Patty, an undergrad with limited financial resources and professional experience, truly believed she was less qualified than her peers. So, when opportunities came her way, Patty was immensely thankful. Charles, a Professor who hired Patty for a summer internship at an archeological dig in Greece, was all too ready to exploit her naivete. In the interview, he found out she didn’t know anyone else in the department or working at the dig. Before departing for Greece, he learned she would say yes to anything – including transporting a bag full of tools on the plane. When Patty made normal-level mistakes, Charles responded by yelling at her, threatening her standing at the university, and manipulating her into spying on her peers.
Charles was gaslighting Patty. Gaslighting is when a person manipulatively provides false information to gain psychological control over a victim. Over time, victims of gaslighting doubt their memory, perception, and judgment. Red flags that you are being gaslighted include escalating misinformation, accusations of lying if you question false narratives, and isolation. This leads to self-doubt and an inability to trust yourself and others.
Here are tips to counteract gaslighting:
Connect With Others: Gaslighters rely on victims' isolation. To negate the gaslighter’s impact, tell others about your experiences and receive the validation that co-workers, friends, and family see things the way you do.
Skip Arguing With A Gaslighter: Engaging with gaslighters is a waste of time. You’ll use facts. They’ll use…alternative facts… and fight dirty. The disagreement will inevitably end with you questioning yourself and feeling bad. It’s not worth it. Instead, know your truth and live it.
Practice Trusting Yourself: You didn’t do anything to deserve gaslighting. Outside of this situation, you have a life history of identifying and interpreting facts. You are not the problem. The problem is the gaslighter and their manipulative campaign to control you.