dont traumatize your kids to ‘teach them’
cuz news flash!
screaming at a literal child and hurling swear words and slurs at them for not cleaning their room or whatever shitty excuse you have till they cry is fucking traumatizing 
don’t be awful parents jfc.

One thing that really gets me about today’s society is how emotional/psychological child abuse is normalized and even celebrated.

I’ve noticed a phenomenon of parents getting together and talking about how they’re such a Mean Mom or Mean Dad and how they’re raising their children to be respectful. They talk about destroying their children’s possessions, isolating them, humiliating them, and/or publicly shaming them.

And when these people hear about, say, a parent smashing a kid’s phone for not cleaning their room or burning their possessions or filming a punishment or embarrassing moment and putting it up on social media, they commend the parents for “teaching the kids a lesson”.

Why the fuck do we, as a society, think this is okay?

It doesn’t teach kids valuable life lessons, it teaches them to be scared of repercussions. It’s bullying and child abuse and for some reason, people think that’s commendable.

Whenever I hear people saying “haha I bet that 14 year old learned a lesson”, it instantly makes me suspicious of them. I will instantly think of you as either a potential child abuser or a child abuse enabler.

As a survivor of psychological abuse, people dismissing this behavior as “harmless life lessons” makes me wonder if it really was abuse. If I deserved it. If I really deserved to have my pet’s life threatened because I was a liar.

It’s not cute. It’s not “good parenting”. It’s intimidating, shaming, and traumatizing your child into compliance.

What people don't understand about abusive parents

What people don’t understand about abusive parents is that we can’t always hate them. We can’t just constantly hate them because a lot of them are quite nice half the time.
It makes it hard to hate them because it’s like “they’ve been horrible to me but they treated me to a present yesterday or a cute little chocolate bar so I’d me rude to hate them because of what they’ve done for me” and it’s destroys your mind because then people questions if they actually are abusive when you seen to like them at that time.

trauma processing information ahead: you doubt your feelings relating to a certain event because when it happened you don’t remember as if it hurt you, you remember it as it maybe it wasn’t that traumatic, maybe it didn’t affect you so much, you feel like you handled it just fine and you weren’t so scared or pained by it back then and you don’t feel you can call that traumatic but then in present you suddenly get overwhelmed with pain and fear and grief and even anger and you try to stuff it down because NO IT WASN’T THAT BAD and you keep convincing yourself you’re overreacting because you can remember that it was not that bad and you keep thinking it didn’t even matter

So now try to remember when it first happened, it could be that you were still really small, or you were directly faced with the abuser/danger, or you were in unsafe environment where you couldn’t freely express, but the thing is, it didn’t hurt so bad the first time because you were unable to both survive and feel that amount of pain. Children’s bodies are not capable of withstanding traumatic amount of pain and survive, that pain is repressed and dissociated for later when bodies are big and strong and able to survive it. You cannot allow yourself to experience pain and fear that would make you extremely vulnerable and thus less likely to survive in traumatic situation so in that case too, your body represses the emotions and settles on dissociation until you’re safe enough and strong enough for these to be properly processed. 

Only reason it “didn’t feel so bad” back then is because your body repressed the pain and fear to save you. But the amount of pain and terror and anger you’re feeling now is exactly how bad it was. You’re only now experiencing on your own skin how actually bad it was! That’s how badly you were hurt. You’re not overreacting or making a big deal out of it now, you were unable to feel how bad it was before. Your feelings are always there for a reason, they’re generated inside you by harm that was done to you and you can trust them. Your reactions are not wrong, your feelings are not wrong, it was exactly that bad.

signs of emotional abusers:

  • never says sorry,  ever, or only says sorry when they want something or they are forced to by others around them
  • yells at you for small things, like accidently dropping food on the counter, forgetting to put something away, or things that aren’t your fault like running out of cereal, or being attacked by an animal or person; blames you for things they do or just generally anything that goes wrong
  • ignores you/neglects your emotional needs, like spending hours on the computer and never wants to spend time with you/values things or work more than you
  • never compromises, always need you to do things their way or else its “the wrong way” and/or belittles you for it. always needs you to be interested in their life/things but isn’t interested in your life/things
  • belittles you for your opinions or feelings and makes you feel like they’re not valid or that theyre dumb.
  • if they’re religious and they’re your parents, they are always ready to pounce on you when they think you are not doing the right thing or threatens to kick you out of the house if you are not/or dont do the things they say or want/think are godly
  • always has to control how you look/act/dress
  • is mean to you then acts nice immediately after and expects everything to be ok again expects you to forgive them right away or else you’re in the wrong
  • buys you things then acts like its your fault that you dont like them/want them and/or forces you into eat them/wear them/use them by yelling at you or belittling you 
  • acts like your emotions are wrong
  • keeps you from your friends and family in roundabout (or obvious ways) and possibly acts like this is your fault
  • tells you that they have never done what you say they did, even though they did, never admits faults (gaslighting)
  • treats you like a child even if you are an adult
What is Emotional Abuse?

An emotionally abusive person may “dismiss your feelings and needs, expect you to perform humiliating or unpleasant tasks, manipulate you into feeling guilty for trivial things, belittle your outside support system or blame you for unfortunate circumstances in his or her life. Jealousy, possessiveness and mistrust characterize an emotionally abusive person”[1]. In summary, emotional abuse includes the following:

1. Acting as if a person has no value and worth; acting in ways that communicate that the person’s thoughts feelings and beliefs are stupid, don’t matter or should be ignored.

2. Calling the person names; putting them down; mocking, ridiculing, insulting or humiliating them, especially in public.

3. Controlling through fear and intimidation; coercing and terrorizing them; forcing them to witness violence or callousness; threatening to physically harm them, others they love, their animals or possessions; stalking them; threatening abandonment.

4. Isolating them from others, especially their friends and family; physically confining them; telling them how they should think, act, dress, what decisions they can make, who they can see and what they can do (limiting their freedom); controlling their financial affairs.

5. Using that person for your own advantage or gain; exploiting their rights; enticing or forcing another to behave in illegal ways (for example, selling drugs).

6. Stonewalling and ignoring another’s attempt to relate to and interact with them; deliberately emotionally detaching from a person in order to hurt them or “teach them a lesson”; refusing to communicate affection and warmth, or to meet their emotional and psychological needs.

Exploring Emotionally Abusive Relationships

Characteristics of an emotionally abusive relationship include:

· Using money as a means of control

· Threatening to walk out or abandon you

· Creating fear and anxiety through looks, words, threats and actions

· Destroying things (and often things you value) – either in a cold and heartless way, or in an angry fit of rage

· Using blaming, shaming, minimizing and denial to control you

· Verbally attacking and demeaning you (includes name calling, shouting at you, criticising and putting you down – especially in public)

· Attacking and putting you down in private, and acting loving and charming in public

· Minimising the abuse; acting as if you’re over-reacting and it’s “no big deal”

· Deliberately withholding approval, affirmation and affection as a means of punishment or control

The effects of living with emotional abuse include:

· A fear of being natural and spontaneous

· A loss of enthusiasm

· Insecurity related to how they coming across to others

· An inner belief that they are deeply flawed

· A loss of self-confidence and self esteem

· Growing self-doubt (so they’re afraid to make even the smallest decision, or to take on even the simplest of tasks)

· Never trusting their own judgment (as they believe that they’re likely to get it wrong, or to misunderstand or misread everything)

· Having a constant critic in their head

· Feeling they should be happier and more upbeat than they are (in order to meet the approval of others)

· Feeling they’re too sensitive, and ought to “toughen up”

· Fearing they’re going crazy, or losing their mind

· Having a tendency to live in the future (“Everything will be OK when/after ….”)

· A desire to break free, escape or run away

· A distrust and fear of entering into any close relationships again.

Child abusers don’t let children know they’re victims. Survivors of child abuse by large don’t know they’ve been abused. Abusive parents raise the child to have great compassion for them, to always view them as humane as possible, they make sure children are grateful to them, they point out every single thing they did for the child, such as “paid for your stuff” or “financed your schooling” or “gave you a roof over your head and fed you all these years” (even though to not do these things would be straight illegal, but they don’t mention that part, do they) as a proof of how good and generous they are, they make sure to recite all possible excuses to why they’re acting so abusive, they had a hard life, they have a lot on their plate, they’re good people they just make mistakes, they’ve been badly treated too, they don’t even know they’re hurting you, they’re insisting you’re too sensitive and get hurt from nothing, they don’t let the child hold them accountable or hold them guilty for any of their abuse. Abused child will be ashamed of themselves and hardly ever consider themselves a victim, they will be taught to repress and ignore trauma symptoms, to find a way to blame themselves for everything, to feel guilty just for how awful they feel all the time.

Emotionally abused child strongly believes that their parent is inherently good and deserves all the compassion in the world, all the excuses, all forgiveness and none of the blame for their actions (parents make sure children know that the blame would hurt them so children must never blame them) and will fight to defend the parent and point out why abuse was not really abuse, why children deserved it, why nobody is to blame, except maybe themselves, because “they weren’t good enough” to appease the parent which would then hopefully be a bit more kind (of course not). They often wont even admit how badly they’re scared of their parents.

To have an abused child realize they’ve been exploited, lied to, betrayed, systematically destroyed and dehumanized by their parent, their entire world needs to break down, everything they’ve been taught has to be acknowledged as a lie, what they considered right and fair needs to change to wrong, who they trusted the most needs to change to be least trust-worthy, who in their head, made sure they survive up to that point, needs to turn into a person who almost cost them their life, and destroyed it rather than held it safe. It’s not a fun ride. It’s devastating to go through, it breaks a person apart completely and forces them to re-construct their entire reality. And it’s the only way to have a chance to really recover, to validate themselves and their pain, to understand to what depth they’ve been damaged, and by who and why. It’s the only way to realize that they’re entitled to life, to food, to roof, to nurturing, to everything that was held against them, they’ve been required to feel grateful that they weren’t left to die. 

For those who still have to face this, or are facing it right now, you are going through the worst of your life right now. For those who have no empathy or patience for survivors to figure their lives out, fuck you, try living their life for a few years, see if you survive it. For abusers, I hope someone figures out how to force you to feel every single bit of pain you’ve inflicted on your children, I hope you fucking scream yourself to death from pain you’ve caused.

Just a word|thoughts on verbal and emotional abuse

• Your abuser will never be able to take responsibility for anything they do i.e., YOU are the reason they are acting or speaking a certain way

• You will constantly find yourself apologizing even when every fiber of your being is telling you “I’ve done nothing wrong”

• In the rare circumstance they do you a favor, your abuser will continously make a point that you better “appreciate” what they’re doing for you. If it’s a big one, in the end, they’ll use it as a manipulation tactic.

• Even once you’ve gotten out of an abusive relationship and begin a healthy one, the thought process can stick with you and memories can haunt you. You will have a hard time believing there can be a truly good person in this world capable of loving you.

What is Gaslighting?

Inspired by the 1940 and 1944 films “Gas Light,” where a husband systematically manipulates his wife in order to make her feel crazy, the term “Gaslighting” is now commonly used to describe behaviour that is inherently manipulative.

Gaslighting, at its core, is a form of emotional abuse that slowly eats away at your ability to make judgements.  Essentially, a Gaslighter spins their negative, harmful or destructive words and actions in their favour, deflecting the blame for their abusive deeds and pointing the finger at you.  

This is often done by making you feel “overly sensitive,” “paranoid,” “mentally unstable,” “silly,” “unhinged,” and many other sensations which cause you to doubt yourself.

How to Know Whether Someone is Gaslighting You

Gaslighting is so harmful because it promotes anxiety, depression, and with enough frequency in our lives, can sometimes trigger nervous breakdowns.  So the question now it: are you being gaslighted?  How can you know whether you’re experiencing this subtle form of manipulation in your life?  

Review the following tell-tale signs:

  1. Something is “off” about your a person in your life … but you can’t quite explain or pinpoint what.

  2. You frequently second-guess your ability to remember the details of past events.

  3. You feel confused and disorientated.

  4. You feel threatened and on-edge, but you don’t know why.

  5. You feel the need to apologize all the time for what you do or who you are.

  6. You never quite feel “good enough” and try to live up to the expectations and demands of others, even if they are unreasonable or harm you in some way.

  7. You feel like there’s something fundamentally wrong with you, e.g. you’re neurotic or are “losing it.”

  8. You feel like you’re constantly overreacting or are too sensitive.

  9. You feel isolated, hopeless, misunderstood and depressed.

  10. You find it hard to trust your own judgement, and given a choice, you choose to believe the judgement of another.

  11. You feel scared and as though “something is terribly wrong,” but you don’t know what or why.

  12. You find it hard to make decisions.

  13. You feel as though you’re a much weaker version of yourself, and you were much more strong and confident in the past.

  14. You feel guilty for not feeling happy like you used to.

  15. You’ve become afraid of “speaking up” or expressing your emotions, so you stay silent instead.

Tactics Used by the Gaslighter

Gaslighters use a variety of subtle techniques to undermine your reality and portrayyou as the disturbed and messed up one.  

These include, for example:

  • Discrediting you by making other people think that you’re crazy, irrational or unstable.

  • Using a mask of confidence, assertiveness, and/or fake compassion to make you believe that you “have it all wrong.” Therefore, eventually you begin to doubt yourself and believe their version of past events.

  • Changing the subject. The gaslighter may divert the topic by asking another question, or making a statement usually directed at your thoughts, e.g. “You’re imagining things—that never happened!”  “No, you’re wrong, you didn’t remember right.”  “Is that another crazy idea you got from your (anyone)?”

  • Minimizing.  By trivializing how you feel and what you think, the gaslighter gains more and more power over you, e.g. “Why are you being so sensitive?” “You don’t need to get angry over a little thing like that!” “I was just joking around, why are you taking things so seriously?”

  • Denial and avoidance. By refusing to acknowledge your feelings and thoughts, the gaslighter causes you to doubt yourself more and more.  For example, “I don’t remember that, you must have dreamt it!” “You’re lying, I never said that.” “I don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re changing the subject.”

  • Twisting and reframing. When the gaslighter confidently and subtly twists and reframes what was said or done in their favour, they can cause you to second-guess yourself—especially when paired with fake compassion, making you feel as though you are “unstable,” “irrational,” and so forth.  For example, “I didn’t say that, I said _____” “I didn’t beat you up Johnny, I just gave you a smack around the head—that’s what all good fathers do.”  “If you remember correctly, I was actually trying to help you.”

Abuse-related gaslighting

Not every instance of gaslighting is as blatant as hiding items or directly denying someone’s perceptions. Most abuse includes an element of gaslighting. Abusers rarely say out loud, “I’m choosing to abuse you.”

  • A physically abusive person says, “I’m doing this for your own good. You shouldn’t provoke me.” In truth, victims do not cause abuse.
  • A sexually abusive person says, “This isn’t happening. I love you. You like it. It doesn’t hurt.” In truth, abuse is not loving behavior. Children do not ask for assault. The pain is real.
  • A ritually abusive group stages abuse so bizarre and extreme that victims do not believe their own memories. Real bloodshed and torture are combined with drugs and misdirection, adding to the sense of unreality.

Everyday gaslighting
Gaslighting occurs in more subtle ways as well, any time someone responds as if your reality does not exist.

  • An adult says to a crying child, “There’s no reason to be sad. Give us a nice smile.”
  • A partner says, “That’s too hard for you. I’ll do it.”
  • A friend snaps, “I’m not angry! Why are you starting a fight?”
  • After being called on a racist or sexist comment, the speaker says, “Just kidding!” or “You’re too sensitive!” or “You’re looking for reasons to be offended.”

How to Fight Back Against Manipulation

As with any subtle form of manipulation, the first step in freeing yourself from gaslighting is to recognize that it’s actually happeningand to determine who the abuser is. In most cases this will be pretty obvious. The next step, then, is to take a firm stand against the reality this abuser is attempting to impose on you – and that’s the hard part. When you’re in the habit of trusting someone else’s version of events above your own, it can be hard to go back to accepting what you perceive as being the truth.

Adding to that, the nature of gaslighting means that any attempt to stand up to your abuser is likely to be written off as “another fantasy.” Your complaints are likely to be met with very convincing and logical-sounding explanations, which is why it’s extremely important to commit yourself 100% to breaking the pattern.

Often the victim of this type of manipulation is aware of what’s happening, but the possible consequences of standing up to the effect seem less bad than “just letting it happen.” Often, if the problem is happening in a relationship, a necessary part of breaking free is steeling yourself to the fact that you have to be prepared to lose this person.Ultimately, if you’re in a situation where you feel dependent on your spouse or partner, you’ll allow them to manipulate you because you fear the alternative: being alone. But you have to ask yourself whether it’s better for you in the long term to be stuck in a manipulative relationship, or to break free and reclaim your own ability to make choices and decisions according to your own free will.

There’s no easy solution. Breaking the pattern requires you to assert yourself as someone with a right to have an independent opinion and worldview – and if you’ve been accepting someone else’s worldview for years, it’s going to take guts to change that. In many cases, the easiest way to break free is to remove yourself from the situation altogether and get a fresh start where you can rebuild your sense of self without manipulative influences.

It’s important to recognize in any case that the manipulation is really happening no matter what the gaslighter says, and that there are people who can help you. Turn to trusted friends, independent support networks or therapists, or other people in your work organization (preferably those higher up the chain than the person doing the gaslighting).

Breathe into doubt
When you notice any of these signs, allow compassion for yourself. Breathe into your truth. “I don’t know what to believe. I feel crazy.” Bring kindness to your experience of confusion and doubt.

Keep a record
If you have enough privacy, it can bring relief to record your thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Your journal can receive your conflicting impressions without the need for certainty. If someone questions your memory, you can look back at your notes. If items mysteriously appear and disappear, you can take strategic photographs of problem areas.

Listen within
To rebuild self-trust and repair your reality, tune in to your internal signals with interested curiosity. In her book The Power of Focusing, Ann Weiser Cornell teaches Inner Relationship Focusing, a simple method for connecting with yourself. When you notice a sensation or emotion, you can keep it company, listening for its truth without expecting it to change.

  • “Something in me feels anxious, and I say hello to that.”
  • “My belly feels tight, and I say hello to that.”
  • “I don’t know what I feel, and I say hello to that.”

If you feel judgmental of what you notice, you can turn your listening attention toward judgment.

  • “Something in me hates that I feel anxious, and I say hello to that.”
  • “Something in me wants my belly to relax, and I say hello to that.”
  • “Something in me says I should know what I feel, and I say hello to that.”

As you listen inside, your vague sensations will become more clear. As parts of you feel fully heard, they will shift and heal. As you practice listening, you will regain confidence in your perceptions.

Ignore motives
In the movie Gaslight, Gregory’s manipulation of his wife is part of a hidden plot to find her aunt’s jewels. Sometimes gaslighting helps an abuser maintain a more sympathetic self-image as well as concealing abuse. While it is happening, gaslighting often lacks an apparent motive, which adds to the victim’s confusion and self-doubt.

You do not have to figure out why someone is gaslighting you. You do not even have to label the behavior as gaslighting. You can simply say hello to your confusion and desire to understand.

Seek out support
It can be tempting to ask others to confirm your perceptions of gaslighting. Unfortunately, others may be unaware of what is happening and do not have your moment by moment observations. Turn your attention toward what is true for you.

  • “Something in me is uncertain, and I say hello to that.”
  • “Something in me desperately wants confirmation, and I say hello to that.”

Instead of taking a poll on whether your perceptions are correct, seek out people who support you in welcoming all your perceptions.

Rebuild self-trust
As you repair your relationship with yourself, the effects of gaslighting will gradually fall away. Over time, your boundaries will heal, and you will naturally say no to emotionally abusive behavior.

Learn more
I highly recommend Ann Weiser Cornell’s book The Power of Focusing as well as the many articles on her website. A good starting point is The Radical Acceptance of Everything.

The wikipedia entry for gaslighting has a good summary and background information.