Friday, December 15, 2023

Q&A with Amelia Kelley




Amelia Kelley is the author of the new book Gaslighting Recovery for Women: The Complete Guide to Recognizing Manipulation and Achieving Freedom from Emotional Abuse. She is also the coauthor of the book What I Wish I Knew, and is a therapist, podcaster, and researcher.


Q: What inspired you to write Gaslighting Recovery for Women?

A: In the light of the #MeToo movement as well as a number of other efforts made to strengthen women's voices, the phenomenon of gaslighting women is being highlighted as the issue it has been for over a century.


Dating back as far as the medical term hysteria, meant to describe women who had any physical emotional issues that could be somewhat tied to the female reproductive system, women's concerns have been minimized for far too long.


Gaslighting can happen to anyone, men or women. Women are highly targeted in the workplace, and other patriarchal systems. There is also an especially strong case for highlighting the issues of gaslighting women of color, and minimizing microaggressions these women experience throughout their lives.

Q: For people who are not entirely familiar with the concept, can you explain gaslighting and its impact?


A: Gaslighting is a form of emotional manipulation and abuse intended to control the other person by causing confusion, or a disconnection from your inner voice, your self-esteem, and eventually your confidence.


It can include things such as withholding information, blatant lies, minimizing emotions, ignoring facts and evidence when they're right in front of you, and trying to make you believe that others are against you when they in fact are not.


The impact is detrimental to the victim's sense of self-worth, and the knowing that they have the right to be treated with respect in their relationships. It can also make someone more susceptible to future abuse if they already doubt whether or not their emotions are valid.


It is also important to understand what gaslighting is not. It is not conflict, disagreeing, seeing things differently, or having different memories of an event. Instead, it is a manipulative tactic that is intended to hurt the other person.


Q: What are some of the key ways to recover from gaslighting?


A: The first step is recognizing what's happening. Because the principal purpose of gaslighting is to cause confusion, the sooner someone can become sure of what they are experiencing, the less likely they will be targeted further.


From there finding validation either through self-reflection, perhaps through journaling or internally recounting an experience, or processing what happened with a trusted friend, family member or therapist can help to alleviate self-doubt and reaffirm what you know to be true.


If possible, distancing or cutting off the relationship with a gaslighter is ideal but not always a possibility. If it is not possible to go no contact with the gaslighter, perhaps because they are in your family or part of a larger entity or part of society, choosing to create solidified boundaries and limit contact is best. The less interaction with a gaslighter the better.


Finally, it is important to continue practicing boundaries and sustaining your sense of individuality and awareness of your own wants and needs. Essentially working to fortify your relationship with yourself and work from the inside out is instrumental in healing as well as producing the chance of being targeted in the future.

Q: Is gaslighting used primarily against women?


A: Absolutely not, anyone can be a target. However, women experience gaslighting and unique ways based on their gender. When looking at historical structures and society that have sustained patriarchal norms, they have survived in many ways due to the gaslighting of women.


As mentioned before, women of color are also exceptionally targeted not just because of their gender but because of their race.


Minimizing or disregarding someone's concerns about equality or feminism itself can be a form of gaslighting. By stating that there is nothing to worry about or nothing to fight for, it is disregarding a long history of disempowering women.


It would also be beneficial for this book to fall into the hands of women internationally who are in societies that still ascribe to some of these patriarchal pressures and expectations.

Q: What are you working on now?


A: Quite a few things! I have a book coming out with the Swedenborg Foundation that I have co-authored with Gina Cavalier from the Liberated Healer Podcast, combining spiritualism and psychological sciences. It's titled Surviving Suicidal Ideation: From Therapy to Spirituality and the Lived Experience, and will be released May 2024.


I have also written another book with Penguin Random House that is set to release in June 2024 about empowering women with ADHD to embody their unique gifts and live their most exceptional lives.


In addition to these projects, I've began writing a column for Psychology Today called "In Your Corner" and will also be collaborating with Jeanne from My Figgi Life podcast in the New Year with rebranding and reproducing the podcast together as co-hosts as a sacred space to learn, grow and heal for those struggling with trauma, anxiety, or other instances of sensitivity.


Finally, my first book, What I Wish I Knew: Surviving and Thriving After an Abusive Relationship, will be released Winter 2024 on Audible as my co-author, Kendall Anne Combs, and I have finished recording and are in the midst of post-production on the project. 2024 will prove to be an exciting year!

Q: Anything else we should know?


A: It is a myth that you have to wait for the perfect time to express yourself. Anyone who makes you feel like you need to minimize or silence your emotions, most likely is not going to support your right for emotional individuality. Those who do champion your experiences and respect your emotions, even when you disagree, are the people you deserve to have in your life.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Amelia Kelley.

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