Finally! Merriam Webster’s word of the year is GASLIGHTING! The education is WORKING! Keep
sharing your survival stories! Keep educating people on the red flags! Keep calling out the
abusers and the abusive behaviors. Abusers and abusive behavior need to be made
unacceptable, both personally and professionally.
It is a baby step in the right direction, but it is a step! So many survivors of abuse feel unheard,
unseen, and/or disbelieved. The fact that the word was used enough for Merriam-Webster to
name it the word of the year is very encouraging! There is still much work to do in the area of
public awareness about intimate partner violence and the red flags of abuse. Gaslighting is
sadly only ONE of the many red flags that abusers fly when they are looking for a target to
abuse. Other words people need to be educated on are the following:
Love Bombing: Over the top show of interest in a potential target/partner right at the very
beginning of the relationship, ie, after the first date, they declare you are perfect, or they love
you, or they want to marry you. They want to be with you ALL. THE. TIME. Or they want to start
having sex almost immediately and often, either on the first date or very soon after.
Extravagant and over-the-top attention and or gifts on the first date.
Mirroring: Remember Frozen? Remember Hans and Anna? Remember when he was love-
bombing her? He liked everything she liked. He thought everything she thought. He mirrored
her personality, her likes, her dislikes, her energy, her attitude…until he felt safe enough to
devalue and discard her and try to steal the kingdom. Uh-huh. They steal our kingdom after
making us think they are JUST LIKE US.
Stonewalling: Otherwise known as shunning, ignoring, or the cold shoulder. The abuser refuses
to acknowledge or speak to the target of abuse. Usually occurring after the abuser has been
called out on their own bad behavior. This form of abuse lights up the same pain centers in the
brain as physical pain. It is done INTENTIONALLY to force the target to conform to the behavior
the abuser wants them to have. Targets have been known to tearfully beg the abuser to please
just speak to them.
Sadism: Abusers are, at heart, sadists. Your tears are delicious to them. They enjoy and get off
on seeing you hurt. They are pathetic because your tears, your anger makes them feel powerful
and the more the target reacts, the more the abuser abuses.
Narcissistic Supply: Abusers need narcissistic supply the way healthy people need oxygen.
Narcissistic supply is anything that feeds their insatiable ego. Praise, attention, crying, anger,
drama, chaos, all of these are narcissistic supplies to an abuser. Because they are sadists, even
negative attention is attention. I’ve often heard them say, “Love me or hate me, just don’t
Grey rock: Grey rock is showing no emotion. When an abuser is looking for supply and wanting
the target to be upset and crying or angry, do the opposite. No emotion. Not angry. Not sad.
Not frustrated. It cuts off their supply and allows you to not get emotionally entangled in their
trap. That argument they start at 2 in the morning is intentional and intended to keep you up
an emotional mess all night. They want to be the first thing on your mind in the morning and
the last thing on your mind at night.
Dark Triad: An abuser who is a triple threat. An abuser who is a narcissist, a psychopath and a
control freak. Show me a stalker, I will show you someone who is a dark triad. NEVER, and I
mean NEVER, underestimate the vindictiveness and violence of a dark triad. They are the ones
who stalk, harass and sometimes murder their former lovers.
Order of Protection: Is a legal way of dealing with dark triads. It prevents the abuser from
stalking, harassing, or harming the target by there being consequences such as jail. It is only a
piece of paper, so the target MUST report all violations of the order, and the target CANNOT
contact the abuser. The abuser will often attempt a hoover in order to get the target to break
the order. Getting the order reinstated after the abused has broken it, is very difficult
Hoover: “Baby, I’ve changed. It will be different this time, I promise!” Sound familiar? After
devaluing us, gaslighting us, stonewalling us, and screaming at us, we leave. Soon the texts and
the phone calls start, telling us everything we wanted them to say ever since they stopped love
bombing. DO NOT FALL for it!!! The love-bombing will be short, but the abuse will be more
intense as they need to make you pay for leaving them.