In the News: Gaslighting, Domestic Violence Dynamics & the Crisis at the Border

In the United States, the news of the past few weeks has centered around the separation of immigrant and asylum-seeking families at the southern border. The New Yorker recently published an article making a comparison between the Trump Administration's language regarding this crisis and the language of domestic violence abusers. The article is an important read and example of how the behaviors of abusers are often normalized in the public sphere. Jessica Winter makes an important comparison between the language abusers utilize against their victims and the current administration's policies and political messaging. We encourage you to read the entire thing.

A recent Texas Monthly article provides another example of how the Trump Administration's policy and messaging relies on the dynamics of abuse. Texas Monthly executive editor Katy Dive discussed conditions at the border with Anne Chandler, executive director of the Houston office of the nonprofit Tahirih Justice Center, which focuses on helping immigrant women and children. Chandler confirms that legal points of entry along the border have been closed by border security, forcing the most desperate to cross illegally (because there is nowhere legal to cross). So, as the administration claims that asylum seekers are breaking our laws, the administration itself has created the circumstances under which asylum seekers have no option but to break those laws, and then that law-breaking is used to justify their policy.

The crisis at the border is important, not just because the lives of thousands of vulnerable people, regardless of where they were born, matter, but also because the language and tactics utilized by the Trump Administration throughout this very public conversation on the matter represent one of the many ways we have allowed abusive tactics and behaviors a space in our public life. When we accept gaslighting, lying, distortions, deflections, manipulation, belittlement and coercion from public figures, we are communicating that those very behaviors are also acceptable in private life. When we accept the dehumanizing treatment of one group of people, we are communicating that those behaviors are also acceptable against others. You cannot allow the abuse of one person and then credibly claim abuse is wrong against another.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Written by Abigail Hazlett