Anti-Harassment

Why?

According to the Southern Poverty Legal Center (SLPC).

“In the ten days following the election, there were almost 900 reports of harassment and intimidation from across the nation. Many harassers invoked Trump’s name during assaults, making it clear that the outbreak of hate stemmed in large part from his electoral success.

People have experienced harassment at school, at work, at home, on the street, in public transportation, in their cars, in grocery stores and other places of business, and in their houses of worship. They most often have received messages of hate and intolerance through graffiti and verbal harassment, although a small number also have reported violent physical interactions. Some incidents were directed at the Trump campaign or his supporters.

Of course, hate crimes and lower-level incidents of racial or ethnically charged harassment have long been common in the United States. But the targets of post-election hate incidents report that they are experiencing something quite new.

“I have experienced discrimination in my life, but never in such a public and unashamed manner,” an Asian-American woman reported after a man told her to “go home” as she left an Oakland train station. Likewise, a black resident whose apartment was vandalized with the phrase “911 nigger” reported that he had “never witnessed anything like this.” A Los Angeles woman, who encountered a man who told her he was “Gonna beat [her] pussy,” stated that she was in this neighborhood “all the time and never experienced this type of language before.” Not far away in Sunnyvale, California, a transgender person reported being targeted with homophobic slurs at a bar where “I’ve been a regular customer for 3 years — never had any issues.”

Both the harassment since the election and the energy on the radical right are the predictable results of the campaign that Trump waged for the presidency — a campaign marked by incendiary racial statements, the stoking of white racial resentment, and attacks on so-called “political correctness.”

 

Read more about the types of post election harassment described in SPLC’s report.

In addition to the forms of harassment the SPLC report describes there are other forms of harassment that occur in this country ever day listed below.

7 Things Everyone can do to Counter Harassment

  1.  Take a Bystander Intervention Workshop

 

Don’t be a Bystander: 6 Tips for Responding to Racist Attacks by the Barnard Center for Research on Women

 

A video of Maeril’s bystander’s guide to Islamophobic harassment

 

Racial Justice Network’s “5 Ways to Disrupt Racism”

 

2.  Take an anti-racism workshop

3. Take an anti-bullying workshop for school, workplace and/or cyber bullying

4. Record police harassment

  • According to Reason.com,
    • The law in 38 states plainly allows citizens to record police, as long as you don’t physically interfere with their work. Police might still unfairly harass you, detain you, or confiscate your camera. They might even arrest you for some catchall misdemeanor such as obstruction of justice or disorderly conduct. But you will not be charged for illegally recording police.
      • Twelve states—California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington—require the consent of all parties for you to record a conversation.
      • However, all but 2 of these states—Massachusetts and Illinois—have an “expectation of privacy provision” to their all-party laws that courts have ruled does not apply to on-duty police (or anyone in public). In other words, it’s technically legal in those 48 states to openly record on-duty police.
    • Read first before recording:

 

5. Report harassment incidents to Southern Poverty Law Center monitoring incidents around the country

6. Encourage men to take responsibility for ending sexual and gender harassment

List of Lesser Obvious Forms of Sexual and Gender Harassment

List of Things to Do to Treat Women Better

7. Support organizations that focus on ending harassment

AFSC: Do’s and Don’ts for Bystander Intervention

If you witness public instances of racist, anti-Black, anti-Muslim, anti-Trans, or any other form of oppressive interpersonal violence and harassment, use these tips on how to intervene while considering the safety of everyone involved.

DO:

Do make your presence as a witness known.

  • If possible, make eye contact with the person being harassed and ask them if they want support.
  • Move yourself near the person being harassed. If possible and you feel you can risk doing so, create distance or a barrier between the person being harassed and the attacker.
  • If it’s safe to do so, and the person being harassed consents—film or record the incident.

Do take cues from the individual being harassed. 

  • Is the person engaging with the harasser or not? You can make suggestions, “Would you like to walk with me over here? Move to another train car? For him to leave you alone?,” and then follow their lead.
  • Notice if the person being harassed is resisting in their own way, and honor that. (Especially white folks, don’t police tone of the person being harassed).
  • Follow up with the individual being harassed after the incident is over, see if they need anything else.

Do keep both of you safe.

  • Assess your surroundings—are there others nearby you can pull in to support? Working in a team is a good idea, if it is possible.
  • Can you and the person being harassed move to a safer space/place?

 

DON’T:

Don’t call the police.

• For many communities experiencing harassment right now (including Arab and Muslim communities, Black people, queer and trans folks, and immigrants) the police can cause a greater danger for the person being harassed.

Don’t escalate the situation.

• The goal is to get the person being harassed to safety, not to incite further violence from the attacker.

Don’t do nothing.

• Silence is dangerous—it communicates approval and leaves the victim high and dry. If you find yourself too nervous or afraid to speak out, move closer to the person being harassed to communicate your support with your body.

 

Infographic Guides

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Artist: Marie-Shirine Yener

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Corrected-Stand-Up-Infographic.jpg

ACLU: One Woman Who Knew Her Rights Forced Border Patrol Off a Greyhound Bus

“On June 7, Tiana Smalls, whose Facebook profile describes her as owner of Fire Flower Beauty Company, was riding a Greyhound bus from Bakersfield, California to Las Vegas, Nevada. As the bus approached an agricultural checkpoint at the Nevada state line, Ms. Smalls said the driver made an unusual announcement: “We are being boarded by Border Patrol. Please be prepared to show your documentation upon request.”

Ms. Smalls immediately reacted. According to a description she posted on Facebook, she stood up and loudly said, “This is a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights. You don’t have to show them *shit*!!!” She then used Google Translate to repeat her message in Spanish, reassuring the Spanish-speaking woman sitting beside her and probably countless other fellow passengers.

Border Patrol agents boarded the bus and started to ask the passengers for their “documentation.” Ms. Smalls stood up again and shouted, “You have NO RIGHT to ask me for anything! This is harassment and racial profiling! We are not within 100 miles of a border so [these agents] have no legal right or jurisdiction here!”

Ms. Smalls’ simple and courageous act of resistance was enough. The Border Patrol agents, realizing that they would face an uphill battle, immediately retreated, telling the driver to continue on.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials claim sweeping authority to operate in the interior of the United States. Their basis for doing so is a federal statute that purports to allow CBP officers to undertake certain enforcement activities without a warrant “within a reasonable distance from any external boundary of the United States.” A federal regulation adopted in 1953 inexplicably defines a “reasonable distance” as up to 100 air miles from any external boundary of the United States — an area that sweeps up nearly two-thirds of the U.S. population (200 million people), nine of our 10 largest cities, and several entire states (including Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, and New Jersey). And still CBP cheats its way to more interior encroachment, for example, by claiming that the Great Lakes shared with Canada are “functional equivalents of the border” so that all of Michigan and Chicago are in its reach.

Tell Greyhound to stop letting Border Patrol violate its passengers’ rights

CBP often overlooks basic civics in making this power grab, however. No act of Congress can authorize a violation of the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land.

In general, the Fourth Amendment allows law enforcement to enter business areas that are open to the public. In nonpublic areas, however, law enforcement officers must have a warrant, consent, or “exigent circumstances” for their entry to be constitutional. Because you need a ticket to board a Greyhound bus, these are nonpublic areas. In a recent letter to Greyhound’s general counsel, the ACLU explained that Greyhound is not obligated to consent to the Border Patrol’s warrantless and unjustified raids on its buses.

Since Trump took office, CBP activity far from our actual borders has increased significantly. ACLU affiliates in Washington, California, Arizona, Michigan, New York, Vermont, and Florida have reported multiple incidents involving Border Patrol agents boarding Greyhound buses without a warrant or consent, and terrorizing passengers by demanding their papers. These reports indicate that Border Patrol agents routinely engage in racial and ethnic profiling, singling people out for the color of their skin or accents.

We live in dark times. Many people want to stand up for their own rights and the rights of others, but feel unsure about how. Ms. Smalls’ experience, like that of two brave women in Montana last month, teaches us that sometimes knowing one’s rights and speaking out with confidence delivers truth to abusive power.

Understandably, many people feel intimidated in the presence of law enforcement officials, including federal immigration agents. Here are some effective ways to stand up for what’s right.

Know your rights. Familiarize yourself with your rights when encountering immigration officials and other law enforcement. And then teach your friends and family what you’ve learned, so they know their rights too!

Practice. Find a friend and role play with each other, taking turns acting out the “bad cop” role. It may sound silly, but practicing what you would say out loud in a safe environment can help you feel more empowered when confronting law enforcement officials who are abusing their authority and violating your constitutional rights.

Consider recording encounters. The First Amendment protects the right to record and monitor law enforcement officials engaged in the public discharge of their official duties as long as you don’t interfere with the law enforcement activity itself during your recording. You can use your cell phone’s camera or download an app designed especially for this purpose, like the ACLU of Texas’s new “MigraCam.”

Be safe. Ms. Smalls’ behavior is a great example of how a little resistance can go a long way. Never lie to federal officers. Be careful not to physically interfere with or otherwise obstruct law enforcement officers because doing so may lead to your arrest. If you are questioned, remember you can always exercise your right to remain silent.

Tell us if you’ve witnessed Border Patrol or CBP officials violating constitutional rights. We want to know. You can contact the ACLU’s Border Litigation Project here.

We can all learn from Ms. Smalls’ fierce shot of courage. As she noted in her now-viral Facebook post, federal immigration officers “EXPECT people to be afraid of them and just comply.” But we can resist, for ourselves and for others who need us to have their backs.

The Nation: The Social Shaming of Racists Is Working

Now, when white people assert private authority over public space, there’s a cost.

“Some years ago, while we were getting ready to move out of state, my husband and I held a garage sale. We’d advertised it in our community newspaper and on flyers around the neighborhood and had a huge turnout as a result. Dozens of bargain hunters milled about, asking about this or that item. “Cuanto quiere usted por el sofá?” an older gentleman asked me, pointing to our old green couch. I quoted him a price, adding, “Es un sofá cama.” Hearing our exchange, a white woman turned around and yelled, “Speak English! You’re in America.” “Hey—” I said, but she walked away in a huff, got into her car, and drove off.

I’ve been thinking about that moment, and the fiery anger behind it, as I hear about incident after incident in which white people lash out at people of color in public spaces. There’s the white lawyer who berated the workers at a Manhattan deli for speaking Spanish—insisting that “I pay for their welfare. I pay for their ability to be here. The least they can do is speak English”—and then threatened to report them to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. There’s the white student who reported a black student for taking a nap in the common room of their dorm at Yale, saying, “I have every right to call the police—you cannot sleep in that room.” And there’s the white mother who called the police about two Native American students taking part in a campus tour at Colorado State University, telling the dispatcher that “they are not, definitely not, a part of the tour.”

The language in these complaints—“I pay,” “I have every right,” “they are definitely not”—is quite illuminating. It indicates a belief on the part of these white people that they are the custodians of public space and can enlist the police to enforce its boundaries. The offenses committed by people of color are arbitrary and nearly limitless: waiting too long at a Starbucks in Philadelphia, having a barbecue on Lake Merritt in Oakland, playing a leisurely game of golf at a club in Pennsylvania, checking out of an Airbnb in Rialto, California. And once police officers get there, anything can happen, ranging from an arrest on charges of trespassing to the installation of a police perimeter and the arrival of a police helicopter.

To be sure, the belief that public space belongs exclusively to white people is not new, and this redlining has been inflicting trauma on people of color for a long time now. Whether it’s on the street, in a café, or at an airport, the visibility of people of color in public is tolerated only so long as it does not disturb the comfort of the dominant group. But the ubiquitous presence of smartphones with cameras has helped to document such incidents, and social media have brought them to national attention. That’s a useful development: The assertion of private authority over public space now comes with a social cost.

That is what happened to Aaron Schlossberg, the Manhattan lawyer who threatened to call ICE on the Spanish-speaking food workers and customers in New York. His law practice soon plummeted in customer ratings; he was hounded by reporters seeking comment; and his corporate landlord terminated his business lease. Protesters even brought a mariachi band to perform outside his apartment building. The public shaming that followed his rant could have a salutary effect: Maybe, just maybe, racists will think twice before making frivolous reports or issuing threats.

Few people have come to Schlossberg’s defense, yet there are some who say that the popular outcry against him is “unnerving” and constitutes harassment by modern mobs who demand nothing less than “conformity of thought.” Online mobs are scary, no doubt about that. But Schlossberg’s rant doesn’t amount to a civilized difference of opinion; it’s racism, pure and simple, followed by threats.

Schlossberg’s assertion of authority over public space is, of course, protected from government interference by the First Amendment. But that right doesn’t protect him from the social consequences of his speech, including disruption and discomfort. Those protesting Schlossberg’s actions are, in fact, exercising their own free-speech rights to object to his racism and nativism. The simple truth is that if racist behavior is insulated from social shaming, it will likely continue and multiply until it becomes accepted. What happens when a majority of Americans hold views like Schlossberg’s?

The history of this country is replete with examples of how public space was regulated to ensure that one racial group was made comfortable at the expense of others. This is why it’s important to speak out, and speak out now. Allies can help to stop the harassment, or at least deflect it. In the cell-phone footage of Schlossberg’s rant, for example, an Asian man can be seen interposing himself between the lawyer and one of the Spanish-speaking women he’s verbally abusing. In the Philadelphia Starbucks incident, an older white man repeatedly challenged police officers about why they were arresting the two black men when they’d done nothing wrong.

At the garage sale that day, after the woman took off in a huff, I turned to my husband in disbelief. “Did you just hear what that lady said?” I asked him. This question, I now realize, was an attempt at documenting the moment by having a witness for it. It was my first intimation that people’s relationship to public space is political, and that some of us move through it under surveillance by others. “I heard,” my husband replied, and then told me of many similar experiences he’d had as a Cuban American here in Los Angeles.

But public space belongs to everyone. If racists don’t like hearing Spanish being spoken in a deli, or having Native American teens on a campus tour, or seeing black folks going on about their lives, they should just stay home.”

Gaslighting

Everyday Feminism: Gaslighting Is a Common Victim-Blaming Abuse Tactic – Here Are 4 Ways to Recognize It in Your Life

“For almost my entire life, I felt as though I couldn’t trust my own memory. If something happened that upset me, hurt me, or angered me, my reaction was often met with some variation of “That didn’t happen! I never said that! You’re overreacting!” I would think to myself, “Am I making this up, am I creating this hurt, am I fabricating this anger?” Parents and partners alike would deny my experiences, washing away painful memories as if I had simply painted them for my own amusement. 

I started to think that maybe I really was “too sensitive,” that I really was overreacting, being unfair, blaming others for something that was happening inside of me. And that’s a confusing, frustrating, and even dangerous place to be. Because after years of being told that your memory is not reliable, you begin to depend on what others say truly happened. Nearly every time I felt angry or hurt, it was the person angering or hurting me that I believed had the “real” knowledge of what had transpired. 

And even in the moments when I began to believe myself, I’d feel a pulling in my brain: “You’re hurt—no, you’re just imagining things” or “You’re angry—no, you’re just too sensitive.” This tension nearly pulled me apart. But one day, I pushed back.

I had gotten into a huge argument with a family member. As per usual, this family member entered my home making homophobic comments as hellos, which then escalated to a full-blown argument. It was me against Fox News and her mouth, and it ended with both of us leaving angry – and me spending Christmas with someone else’s family.

When this argument ended, I was told I was the instigator (even though I remembered simply reacting); I was told I was the one who was being hurtful (even though I remembered being hurt the moment the conversation began). Suddenly the world shifted, and again what I remembered seemed to be only in my own head.  But I caught it this time. So I stood my ground – and eventually, those who told me I was the instigator admitted I had actually been the victim.

Later that night, when I called my partner to vent about what had happened (and to let them know I would be spending Christmas at their place), they stopped me mid-conversation and asked: “Do you know what gaslighting is?”

And that changed everything.

Wait—So What Is Gaslighting?

In short, gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse “in which information is twisted or spun, selectively omitted to favor the abuser, or false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity.”

Essentially, gaslighting is a tactic used to destabilize your understanding of reality, making you constantly doubt your own experiences. Most of the time, this tactic is used to further uneven power balances with abusive partners, making you second guess yourself when you feel as if you are being abused or attacked.

Even if a relationship seems otherwise non-abusive, gaslighting is emotional and mental violence. This process in and of itself is toxic and unhealthy, regardless of whether there are other abusive behaviors taking place within the relationship.

Furthermore, gaslighting is commonly used to discredit the lived experiences of mentally ill and neurodivergent folks, which is both abusive and ableist. In my own personal experience, it’s been used to make me feel as though all of my anger was rooted in my mania, and that all of my reactions to people doing me harm were overreactions.

For example, the most pervasive form of gaslighting I’ve experienced in my home is the “blame everything on the ‘mental illness’” approach. It’s as if because I experience mania, I can never be justifiably angry; or because I experience depression, I can never be sad or hurt about something outside of myself; or because I am neurodivergent, that mine is always the last account to be taken seriously.

This means, for instance, that if I ever got angry or upset about the fact that members of my family habitually called me by homophobic and ableist slurs, making me unwilling to spend my time with them, I was simply having a manic break and that all of my anger was me “exploding” and being manic.  Or if I was uncomfortable spending time with friends or family members that didn’t respect my boundaries or identities, I was simply “letting my anxiety get the best of me” – and, again, when I got angry about the fact that this was happening, it was blamed on my mania.

The thing about gaslighting is that it’s an especially terrifying tactic because it makes the victim feel as if they cannot trust their own mind, that their memories and experiences are not valid or trustworthy, that their reactions are illogical and irrational. For people who already have a fluid perception of reality, this can make you feel as if nothing you take in is real or can be trusted. And this mistrust in yourself also makes it extremely difficult to identify when you are the victim of gaslighting.

So, How Can I Tell If I’m Experiencing Gaslighting?

One of my biggest motivations for writing this piece is that I had gone my entire life being gaslit by parents and partners alike. It had gotten to the point that I questioned the validity of all my responses to violence, questioned whether or not I was capable of knowing when I was being abused or not, and had begun to think that maybe every instance of abuse I’d experienced really was all in my head. 

But then I was told about gaslighting – and everything started to zoom into perspective for the first time in a very long time. So, how can you tell if this is happening to you? Here are some questions that you can ask yourself.

1. Do You Question the Validity of Your Memories and Experiences?

Gaslighting puts you in a position where you don’t trust what you remember or what you experience.  Thus, one of the biggest red flags that you’re experiencing gaslighting is that you’re quick to question or outright dismiss your memory of a situation. If you are in an involuntary habit of second guessing things that you remember, especially memories that involve abuse or hurt, you have most likely been put in a position where you have been conditioned to second guess yourself.

2. Are There People in Your Life Who Actively Discredit Your Memories and Experiences?

Gaslighting is the process of others conditioning you into distrusting your own sense of reality. There are many phrases that you may hear over and over that have led to you distrusting yourself, such as:

“You’re too sensitive.”

“You never remember things correctly.”

“How would you know? Your memory is awful.”

“You’re always making something out of nothing.”

“You weren’t right about this last time.”

“You can’t even remember [where you put your keys/where you parked the car/what you had for breakfast]. Why should I trust your memory of this?”

“You don’t even know what abuse is.” (Or “You have never seen real abuse.”)

If people in your life are using phrases like these ones to convince you that you’re wrong about what you remember and how you feel, you may be experiencing gaslighting.

3. When You Call Someone Out on Hurtful or Abusive Behavior, Are They Quick to Dismiss Both You and the Situation?

Another way of belittling someone’s experiences and memories is to outright dismiss claims of hurt or abuse. This includes diverting the conversation, ignoring what you’re saying, and refusing to engage in a conversation about things that have hurt you. Some red flag phrases for this dismissive behavior are:

“Why do you always have to bring this up?”

“I’m not dealing with this nonsense right now.”

“I [worked all day/am tired/have more important things to deal with] and don’t have time for this shit.”

“You’re ruining my night.”

“Shut up. Nothing happened.”

In fact, words aren’t the only way to dismiss someone. Scoffing, eye rolling, smirking, laughing, and removing themselves from the room and the conversation are other ways that people can show disregard for your feelings and needs.

4. When You Try and Bring Up Hurtful or Abusive Behavior, Do They Immediately Turn It Around and Play the Victim?

Another way to manipulate someone into thinking that they’re not experiencing harm or abuse is to constantly turn the conversation towards the abuser, making it seem like you are doing harm by even bringing up what’s hurting you. If someone in your life cannot (or will not) let you speak to your experiences, and instead insists on turning it into a conversation about themselves, the conversation is not a healthy one. Some red flag phrases for this tactic are:

“You always make me out to be the bad guy.”

“Constantly bringing stuff like this up makes me feel bad/is hurtful to me.”

“I’m actually the one hurting.”

“You don’t know what abuse is. Saying that I’m abusive is hurtful to me.”

“Pretending I’m hurtful/abusive makes you the bully.”

If these phrases are a constant in your life, if you feel like you’ve been conditioned into mistrusting your own memories and experiences, you have most likely been the victim of gaslighting.

So, What Can I Do?

Now that you understand what gaslighting is and maybe identify with it, it’s time to think about how you can work through and change the situation. But how?

1. Recognize It

The most important, and sometimes hardest, part of dealing with gaslighting is realizing that it’s happening. If you start to think that you’re experiencing this, go over the warning signs. Make sure you know what the red flags are. And when you’re put into situations where your experiences are dismissed or belittled, start looking for these warning signs.

Take note of the people in your life that make you feel this way. When you try to bring up feelings of hurt or anger, see if you can take note of particular phrases or behavioral patterns that could indicate that you are being gaslit. If you start to realize that these phrases and red flags are present in your life, take note of who is saying them, and take note of how often they are being said.

Abuse is a pattern. And once you know how the pattern presents itself, it becomes easier to spot. Once you begin to become aware of this pattern you can start to build up your self-trust again.

2. Trust Yourself

This is much easier said than done. When you’re a victim of emotional and mental abuse, it’s extremely difficult to put the pieces back together and relearn (or begin to learn) how to trust your own mind.  What can be the most helpful is to constantly remind yourself that these things are being done to manipulate you. Once you’ve spotted the red flags and the patterns, hold onto them. Remind yourself that this is an abuse tactic, and that will help you realize that your inability to trust yourself is not an objective truth.

Actively affirm your memories and experiences. When you’re being told that you “never remember anything right,” for instance, intentionally remind yourself that this isn’t true.  Positive self-affirmations are critical when learning to trust yourself again. When you are experiencing gaslighting, try to think things along the lines of “I am capable of knowing what I saw/heard/felt,” “This is only being done to hurt me,” and “My feelings are valid.”

3. Push Back

Pushing back is something that isn’t always possible for people. Many people are in situations where they’re financially dependent on their abuser, are minors living with abusive parents, or are at risk for increased abuse and physical violence if they push back. However, if you’re in a situation where you feel like pushing back is an option, go for it. Call that person out on it.  Let that person know that they’re actively dismissing claims you know to be true. Letting them know that you’re sticking to your guns and standing by what you remember causes the abuser to begin to lose power. 

Some quick come backs to push back with include “Ignoring what’s hurting me is abusive,” “Dismissing my feelings won’t make me forget that you’ve hurt me,” and “I know you’re trying to manipulate me, but I stand by what I said/felt/heard/saw.”These types of phrases bring attention to the patterns and behaviors that those who are gaslighting you don’t want you to see. And hearing yourself validate your own feelings and experiences will also help you really learn to trust yourself again.”

PT: 11 Warning Signs of Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a manipulation tactic used to gain power. And it works too well.

Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realize how much they’ve been brainwashed. For example, in the movie Gaslight (1944), a man manipulates his wife to the point where she thinks she is losing her mind.

People who gaslight typically use the following techniques:

1. They tell blatant lies.

You know it’s an outright lie. Yet they are telling you this lie with a straight face. Why are they so blatant? Because they’re setting up a precedent. Once they tell you a huge lie, you’re not sure if anything they say is true. Keeping you unsteady and off-kilter is the goal.

2. They deny they ever said something, even though you have proof. 

You know they said they would do something; you know you heard it. But they out and out deny it. It makes you start questioning your reality—maybe they never said that thing. And the more they do this, the more you question your reality and start accepting theirs.

3. They use what is near and dear to you as ammunition. 

They know how important your kids are to you, and they know how important your identity is to you. So those may be one of the first things they attack. If you have kids, they tell you that you should not have had those children. They will tell you’d be a worthy person if only you didn’t have a long list of negative traits. They attack the foundation of your being.

4. They wear you down over time.

This is one of the insidious things about gaslighting—it is done gradually, over time. A lie here, a lie there, a snide comment every so often…and then it starts ramping up. Even the brightest, most self-aware people can be sucked into gaslighting—it is that effective. It’s the “frog in the frying pan” analogy: The heat is turned up slowly, so the frog never realizes what’s happening to it.

5. Their actions do not match their words.

When dealing with a person or entity that gaslights, look at what they are doing rather than what they are saying. What they are saying means nothing; it is just talk. What they are doing is the issue.

6. They throw in positive reinforcement to confuse you. 

This person or entity that is cutting you down, telling you that you don’t have value, is now praising you for something you did. This adds an additional sense of uneasiness. You think, “Well maybe they aren’t so bad.” Yes, they are. This is a calculated attempt to keep you off-kilter—and again, to question your reality. Also look at what you were praised for; it is probably something that served the gaslighter.

7. They know confusion weakens people. 

Gaslighters know that people like having a sense of stability and normalcy. Their goal is to uproot this and make you constantly question everything. And humans’ natural tendency is to look to the person or entity that will help you feel more stable—and that happens to be the gaslighter.

8. They project.

They are a drug user or a cheater, yet they are constantly accusing you of that. This is done so often that you start trying to defend yourself, and are distracted from the gaslighter’s own behavior.

9. They try to align people against you.

Gaslighters are masters at manipulating and finding the people they know will stand by them no matter what—and they use these people against you. They will make comments such as, “This person knows that you’re not right,” or “This person knows you’re useless too.” Keep in mind it does not mean that these people actually said these things. A gaslighter is a constant liar. When the gaslighter uses this tactic it makes you feel like you don’t know who to trust or turn to—and that leads you right back to the gaslighter. And that’s exactly what they want: Isolation gives them more control.

10. They tell you or others that you are crazy.

This is one of the most effective tools of the gaslighter, because it’s dismissive. The gaslighter knows if they question your sanity, people will not believe you when you tell them the gaslighter is abusive or out-of-control. It’s a master technique.

11. They tell you everyone else is a liar.

By telling you that everyone else (your family, the media) is a liar, it again makes you question your reality. You’ve never known someone with the audacity to do this, so they must be telling the truth, right? No. It’s a manipulation technique. It makes people turn to the gaslighter for the “correct” information—which isn’t correct information at all.

 

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