If you have ever been a victim of abuse, gaslighting, or emotional trauma, then you might have been feeling triggered during the last four years.
This is not a political analysis of the differences between democrats and republicans, liberals and conservatives, or the left-wing and right-wing voters.
This is about Trump’s demonstration of abusive behaviors, exploiting people for his personal gain, and attempting to convince Americans that what we see happening before our very eyes is not happening. He is using the power of his office and the narcissist traits of his personality to unsettle us and make us feel unsafe.
Have you felt unsafe during Trump’s presidency; well, you are not alone. Trump has taken to using common abusive tactics to keep us in a toxic relationship.
Trump has engaged in isolation tactics from the very beginning with his foreign policy beliefs. “America First.” These words sound good, right? Let’s look out for our interests and take care of our own.
I can see how this appealed to people, I really can. We have starving kids in America, right? Why are we donating money to other countries to feed their children? There are homeless veterans all around the country. Why should we worry about global poverty?
Personally, I believe that all people should be fed and safe regardless of where they live. However, I can understand how people arrive at this sentiment. I think they are asking the wrong questions, though.
Instead of asking why we send money to other countries so children can eat, we should ask ourselves why we live in a world where the wealth of the TEN (there are 7.8 billion people in the world) richest human beings totals $1,008,200,000,000. That is one trillion, eight billion, two-hundred million dollars. Let that sink in for just a moment.
However, this is not about ‘America First.’ This is about ‘American Isolation.’ He has isolated us from our allies, much like abusers keep you from having friends that care about you.
According to Healing Well Counseling, abusers “remove those that would anchor you to the truth and what’s morally right in the midst of the fog of lies, confusion, and disorientation.”
Bill Neely points out that because of Trump’s need to isolate America, “the U.S. is standing alone on more key global issues than ever before. And America’s seductive sheen of “soft power” — the ability to get what they want through attraction and persuasion — has been diminished.” Much like victims of abuse, he has taken our power from us.
Trump is a master at keeping us confused and disoriented in a fog of lies. The term that psychologists use is gaslighting. Abusers use this tactic to cause another person to question their sanity, often even their reality, by manipulating information.
The times that Trump has used gaslighting as a technique are almost too many to count, but here are just a few. It started with the size of the crowd at his inauguration. It was an easily provable lie, and some might question, “Why lie about something that you could disprove with a picture?”
That is how gaslighting starts—small and seemingly innocuous. They keep repeating it until you question what you know to be true, and then they move on to bigger things, leaving seeds of doubt in the things you used to trust.
Healing Well Counseling explains the impact that gaslighting has on the victim:
“This scheme can have a very strong effect on your mind, to the point where you may question your own sanity. You begin feeling unsure, lose your instinctive sense of judgment, and eventually believe the distortions.”
Trump’s lies kept going, so much so, that Kelly Ann Conway coined the term, “alternative facts.” There is no such thing as alternative facts. The alternative to a fact, at best, is an opinion—at worst, it’s a lie.
I feel like I need to remind myself of the definition of a fact daily: a thing that is known or proved to be true. Information used as evidence or as part of a report or news article. The truth about events as opposed to interpretation.
He lied about his wealth, the pandemic, and he continues to lie about the election. He told Brad Raffensperger that “there is nothing wrong with saying you have recalculated.”
People are so confused, and those who have a history of gaslighting are in a constant state of grounding themselves, trying to feel safe and secure.
It’s hard to feel safe when a narcissist uses this tactic to bring in other people and manipulate the situation even further.
Psychology defines triangulation as “manipulation in which one person seeks to control a three-person interpersonal situation for their own benefit. It often involves the use of threats of exclusion or strategies that aim to divide and conquer.” Elinor Greenberg Ph.D. gives us this example:
“12-year-old Sara has two friends, Betty and Lindsey. Sara is the more dominant member of the threesome. She gets along well with both of them when they play one-on-one. However, when they are in school, she often pits them against each other in a mean way.”
Try replacing it with this:
Donald Trump works with two political parties, the Republicans and the Democrats. He is the more dominant member of the three political branches. He gets along well with both of them when he placates and cajoles them one-on-one. However, when they are in session or on camera, he pits them against each other, mocking leaders on both sides.
Making Jokes That Are Really Insults
Trump demonstrates this behavior in spades. He has mocked reporters, war veterans, people on both sides of the political aisle, and even his allies. Most deplorably, he has mocked people with disabilities including reporters and even the incoming president.
Just last night in a rally in Georgia, he mocked Joe Biden’s stutter. When he gets called on his behavior, he resorts right back to gaslighting; either denying that he even said it or claims he was joking.
These jokes are not funny or amusing. If a woman was with a man who constantly mocked her, making jokes about her body or how she behaved, everyone who loved her would tell her she deserved better.
According to DomesticShelters.org, “It’s a tactic often used by abusers to make their victims feel small, unimportant or disrespected.”
It degrades people and chips away at their confidence and self-esteem. The only esteem and confidence that Donald Trump cares about is his own. One difference between joking and abusive comments is that the “joker” lacks a sincere apology when the victim is hurt by their actions.
Donald Trump lacks remorse, empathy, and compassion, which sets off alarm bells in anyone who has ever been the recipient of abuse.
Rather than apologize or try to correct his behavior, our current president engages in ‘hoovering.’
Healing Well Counseling explains hoovering as, “A method of sucking you back in when your partner realizes you’re trying to leave the relationship. This can be a negative behavior. It may also be a sudden positive behavior or improvement—like showering you with attention, gifts, or promises.”
We are witnessing this now that he has realized America is strong enough to leave him behind. He started by hiding himself away and fighting with those close to him. He yelled and intimidated, whining about how people were treating ‘The President’.
Then he came out and told people he was the good guy who wanted to give everyone $2000 checks. His attention comes at too great a cost. Just ask his former allies. His gifts and promises are always empty words meant to distract your energy away from leaving.
Distraction is a familiar tool hanging from Donald’s Trump abusive tool belt. Catastrophizing, however, just might be his favorite tool of all. I watched the rally last night, even though his words and actions physically repulse me.
I find it a little harder to breathe when he speaks. My pulse beats a little faster, and my PTSD brain tells me it is not safe. I use skills learned in therapy to ground myself and calm down.
My fear differs from the fear he is trying to strike within his base. His words to them paint a catastrophe that only he can save them from. Here are a few examples of this behavior from last night’s speech:
- The people of Georgia will be at the mercy of the left-wing socialist, communist Marxist, and that’s where it’s going.
- So they went to stone, cold, silent, Big Tech, the fake news media. They go silent anymore; they don’t talk about it, and that is the beginning of communism. That’s exactly what happens because I think they hate our country and they despise Georgia values, and I think a lot of you despise them.
- The radical Democrats will not do to get the power that they so desperately crave, even the outright stealing of elections like they’re trying to do with us, we’re not going to let it happen.
- No prosperity, no rights, no freedom, no future for you and your family is exactly what the radical left will do. If they win this runoff election, which we can’t let him do tomorrow, tomorrow’s a big day.
He paints catastrophe after catastrophe if you “leave” him. None of that is true. This country has a resilient spirit and will survive. I truly believe that the majority of its citizens are much closer on the issues than they have led us to believe.
I mentioned my fear early, and while I worry about the state of our republic, I am scared because he reminds me of being emotionally and verbally abused.
The message I wanted to deliver was that if you were a trauma survivor feeling this way, you were not alone. I understand how the behaviors we are witnessing make you feel unsafe.
However, I think it is important to remind everyone though that none of us are alone. We are a nation of states, made up of many people with different beliefs. But we are on the same team, and when part of the population is suffering, we should all stand up and be there for one another.