Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse – where the perpetrator is twisting the reality of the victim’s situation, to cause them confusion, make them doubt themselves, doubt their perception of what is occurring, make them feel like they are going crazy, wear them down and continue to abuse them.
Gaslighting is very common with psychological abusers. My ex is a psychological, emotional, verbal, sexual and physical abuser. He’s also highly narcissistic and sociopathic.
For a large proportion of our marriage, he sexually abused me. He bullied, harassed, coerced and abused me into unwanted sex. It was very clear to him that I did not want to have sex with him, because he frequently complained and got angry about the lack of sex. He created a terrible situation where my life was made far worse, if I did not give in to his demands. If I stopped him, pushed him off during the sexual assault, he would get very angry. He was relentless. Callous.
He abused me from day one, with continual lies, acting like he cared, manipulation and toxic selfishness. This chronic abuse, resulting in me no longer wanting any sexual contact with him. Which I had every right to not want. No-one is obligated to provide sex, and especially not when they are being abused. And no-one is owed sex, particularly when they are relentlessly abusing that person.
During this sexual abuse, he made me feel like ‘I’ was the problem. How dare I not want sex with him! How dare I refuse him! What a terrible person ‘I’ was. He even acted like he was ‘the victim’, in me not giving him what he wanted. His attitude was that he was given all this great sex at the beginning of our relationship (which was only due to all his lies) and then I ‘took that sex away from him’. So it was all my fault – in his twisted warped mind. He refused to consider his terrible actions and abusive choices had brought on this need in me to keep him away from my body. He never considered that was my right. He never considered he was responsible. He never took accountability. He never considered the coercion and bullying to be wrong. All of these being common traits and behaviours of narcissism and sociopathy.
What was even worse, was he referred to the sexual abuse he coerced me into, that caused me physical and emotional pain and disgust – as ‘making love’. He considers coercing a child sexual abuse survivor – into unwanted sex, manipulating me, plying me with alcohol, bullying me, harassing me relentlessly into rape – as ‘making love’.
It wasn’t making love at all. It was vile heinous abuse. Just because he enjoyed raping me, somehow in his perverted mind – still classified as a form of love. Or at least that’s what he wanted me to believe. He wanted me to know ‘he’ was enjoying it.
And a lot of sex abusers that abuse in relationships, believe the sexual assaults and rape – are ‘love’. Paedophiles also often choose to believe this about the sexual abuse to children.
The mind of a sex offender is a vile, dark place.
Calling rape/sexual abuse ‘making love’ – was gaslighting the ongoing abuse, into something completely different to what the reality actually was. Continue reading →
Throughout my work as an advocate and writer about complex trauma, there is a recurring and very common issue I see – childhood abuse survivors being traumatised again in adulthood, in further relationships where abuse occurs. I am one of those who have been re-victimised in adulthood.
Childhood complex trauma survivors, have been repeatedly abused and/or neglected in childhood by their primary carers and family. This abuse can include psychological, emotional, sexual, physical abuse and emotional, psychological and physical neglect.
Toxic people target childhood trauma survivors for reasons of exploiting, manipulating, using and abusing them. Toxic people can be those with high levels of narcissistic, sociopathic and psychopathic traits. The traits of all being: a lack of conscience, remorse, guilt, shame, empathy and a toxic sense of entitlement and exploitative motivations.
The following is to highlight 11 reasons why this occurs. Not all will apply to every survivor, but some may. It is important to note, these reasons are not to blame the survivor in any way and are not excuses for the toxic people who target them. Toxic people are 100% responsible for their malicious and exploitative behaviours and motivations and none of the following are about any malicious motivations of the targeted survivor. They are about their vulnerabilities being taken advantage of.
1. Abuse and neglect are the childhood abuse survivor’s ‘normal’. The abuse is not unusual to a child abuse survivor and they often don’t realise the abuse is not normal. They grow in unsafe homes, where being used and abused is all they know. It’s far easier to be in further abusive unsafe relationships later on in life, when you don’t realise the behaviours are not normal, are not justified and not acceptable.
2. When children are not taught to respect themselves, and do not learn how they should be treated – with care, love, safety – they don’t realise this is what they need and deserve as adults. It’s easier to tolerate abuse, when you don’t know you don’t deserve it and you grow to believe you do deserve it.
3. Toxic people literally ‘hone in’ on adults with no awareness of how to be treated well. They sense this in their potential ‘prey’ and they test it out in targets. Once they realise the target is someone who won’t expect to be treated appropriately or respectfully, it’s like winning the jackpot to them and they will continue pursuing the target for a relationship. They often act carefully at the start of the relationship to look better than they are. They con and dupe the target with false promises and declarations of love. It’s all a lie from day one, and they are experts at this manipulation. Childhood abuse survivors often won’t realise some of the red flags in the toxic person’s behaviour, because they are so familiar and used to it, due their childhood.
4. Childhood abuse survivors are often groomed by parents to be ‘people pleasers’ and often this a survival mode that is adaptive in childhood. It is understandable that children will do whatever it takes to reduce the abuse, and try and hope the parent will love them, if they do what is expected. This people pleasing behaviour, often goes on into adulthood and toxic people who are selfish and want to be ‘pleased’ and not have to reciprocate caring about the target, will use this in an exploitative and often callous manner. Not having to provide any actual love or care, is what toxic people want. All they want is to take, take, take. Not having to be concerned with the needs of others, or make any effort to care about other people’s needs, is their aim. People pleasers – fulfil this.
5. Childhood abuse survivors, have unmet emotional childhood needs. They subconsciously and understandably crave this and seek this is adulthood. They want someone to love them, care, show interest in them, provide safety. All normal needs never met as children. These needs don’t just go away. Toxic people are experts at sensing this, and offering this at the beginning of the relationship, with very non-genuine and malicious motivations.
“The devil doesn’t come to you dressed
in a cape and pointy horns,
he comes as everything you ever wanted”
6. Childhood abuse and neglect survivors often don’t learn healthy boundaries in childhood. The abusers continually crossed boundaries and the child believes this is normal. Parents are supposed to teach healthy physical and emotional boundaries, and when this isn’t taught and isn’t modelled, the child doesn’t learn them. The survivor goes on into adulthood with poor capacity to implement healthy boundaries. Toxic people take full advantage of this.
7. Childhood abuse and neglect survivors don’t learn healthy self esteem and healthy self worth. They don’t understand how they should have been treated. They are often told in childhood they deserve the abuse they endured. They often believe this. They go into adulthood believing any further abuse is deserved. Toxic people love this, and take full advantage of this too.
8. Childhood abuse survivors often are unable to stand up for themselves, as they were not allowed to do this and it wasn’t safe to do this, in childhood. Not learning these skills, leaves them disadvantaged to stand up for their rights and needs in adulthood and this is perfect for the toxic person – in order to have a compliant target, who doesn’t resist.
9. Children want to believe their parents and family love them. No matter what abuse they are enduring. They grow to wrongly believe love and abuse can coexist. They can believe abuse, is love. This is very understandable for a child. When this belief system continues on into adulthood, abuse from others can also be wrongly misinterpreted as love. The abuse in some cases cannot be considered wrong, or bad, because the survivor cannot bear to consider their parent chose to abuse them and this was not love. By accepting abuse in adult relationships, the survivor continues to avoid accepting the abuse in the childhood should never have happened. Often they minimize or justify the abuse as a way of coping. Sometimes, this continues all their lives, because avoiding the truth about their childhood is paramount. The fear and emotions have to be avoided, at all costs. For those survivors who do come to understand the ongoing abuse in childhood was not ever okay, it is a painful journey of grieving and intense emotions. Often this is so overwhelming – excuses will be made for the parents and then excuses made for the toxic people who abuse them in adulthood. As a result the abuse continues. Some survivors face the reality that there are no excuses for ongoing abuse to a child or an adult and they choose to end toxic relationships and have strong needed boundaries with toxic family.
“Love and abuse do not coexist.
Love doesn’t hurt”.
~ Lilly Hope Lucario
10. Childhood abuse survivors are less likely to leave an abusive relationship with a toxic person in adulthood. The normalcy of the abuse, the avoidance of facing reality, the fear of being alone, rejected, can keep survivors locked in toxic abusive relationships. Some stay and never leave. Some do leave and need considerable support, as it’s a very difficult journey.
11. Some childhood abuse survivors are empathic and can wrongly believe if they just love the toxic person enough, the toxic person will change. They have a false belief they can change the toxic person and shouldn’t give up on them. Toxic people rarely ever change and this sadly means the empathic survivor’s efforts are abused, exploited and fruitless.
I want to make it clear – there are no malicious motivations in the child abuse survivor’s behaviours explained above. I reiterate to survivors all the time, that there is no shame in being abused. There is no shame in being exploited and conned, by master manipulators. People who haven’t been abused in childhood, also get manipulated and duped. These issues due to childhood abuse, does cause it to be sadly – a common situation.
I also reiterate – the shame and blame lie entirely with the adult who exploits, dupes, cons and manipulates a child abuse survivor, due to their vulnerabilities.
Childhood abuse survivors deserved to be treated with respect and dignity. They deserve love and care. They deserve safety. And they always deserved that, including in their childhood.
It takes a lot of courage to face the issues that have made a survivor vulnerable and compassion and gentle support is needed.
A lot of grieving, learning of healthy boundaries, building self esteem, learning red flags and what a healthy relationship looks like – is how survivors begin to heal.
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I often write posts on my Facebook Lilly Hope Lucario account and they are a significant part of my healing. So, I thought I would post them here, to maintain a record of them and share them further with others. Continue reading →
Several months ago, whilst going through the trauma of unravelling the truth about my 18 year marriage – I realise my sociopath husband had told a whole pack of lies about his ex wife. He portrayed himself as the victim – as he is now with me. He portrayed this image of being this really great guy – with a crazy, selfish, lazy wife. I fell for it. He’s a very convincing liar. I was also the perfect victim for him to move on to. I am empathic, caring, easily manipulated. I believed his lies. The lies he told directly, the half truths, all the times he let me assume wrongly about his ex wife. He is an expert at lying and letting people believe lies.
So, being the person I am, when I realised he had lied and that his ex wife is probably a lovely person and like me, I wrote to her. I told her everything and that I believed all his lies and that she should know – I do now realise all the abuse she was also going through. I didn’t know how she would react. She responded with compassion. We had many conversations – where the truth was revealed.
I realised his lack of emotion about not seeing his daughter, was due to him just not caring. His daughter was out of sight, out of mind. He had a new victim to play with. Me. He discarded his ex wife and daughter in such a bizarre and toxic way, and he never shed a single tear. I assumed when he didn’t care about pursuing contact with his daughter in the first few years following their separation, was just him giving in to his ‘horrible ex wife’. Now I realise he didn’t care about seeing his daughter. Me pushing him to seek contact and get court orders for contact – was not what he wanted at all.
I told his ex that it was me that pushed all the contact legal action. I told her he never shed a tear over his daughter and she said she already knew that.
I also told her about all the psychological, emotional and sexual abuse to me. And I confirmed that what she endured with his financial abandonment to his daughter, was financial abuse. Plus all the affairs he had within their marriage and no doubt in mine.
We also both realise he never has/had friends and was ignorant and barely speaks around people – because he has no use for most people. He has no concept of actually thinking about others in a way that is needed for friendships. He has no emotional connection with anyone. As sociopaths don’t.
It was helpful or us both to validate each others treatment by this heinous man. We also both agreed that if he loved either of us, or our children – he would have wanted us to have been the healthiest and happiest women and parents. But, instead he destroyed us both. My health is destroyed and she has never worked since their divorce due to health issues created in their marriage.
I was supposed to meet today with the female minister of the church I take my boys to. She’s a nice woman. The church seems okay. But, I just can’t talk to anyone. The anxiety I get from thinking about talking to someone and dreading their response, is overwhelming. It literally makes me ill.
I am so unwell, I cannot take anymore minimizing, abuser excusers, people invalidating my pain and projecting their opinions on me – harming me in the process. And their lack of empathy and conscience in the process.
I’ve had that all my life and I am too ill to take it anymore.
The recent issues coming to a very abrupt and traumatic end with my counsellor, has caused so much damage. It took me several years to build up to the point where I could talk about the severity of all the abuse, the toxic and heinous characters of the abusers. To have that minimized and trivialised in the manner it was by my former counsellor and the way it ended, is beyond painful.
To think of yet another person doing more of that – is not something I can ever take any chances on happening again. Especially church people. And as anyone with any intelligence knows – church people are often the worst for abusing abuse victims with their victim blaming/shaming attitudes.
I am so ill and so broken I am not in a position to take the risk of more trauma. I have to protect myself and withdraw to be safe. To cope. Continue reading →
I had something really exciting happen today. A photographer I love has given me the opportunity to watch her work and process sales, all through all her Christmas sessions. The amount I will learn from this is considerable. It is such an amazing opportunity for me, and one good thing happening in my life right now.
When I told my husband, his immediate reaction and look on his face was absolutely resentment. Then he made it ‘all about him’ and negative, by nastily saying, that ‘he’ might not be able to get all ‘his’ shifts sorted around ‘all these dates’. Like I was doing something wrong to ‘him’. Because in his putrid mind – it’s always ‘all about him’. And it’s complete BS, because these dates are enough in advance of the shifts being worked out. He has stated many times his shifts can be worked around any dates that family members need for work or other appointments Plus, he has stacks of annual leave he has to take.
He wanted to make this an immediate negative and make me feel badly about wanting to do this. He wanted me to feel badly about something good for me.
Interestingly, when I told him I don’t care what he needs to do – I’m doing the photography thing and he better get it sorted so he can take care of our young son, he got the time off agreed immediately, with no issues to him at all.
It was such a clear example of what his heart and soul are truly all about. You scratch the surface and there is nothing but blackness.
He abused me for 17 years – emotionally, psychologically and sexually (all confirmed in counselling as such) – which absolutely led to my breakdown 5 years ago and now my deteriorating physical health, and yet he still resents anything good for me. And clearly has zero remorse or shame for what he has done.
Just an ongoing need to make my life worse. As he has done for 17 years.
And just to kick me more – when he’s already kicked me down – he chose to make a joke this afternoon about all the abuse he’s subjected to. He thinks abuse is funny. He wanted me to know that he thinks all the abuse he subjected me too – is funny to him.
He totally shat all over my only light in this shit life, home and environment I am forced to have to live in, because I am too ill to leave.
I’m going into hospital on Thursday – due to serious life threatening health issues – he is largely the cause of………. and he can’t be happy or even okay – for the one good thing happening in my life right now. Continue reading →
Something I have realised over the last 5 years of counselling and processing all the severe trauma I have endured…….. is other people’s views and opinions about abusers can be too hard, too painful and too emotional for me to deal with, particularly when I am struggling.
People are not ‘bad’ people for having their own needed views – and I get people need to believe whatever gets them through. And everyone can choose their beliefs and that’s okay. And I believe that people’s different views are okay for each individual person.
But, some beliefs are far too triggering. They often cause more damage and I’ve realised I need strong boundaries.
When we are struggling, it’s necessary to have boundaries and I know I need to stay away from anything that will push me over the edge.
I’ve learned to have my own boundaries and stay away from reading anything on the internet and social media – that will likely provoke an emotional overwhelm and triggers of the past.
I believe in emotional boundaries – our own to take responsibility for what we expose ourselves to….. and to keep away from other people’s views that hurt.
I’ve learned I can manage my triggers when I am really struggling. Not perfectly – but I am much better at this now. Continue reading →
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