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Sex, Love, And Psych
Sex, Love, And Psych

Episode · 1 year ago

Episode 7: Gaslighting

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

A dive into the abusive manipulation that falls under the category of "gaslighting" with some real world examples of how different it can look and how to recognize it in your personal relationships, friendships, etc.

Hello and welcome to sex leven psych episode seven on gas lighting. So, just to start off, I would like to provide a couple examples of definitions of gaslighting, just for people who haven't heard the phrase or I really aren't familiar with it. So just if you google gas lighting, the first definition to come up in the diction in the dictionary is to manipulate someone by psychological means into questioning their own sanity or another website, that NBC News, actually provided the definition of a specific type of manipulation where the manipulator is trying to get someone else to question their own reality, memory or perceptions. This is a solid example of abuse in my manipulation and, just to point out, it is non gendered. Women can be manipulators, men can be manipulators, non barinary people can be manipulators. Anything else in between can do this. It also doesn't only happen in the context of a relationship. The examples I will be providing later in this episode are all partner examples, but it can also happen with friends, employers, parents, other family members, pretty much anyone. Can't who you are in consistent contact with, can and has the power to gas light you or manipulate you if that is what they want to do. So some general examples of gas lighting is denying that they said or did anything, even when there's proof. When they are accused, they work to flip blame to the person accusing them or telling you you're crazy, you're never right, making you feel like you're walking on egg shells. The effects it can have is you stop trusting your own reality and perceptions. You're constantly looking for proof to kind of supplement that general feeling or knowledge that you have that you no longer trust. You may think you're always wrong, you feel like you're always walking on eggshells, especially you're on this person. It can bleed into your relationships with other people where you feel like you can't bring up any constructive issues or communicate any of your boundaries or issues without you being the one to blame and you being the crazy one. And if you go back to our communication, consent boundary stocks, you'll know that gaslighting and those things can be super well connected and be really damaging. You can feel like your emotions aren't valid and you never know you where you stand with the other person. You don't know if they're going to be mad at you, you don't know if you're on okay terms with them, and it's just it can be a gradual wearing down where it starts kind of small and slowly eventually builds up...

...to really big examples. But by the time it gets to the big examples, you already feel like everything is your fault. So they've already done their job and they can start blaming you for bigger things and twisting your perception of reality even more. With gas flighting and abuse in general in relationship context or in other contexts, it's not usually all bad with this person. They will do good things every once in a while, or maybe just overload you with a bunch of affection and good things so that when you are fighting, when they are when you are calling them out on something, they can bring up these good examples of when they were so good to you and how much they love you and use it to twist your reality and make you feel like the bad person. Just a quick note. You can't change someone who doesn't want to change. Therapy can help in these situations, but it only helps if they want to be helped and they want to change. A lot of abusers are very narcissistic, self centered, self focused, and they feel powerful that they can abuse and manipulate people. So it's going to be hard to convince them to change their ways if they don't already want to change their ways. This is not your job. This is something they have to figure out on their own, and a lot of times this means that you got to do what's best for you and get out of this toxic, possibly dangerous situation. So I do have some real life, anecdotal examples from myself and some friends who I will keep anonymous just to protect their identities, that kind of thing. Product I don't necessarily want to protect the abusers, but I feel like it's not my place to call them out. So I will just be going over these examples in a way to provide anybody listening with real life examples of gas lighting, how varied it can be, how common it is, and maybe help to reduce some of the stigma and shame a person can feel when they've real when they come to realize that they've been manipulated, they've been abused, they've been victimized by this person. There's a lot of shame in that and I really don't think there should be. There should be more shame when the abuser and more support for the victims. Okay, so I will start with my very own real life example. I have a few of these, but the ones that twisted me the most, and we're had the greatest effect on the rest of my life that I'm still talking about in therapy to this...

...day and still working through, would be when I'm about six years ago. Six years yeah, six, seven, eight years ago. At one point in my life I had two major gas lighters in my immediate circle. They both make me feel if they terrible, if they didn't constantly have my full attention, which was really hard because it was coming from two people. So I felt constantly split and constantly like I was doing something wrong because if I was with one person, they would expect me not to be talking to the other person, but if I was with the other person, they would expect me to be talking to them. So it's really double sided, really tough situation to be in. If I ever brought up how this was affecting me or tried to communicate how their actions were hurtful and harmful, they would wind up in tears, panicked, angry, saying how terrible of a person they were and how they should kill themselves so I wouldn't have to deal with them anymore. I was made to feel like I was a terrible person and was constantly walking on eggshells, even when I was hanging out with other friends, because they would say I was replacing them, and then I only had room for one of them in my life. This was a really tough time for me. There are tons more details that I could get into, but these would be the major standout examples that I have of these two people just completely gaslighting me, making me feel like I was terrible. I developed panic attacks because of this. Actually, this is when they all started, and just the constant manipulation and feeling like I had both of these people's lives in my hands because if I didn't act right, I didn't have time for them or space for them in my life and I was their top priority, so they would kill themselves. So and it didn't start this crazy right off the bat. They would start with little things like just kind of acting kind of sad if I had made plans with the other person or other friends that I had, or just making their whole life about me and seeming like it was about me and then getting really upset when I would try to communicate any issues and just it twisted my whole perception of reality and how relationships and friendships looked. One of these was a close friend. One of them was my boyfriend at the time. So yeah, just some good examples of gas lighting. I guess it was terrible, horrific at the time. I have learned a lot...

...from it, I have grown a lot from it, but I will take credit for them. It doesn't go for that. It credit for WHO I am today does not go to them. Hum. So I do have some examples from friends and people in my life who I will just refer to friend one, friend to etc. Because I'm not going to be the one to put them on blast with their experiences. But friend one, when I asked for a specific example because her she had a relationship that she was in those very toxic. But I asked what she wanted to share and she gave me this example where a girl she didn't know sent my friend evidence and screenshots that the guy that my friend was dating at the time had cheated on her, and my friend took this evidence and screenshots to her boyfriend at the time, and he denied it, even in the face of proof, and convinced her it that the profiles that had sent it must be fake and that the person who had sent it must be super crazy and they shouldn't be trusted. He then proceeded to shower my friend with love and affection until she was convinced that the original center of this evidence was crazy and shouldn't be trusted, before he returned to his usual asshole behavior. I'm very much not a fan of this person, and everybody knows that. I don't try to hide it. But again, even as I said earlier, even in provided with proof, he was still able to deny it and twist her perception of reality so much that she believed that a person who went out of their way to share this evidence with her was the crazy one and couldn't be trusted. Because she was. She was convinced that this guy loved her and couldn't possibly do that to her, and when provided with extra affection from him, it just helped pad that idea that he was the one to be trusted in this situation. So friend, too was actually what inspired this episode to be done today, because we were discussing gaslighting and it wasn't something she had heard of, but she was seeing a guy who, for example, like this one example, is a textbook case of gaslighting. Her birthday was coming up and she had expressed to him, communicated, that she would like to spend some time together on her birthday. They hung out two days before where he kind of the way she described it. He made it sound like the two days before her birthday was her actual birthday, which confused her and she was like, Nope, not today, like two days from now with my birthday. gave her a gift that she had expressly said that she didn't want or need, which she said...

...thank you, as a normal person would. And then the next day she started feeling crampy and kind of sick and wound up calling into work sick. He got mad at her for spending time with him it when she felt sick, because this is covid times, so she was able to use this global pandemic to manipulate her brain and make her feel guilty for spending time with him before she felt sick. He said, he said his mom was mad at her because he told his mom and was just being super rude. And then the following day, which was her birthday, she was still rightfully upset and had to work, so he didn't get the quality or frequency of text messages replies that he wanted, and then, the day after her birthday, proceeded to send her a bullet note list of everything she had done wrong on her birthday that upset Him. Like I saw the bullet pointless. It had like ten points and it was all examples of how she had reacted to his negative behavior. But he flipped that and was trying to make her feel guilty and make it her fault that she was upset, when it when it was in fact it's. She did wind up ending things over text that than fully because she knew that he would react with anger and tried twist things on her if she did it in person. So sometimes we just got to end shit over text for our own safety in sanity. When she was sharing this with me and our other mutual friend, we pointed out that it was gaslighting and she had said that some other people that she had shared this story with also use the word gas flighting and it wasn't something that she had heard of before as an example of abuse and manipulation. And then when this was pointed out to her, she was able to start recalling smaller, earlier examples of him making her feel like she was the one who is always wrong and couldn't communicate her own boundaries and issues or constructive criticism. So friend number three included some examples of how sometimes a gas lighter will create rules and standards that only apply to the other person that they are trying to manipulate. This particular friend, in this context with this partner, wouldn't hear from the person they were seeing for up to a full day or longer, but if she didn't answer immediately, the partner would get mad. She was supposed to be available when he wanted, but couldn't ask for quality time without being made to sound unreasonable. The...

...specific friend had another hum example of a gas lighter who is also just a legitimate psychopath, in my not so professional opinion. But some examples of how he gaslighted her was that he would tell her she need to be medicated, would use the phrase look what you made me do, try to constantly make her feel on edge and like she was crazy, would use Christianity to guilt her and, even after she had wound up escalating to the point of calling the police on her, on him. Sorry. He would leave objects in areas he knew she would see them to show that he had been there, even after they broke up, just to further intimidate her and make her feel on edge and crazy. He was an abusive and more ways than this, but these are some pretty obvious one not obvious at the time because they started settle, but these are pretty clear examples of gaslighting when looking from the outside in, when you are in the situation again. It starts small, they build it up and you feel like everything is your fault. This is not your fault. They have probably done this before. They they are narcissistic, they feel powerful. In this case he was a legitimate psychopath, and I just want to reiterate that there shouldn't be any shame in realizing that you have been a victim of any kind, because it's not your fault. It is the abuser's fault every time. So, friend number four, sorry I'm getting a little ragie and a little bit of a sick feeling, but I think these are very important examples to share. Friend number four, this was an on again, off again friendship relationship complicated situation. At one point it got to like after they had been off again for a while, he came back into her life and he would constantly bring up the fact that he spent twozeros on therapy and tell her that she would be a better person if she did too. In response to any criticism that she had. This was like any argument, any kind of just criticism, any communication that he did not like, he would just be like, well, I spent twozeros on therapy, so I'm clearly a way better person now, and this was one of the tools that he used to convince her that he should be back in her life. One time he accused her of sexually assaulting him when he had gotten into...

...her bed naked and made the effort to initiate sex, only the next day accused her of sexually assaulting him when he didn't want to have sex. He would constantly manipulate her into thinking sex was a good idea, even if she had expressed that she didn't want it at any specific time. At one point, when she attempted to end things with him, he told her that she was the fuck up, she was the one who would be missing out, and just made her feel extra, extra crazy. He would throw all of this intermittently overload her with affection, constantly texting her telling her how great she was, just to sprinkle in that love in within the context of these massively abuse of behaviors that he was doing and just manipulations. It finally got to the point where she could finally, finally find found the strength to completely cut off communication with him. And at this point he shut up at her new place, she had recently moved, saying he had left something at her place that he wanted back. So that's why he showed up unannounced and intimidated her at her new home. She thankfully spotted what was happening and escaped through a different door. But this guy's an actual sociopath. I'm fairly certain I've met this one. He yeah, not a fan. I'm not a fan of any of the people in these examples, except for my friends. So again, to reiterate, it's not the victims fall ever, there are multiple levels and degrees of gas lighting. It often accompanies other types of abuse. There are these red flags that you can recognize early if you feel like you're constantly walking on eggshells. They aren't open to any criticism or conversation or communication. You don't know where you stand with this person. Ever, these are all pretty early red flags that you can recognize and maybe analyze a little bit and find in yourself if this is something that is worth leaving for I would recommend it. If they don't seem open to change or open to conversation, I probably won't be in the future and it probably won't get any better. So, with all that, I hope this gave you a little bit of an introduction to gas lighting. There is a lot of examples and resources on the Internet, as per usual, but I hope this kind of give you a better idea, maybe gave you some things to think about, because that is what I want to do with this whole podcast is kind of give people things...

...to think about and maybe help to reduce some of the stigma and shame surrounding these conversations and just show the commonality. We aren't alone in this. If this is something you're experiencing, you're not alone in this and again, reach out to me, your friends, people you trust, a therapist, just whoever, whoever your got person, if you think you're experiencing this, maybe just hit them up. Hit send them a message. If you feel comfortable enough to bring it up with your partner or your parent or your friend, or whoever it is that's doing this, do it and try not to make it sound in a way that you're attacking them, because they will go on the defense and again try to twist it to make you feel like a terrible person, forever believing that they could do these things. So just be really careful when bringing it up with the person you suspect is manipulating you, but do bring it up with anyone in your support system and seek out a therapist if you need to. Thank you so much for tuning in this week. So it was a little bit late. My last week or two have been absolutely crazy, but I appreciate you guys bearing with me and consistently just popping in and listening to what I got to say. Have a great weekend.

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