The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Many of you have probably heard of the term gaslighting before as it has become more commonly used in the past few years. Understanding exactly what gaslighting is, how to recognize it and how to respond is essential for everyone to know. Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation where someone can make you feel extremely unsure of yourself and question your perception. You might feel incompetent around this person and constantly second-guess your judgements because the person gaslighting you makes you think that your thoughts and feelings are wrong. Gaslighting can also occur not only in romantic relationships but with family members and friends. Gaslighting can be hard to understand and recognize when it is happening and is considered to be a type of abusive behaviour. Sometimes gaslighting can occur without intention, but it does not take away from the harmful effects victims face. There are many different techniques that a gaslighter may use to manipulate their victims. Some of these common ones include: questioning their victim’s memory and making them believe they are remembering things falsely, stating their victims’ thoughts and feelings are unimportant and invalid, denying things that the gaslighter themselves have previously said and done and disregarding their victims’ feelings and belittling their victim’s concerns are additional techniques used by gaslighters. Although these may seem easy to spot within any relationship, the truth is that it can be hard to identify and many people don’t see the signs.
Recognizing that gaslighting is happening to you is the first sign of acknowledging and understanding the abuse. You may feel like you’re overreacting and questioning if it is valid for you to feel a certain way about a situation because they are telling you that no one would react like this. You may find yourself constantly apologizing to your gaslighter or feeloing afraid that you may be doing something wrong. Lying about their behaviour and defending it to make it seem a little better is only going to hurt you more in the long run. A relationship should never make you feel like you’re crazy, irrational, or worthless. Your concerns and views are valid, and continuously being put down, questioned or belittled are not qualities of a healthy relationship.
Leaving behind any relationship can be tough and requires a lot of strength. Whether it be a romantic or platonic one, it takes courage to understand what is happening to you and to do something about it. Emotional and psychological abuse can be difficult to spot and when you’re constantly being told that you’re are wrong or crazy by your gaslighter- it makes it even harder to believe that something is wrong. How can I be right about this if I have been “wrong” about everything else? This is exactly how gaslighters want you to feel and allows them to continue their cycle of abuse.
Understanding the techniques and the common feelings among victims is necessary to help current victims realize that their feelings are valid and that something is wrong. It can also help you be attentive during future relationships or come to terms with the abuse you may have encountered n the past. Having the tools to identify gaslighting is useful to stop the abuse sooner and make way for healthier relationships.