'Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, hoping to make them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilise the target and delegitimise the target's belief.'
As Aspies, I'm sure we're particularly prone to this. I know I am. My experience, too - with a sister-in-law who's a consummate narcissist - has caused me much grief and upset over the last 30 years. These were years when I not only didn't know that I was autistic, but I also didn't really know what her motivations were. I've found out so much more about it all since my diagnosis, and through having someone else who knows her tell me that she isn't just like it with me. For most of those years, I simply thought there was something wrong with me - and she was the one who, more than most, was at pains to keep reminding me. The damage this woman has done - not just to me, but to other members of my close family - is profound. Much of it is irreparable. But at least now I no longer have any reason to have any contact with her - notwithstanding the fact that she's married to my brother. I'm well rid of her. She's controlled and manipulated our family for far too long. My brother is her puppet. And so competent a puppeteer is she that he doesn't even realise he has strings! He's well and truly Stockholmed!
For years, I've been told I'm gullible, susceptible, credulous, naive, etc. I've had my leg pulled time after time, and been the butt-end of jokes. I've been taken for a ride, scammed, made to look ridiculous. But I take people at face value. If they tell me something, I tend to believe them. Why wouldn't I? Why would they lie to me? But people have, and do. It's why I detest gossip and won't have any part of it, because all it really is is manipulation and destabilisation, perpetuated by a group. Victimising the vulnerable. And it gives people a sense of 'belonging' to be onside in the gossip. If you're not happy with the way someone's behaving or performing - tell them! But no. Gossip is easier... and it's more fun. Huh!
Anyone else got any 'gaslight' tales to share?
Okay... I've decided on my way forwards.
I'm signed off for two weeks. I'm on half-pay for that period. If I get signed off for longer, my half-pay will only last a month. After that, I will get nothing.
I cannot return to work now until I've had a formal interview to satisfy them that I'm fit to return. Unless I lie at that interview - with the risks I then run of further problems very quickly - I cannot see myself being able to return in the short-term. And I cannot lie, anyway. I know my health is on the edge.
Last night I was panicking. I went to bed not wanting to wake up.
This morning, I woke feeling desperate.
And then the truth came to me. I simply cannot return to that place. There are too many risks.
Once I had accepted that, I felt better. Like I had a way forwards.
On Monday, I'll go to the CAB and get a claim for Universal Credit in motion.
Then I'll just continue getting signed off until they let me go. Either that or, if they really want to keep me on, wait until they can relocate me.
What a choice to have to make. But I'm torn between two bad options.
And as it stands, work is killing me. If I go back to that place, sooner or later my health will fail entirely.
I've tried to follow this thread and its background spread across the other threads.
Please forgive me if I'm getting this all wrong.
Am I right that you are going to basically implode your life, your job, risk losing your home, the cat and everything else all over the possibility that you might see some woman in a place that you only spend a few hours in when you're there doing stuff with other people that are ok or you have fewer problems with?
I apologise if I'm summing this up all wrong, but it seems that there's something else going on and you are making this obsession over this woman the excuse for this self destruction.
Please feel free to shoot me down if I'm way off the mark.
Basically I think you're right.
What you underestimate is the effects of obsessive thoughts and behaviour.
I understand what Martian Tom is going through because I have gone through similar experiences.
Obsessions can be very damaging mentally.
They can be one way, where someone is obsessed with another person. But the other party is almost unaware of the obsession.
Or, two way, where the obsession is mutual, where one person is obsessed with avoiding the other. And the other person realises this and makes it an obsession to make the first person's life hell.
Thanks, Sunflower. What you say about reawakening and magnifying trauma is right. Even a very small passing passive-aggressive comment now is like a hammer-blow.
The second way is what's happening with me.
The damage to my car was done by her. I know this because I understand her tactics now. I understand them - but I cannot foresee them. I just know it won't be long before something else happens. Even if I'm not working with her, she can find a way to get at me.
It is impossible to function effectively at work with so much of our brain tied up by fear and dread. This is what I am struggling with too.
Margaret Atwood The Penelopiad: ‘…water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.’
Worth reading this on PTSD and bullying bullyonline.org/.../11-post-traumatic-stress-disorder
One of the worst bullies I ever worked with - a real shouty, foot-stamping harridan - caused me such trauma that I was off work for three months before leaving the job - which she had helped me to get. Maybe she saw a ripe target. This was 20 years ago. A little while after I left, she fell pregnant. When she had the baby, she left the job and moved away with her husband.
Four years ago, I accidentally saw - online - her face, fronting an anti-bullying campaign she had set up. She was prompted because her 16-year-old son (the child she'd been pregnant with) had committed suicide because he was being bullied at school.
Strange and tragic how these things go.
Thanks. It accords with what I understand now about autism and trauma, and the lower threshold we have for PTSD. I think part of the issue I'm having with managers at work - including our Behavioural Support Team - is that I simply cannot get them to grasp this. Even the most knowledgeable of them has a tendency to 'normalise' what's going on, and see it solely in terms of a neurotypical response. I'm sure they think I'm some kind of sap - a big guy, felled by a comment that most people would ignore.
Probably autism means that you can oversee thought processes that NT people just have on a subconscious level... keep an open mind... management just wants to get the work done at the lowest price possible... if they can get you so crazy to work through the weekends, they will praise you, they will shame you, they will do whatever it takes... but they will also respect a nope from you...
Sadly it seems to be our fate to be more knowledgable about our condition than most of the 'experts', and yet struggle to be believed!
I've just seen an interesting Tweet by @soundcube
"Why are autistic people often so scared?
Because we’re so good at pattern recognition & we’ve been abused many times
We can read the signs
We can see it coming
We can predict it even when others can’t
We’re not doom merchants or fatalist we just read the NT runes of hurt"
Yes. And this is what I struggle to get across to the people in my workplace. Even the behaviour manager, who really should know better. Telling me 'You're not alone in experiencing workplace bullying. It's quite normal.' Yes, well I'm not quite normal (at least, not in her definition). I'm neurodiverse. I'm sure they think I'm over-reacting. They just don't understand. I sent her that paper on autism, trauma and PTSD. I wonder if it'll do any good.
After yesterday's feelings of positivity, I awoke today with that sense of doom writ large. I feel they're now going to insist that I go through mediation. It won't work. I know it won't.
I've got this interview for the college job coming up. It isn't perfect for reasons already stated, but it's a life-line I'm going to grasp if I'm offered it. It's a client group I particularly like - PMLD.
I just hope they don't ask for notification of sick leave if they take up a reference. 23 days so far in the last year. All stress-related.
It is a good idea to explore the other job option. In terms of sickness absence you can make a strong case for that being disability related and context specific. The demands and environment of your current role are what led to your absence. As you would be working in a different setting you can emphasise that no inferences should be made about your future attendance.
Thanks. I'm not sure if it is part of the reference process. I know when I had an interview last time, I wasn't asked about sickness absence. They often ask at interviews. And they can take an open-minded view of it. I took my first job in care on the back of being off sick from my previous job for a whole year. Their response was 'We all get these difficulties in our lives.' Complete understanding. I was in that job for three years without a single sick day.
I've been unlucky in work. But in other ways, I've always been able to get a job at a time when I've most needed it.
I was offered this job at the college once before, in August. I turned it down then, but they went ahead with the DBS application. It's odd, isn't it, that that DBS finally came through a couple of weeks ago. It had taken almost 3 months. So... I have that in my favour. A current DBS, which they won't have to apply for. It'll just be down to references if I get a job offer.
My experience of life is that I regret later things that I haven't done, rather than what I did do.
So I would take a new job if one was offered.
I'm the same, Robert. I don't regret turning down that other job. When I added up the pros and cons of it, I felt better (at the time) staying put and working with the situation. That was before it started to worsen, though. I didn't expect some of the things that have happened since.
This new job offers more money because of the slightly longer hours (35 per week) - so it was probably worth waiting. The inconveniences of it pale in comparison to the current situation.
This is the best thing I have read on recovery from workplace bullying and it includes advice about moving on into a different job:
Yes. Thanks for that. It's a very useful website.
I can recognise some of the bad habits. But I don't want retribution or justice. I just want to be away from there now, and to get on with my life. And yes - I can, in many ways, feel sorry for this woman. And that takes me some way towards forgiving. Not forgetting, of course. But forgiving.
I can't really call it 'bullying'. All I have is a set of incidents that either seem trivial or that cannot be proven. The unfriending and blocking thing started it off. Most people would dismiss this. Ignore it. 'Be like that! I don't care!' But it deeply upset and disturbed me because it seemed so extreme, and I couldn't understand what it was all about (apart from the fact that she disagreed with some of the things I posted on my page, which she could have just ignored - as everyone else seemed to). Then the little criticisms over trivial stuff at work. Then the incident when she provoked a situation that led to a reprimand for me. I can't prove that. Things then settled afterwards and seemed okay. But then came the car scratching. I can't prove that, either. But that was the point of escalation. Once that was in my head, I not only didn't want to work with the woman, I found it difficult even seeing her.
You can see how this all adds up to very little in their eyes. How does it constitute 'bullying'? It's something I'm largely putting interpretations onto. It's a figment of my imagination.
There's a small, local company that specialises in hygiene and sanitation products and delivery. It's long-established and family run, and I like the work they do and their commitment to environmental standards. They prefer staff to walk to work if possible - and it's less than a mile away from me. They sound almost obsessional with their recycling! They haven't advertised any Service Operative vacancies, but said they're always open to hearing from likely candidates. So... I'm going to go in there tomorrow with my CV.
I'm trying to focus on all the positives. The negatives - damage to health and reputation, loss of income, loss of confidence - are all real enough. But I have to let go of the weight of them. Otherwise they will bury me: figuratively, and eventually literally.