By Sarah Fader
I have had my “crazy” used against me: this is called “emotional abuse.”
Some days I don’t know what I’ve been triggered by.
I have ADHD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, OCD and Complex PTSD. Some days I don’t know what I’ve been triggered by. Because I have so many diagnoses it’s extremely confusing to figure out what is happening to me and why. I do know this: enduring verbal abuse and developing PTSD (although traumatizing) made me into a stronger person who is able to stick up for herself.
A person is able to be manipulated to feel crazy by someone who is especially close to them.
According to the Ingrid Bergman film Gaslight, a person is able to be manipulated to feel crazy by someone who is especially close to them. In this film, Bergman’s husband gaslights her. She believes that what she is seeing and feeling is invalid because he invalidates her feelings and perceptions. Gaslighting is an integral part of the abuse, but particularly emotional abuse.
The survivor fakes being okay or even happy.
The thing about emotional abuse is that it’s sometimes difficult to recognize or “prove.” Abusers are good at pretending to be kind “normal people.” They fool the survivor’s family to the point where the abuse looks like it’s fabricated. This makes me hurt for the survivor. Another thing that happens commonly is that the survivor fakes being okay or even happy.
When you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship the last thing you want to do is show the outside world that you are unhappy.
When you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship the last thing you want to do is show the outside world that you are unhappy or being treated poorly. That’s not what you want, but rather you want to maintain the illusion that your relationship is normal and healthy. There are signs that things are not okay both inside and outside of the relationship that emotional abuse is going on.
The survivor begins to question their motivations or feelings.
The abuser becomes extremely skilled at making the survivor feel like they are overreacting or “too sensitive.” Then the survivor begins to question their motivations or feelings. That is an effective way of making the survivor feel like they are “less than.” It also makes them feel “crazy.”
Just because someone says you are crazy, doesn’t mean you have to believe them
Making the survivor feel like they are crazy is a tactic that abusers use often. This is especially effective when the survivor has a diagnosed mental illness. If you are enduring emotional abuse remember this: just because someone says you are crazy, doesn’t mean you have to believe them or own that view of yourself as your own.
Your feelings are valid and real.
Emotional abuse is a real societal problem and we need to believe survivors. Believe them. Listen to them. They are real people who need help.