Fighting Gaslighting: How Tell When It Is Sexual Harassment


Sexual harassment in the workplace has become too common both nationwide and right here in West Virginia. Unfortunately, harassers use tactics like gaslighting to control and confuse their victims. And before you say "That's not a problem here in Charleston," consider this... One of the top most searched words in our state just happens to be "gaslighting." (WBOY)

You need to know about gaslighting because sexual harassers definitely know about it. You need to be able to recognize when gaslighting is being used to hide sexual harassment. To help you identify if someone is gaslighting you, here are some signs of this kind of behavior.

Understanding the Nature of Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation. It happens when a harasser tries to make a person question their own memory, perception, or sanity. This malicious tactic is often used by perpetrators to gain power and control.

Defining Gaslighting and Its Impact on Victims

"Gaslighting" originates from the 1938 play and later 1944 film "Gas Light." The story is about a husband who tricks his wife into believing she's going insane. In real-life, gaslighting can occur in any setting including the workplace.

The impact of gaslighting on victims can be profound. Victims may start doubting their memories, their feelings, and their perceptions. This can cause low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. In severe cases, it can even cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Recognizing the Common Tactics Used by Harassers

Gaslighters use several tactics to make victims question their perception of reality. These tactics include:

  • Denial: The abuser may deny that certain events ever happened, even if the victim has evidence.

  • Discredit: To discredit them, the abuser may question the victim's memory or sanity.

  • Diversion: The abuser may change the subject of a conversation to confuse the victim.

  • Trivializing: Abusers belittle victims, tricking them into thinking they're being too sensitive.

Emotional Toll of Gaslighting on Victims

Gaslighting takes a toll on victims' emotions. It can lead to feelings of confusion, anxiety, and fear. Victims may criticize themselves too much, constantly second-guessing everything they do. They may isolate themselves due to fear of judgment. They may even worry that no one will believe them if they speak out. Don't get caught in this cycle of despair. Our West Virginia sexual harassment attorneys will listen to your story and stand up for you.

Identifying Red Flags: Signs of Sexual Harassment Gaslighting

There are many signs that a gaslighter is trying to trick you into thinking they are not harassing you. These signs include:

  1. Denying inappropriate behavior.

  2. Saying "It's no big deal."

  3. Blaming the victim.

For example, a harasser might deny making an inappropriate comment. They may suggest the victim misunderstood their intentions.

Be aware of these red flags and trust your instincts if something feels off. Documenting incidents and gathering evidence can be crucial in supporting your claims. Talk to those you trust about these incidents, and consult experienced legal counsel.

Empowering Victims: Strategies to Counter Gaslighting

Victims of gaslighting can regain their confidence by asserting themselves and establishing boundaries. Document incidents, gather evidence, and seek support from trusted colleagues, friends, or professionals. This network can provide validation, emotional support, and practical advice.

Seeking Legal Recourse: Navigating the Legal Landscape

Victims of sexual harassment have legal rights and protections. They can file a complaint or lawsuit against the perpetrator. However, the process can be complex. Consulting with an experienced sexual harassment attorney will help you receive the guidance you need to pursue a successful claim. Our attorneys in Charleston, West Virginia are ready to provide that guidance.

Creating a Safe and Inclusive Work Environment

Fostering a workplace culture that rejects gaslighting and sexual harassment is key. Employers should be taking steps to prevent and address these issues. That includes:

  • Setting up strong policies,

  • Regular sexual harassment training, and

  • Making it easy to report harassment.

By promoting a respectful workplace, employers can protect their employees. This will improve the company's reputation, and make a more inclusive, productive workplace.

Recognizing gaslighting is the first step in fighting it. This is especially true when it comes to sexual harassment. By understanding this manipulation, victims can reclaim their power and seek justice.

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual harassment, Rod Smith Law PLLC is here to help. We can provide expert legal guidance and support. Together, we can fight against gaslighting and create safer, more inclusive work environments.

Call Rod Smith Law PLLC now at (304) 406-7076 or use our confidential online form.

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