I am concerned that my article on Trump gaslighting America through his campaign may have not been “good” for some of my readers. It may have activated some previous trauma, or they may have recognized their situation. At the end of the article, I supply some hotline numbers for someone so affected. Seriously, the more I read about this shit, the more I think my family gaslighted me growing up. Sorry, mom, but true truth is true and I’ve outed you! Gah! I’ve lost my only reader! In between, I want to discuss gaslighting as abuse and general information about recovery.
There are numerous websites that address gaslighting. One that I found has information that seems to be repeated on several others. I’ll summarize some of it here; otherwise, you can follow the link at the right.
- Memory blackouts are a symptom of being gaslighted. When trauma, abuse, stress, fear get to be too much, we protect our future selves by blocking out the memory. It may or may not be retrievable — remember the recovered memory fiasco? So, if you’re experiencing holes in your memory, especially if your last memory is of being with the gaslighting SOB, then you is probably being gaslighted.
- Just because the mo’fo’ gaslighter don’t know he is gaslighting yo’ ass, don’t mean he ain’t gaslighting you! Most narcissists and psychopaths are excellent manipulators and even if they don’t consciously manipulate you (A psychopath generally will know that’s what they’re doing; narcissists are often too deluded to realize.) to be a confused self-doubting wreak, they still can. So, don’t let that mo’fo’ off the hook!
- Gaslighting doesn’t necessarily involve violence, anger, or intimidation. Those can be tools of a gaslighter or like a side show they like to indulge in. Don’t dismiss the crazy-making behavior cuz the asshole has never hit your or screamed in your face. If you’re feeling crazy, it ain’t probably because you are, it is probably because of someone in your life.
- Given family and group dynamics, it is possible for a family or group to unconsciously collude to gaslight a member! Thanks, mom! It’s fun for the whole family, except for the one being gaslighted, but it is just like the spoil sport, ain’t it? (That was a joke, y’all. Okay maybe not the most appropriate joke, but a joke nonetheless. Sorry. Maybe see the numbers listed below?)
Recovering from Gaslighting
Unfortunately, our instinct to confront the gaslighter is probably wrong. The only thing you really can do is untangle yourself from the abuser. Untangling can be difficult because they are usually close relationships, and the gradual onset of gaslighting means that you’re in pretty deep before you realize you should be getting the flock out!
Reinforce your version of reality. As Samuel Johnson famously said, I refute it, thus, and kicking a large rock as hard as he could, causing him to hop around on one foot cursing his stupidity. He was trying to do, though, was refute Bishop Berkeley’s contention that reality isn’t real way back in the late 18th century. They weren’t no smarter then than we are now. We just have more stuff. Luckily, you don’t need to break a foot or toe on a rock, you jus’ need to focus on what you know to be real no matter the claims made at you.
Reconnect with people you’ve lost contact with because of the abuse. That’s one of any abuser’s favorite tricks is to isolate you. Often the victim colludes because they tire of defending the abuser from their friends or family or are embarrassed by what is going on. I had to isolate myself from my family for over ten years. Now, I don’t take any guff. I don’t like it, I walk. Fuck that. My mom knows it — I know you do — so she doesn’t put as much into it. Now, she just takes it all out on her husband, the poor sap, but…
Get into therapy. Having a neutral understanding person to talk to on a regular basis can really really help. It helped me. Joining a support group can really help, too. Externalizing your thoughts and emotions either through talking to a support group or writing or art helps. When it is all held inside, it seems much worse than it actually is.
- Psychology Today has a wonderful page to help you find a therapist.
- The National Domestic Abuse Hotline 1-800-799- SAFE (7233) | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) 24-hours a day, 365-days a year.
- Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Helpline 1-800-662-HELP (4357) 1-800-487-4889 (TDD) 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
- SAMHSA also has a treatment locator page.
- The National Sexual Assault Hotline 800-656-4673 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in both English & Spanish
- National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)
Every community in the Western world and many in the non-Western world have resources available to you. I cannot create an exhaustive list. Please avail yourself of those resources if you need them. Help is out there. If all else fails, you may contact me.