Category Archives: Trauma Wellness

Resilience is Not Numb…

resilience not numb

Resilience is very different than being numb. Resilience means you experience, you feel, you fail, you hurt. You fall. But, you keep going. Yasmin Mogahed

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Stumbling Blocks Can Be Useful!

 

stepping stones“The only difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how we use them.” Anonymous

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Perseverance

 

keep plowing ahead“No matter how much falls on us, we keep plowing ahead. That’s the only way to keep the roads clear.” -Greg Kincaid

 

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Stop Digging

stop digging

“If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing you need to do is to stop digging.” Will Rogers.

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Human Flexibility

bamboo flexible

“The human capacity for burden is like bamboo- far more flexible than you’d ever believe at first glance.” Jodi Picoult

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A Champion and Setbacks

 

champion setback

“It may sound strange, but many champions are made champions by setback. They are champions because they’ve been hurt. Their experience moved them, and they pulled out this fighting spirit, making them what they are. Sometimes in life, God gives us a difficulty in order to bring out the fighting spirit. Everything that happens to you can happen for good if you have this spirit. The essential thing in life is not in the conquering, but in the fight.”

-Bob Richards

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Overcoming Suffering

overcoming suffering

Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.  -Helen Keller

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Christmas Self-Care: Energy, Time, Emotion & Money

spend

Spend only the energy, emotion, time, and money you can afford to spend.

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Speaking Your Truth: Bullying by Proxy

tree-rock-sky-courage-blue-nature-616295

As an abused child, I couldn’t understand how my very large extended family reacted to me. I felt puzzled by them. They denied me food as they binged on junk food, saying I was too fat. They put me in situations where I could not succeed. Sports without the proper equipment, out of date ill-fitting clothing, and social events where I did not belong. That’s bullying by proxy.

If I spoke to anyone in my family from a place of personal self-esteem, they would not hear me. It’s not that they argued with me. It’s that I was invisible if I liked myself at that moment. The only way I could communicate with the people supposed to love me was if I didn’t love myself. That’s gaslighting.

They treated me in this manner as a defense. They had organized a horrific abuse against me. Today I believe they wanted to make certain no one, no where would listen to my story. My speaking out. They made sure no one considered me a believable person.

These are examples of gaslighting and bullying by proxy. On the Internet, it’s called cyberbullying by proxy. Gaslighting and bullying by proxy are an inevitable part of abuse/rape/sexual harassment.

You can see it clearly if you know what you are looking for. On the Internet. In the media. And in the workplace. 
This is a skilled and talented form of management and control.

Gaslighters maneuver people to believe a harmful idea about another or group of others. The bullying includes malicious lies. Manipulating them into situations where they cannot cope. And setting the victim up to respond to some outrageousness. This, then, makes the victim look bad to others. Thus, proving the gaslighters point.

An example I used with my clients was that of a woman out on a date. It’s a lovely restaurant. Beautiful tablecloth down to the floor, fine china, and crystal glasses. He violently kicks her under the table. She hollers loudly. You can now hear a pin drop. Everyone looks at her. He acts like an innocent party. He kicks her again. She reacts again. All the people in the restaurant think something is wrong with her. Management asks her to leave the restaurant.

You see this today in the round of women and men speaking out about their abuse/sexual harassment experiences. Powerful figures don’t want to lose their status and power, so they trash the victim. Then they often set up scenarios designed to cause their target to react seeming to prove their point.

It’s easy to view on the Internet. Troll “A” comments on a post inappropriately. Or tweets something hurtful even when it’s untrue. It’s a natural impulse to react, and the game is on.

The success of bullying by proxy depends on the personal qualities of people in the community. How willing they or you or I are to believe a lie about someone we don’t know. How willing we all are to believe lies about circumstances we did not witness. How much we like gossip and innuendo true or not.

According to Gordon Allport (The Nature of Prejudice,1949), prejudice is a pre-judgment. A pre-judgment is a decision to dislike, hate or disbelieve made ahead of time about a person or group of people. He was referring to race, religion, and class. His ideas are classic and used today in psychology and sociology.

I think his ideas also refer to truth tellers. For truth-tellers, the pre-judgment would be a decision made ahead of time to not believe people who speak out about their sexual abuse. It goes further. Smearing them as liars, politically motivated, and people in a class or grouping that is not believable. That’s the gaslighting.

The bullying by proxy and cyberbullying by proxy begins when anyone predisposed to believe the lies attacks the victim. Demands evidence. Tweets at them. Follows them. Crank phone calls them. And all the other nasties available in our society today.

Allport listed motives for people who do this. These are common human failing motives: envy, hate, and a feeling of being mistreated. This morphs into a sense of entitlement and fear of being found out.

Once the bullying hits the cybersphere, the motives are more convoluted. According to the newest psychology research, people who troll others like to harm others for fun.

So, we can call this behavior gaslighting, bullying by proxy, cyberbullying by proxy and Internet trolling. The motives for this are things like envy, feelings of entitlement, hate, fear of others and a desire to hurt others for fun.

This is what happens to people who speak out about their abuse. I’d say it takes real courage to speak out. It’s difficult and, even in today’s climate, very costly.

I wish I had a magic wand to wave over everyone and anyone who is being maligned by their community. It’s a painful, devastating experience. I remember it all too well.

I vote instead for personal growth. One way I took my power back was to use whatever people did as an opportunity to learn some new skill, ability or understanding. No matter what they did.

I wrote about that here. How to Handle Being Gaslighted or When People Say or Write Mean Words About You

I wish you the best of all possible overcomings.

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Gaslighting 101: Changing the Subject

rock-cliff-high-tableau-mountain-731140I sometimes become haunted by news stories. Usually stories of injustice and abuse. Of course, I do. They’re close to my home. They touch my heart and remind me of what I clawed my way out of.

It’s not good for me to focus so strongly on negativity. I’d be better off becoming obsessed with meditation. Maybe I should be re-reading a book from my treasure trove of positive thinking books. Yet here I am, with more fodder for my writing. Obsession leaves no room for any other actions.

At any rate, I am consumed by the news detailing the latest public figure accused of sexual harassment/sexual abuse/child molestation. My intense scrutiny comes at the reactions to the people speaking out and telling their stories. I see gaslighting in the reporting and I saw gaslighting in response to my most recent posting, Telling Your Story: Gaslighting and Mystified Oppression.

Gaslighting takes many forms. One is to re-frame the subject. Re-framing is simply a fancy word for changing the subject. In this case, many are attempting to change the discussion from one of abuse into one of politics.

Gaslighting is often fascinating when I can get some distance from the exchange. You can look to logical fallacies as one explanation of gaslighting. Logical fallacies are errors in logic and thinking.

As I go back through the list of logical fallacies, there are so many in the reactions to my writing. And when someone is illogical, there is no discussion. All of these are attempts to change the subject and throw a lot of dust around the issue.

Several men wrote hostile responses in regard to my previous blog post on this subject. They resembled political commentary. Raging about politics, attempting to turn the speak outs from people speaking their truth into leftist politics versus right-wing politics. I explained my position in my return response.

Frankly, this caused some degree of rage in response. Rage is a common comeback to you when you don’t give in to gaslighting. It’s interesting. When one technique didn’t work, was a second and third. Attacking my logic, my politics and then my character. This is what is known as an ad hominem logical fallacy.

People are not communicating. They might respond from something deep inside them. Or they might be attempting to derail you from your side of the conversation. At any rate, they are not responding to reality.

None of which applies to the fact (The FACT) that women and men are speaking out about the wrong done to them by people with some power over them.

Just in case you wondered, speaking out is not political. It’s personal.

Okay, there are some who say the personal is political. If so, this is not red versus blue. One group of people want to keep the world safe for predators to roam. We can call them, the pro-abuse party. And the other side wants to make the world unsafe for predators to roam. We can call them, the anti-abuse party.

And right smack dab in the middle are those who want the space to speak out and tell their truth. Not your truth. Not my truth. Not the truth of the news media. Their personal truth.

All right, I’m being too literal. There are gaslighters who want to protect themselves from the consequences of their behavior. Others want to protect some idea, some prestige, some power or something. Your truth threatens to take something they value away from them. That’s not political, it’s personal.

The second gaslighting response was a legalistic one. It’s still an attempt to re-frame the discussion. Change the subject. “If he did it.” “All claims of harassment/abuse should be investigated.” “And whoever did wrong should be punished.”

There is a threat implicit in this. Here is the threat. If you speak your truth, you will be investigated. And if we can find any fault in your story, you will be punished.

Just so you know, if anyone investigates you long and hard enough, they will find something wrong. None of us are perfect. You might yell at your spouse or fart in the living room. Whatever. Public scrutiny is terrifying.

When I responded to this man’s thoughts, he behaved much like the first man. He became enraged and attacked me. He threw in concepts like “personal responsibility” without context.

Whose responsibility? The victim or the perpetrator. Then he attacked my logic, my motives, my character, my whatevers. Ad hominem. If you have no argument, attack the person. Or create confusion.

People are telling truths that happened years, even decades ago. There is no legal remedy here. No one is going to be arrested, charged, tried and sent to jail. That labels this a bogus argument, meant to derail the conversation.

How can a victim be the responsible party? This too is gaslighting. Blandly talking about abuse as if there is equal blame to excuse the actions of the guilty party. This is called a false equivalence because these two behaviors are not in any way equal.

I’m reminded of another recent news story that I think demonstrates personal responsibility. It’s the story of the air force and the church shooter. The air force failed somehow when the reports on the Texas killer never made it to the federal database. This database might have prevented that gunman from buying a gun. We won’t ever know since people seem to be able to get guns when they really want to.

Instead of gaslighting, excuse-making, or defensive posturing, an air force spokesperson took ownership of this. Admitted a mistake and vowed to find out how it happened. I’ve noticed this topic disappeared from the news. Taking responsibility. The Air Force, in this situation, shows how it’s done.

There are public figures responding in a variety of ways. One deflection is to mention going to treatment. What treatment? For what? Sexual addiction? Alcohol? Drugs? That’s not remorse, that’s cover your ass. It’s not even appropriate to the circumstance. Some admit it and disappear from the story. Many are facing real consequences after years of criminal behavior.

That’s a good thing, even for those public figures I liked. Real consequences maybe mean that fewer people might think it’s okay to act like that.

I hope no one manages to stop the tsunami of people telling their truths. Hearing them gives me a sense of rightness and hope. That there might be fewer new victims if these speak outs continue. And are not shut down, put away, or stopped by gaslighting.

Gaslighting fails here.

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