- If you were abused or anything else happened with your mom, don’t let anyone tell you that you have to love her today, just because she gave birth to you. You should never feel obligated to love someone who hurt you, and you have the right to be upset.
- If you have a good relationship with your mom, awesome. Go tell her Happy Mother’s Day!
Gaslighting is a form of mental abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making a victim doubt his or her own memory, perception and sanity. Instances may range simply from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.
I’m not a misandrist but if guys are going to insist on wearing tight shirts showing off their bodies around my university campus then of course I’m going to post something crude about them on facebook pages and websites like FitFinder. They’re obviously just dressing like that for attention and cos they want to get laid. Oh, offended I said you were bangable and wanted you to meet me in the bathrooms in 5? You must be gay. You’re not even that attractive.
Noticing when someone is using your triggers to disorient and confuse you
When someone is using your triggers to disorient and confuse you, it’s confusing. It can take a long time to figure out what’s going on.
Here are some things I think are red flags:
If someone seems to like you more when you’re triggered than when you’re in control, something is seriously wrong
- For instance, if a therapist only listens to you when you’re sobbing and otherwise acts as though you couldn’t possibly understand anything about yourself
- Or when a friend suddenly finds you fascinating when you’re triggered and they’re supporting you through it, but they half-ignore you most of the rest of the time
If someone feels entitled to discuss triggering subjects with you (absent an immediate practical reason to), something is seriously wrong:
- For instance, if you say that you’d rather not discuss dogs right now because it’s triggering and you’re close to the edge already, and they say “but I thought we were friends! How can you shut me out like that?”
- Or if a therapist tells you that you’ll never get better unless you are willing to discuss once again, in graphic terms, the ways people abused you - and they refuse to say, help you figure out whether the medication you are taking is working, or whether the side effects are dangerous, unless you do this over and over
If you end up triggered every time you try to reject personal advice, something is seriously wrong:
- For instance, if someone regularly wants to tell you how to dress, and every time you try to wear something different, they push you until you end up sobbing and apologizing, something is wrong
- This is particularly the case if they’re always bringing triggering things into a conversation that didn’t need to have anything to do with them
- Your desire to wear a red hat rather than the blue on they want you to wear is probably because you want to wear a red hat
- It’s very unlikely that it’s because you have no perspective on clothes because your abusers damaged you
- And even if that was the reason, it would still be ok for you to prefer a red hat, and wrong for someone to try to force you to wear a blue one by triggering you
Beware of folks who trigger others on purpose
There are people who like other people to be intensely emotionally dependent on them. They like to control people through this emotional dependence. And they like to think of this control and forced dependence as understanding the target on a deep level, rescuing them, and helping them to heal.
One way this happens is that the controller will deliberately trigger the target over and over. And then get really good at triggering them and then comforting them. And this can — in the short term, make the target feel safe and understood. Because having someone react in a way that feels comforting when you’re triggered can be really reassuring, especially when people have reacted with fear or contempt in the past.
And it can be really hard to figure out that someone is intentionally and repeatedly triggering you. It can be *especially* hard to realize they’re doing this if they also have some actual insight about the issues you’re struggling with. And it can also be harder to understand what’s going on if they’re also supporting you in other ways, like offering a place to stay or help finding a job.
And the longer this goes on, the more they know about you. And the more they know, the more power they have to trigger you at will. And when you show independence, or do something they don’t want, or do something on your own initiative rather than relying on their help, or say no to help they’re offering — then they don’t react reasonably. They use your triggers to disorient you. They convince you that you don’t really understand anything that’s going on, and that you are just reacting to past traumas. And that in order to approximate being a real person, you have to rely on their judgement rather than yours.
A wide range of people do this. Sometimes it’s a friend. Sometimes it’s a licensed therapist with a good professional reputation. Someone’s it’s a coworker. Sometimes it’s a social worker. Sometimes it’s a partner. It can arise out of a lot of different kinds of relationships. It’s always wrong, no matter what someone thinks their intentions are.
And it’s not your fault. If you’re in that situation, someone’s probably got you half-convinced that this is only happening because you’re broken and need help. But that’s not what’s going on; this is something someone is doing to you, not something that inherently happens to people like you. No one, no matter what problems they have, should ever be treated like this.
“The confusion of love with abuse is what allows abusers who kill their partners to make claim that they were driven by the depths of their loving feelings. The news media regrettably often accept the aggressor's view of these acts, describing them as "crimes of passion." But what could more thoroughly prove that a man did not love his partner? If a mother were to kill one of her children, would we ever accept the claim that she did it because she was overwhelmed by how much she cared? Not for an instant.”—Lundy Bancroft in “Why Does He Do That?”, p.65
People often question why don’t abuse victims leave their abusers.
There are a lot of good reasons. Women are more likely to be murdered by their abusive partner when they try to leave him then any other time in the relationship for one.
When we talk about how people normalize abuse that means many people in abusive relationships don’t realize certain abusive acts aren’t normal or healthy. I can recount a situation or an action done to me by an abuser and not think twice about it. Then I’m met with awkward silence and realize, oh, that was also abuse.
Abuse victims may think that all relationships are abusive. They may think that even if something is wrong with that relationship, the majority of relationships are secretly abusive and so really, why would they leave? Why would they complain? It can’t really be abuse if everyone is doing it.
Abuse is normalized and romanticized from childhood onwards. It becomes this idea that you’ll know it when you see it but honestly, who wants to see themselves as a victim? Who wants to see people they love as abusers? And we often do love our abusers despite the terrible things they do to us and their contempt for us.