Sunday, December 11, 2011

Why People Tolerate Gaslighting

Before a person can disarm a gaslighter and resist the repetitive cycle, they must prepare for the challenge by examining the dynamics that hold them in the relationship.

*Essentially, that gaslighter has a driving need to be right, and the person who stays with them has a driving need to be accepted by the gaslighter.*

As it is highly unlikely that the manipulative party will magically give up their obsession and need to be right, it falls to the manipulated to disengage from their desire to gain acceptance. That is more easily said than done, and I continue to recommend Harriet Braiker's book, Who's Pulling Your Strings, as an excellent source and one of the best teachers to help those with these types of struggles.

Those who are regularly manipulated by a gaslighter must search their heart and soul to discover the reasons why they tolerate the behavior. Sometimes, people just do so out of habit and a desire to maintain an illusion of peace. It may not worth disturbing the system and inciting the wrath of the manipulator, or the the person may lack the time and energy required to confront the situation.
For the adult children who were raised under the rules and requirements of a religious system that employs gaslighting within the family, the common fear of abandonment that people outside of the system tend to feel to feel becomes magnified.

The consequences of non-compliance affect not only that person's status with the family, it also results in God's abandonment and God's punishment for rejecting the "divine umbrella of protection" allegedly provided by parental authority. Under this system of belief, the manipulative, gaslighting parent holds that adult hostage by threatening their relationship with God. In many situations where gaslighting is employed as a manipulative tactic, people can be unwilling to leave the relationship because of the threat of violence. In patriarchy, that threat is divine, one that is built right into the theology.

Many people remain in abusive relationships because they lack the resources to leave and provide their own support. This problem affects the quivering daughters of patriarchy who have been denied training outside of the home. If they were raised in a “Character First” homeschooling situation that turned out to be “character only” with weak academic training, they may have very limited vocational training options and opportunities. Mothers of large families may not be able to find an alternate home if they leave the family and take their children with them.

And many people will remain in a relationship because they are unwilling to abandon the fantasy that they have about how great and rewarding the relationship seems to them. I often hear people who are unfamiliar with patriarchy and the difficulties faced by women within the system ask why the women just don't pack up and leave. It's not that simple in terms of financial support, but it is often harder to give up the dream of what you would like that relationship to be. People tend to believe that if they have enough faith and can just get into a better place in the relationship, one day it will work. It is the carrot of hope that is dangled before the horse. It can also be humiliating to leave the relationship, because leaving seems like complete failure.

Ultimately, so long as a person needs the approval and acceptance or the benefits of the relationship with the person who uses gaslighting against them, and if they are unwilling to relinquish what they derive from the relationship, the dynamics will persist. By developing an internal locus of control, one can get free of the need for the approval of manipulators and their tactics.

Check back for one more post on the topic of gaslighting.