5th Group: What Is Gaslighting? (A Form of Abuse) 12/19/14

The Article: “What Is Gaslighting?”

The Main Quote:

“Has someone in your life undermined you by saying and doing things that make you question yourself? Do you often start questioning your own perception of reality, even your own sanity within this relationship? If so that person may be using what mental health professionals call “gaslighting”.”

Origination:

This term comes from the 1938 stage play Gas Light, in which a husband attempts to drive his wife crazy by dimming the lights (which were powered by gas) in their home, and then he denies that the light changed when his wife points it out. It is an extremely effective form of emotional abuse that causes a victim to question their own feelings, instincts, and sanity, which gives the abusive partner a lot of power (and we know that abuse is about power and control). Once an abusive partner has broken down the victim’s ability to trust their own perceptions, the victim is more likely to stay in the abusive relationship.

The Concept: Examining the techniques that an abuser uses against his victim so we can understand what’s being done and recognize it for what it is.

The Quote:

“There are numerous gaslighting techniques which can make gaslighting more difficult to identify. Gaslighting techniques are used to hide truths that the abuser doesn’t want the victim to realize. Gaslighting abuse can be perpetrated by either women or men.”

The Techniques:

Withholding: the abusive partner pretends not to understand or refuses to listen. Ex. “I don’t want to hear this again,” or “You’re trying to confuse me.”

Countering: the abusive partner questions the victim’s memory of events, even when the victim remembers them accurately. Ex. “You’re wrong, you never remember things correctly.”

Blocking/Diverting: the abusive partner changes the subject and/or questions the victim’s thoughts. Ex. “Is that another crazy idea you got from [friend/family member]?” or “You’re imagining things.”

Trivializing: the abusive partner makes the victim’s needs or feelings seem unimportant. Ex. “You’re going to get angry over a little thing like that?” or “You’re too sensitive.”

Forgetting/Denial: the abusive partner pretends to have forgotten what actually occurred or denies things like promises made to the victim. Ex. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” or “You’re just making stuff up.”

The Discussion:

We went around the group and since there were 5 attendees today, read each technique which I had taken from the two sources at the end of this blog entry and combined on paper. After hearing them all I asked each individual whether she experienced this in a partner or someone they knew. As the two sources are mainly about an abusive partner I made it a point to relay to the group that the person who gaslighted could be a friend, co-worker, partner or family member.

Each person in the group had experience with someone who would do this kind of abuse to them. An interesting comment: “people with Mental Illnesses have a harder time defending themselves against gaslighting techniques.” Everyone agreed particularly because our senses of reality were already compromised. Particularly people with Schizophrenia who had difficulty communicating many times because of voices or their suspended realities. Paranoia in someone who had a mental illness helped an abuser who used gaslighting techniques by using the fact that the sufferer had paranoia.

To fully get the information on gaslighting read both sources.

A note: I try to take as many notes as I can but in a group where sharing is almost free form at times I find it challenging to write down all the concepts that are brought up. This is another good reason to follow each group up with a blog entry.

As part of the group sometimes we might think about the concepts and realize that we have more to say about our own experiences and thoughts. If you care to, and even if you’re not part of the physical group leave an answer to the following:
Have you encountered gaslighting in any of your relationships? Have you ever heard of gaslighting? How were you able to get out of that particular relationship? Were you able to sense that you were being manipulated while in that particular relationship? Keep in mind that being gaslighted can be difficult to identify especially while it is happening.

http://www.thehotline.org/2014/05/what-is-gaslighting/

http://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/emotional-psychological-abuse/gaslighting-definition-techniques-and-being-gaslighted/

4th Group: Top 10 Facts About Women And Women’s Issues 12/12/14

The Article: “Top 10 Facts About Women And Women’s Issues”

The Main Quote: Drawn from a cross-section of economic, social and political concerns these top 10 facts about women convey the enormity of the gap between men and women and why focusing on women’s issues and drawing attention to them is our best chance of closing the gap .”

The Facts:

  1. Women earn 78 cents for every dollar a man makes
  2. Only 17% of the seats in Congress are held by women.
  3. One out of every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
  4. One out of every six women will be sexually assaulted and/or raped in her lifetime.
  5. Although 48% of law school graduates and 45% of law firm associates are female, women make up only 22% of federal-level and 26% of state-level judgeships.
  6. Even in the 10 top paying jobs for women, females earn less than men; only one career — speech pathology — pays the same regardless of gender.
  7. It’s not any better at the top. America’s top female CEOs earn, on average, 33 cents for every dollar earned by a male CEO.
  8. There’s nothing in the U.S. Constitution that guarantees women the same rights as a man. Despite attempts to add an Equal Rights Amendment, there is no guarantee of equal rights for women in any legal document or any piece of legislation.
  9. Despite previous attempts to ratify a UN treaty guaranteeing the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, the U.S. refuses to support an international bill of rights for women signed by nearly every other nation on the planet.
  10. The World Economic Forum’s 2009 report on the Global Gender Gap ranked 134 countries for gender parity. The U.S. didn’t even make the top 10 — it came in at number 31.

The Concept: Looking at these facts on Women’s Issues and discussing them to get an idea of the scope of Women’s Equality.

The Discussion:

Since this article was basically facts and lent little opinion I found it hard to decide how to present it. What I did on the cuff was have each woman read about 3 facts. There were 4 women including me that attended today. And even though there didn’t seem to be much to discuss we ran the group up until the moment we had to leave.

Addressing the facts in this article I asked everyone what kind of issues the believed were important to women. I also asked why has discrimination existed between men and women.

The first woman asked said that Women Empowerment was important as a women’s issue. She also brought up Louise Hay http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louise_Hay . Since she had been involved with a Domestic Violence Center for Women she felt that the law for those types of relationships were important women’s issues because of the threats and verbal abuse etc.. She believed that discrimination existed because of stigma between men and women. The second said that Life choice issues (like welfare,) and conditioning to get ahead in school and job was another issue that should be important to women. Another woman felt that going to church and religion were reason’s for discrimination. Still another believed that children, pregnancy, health as well as the bible were all women’s issues.

Opening the discussion about how should the discrimination be dealt with one member of the group claimed that each woman was responsible for her own issues and that it was not society that should change. Each woman needed to stand up and be responsible for themselves. The other women were quiet about how discrimination should be dealt with so I asked each person if they felt discrimination in their lives. I got many varied interesting responses and went from there discussing or trying to enhance upon the woman’s response. Every woman in one way or another experienced discrimination.

As part of the group sometimes we might think about the concepts and realize that we have more to say about our own experiences and thoughts. If you care to, and even if you’re not part of the physical group leave an answer to the following:

What do you think about these facts and what they say about the importance of women in American Society? What do you think are issues that should be addressed as Women’s Issues? Why do you think that discrimination against women has existed? How do you think this discrimination should be dealt with?

http://womensissues.about.com/od/feminismequalrights/a/Top10FactsAboutWomen.htm

A Facebook Group I Will Be Posting On…

I will be posting on a facebook group called The Comfort Compass. “The Comfort Compass is a coalition uniting individuals living with mental health and/or substance abuse disorders, families, friends, & professionals with education, support and resources to encourage stability and decrease stigma.”

https://www.facebook.com/TheComfortCompass

About me:

“I have been diagnosed with a mental illness since 1996 but have suffered with it my whole life. Once diagnosed I spent any spare time I had looking for ways to manage it by seeking education, professional advice and alternative applications. I currently work at a Recovery and Wellness Center running a women’s group. I plan on becoming an Intentional Peer Support Facilitator and a WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan,) Facilitator in 2015 at the Center. I’ve had personal experiences with abuse, care taking issues, single parenting, public assistance, homelessness and sexual identity issues but can not call myself an advocate. I’ve lectured for NAMI on the topic of Mental Illness and have spoken in front of The Rhode Island’s Senate on Domestic Abuse. I believe in self empowerment whether it be for a disability, sexual issues or any other minority issue. I strongly believe in self advocacy and being well educated in anything I put into my body. I write a blog on Women’s Issues that compliments the group I run and a personal blog for my own self edification, personal history recording and symptom tracking. I would like to encourage people to challenge their beliefs and thought processes to encourage intelligent conversation.”