Black Women's Improvement Project (BWIP)

Question of the Week: Do You Know When You’re Being Gaslighted?

Gaslighting. Do you know what it means? No…it’s not what happens when you fart near a lighted match.

Take a peep at the origin of the term:

I swear, I don’t care how old this movie is, I know I’ve dated this guy. Turd! How many men have tried to break you down, told you you were crazy and had you ready to sit in a corner and chew your fingers clean off your hands? I have to say though, this chick is so needy I’m ready to throw a barrel of pennies at her.

Seriously, more of us have been influenced by this kind of behavior not just with men, but with friends, family and children. (In mean, HOW MANY times have your kids farted and blamed it on the dog, and said YOU were nuts, even though your can CLEARLY see that swarm of flies gathering around their bottoms?)

So I’m reading The Gaslight Effect by Dr. Robin Stern. I’m not finished with it yet, but so far, it’s an interesting read. She gives a checklist in her book that might, kinda, if you squint, be something a few of you can relate to:

  • You are constantly second-guessing yourself
  • You’re always apologizing to your mother, father, boyfriend, boss
  • You wonder if you are a “good enough” girlfriend/wife/employee/friend/daughter
  • You frequently make excuses for your partner’s behavior to friends and family (whoa boy, could tell you some stories about horrors of boyfriend’s past)
  • You find yourself withholding information from friends and family so you don’t have to expain or make excuses
  • You think twice before bringing up certain seemingly innocent topics of conversation
  • Before your partner comes home , you run through a checklist in your head to anticipate anything you might have done wrong that day (Thanks, you bastard. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!!!)
  • You start lying to avoid the put-downs and reality twists

There’s more, but you get the gist.

First and foremost, Gaslighting is ABUSE, straight up, no chaser. Here’s a playlist of the Gaslighter’s secret weapons, according to the good gaslight Dr. Stern:

What do you find most painful? Your gaslighter is an expert at using that sore spot as his secret weapon. He may:

  • Remind you of your worst fears: “You reallly are too fat/frigid/sensitve/difficult…”
  • Threaten you with total abandonment: “No one will ever love you again. You’ll be single for the rest of your life. No one else will put up with you.” (AGAIN, you were WRONG on that one, Turd-Man.)
  • Invoke other troubled relationships: “No wonder you don’t get along with your parents. Maybe this is why your friend (BonQuiQui) has dropped you. Don’t you see, this is why you boss doesn’t respect you.”
  • Use your ideals against you: “Isn’t marriage about unconditional love?” and other stuff, but my fingers are getting tired.
  • Make you doubt your own perception, memory, or sense of reality. CLASSIC: “I never said that-you only imagined it.”

Perhaps Eddie Murphy did it best:

Trust me, no sex is worth loosing your marbles for. But if you believe that you may be a victim, take one of these and then call me in the morning.


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