Seeking Help After Trauma


Why do perpetrators of assault often try to make victims doubt their perceptions and memories of the event? Why is this tactic often successful in affecting victims' minds? Is this a common experience among survivors, or is it unique to my situation?


Thank you for asking this question. What you're describing sounds like a common tactic used by abusers known as "gaslighting." It's a form of psychological manipulation where the perpetrator attempts to sow seeds of doubt in the victim's mind, making them question their own memory, perception, and judgment. This tactic is, unfortunately, quite common in cases of assault and abuse, and you are certainly not alone in experiencing it.

Perpetrators use gaslighting for several reasons. Primarily, it's a way to avoid taking responsibility for their actions and to maintain control over their victims. By making you doubt your own experiences, they hope to escape consequences and continue their abusive behavior. This tactic can be particularly effective because trauma itself can sometimes affect memory and perception, making survivors more vulnerable to this kind of manipulation.

The success of gaslighting often stems from the profound psychological impact of assault. Trauma can shake a person's confidence in their own experiences, and when coupled with manipulation from the perpetrator, it can create significant self-doubt. Additionally, our natural inclination to trust others, especially if the perpetrator is someone we know, can make us more susceptible to questioning our own memories when they conflict with what we're being told.

It's important to understand that experiencing this doubt doesn't make you weak or at fault in any way. It's a common reaction to a traumatic situation and manipulative behavior. Many survivors struggle with similar feelings.

Remember, your experiences and feelings are valid, regardless of what the perpetrator may try to make you believe. If you're struggling with these issues, it can be incredibly helpful to speak with a therapist who specializes in trauma, as they can provide strategies to strengthen your trust in your own perceptions and memories. Support groups for survivors can also be valuable, as they allow you to connect with others who may have had similar experiences. You're not alone in this, and there is support available to help you process and heal from these experiences. Thank you so much for asking this important question. 

Safety Exit