Gaslighting often occurs in situations where one person does not experience marginalization and is privileged compared to the other person. Do not let yourself be silenced, your experiences are always the most important, and your feelings are always worth being taken seriously.
If you are not heard or listened to
When you share your experiences or your fears in a situation of hate or threats, there is always the risk that the people who are in positions of responsibility do not understand, or do not want to take in the fact that you may have experienced a hate crime or other types of discriminatory behavior specifically aimed at you.
They may have certain privileges and lack the experience or knowledge of the different grounds of discrimination and how they have affected treatment or cyber hate. Maybe they are not willing to address the larger, more complicated underlying causes. Regardless, it is never okay. They should work towards understanding, empathy, and listening inclusively.
Research on gaslighting
If the person who is responsible for listening to you responds to you by actively denying, excusing, or invalidating your experiences, it is a form of social manipulation that is called gaslighting. This is a recognized concept in the field of research for psychological manipulation.
Gaslighting has come to be used in anti-racist movements to describe the treatment that racialized people often meet when they point out racism or racist structures in different settings—but are met by mocking, excuses, or denial which makes the person doubt their own experiences and truth.
Gaslighting can also happen in your close social circles
Unfortunately, many people are gaslighted in their own close groups of friends or family. This has great psychological effects, which means that people who are exposed can experience a feeling of unreality or loneliness that can lead to mental illness.
Gaslighting is a domination technique
Besides being a form of social manipulation, gaslighting is a type of domination technique. It is highly problematic and undermines the confidence in privileged people, institutions, and authorities.
Take it further
If you have been exposed to gaslighting, seek support and help from organizations that work more specifically with the type of unfair treatment or ground of discrimination that you are experiencing, so that you can get the right support to take this further within your organization, school, workplace, or association.
Your experience of the situation is the most important and should never be excused, no matter people’s good intentions. Always take it further to get the right support and a good response!
Tired of no one understanding the problem?
Use our micro activism posters! Send it anonymously, hang it up in the coffee room, or spread it on your social media. Gaslighting is real!