domestic-abuse-awareness-month

#grlclbDAAM day 16 - gaslighting behaviours pt. 1

October 23, 2018 Roobs Leiser

now that we’ve covered the broad types of gaslighting, now we have a list of the behaviours involved. i’m splitting this up over a couple of different posts because it’s quite heavy-going and i don’t want to overload you with info. 
it’s also worth noting that, even by the time i’ve posted everything, this is by no means an exhaustive list - your experience of gaslighting will be unique to anyone else’s and your abuser will use things personal to you as a way to control you. this means that you will very rarely see exact things that you’ve experienced on lists like this, but these are general types of behaviour that you may have encountered in a specific scenario. 
  1. lying
this is a fairly obvious one, but nevertheless forms the basis of many other, more specific behaviours. they lie to you. sometimes blatantly, sometimes wrapped up in confusion and miscommunication. sometimes these lies will be about completely trivial, unimportant things. it doesn’t have to be grand lies about cheating etc. often, telling lies about small things sets a baseline of dishonesty and confusion that ensures you’re never really 100% sure what’s going on, what to believe, or what’s the truth. this makes it easier to manipulate you.
  1. accusing others of lying
one of the most insidious gaslighting behaviours is convincing you that everyone else in your life is against you. again, this can be about small things. they can convince you that your friends/family are lying about what they’ve been doing (hanging out together without you, for example) or it can be the big stuff - like they’re lying when they say they love you, care about, need you, or want you around. this makes it much easier to convince you to distance yourself from them, allowing your abuser even more influence over you.
  1. turning people against you
of course, they never ~directly~ turn anybody against you, because this would mean revealing themselves to your family/friends as being extremely bad for you. a gaslighter’s approach is much more subtle - they’ll warp your perspective of your family/friends so that you believe they’ve turned against you. for example, if you stand up to your abuser about something they’ve done and they’re trying to convince you that you’re crazy, they might say something like ‘[person close to you] would agree with me’ or ‘your mum knows you’re worthless too’. of course, you’ll never ASK your mum ‘do you think i’m worthless’, so this remains a massively sneaky abusive tactic. it convinces you that the people closest to you aren’t on your side anymore, and that the only person left to turn to is your abuser.
  1. using your weaknesses against you
abusers find what you’re most self-conscious about, or most protective over, and turn it into ammunition. you love your kids more than anything in the world? he’ll tell you they’d be better off without you. or they’ll rhyme off your flaws and say that those are the reasons why you’re a failure, or a bad mother, or a horrible person. given that these things are already pressure points for you, it doesn’t take much convincing to believe that this is true.
  1. breaking you down slowly
this is why gaslighting - and indeed abuse generally - works so well. it’s very rare for abuse to begin with one singular explosive incident. if this was the case, you’d be more likely to find a way out before it got worse and continued into a cycle. instead, it’s more common for it to begin slowly, and often become an established behaviour pattern before you’ve even really noticed. often people use the 'boiling frog' analogy here - that is, if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water it will jump out, but if you put a frog into a pot of cold water and bring it to the boil slowly, the frog won't notice and will be killed. 
even the most self-assured person is susceptible to gaslighting - small lies, occasional degrading insults, subtle & unnecessary comments that tear you down, over time will cause the foundation of your self-worth & self-esteem to be chipped away. once that's gone, you're putty in his hands.
i hope these have been helpful - although not least quite upsetting. it can be really hard realising you've gaslighted. don't read through all these posts at once if it's too much for you. pace yourself. 
xoxoxoxoxoxox


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