What is Gaslighting?

In case you are unfamiliar with the term, gaslighting refers to a form of psychological abuse and manipulation in which a person or group makes an individual question their sanity, memories, or perception of reality. This abuse is extremely harmful towards victims, and can lead to severe cases of confusion, anxiety, depression, and an inability to trust one’s own judgement. However, and unfortunately, it’s probably a lot more common than you think.

 

While it is never possible to fully understand a person’s motives, it is commonly observed that gaslighting is used as a method for an abuser to gain power over their victim due to an extensive need and desire for domination. Like most cases of emotional and physical abuse in relationships, gaslighting is entirely about gaining control over another person, and this need to dominate can stem from a number of issues. Some common trends include extreme narcissism or antisocial personality disorder.

 

When someone is a victim of gaslighting, they will often experience severe distrust towards themselves. The abuser will typically try to gain power by convincing their target that they are remembering things incorrectly or that they are overreacting to an occurrence. It is also not uncommon for the abusive party to present their own thoughts and words as the “real” truth, whilst simultaneously convincing the other party that their opinions or memories or inaccurate.

 

This type of mental abuse is extremely damaging for people and can lead to numerous issues in the future regarding a person’s ability to trust themselves or others, as well as create problems with their self-confidence and sanity. It can be very difficult for a victim to know they are experiencing this form of abuse, especially because the abuser is actively working towards ensuring that the other person is unable to trust their own judgment. Even as a person may be acknowledging their own abuse, it’s likely that their own judgment and self-trust has already been altered by the gaslighting, making it even more difficult for them to notice warning signs, and trust their own judgement over their abusers.

 

Here’s some common signs that someone may be an abuser:

 

  1. They tell blatant lies.
  2. They deny things, even when you have definitive proof.
  3. Their actions do not match their words.
  4. They are dismissive of your feelings.
  5. They refuse to let you speak during a conflict.
  6. They call you crazy, sensitive, or overdramatic.
  7. They minimize your feelings.
  8. They always need to be right.
  9. They make you second-guess everything.
  10. They make it difficult to leave.

 

However, there are a number of warning signs you can keep watch for if you suspect that yourself or a friend could be a victim of this abuse.

 

  1. You often feel confused and/or crazy in the relationship.
  2. You are frequently apologizing.
  3. You sense something is wrong, but cannot identify what it is.
  4. You feel isolated from family and friends.
  5. You find it increasingly difficult to make even simple decisions.
  6. You’re constantly making excuses for your partner’s behavior.
  7. You feel like everything you do is wrong.
  8. You question your own memory, sanity, or judgment.
  9. You often wonder if you’re oversensitive.
  10. You feel yourself wondering why you aren’t happier.

 

Gaslighting is not an easy thing to notice, address, or get out of, however it can be extremely damaging to someone if this form of abuse is prolonged. If you feel like you might be experiencing gaslighting, it can be helpful to consult an outside third party and see an outlook on the situation that is not being influenced by any other external factors. You also need to determine if you want to continue the relationship or not, and taking space from the situation can help provide clarity. Remain confident and sure in your memory of events and situations. Involve others in the situation, and seek professional assistance if necessary. Stand up for yourself and speak up about the behavior, and focus on taking care of your own physical and mental health.

 

You are valid, you are intelligent, and you are worthy of so much more.

 

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5