argumentative resistance and rejects the affirmations of the manipulators. Meanwhile, the abusers try to convince the victim how they should think and feel.
In fact, in some cases they may argue for hours and hours. And then nothing concrete comes from these discussions, besides exhaustion.
In the second stage, the victim tries to keep an open mind so they can better understand the other’s point of view. However, since there is no reciprocity, the victim begins to doubt their beliefs and if not, the manipulators try to reach other people unaware of the actual circumstances and aims of the manipulators. Because these outsiders are easy to convince they become their victims too.
The third stage is based on confusion, where the victim’s frame of reference is finally broken down. They now believe that what their manipulator claims is true, normal and, therefore, real.
It is one of the cruelest things anyone can do. People go crazy from gaslighting.
Before I go even further, where was the term coined from? Has it got any history?
The term gaslighting comes from a stage play that eventually became a film. The 1944 movie Gaslight tells the story of a woman who married young. Her husband was manipulative and controlling. In his attempts to control her, he began to manipulate her environment in ways that made her question her sanity. The lights in the home in the film were gas. The husband would dim the gas lights and make them flicker and would deny that anything was happening when she mentioned it. He would tell her she was crazy and that nothing was wrong with them. The emotional trauma she experienced was severe. In the end, the woman found someone who helped her prove that she was not losing her mind and that the events were happening and not her imagination, and she left the marriage.
Who is the Gaslighter?
The gaslighter has a personality for everyone else and a personality for you. The gaslighter shifts between anger and a condescending concern so that on one hand, you trust the gaslighter, but another part of you believes (rightly) that he/she is trying to confuse you—mess with your head.
The gaslighter pretends to be “concerned” about you, so they say that you are ill, you are going through a hard time, and you just aren’t acting like you used to be. People trust the gaslighter because he or she seems so nice, while you are getting more agitated, so you don’t sound “nice”, but angry and confused. But they start to turn people against you.
When you share that with others, they would say: “What is the matter with you?” He/She loves you. Where would you be without him/her?” So you are encouraged to feel gratitude for your tormentor. This is psychologically debilitating and you don’t trust your feelings or your intuition.
The gaslighter finds ways to interfere with your outside life, so that you cease to have one. If you are a child, he/she will get teachers to believe there is something wrong with you. If you work, he/she will call your boss or confide in workers about you and then say: “Please don’t say anything”, fully knowing it will get blabbed around the office. Your outside world is not safe.
Who are the Potential victims?
Many times, the gaslighter has a motive. Perhaps it is money. Perhaps it is to punish you for something you allegedly did a few years ago. Perhaps it is fun to see another person break down just because you decided to interfere with his/her sense of reality. However, the gaslighter is benefiting from the gaslighted falling apart, even if it later on makes no sense to you.
There are some personality traits that predispose some individuals to become potential victims of gaslighting.
A lack of affection is one of them. The potential victim sees the manipulator as a savior and idealizes them because of this. This reaction is based on the fact that the victim interprets the manipulator’s actions as a true sign of affection. Even the arguments from the first stage make the victim feel like the manipulator is paying attention to them.
A person who needs to be right all the time has a higher chance of being a victim of this type of abuse. This situation happens when subjective things are discussed. The future victim’s arguments crumble as a result of wear and tear.
Finally, the need to be approved by others plays a decisive role. In this case, everything is served on a silver platter for the manipulator, who will not waste any time and immediately take advantage of this weakness.
When the manipulator has his way, you will lose friends. You may lose your job. You will probably lose money and material goods. The gaslighter will do everything to keep you from anything that will tell you that you are mentally healthy. The gaslighter thrives on isolating his/her victims.
How to deal?
So, when toxic person or sometimes people around you, can no longer control you, they will try to control how others see you. The misinformation will feel unfair, but stay above it, trusting that other people will eventually see the truth just like you did.
If they made a monster out of you because you walked away from their drama, so be it. Let them deal with what they have created. Be at peace with yourself, and stay out of conflict. You are allowed to terminate your relationships with TOXIC family members. You are allowed to walk away from people who hurt you. You are allowed to be angry, selfish and unforgiving. You don’t owe an explanation to anyone for being selfish.
To avoid falling into this type of toxic relationship, keep these things in mind. The first is that you must be alert to anything that makes you question your own beliefs and rattles your self-confidence. Do not engage in pointless discussions. That includes exchanging subjective points of view which will lead you nowhere.
And finally, try to build up your worldview with solid arguments, to the point that they become convictions. Additionally, do not allow others to question your way of thinking or feeling. Don’t forget this is the ideal breeding ground for those who would try to manipulate you.
If you feel that you are going crazy, you are isolated from caring people and you rarely leave the house because someone has convinced you that you cannot handle the outside world, look up gaslighting. If something feels “off” about a person, maybe a lover, go with your gut. You are probably right. If you feel you no longer have control over your life while another person is controlling it and you, then please look into whether you have been gaslighted.
Sometimes, it takes years to rebuild your reputation, and more importantly, your mind once you get that gaslighter out of your life for good.
Now you know!
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