Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and are not necessarily representative of The LACAS Chronicles.
A Level is often referred to as a fresh start in the transitioning lives of us teenagers. However, after experiencing it for about a year and a half I have concluded that it is rather, an era of realization and learning from mistakes for individuals who struggle to grow as human beings. For harassers, on the other hand, it is a grazing ground of exploitation and toxicity. I am sure most of you would agree that in these two formative years of our student-lives, the culture of toxic masculinity, gossip, slut-shaming along with many other things drains us of our energies and has a toll on our mental stability to a wide extent.
This article is meant to raise awareness about something that happens everywhere around us and is yet never talked about openly. It is meant to protect females against coercive control in an inherently male-dominant atmosphere, where men are socialized to subjugate women in their own subtle ways. Most importantly, it is meant to help people become more cautious of their surroundings so that, at the end of the day, we are able to direct our attention to what’s important and clear out the background noise that holds us back from excelling.
Before I get to my point I would like to add in two definitions which might help you navigate through this article better.
1) Harassment : A form of discrimination, which includes any unwanted physical or verbal behavior that offends or humiliates you. Generally, harassment is a behavior that persists over time. Serious one-time incidents can also sometimes be considered harassment. (Canadian Human Rights Commission)
2) Gaslighting: A form of psychological manipulation in which a person seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, or sanity.
Through this article, I intend to convey three things I have learned the hard way. Firstly, the prevalence of harassment and gaslighting in our society. Secondly, how to know if you might have fallen victim to this in the past or are being subjected to this currently, and thus, how you can free yourself from this.
Gaslighting is far more prevalent in society than one can imagine, and harassment stems from it in its own magical way. It is the ‘favorite tool of narcissists’. It occurs everywhere, starting from the home, where children are deprived of their right to the truth and are made to believe in unreal things by their parents, in classrooms and offices, where teachers and employees at a higher position bully students and people working under them, and most importantly, in relationships and platonic friendships.
People who gaslight generally tend to follow a pattern. This pattern is adjusted in accordance with the person they intend to gaslight.
People who gaslight generally tend to follow a pattern. This pattern is adjusted in accordance with the person they intend to gaslight. In order to gain dominance and leverage over the other, they first identify the insecurities and weaknesses of their victim. They then adapt their personality accordingly.
The most common characteristics that you will find in this breed of individuals are arrogance, narcissism, compulsive lying, self-victimization, along with other more subtle traits. They go as far as developing different identities and life stories for just as many individuals they interact with.
When I say that these individuals are compulsive liars, I mean that if their victim is a feminist, they will disguise as one. However, if their beliefs strictly contradict with those of their victim, for example regarding gender and religion, they will use any such force to shame them, and use unreasonable and insensitive statements, like questioning their mental stability and upbringing. Yes ladies, we’re talking about inherently sexist men here, who make you feel insecure about the most trivial things such as your appearance, a new haircut, and whose hearts will go Dhuz Dhuz when you are around your close friends who will try to guide you towards the right path.
Even though it seems far-fetched, it is true that these people put in constant efforts, despite not having any substantial arguments, to maintain their dominance in the relationship you have with them. This requires them to be observant and well researched on your lifestyle, your paradigm of action and your emotional stability.
If you confront them they will make you seem like a lunatic, making you question your own judgment.
On that note, you must also understand that they target individuals who feel confident in becoming emotionally vulnerable without fearing exploitation. I must also warn you that these individuals deny reality: if you confront them, they will make you seem like a lunatic and make you question your own judgment.
In honesty, these features are quite visible since the initial interaction. One only has to keep a sharp eye out for them. However, you are not the one to blame for your experience. It is only and only the gaslighter’s fault, he who stooped to the lowest level of being human to feed his narcissism, he who is desensitized to human emotions.
Funny as it may seem, a person who gaslights will never be able to respond to logic. So one thing that we can all make use of while confronting him or her is being calculative and logical.
Your anger is going to protect you as well. Let’s not forget that these people are master manipulators and victim blaming is something that they have been doing with great panache for most of their lives. Therefore, being angry will prevent you from falling for their fake apologies and the poetic malarkey they may throw at you. Funny as it may seem, a person who gaslights will never be able to respond to logic. So one thing that we can all make use of while confronting them is being calculative and logical.
You must know that even though these perpetrators are experienced in brainwashing and playing the victim card, they mostly do not have substantial arguments to build their case upon. Henceforth, you can always take them down smartly by being just as rigid in standing your ground as they are, and believing that you are right regardless of the nonsensical theories they come up with about you.
I would like to end by sharing my mantra with you, a mantra that every girl living in our society needs to tell herself at least ten times a day. It reads, “Men know what they’re doing.” Although you may feel that it is necessary for humans to provide others with the benefit of the doubt, often times it is unnecessary. Harassers are grown people, they are experienced and they have full control of what they do to other human beings. We tend to ignore red flags purposely in attempts of becoming more tolerant and loving towards the world, but that is exactly where these manipulative animals start seeing you as bait. Do not let anyone tell you who you are. You alone know of your struggles. If you decide that you will not succumb to these weak individuals who gain power by depreciating others, you may well save ten other girls from losing their mental peace. I rest my case.
Haleema A. Khan