Friday, December 26, 2014

Gaslighting 101 & the Abuse of the Disabled

Over the holidays I have spent some time talking with one of my ASD friends, about the "situation" with my family.  We talked at some length and then she brought up the subject of "Gaslighting."  Admittedly I had heard the term but was not really all that aware of what it meant and its implications.

The term Gaslighting come from the 1944 film “Gaslight.” In this movie the pianist Gregory Anton launches a secret campaign to drive his wife, Paula, insane—and to have people in her life also believe she is crazy. He dismantles her sanity through subtle manipulations of their home environment and little changes in the details of their conversations.

Specifically Gaslighting is "the systematic attempt by one person to erode another person's reality, by telling them that what they are experiencing isn't so-and the gradual giving up on the part of the other person" (Dr. Robin Stern-The Gaslight Effect)

This form of abuse is as subtle as it is insidious.  The abuser has their victim so confused, and so doubtful of their own reality that they often think they are crazy.  It can also be hard to prove, as we don't usually journal the everyday moments of our life.

My own father, he calls me a "psychopathic liar", insists "I am not disabled", "I am immoral", "I am manipulative", when the entire time he is actually describing himself, not me.  I went through childhood emotional abuse, bullying, sexual abuse (by another relative), all the while having it drummed into my head that this was my "imagination."    Furthermore with a person that has ACC, it is very easy to manipulate their memories and imagination.  My father would just continue to repeat lies over and over until I believed them, or at the least doubted my version of reality. 

At the age of 19, I began using my middle name (Joseph) in place of my first name (Scott) and have lived so ever since.  He would tell me such things as "only criminals change their name," etc...All the while, the man has never used his first name (Robert), but gone by Dick or Richard (his middle name.)  The ultimate in hypocrisy, as he is accusing me of what he himself had done.

My father is so manipulative and volatile even at the age of (almost) 80, that he has my entire family wrapped around his little finger.  I have a 22 year old nephew, and his sister, my niece, that I have never been able to get to know.  I have a brother 3 years older than I that has not been able to know the truth about my ACC and ASD.  He would have them believe all the lies he has manipulated them into believing.

He would have my brother forget his father's alcoholism and the years of emotional and verbal abuse that we both suffered under, and act as if it never occured.

Talking with my good ACC friend Sara, we surmised that it would not be surprising to see this type of Gaslighting abuse prevalent in our generation of ACCers and ASDers.

<VENTING>I can say right now, that I am taking a stand, I will no longer bow to his manipulations.  While I have no family, the loss is truly his not mine.  The only thing that saddens me, is this form of abuse I am sure has been passed on to my nephew, as I know for a fact my father has repeated the same lies and manipulations to him that he had to me.  I can also say, there will come a day when his house of cards will come falling down, and everyone will see this man for who he really is.  I hope that day comes soon, but I will not be holding my breath.</VENTING>

I'm sure I'll have much more to say about this in the future, but for now I will let it stand here...
Thanks for listening/reading!

Happy Holidays to all of my friends and chosen family, may  your New Year be bright and happy!

~Joseph

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