Gaslighting Childhood TraumaCamila Archuleta
The Lingering Effects of Being Gaslit as a Child
Having a parent gaslight you as a child can cause long-term trauma. You may have difficulty questioning your own judgment, have self-confidence issues, and may struggle with relationships with other people. Keep reading to find out what a gaslighting parent looks like, and how you can deal with the long-term consequences of having gaslighting parents.
Do you think you were gaslit as a child and its continuing to effect you? Keep reading to learn about gaslighting childhood trauma and how Icarus Behavioral Health can help you unpack your trauma and live happily.
The Reality of Parental Gaslighting: What to Know
When we think of gaslighting, the dynamic often involves someone in a position of power manipulating another person’s sense of reality. It’s an insidious form of emotional abuse that can have long-term consequences on its targets. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for parents to gaslight their children.
What is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a type of psychological manipulation in which a person seeks to weaken or destabilize another individual by denying facts or trying to make them question their own perceptions and memories. Essentially, the goal is to make the victim feel as if they are unable to trust their own judgment or instincts.
The term “gaslighting” comes from the play Gas Light, which was later adapted into a film in 1940 and has been used to describe this type of emotional abuse ever since. In the play, a husband slowly tries to convince his wife that she is losing her mind by manipulating her reality with small changes around their home.
In terms of parenting, gaslighting can take many forms. A parent might deny a child’s feelings or experiences, or they might try to make a child feel guilty for speaking up about something they don’t agree with. Parents may also twist facts or use intimidation tactics such as threats of abandonment in order to maintain control over their children.
What are Examples of Gaslighting Emotional Abuse?
Do you feel like you may have been gaslighted in the past or are being gaslighted now? Here are some examples. If you believe you are being gaslighted, speak with friends or family who will understand, or talk with one of our team of mental health professionals at Icarus Behavioral Health.
Denying The Truth
One way people gaslight others is by denying the truth or flat-out lying about events that have taken place. For example, if you had witnessed your partner doing something wrong and they were trying to convince you it never happened, this would be a case of gaslighting. They could also deny having said certain things or taking certain actions even when presented with evidence. This may lead to self doubt when you are older.
Exaggerating The Truth
Another way someone might try to gaslight you is by making up stories or exaggerating the truth. This can be done to make something look better than it actually was, or to paint you in a negative light. It could also include creating false memories or stories of events that never happened. This can cause you to question your own memory or think you are imagining things.
Someone Undermining Your Own Feelings
Gaslighting can also involve undermining your feelings and opinions. Your partner might try to convince you that your thoughts, beliefs, and emotions are wrong or insignificant. They may dismiss your opinions as being “stupid” or “irrational” when they don’t align with their own view of reality. Furthermore, they could attempt to downplay your accomplishments or successes in order to make them seem insignificant compared to their own.
What Are the Signs of a Gaslighting Parent?
It can be difficult to identify gaslighting when it’s happening in a family. In general, however, there are some signs that may indicate a parent is intentionally trying to undermine their child’s sense of reality. These include:
A parent may deny facts or experiences that they don’t agree with. For example, if a child tells them they got an “A” on a test but the parent believes it should have been higher, they might refuse to acknowledge the grade and insist on a different outcome.
A parent may try to blame their child for any problems or issues in the home. They might suggest that a child’s behavior is causing them stress, even if it isn’t true. Rarely is its the child’s fault when adults are experiencing issues, and this is important to remember.
A parent might make light of a child’s concerns or brush off their feelings as insignificant. This can be done in an effort to make the child feel powerless and unable to express themselves.
We continue to validate this as adults, whenever we discount the reality of the damage done to our inner child and lose self-trust and confidence as a result.
A parent may threaten their child with abandonment or other consequences if they don’t comply with their wishes. These types of threats are often used to maintain control and instill fear in the child.
How Can Parents Avoid Gaslighting Their Children?
The best way for parents to avoid gaslighting their children is to practice respect and empathy. It’s important for parents to recognize that their children have feelings and experiences that are just as valid as their own.
Parents should also make sure they are listening when a child expresses something that doesn’t align with the parent’s beliefs or expectations. Taking the time to understand where a child is coming from can help both parties come to an understanding without any manipulation or intimidation tactics.
When these types of conversations become heated, it can be helpful for parents to take a step back and focus on listening instead of lecturing or passing judgment. This will create space for the child to express themselves without fear of being judged or put down.
How Gaslighting Children Effects Them As Adults
Gaslighting children can have serious consequences later in life. People who experienced gaslighting as a child may find it difficult to trust their own judgment and struggle with low self-esteem due to being made to feel like their concerns were insignificant. They may also be more prone to anxiety and depression, as well as difficulty forming healthy relationships with other people.
Furthermore, those who experience gaslighting may carry this sense of distrust into adulthood, making it hard for them to form meaningful connections or open up about how they really feel. It’s important for parents to be aware of the effects that gaslighting can have on their children so they can avoid these damaging behaviors.
Healing from Having Gaslighting Parents
When it comes to beginning the healing process from the pain caused by childhood gaslighting from a family member, it can be difficult to know where to start. It is important to take the time to explore which avenues are best suited to you and your needs. Here are some of the most effective strategies for healing from childhood gaslighting:
1. Reclaim Your Personal Power
One of the biggest steps in recovering from childhood gaslighting is to reclaim your own personal power. This can be done by re-establishing boundaries and taking back control over which opinions, feelings, and experiences are validated. Practicing self-care activities such as journaling or meditating can also help to build a sense of internal strength.
2. Redefine Relationships with Abusers
Recognize that not all relationships need to stay the same after being gaslighted as a child. You may choose to disengage from the abuser, set boundaries, or practice healthy communication in order to re-establish a better dynamic.
3. Seek Professional Support
Therapy and counseling can be invaluable resources for those recovering from childhood gaslighting abuse. Talking with a professional at Icarus Behavioral Health can help you process your experiences, build resilience, and develop coping techniques for dealing with difficult emotions.
Recovering from Childhood Trauma with a Trauma Center
You’ve lived with the lingering effects of childhood trauma for years. From flashbacks to insomnia, it has taken its toll on your mental and physical health. You want to make a change, but you don’t know where to start. Working with a dedicated trauma center can be the answer you need. Here are some of the ways that a trauma center can help you recover from childhood trauma.
Understanding Your Trauma
The first step in recovery is understanding what exactly happened in your past and how it affects you today. A specialized trauma center provides an opportunity for you to explore memories, feelings and patterns that have arisen as a result of your experiences. It may also include learning about triggers that bring up difficult emotions or disruptive behaviors which can be addressed.
Gaining Skills for Coping
Working with a trauma center also helps you gain skills to cope with your triggers and any anxiety or depression that may result from them. You could learn relaxation techniques, mindfulness strategies, how to stay in the present moment, how to talk about difficult topics – all of which help you manage your symptoms. With support and guidance, it’s possible to develop healthy coping mechanisms that make it easier to face your triggers without being overwhelmed by them.
Finding Supportive Relationships
It’s not always easy to talk openly and honestly about childhood trauma. A compassionate professional at a trauma center can provide an understanding ear and offer comfort while helping you process painful events. With safe and supportive relationships, you can start to heal from the trauma of your past and make progress in your recovery.
Developing Positive Coping Habits
Creating positive coping habits is essential for managing difficult emotions and triggering events that arise as a result of childhood trauma. At a trauma center, you’ll have access to guidance on how to develop healthy habits such as regular exercise, setting limits with yourself and others, supplementing or replacing unhealthy activities with healthier ones, and engaging in creative outlets or hobbies, among other things.
Learning Self-Care Strategies
The process of healing from childhood trauma can be exhausting both emotionally and physically. Experienced clinicians at a trauma center will assist you in developing self-care strategies that promote your overall well-being. This could include learning how to nourish yourself nutritionally, setting boundaries with people who don’t have your best interests in mind, and incorporating relaxation techniques into your daily routine.
Moving At Your Own Pace
It’s important to remember that recovery is a long process and there are no quick fixes. Working with a trauma center gives you the space to take things at your own pace and move through healing at whatever speed feels most comfortable for you. Here, you can set achievable goals that help make progress towards finding peace from the childhood trauma which has impacted your life for so long.
Choose Icarus Behavioral Health to Heal From Gaslighting
If you encountered mental or physical abuse as a child, you may still be dealing with the consequences now. The parent-child relationship is crucial for development, and if there were problems, including gaslighting, this is likely to impact your mental health, even as an adult.
If after reading this you believe you were gaslit as a child or encountered any other physical or psychological abuse, it is time to get help. Contact Icarus Behavioral Health to get back your mental health.
All calls are completely confidential, so please reach out now to get options for a trauma-free new daily life!