Manipulating The Truth – Gaslighting 101

Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person makes a victim question reality. It is used to gain power and control. It is very effective and can lead someone to question her own sanity. Methods vary but the goal is to destroy the victim’s sense of self by constant and multi-leveled ‘attacks.’

A disturbed person whose early-on needs were usually not met will spend a lifetime trying to diminish and destroy another person’s light. Any place the target shines is where the darkness hits. A strong faith is mocked. A clean person will be accused of filth. A minor flaw will be blown up. Attempting to recruit co-conspirators is always part of the plan.

Weaken the victim; coerce others to shun them. That’s the MO. The attacker comes on strong when the target is sick, dependent or grief-stricken. My sister knew my Achilles’ Heel was a fear of homelessness and a love of my rescue animals. Both were constantly threatened or challenged.

I had never been to a therapist in my life and my sister got me into the psyche ward. After a short time experiencing the toxic atmosphere between my mother and older sister, I became imbalanced myself. Soon, I picked up a drink to block it all out. The constant fighting and back-stabbing in our home was sickening.

Mom needed me there to continue to live in her place and the whole camp needed a caretaker. I took the project on and gave it everything I had-almost my life. I grew in my faith and we ended up rescuing dozens of animals during our time at the place we called Misfit Island.

Police would get calls that I was abusing Mom and show up in groups of four with guns drawn. They were told I had her locked inside and was holding her against her will. She was sitting home alone watching Star Trek one time. It took two days to calm Mom down after that episode. Sis denied it happened.

The term ‘gaslighting’ comes from an old movie of the same name where a husband tried to convince his wife that she was insane. Recently, the term has resurfaced as mental illness continues to go untreated and so many continue to be the targets.

The aggressors are imbalanced and try to regain it by control. The victim provides a sense of dominance for the diseased ego and self-esteem of the perpetrator. Changing facts to diminish or demean is normal.

I shone too bright at my Mom’s memorial service and my sister was fuming. She decided the day was to honor herself. The next day, I got an anonymous message that if I didn’t get off the property in 72 hours, my animals would disappear one by one until I did. I was terrified. As I contemplated a move, the police showed up with an eviction notice.

A judge gave me 5 days to vacate and I was identified as a trespasser. She had to flex the power she had over my life and even told people that she held “my life in her hands.’ I heard she thought about getting a restraining order so she could portray herself as a victim. What a joke.

I am starting over after helping Mom through the final leg of her journey. There isn’t a safe way to consider interacting with my sister. It is too toxic and I feel like I’m in jeopardy. Her anger doesn’t have a limit.

Stepping away from the gaslighter and maintaining strict privacy was my answer. Others might need more protection. Share if it happens to you. Isolating the victim is key to a ‘successful’ gaslighter. The worst mistake I made was to stay silent and hope it blew over.