The US Presidential election results have left many people shocked, depressed, and afraid.
The victor, Donald Trump, spent his campaign threatening entire populations within American society – Mexicans, Muslims, LGBTQIA+ folks, and women – and with his win, many are shell-shocked and panicking about their futures.
And with good reason: Already there are reports of spikes in hate-crimes and violence against Black, queer, and Jewish people. Trump has announced plans for immediate deportations of millions of people, and he has hired white supremacist Steve Bannon as one of his top aides.
This video of a woman yelling at a Muslim woman on the train gives a pretty clear example of how this election has emboldened bigotry and hatred.
As Rebecca Traister wrote, “The heartbreak of this election…[is] the loss of the idea that this country was so very close to being better, more inclusive, more just, and more representative.”
It can be very hard to stay balanced and process your own emotions when fear and viciousness surround you. What’s more, as many people are working to figure out how to handle their new reality – whether in mourning or in protest, in public or in private – the emotional abuse carried out by Trump supporters has continued and even escalated.
Perhaps this isn’t surprising.
After all, Trump utilized tactics of emotional abuse throughout the campaign, and his tactics paid off nicely for him, empowering his followers and sending the message that emotional abuse is a legitimate (and even successful!) form or discourse.
In fact, since Election Day, some new tactics have emerged, along with some revised old one. This makes the healing process even harder.
Here are some of the new tactics of emotional abuse to be wary of as you work through the impact of these elections.
The first trend I noticed in Facebook feeds right after the election was the new language of “sore loser.”
Many of those who were expressing deep sadness, mourning, or disappointment were attacked Trump supporters coming onto their feeds with mocking comments, like “Haha, you’re just upset that you lost,” “Grow up and stop being a sore loser,” or “Stop crying.”
This tactic is the kind of behavior that we’re taught in preschool not to engage in. But the Trump campaign has brought back many of those toxic behaviors that we thought society unlearned long ago.
Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic aimed at twisting reality and making you seem and feel confused and disoriented. And some Trumpists continue to gaslight opponents, just as they did during the campaign.
This includes claims that protesters are “exaggerating” in their fears, as Rudy Guiliani said, or that the protesters are the bad guys here, as Trump himself suggested when he said that protesters are “unfair.”
In another illustration of gaslighting, Trump supporters are trying to rewrite history by claiming that Republicans accepted President Obama’s victory and embraced him as president. This completely ignores the relentless attacks on Obama’s personal credibility throughout his campaign, the Trump-led “birther” movement undermining his very identity, the constant lie about Obama being a secret Muslim (as if Muslims aren’t allowed to be president anyway), responsible for ISIS, and the anti-Christ.
The complete denial of that reality is pure gaslighting, based on lies and manipulations.