Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that aims to make the victim doubt their own thoughts, emotions, and reality. It is often used by abusers, narcissists, and manipulators to gain control over their victims. In this post we shall consider some examples of gaslighting tactics.
Examples of Gaslighting – Denial and Blatant Lies
The gaslighter denies or lies about their actions, making the victim question their own memory and perception.
This manipulative tactic is designed to make the victim doubt their own reality and experiences.
Here are some practical examples of how an abuser might use denial and blatant lies as gaslighting techniques:
“I never said that. You must have misunderstood.”Abuser
The victim clearly remembers the abuser making hurtful or derogatory comments, but the abuser denies ever saying those things, causing the victim to doubt their own recollection.
“You’re making things up. That conversation never happened.”Abuser
The manipulator’s target vividly recalls an important discussion or argument they had with the abuser, but the abuser adamantly denies it ever occurring, leaving the victim questioning their own sanity.
“Why would I do something like that? You’re imagining things.”Abuser
When confronted about something hurtful, the abuser completely denies it ever happened, implying that the victim is making false accusations.
“You’re just trying to make me look bad by spreading lies about me.”Abuser
The victim gathers evidence or witnesses to confront the abuser about their harmful behavior, but the abuser insists that the victim is fabricating stories and attempting to tarnish their reputation
“I can’t believe you’re accusing me of that. I would never do such a thing.”Abuser
In all these instances, the gaslighter intentionally distorts reality through denial and blatant lies, creating confusion and self-doubt in the victim.
Examples of Gaslighting – Minimizing Concerns
The gaslighter downplays the victim’s concerns or dismisses them as unimportant, making them feel unheard and invalidated. This gaslighting tactic aims to diminish the significance of the victim’s emotions, thoughts, and experiences.
Here are some practical examples of how an abuser might use minimizing concerns as a gaslighting technique:
“You’re overreacting. It’s not that big of a deal.”Abuser
The victim expresses their genuine concern about a hurtful action or behavior, but the abuser brushes it off as insignificant, making the victim doubt the validity of their emotions.
“Stop being so sensitive. You’re blowing things out of proportion.”Abuser
When the victim tries to discuss something that hurts them, the abuser dismisses their reaction as overly sensitive, belittling their feelings in the process.
“There you go again, making everything about yourself. Can’t you think about anyone else?”Abuser
The victim attempts to voice their concerns or seek support, but the abuser redirects the focus onto themselves, making the victim feel selfish or self-centered for expressing their needs.
“I can’t believe you’re getting upset about something so trivial. You’re being ridiculous.”Abuser
If the victim tries to raise a legitimate concern or issue, they are met with ridicule and mockery by the abuser, causing them to question the importance of their own concerns.
“Why are you always complaining? Other people have it much worse than you.”Abuser
The victim tries to express their dissatisfaction or discomfort with a situation, but the abuser compares their struggles to others, effectively dismissing their concerns and creating a sense of guilt.
Examples of Gaslighting – Creating Doubt
Gaslighters utilize manipulative techniques to sow seeds of doubt in the minds of their victims, undermining their confidence in their own memory and perception.
Here are some expanded examples of how an abuser may use the creation of doubt as a gaslighting tactic:
“Are you sure? I remember it completely differently. Maybe you misunderstood.”Abuser
The victim vividly recalls a particular event or conversation, but the abuser challenges their recollection by offering an alternative version of events.
“You’re just imagining things. You have a tendency to exaggerate.”Abuser
When trying express their emotions or recount a hurtful experience, the abuser dismisses them as mere figments of the victim’s imagination.
“I think you’re getting confused. Things did not happen the way you’re describing them.”Abuser
The victim confronts the abuser about a specific incident, but the abuser denies its occurrence or distorts the details, leaving the victim disoriented and uncertain.
“You must have misinterpreted what I said.”Abuser
The victim raises concerns about hurtful remarks made by the abuser, only to be met with gaslighting tactics that shift blame onto the victim’s supposed inability to comprehend correctly.
Examples of Gaslighting – Guilt-Tripping
Gaslighters employ manipulative tactics to make the victim feel guilty or responsible for their actions, coercing them into conforming to their desires.
“If you loved me, you’d let me do it. You’re holding me back.”Abuser
When the victim expresses concerns or sets boundaries, the abuser uses guilt to manipulate them into compromising their own needs and desires.
“You’re being selfish. Don’t you care about my happiness?”Abuser
The victim asserts their own needs or desires, only for the abuser to guilt trip them by questioning their consideration for the abuser’s happiness.
“I can’t believe you’re doing this to me. After everything I’ve done for you.”Abuser
If the victim makes a decision or takes action that doesn’t align with the abuser’s expectations, the abuser will try to guilt trip them by emphasizing how they have sacrificed and supported the victim in the past.
“If you really cared about me, you’d understand why I have to do this.”Abuser
The victim expresses discomfort or disagreement with the abuser’s actions, but the abuser guilt trips them by suggesting that their lack of understanding equates to a lack of care or love.
“You’re ruining everything. If you truly loved me, you wouldn’t stand in my way.”Abuser
The victim expresses concerns about a decision or action that the abuser intends to take, but the abuser guilt trips them by making them feel guilty for asserting their own boundaries and needs.
Examples of Gaslighting – Discrediting Achievements
Gaslighters employ manipulative tactics to undermine the victim’s accomplishments and diminish their self-esteem, causing them to doubt their own abilities.
This form of gaslighting is aimed at eroding the victim’s self-confidence.
“That was just luck.”Abuser
Whenever the victim accomplishes something significant, the abuser dismisses it as mere luck or downplays its significance.
“Anyone could have done what you did. It’s nothing special.”Abuser
If the victim expresses pride in their accomplishments, the abuser will belittle their achievements by suggesting that they are ordinary or unremarkable.
“You only managed because someone else helped you. You couldn’t have done it on your own.”Abuser
The victim achieves success in a particular endeavor, but the abuser invalidates their accomplishment, in a bit to make them doubt their competence and independence.
“That’s nothing. You still have to prove yourself.”Abuser
The victim shares their accomplishments with the abuser, but the abuser dismisses them as inconsequential or insufficient.
Examples of Gaslighting – Love as a Defense
Gaslighters often use expressions of love or affection as a means to justify their abusive behavior, leading the victim to question their own boundaries and perceptions.
This manipulative tactic aims to blur the lines between love and control.
“I’m just trying to protect you because I love you.”
The victim expresses concern about the abuser’s controlling or isolating behavior, but the abuser manipulates the situation by claiming they are acting out of love and a desire to protect the victim.
“If you really loved me, you wouldn’t question my intentions.”
The victim raises doubts or seeks clarification about the abuser’s actions, only for the abuser to dismiss their concerns and suggest that their love should be unquestioning.
Examples of Gaslighting – Accusations of Paranoia
Gaslighters frequently employ the tactic of accusing the victim of being paranoid or excessively suspicious, effectively invalidating their genuine concerns and experiences.
“You’re just being paranoid. There’s nothing wrong with me or our relationship.Abuser
Whenever the victim expresses concerns about the abuser’s behavior or actions that seem off or disrespectful, the abuser to dismiss their worries as baseless paranoia.
“You’re always imagining things. It’s all in your head.”Abuser
The victim brings up instances where they’ve noticed inconsistencies or suspicious behaviors, but the abuser gaslights them by claiming that it’s all a product of their overactive imagination.
“You’re just looking for problems where there aren’t any. You need to relax.”Abuser
If the victim raises concerns about certain actions or interactions that have made them uncomfortable, the abuser dismisses their worries by accusing them of actively seeking out problems.
“Why are you so suspicious all the time? Can’t you just trust me?”Abuser
The victim expresses unease or questions the abuser’s intentions, only for the abuser to turn the tables by making the victim feel guilty for their lack of trust.
Examples of Gaslighting – Shifting Blame
Gaslighters frequently employ the tactic of shifting blame onto the victim, effectively deflecting responsibility and making them question their own innocence while reinforcing a sense of guilt.
“You’re the reason I acted this way. If you hadn’t done X, I wouldn’t have had to respond like that.”Abuser
When the victim confronts the abuser about their actions, the abuser shifts blame onto them by claiming that it was their own actions that provoked their negative response.
“You’re just too sensitive. Anyone else would have handled the situation better.”Abuser
The victim expresses hurt or frustration over the abuser’s words or actions, but the abuser shifts blame onto the victim by dismissing their feelings as oversensitivity.
“If you hadn’t made me so angry, I wouldn’t have said those things.”Abuser
When held accountable for their hurtful words, the abuser shifts blame onto the victim by suggesting that it was their own behavior that led to the verbal abuse.
“I only did it because you pushed me to my limits. You know how to push all the wrong buttons.”Abuser
The victim confronts the abuser about their abusive behavior, only for the abuser to shift blame onto the victim by suggesting that the victim deliberately provokes them.
Protecting Yourself from Manipulative Gaslighters
Dealing with gaslighters can be emotionally and mentally draining.
However, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from the manipulation and regain your sense of self-worth.
Educating yourself about gaslighting is the first step towards protecting yourself.
By familiarizing yourself with the tactics, dynamics, and effects of gaslighting, you gain the power to identify and confront manipulative behaviors.
Read Books and Articles. Explore books, articles, and online resources that delve into the topic of gaslighting. Look for reputable sources that provide insights into the dynamics of gaslighting, the tactics used, and how it impacts victims. The examples of gaslighting in this post should have given you a good place to start.
Engage in Online Forums and Support Groups. Join online communities where survivors of gaslighting share their experiences and support one another. Participating in these forums allows you to learn from others’ stories, gain validation, and exchange coping strategies. However, remember to prioritize your own well-being and avoid re-traumatizing content.
Follow Reputable Sources. Stay updated on current research, news, and expert opinions by following reputable sources dedicated to psychology, mental health, and relationship dynamics. Websites such as Psychology Today or Verywell Mind provide valuable insights and resources on gaslighting and abusive behavior.
Trust Your Gut
When dealing with gaslighters, it’s crucial to trust your gut instincts and intuition.
Gaslighters manipulate by making you doubt your own thoughts, feelings, and perceptions.
By learning to trust yourself, you can protect your mental and emotional well-being.
Validate Your Feelings. Gaslighters often dismiss or invalidate your emotions, making you question their validity. It’s essential to recognize that your feelings are valid and worthy of attention. If something feels off, unsettling, or doesn’t align with your values, acknowledge those emotions without judgment.
Pay Attention to Physical Sensations. Your body can provide valuable cues about a situation or person. Notice if you feel tense, uneasy, or experience physical discomfort in the presence of someone whose behavior seems a little off. These physical sensations may be your body’s way of warning you that something is not right.
Reflect on Past Experiences. Look back on previous instances where your gut instincts proved accurate. Recall situations where you felt uncomfortable, and later discovered that your initial gut feeling was correct. This reflection can reinforce your trust in your intuition and help you recognize patterns of manipulation.
Seek External Validation. Talk to trusted friends, family members, or professionals about your concerns. Share your experiences and feelings with them, and ask for their perspective. Sometimes, an outside perspective can provide validation and confirm that your instincts are indeed trustworthy.
Take Time for Self-Reflection. Practice self-reflection to deepen your connection with your intuition. Set aside moments of quiet contemplation to tune into your inner voice and listen to what it tells you. Journaling, meditation, or engaging in mindful activities can facilitate this process and help you access your intuition more readily
Setting boundaries is a crucial aspect of protecting yourself from gaslighters.
It involves establishing clear limits and communicating them assertively.
By doing so, you send a powerful message that manipulative tactics will not be tolerated.
Identify Your Values and Needs. Take the time to reflect on your values, needs, and priorities. Understanding what is important to you will help you establish boundaries that align with your well-being and personal growth.
Define Your Boundaries. Once you have identified your values and needs, clearly articulate your boundaries. Be specific about what behavior is acceptable and what crosses the line for you. This will provide a framework for navigating interactions with gaslighters.
Communicate Assertively. When communicating your boundaries, use clear and direct language. Express your expectations firmly and calmly, without apologizing or justifying yourself. Practice assertive communication techniques to ensure your message is heard and respected.
Stay Consistent. Gaslighters will attempt to push against your boundaries or manipulate you into compromising them. It’s essential to stay consistent and not give in to their tactics. Reiterate your boundaries as needed and reinforce their importance to demonstrate that you are serious about safeguarding your well-being.
Establish Consequences. Make it clear that there are consequences for crossing your boundaries. Communicate these consequences in advance and follow through if necessary. Consistent enforcement of consequences sends a strong message that you will not tolerate gaslighting behaviors.
Regularly Reassess and Adjust. As you grow and evolve, your boundaries may need adjustment. Regularly reassess your boundaries to ensure they remain aligned with your values and needs. Be open to refining and strengthening them as you gain further insight into yourself and your relationships
Seeking support is yet another crucial step in protecting yourself from gaslighters, who often try to isolate their victims.
By reaching out to trusted individuals or support groups, you can gain validation, perspective, and regain confidence in yourself.
Identify Trusted Individuals. Identify friends, family members, or mentors whom you trust and feel comfortable confiding in. Choose people who have demonstrated empathy, understanding, and non-judgmental attitudes in the past. These individuals will provide a safe space for you to share your experiences.
Share Your Story. Open up about your experiences with gaslighting to your trusted support network. Share your thoughts, feelings, and concerns. Expressing yourself can provide relief and help you gain clarity about the manipulation you have been facing.
Seek Validation. Gaslighters often make you doubt your own reality. By sharing your experiences, you allow others to validate your feelings and perspectives. Their validation can help restore your confidence and remind you that your experiences are valid and worthy of consideration.
Gain Perspective. Trusted individuals can offer an outside perspective on the situation. They may notice patterns, behaviors, or red flags that you might have missed. Their insights can help you make sense of the gaslighting tactics being used against you.
Regular Check-ins. Maintain regular communication with your support network. Schedule check-ins where you can update them on your progress, discuss any challenges you’re facing, and seek their ongoing support and guidance. These check-ins will reinforce the sense of community and remind you that you are not alone in your journey.
Documenting incidents helps validate your experiences and affirm that you are not imagining or exaggerating the gaslighting. When doubt creeps in, reviewing your records can reinforce your confidence and remind you of the manipulative tactics you have experienced
Maintain a Journal. Keep a dedicated journal where you can record instances of gaslighting as they occur. Note down the date, time, location, and a detailed description of what happened. Include specific words, actions, and behaviors used by the gaslighter to manipulate or invalidate you.
Preserve Communication. If the gaslighting occurs through written or electronic communication, such as text messages, emails, or social media interactions, save copies of these exchanges. Take screenshots or print out relevant conversations to have a tangible record of the gaslighting attempts.
Capture Supporting Evidence. If possible, gather additional evidence that supports your claims. This could include photographs, videos, or audio recordings if they are legal in your jurisdiction and obtained ethically. However, make sure to prioritize your safety and well-being when considering collecting evidence.
Reflect on Patterns. Regularly review your documented incidents to identify patterns or recurring behaviors from the gaslighter. Recognizing these patterns can help you gain clarity and validate your experiences further. It may also prepare you to anticipate future gaslighting attempts.
Prioritize Your Safety. While documenting incidents, it is essential to prioritize your safety and well-being. If you feel that maintaining physical evidence may put you at risk, consider alternative methods such as using a password-protected digital journal or storing records in a secure location outside your home.
Self-care is essential for maintaining emotional well-being while dealing with the effects of gaslighting.
Prioritizing activities that promote relaxation, self-reflection, and self-compassion can help restore inner balance and resilience.
Find Your Joy. Engage in activities that bring you joy and make you feel good. It could be something as simple as taking a walk in nature, listening to music, reading a book, or spending quality time with loved ones. Prioritize these activities to boost your mood and counteract the negative effects of gaslighting.
Nurture Your Body. Take care of your physical health through regular exercise, nutritious eating, and sufficient sleep. Physical well-being is closely linked to mental and emotional well-being. Engaging in activities like yoga, dancing, or going for a run can release endorphins and reduce stress.
Practice Mindfulness. Cultivate mindfulness by incorporating practices such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or mindfulness-based activities into your routine. These techniques can help calm the mind, increase self-awareness, and promote a sense of grounding and clarity.
Journaling. Use journaling as a tool for self-reflection and self-expression. Write down your thoughts, emotions, and experiences related to gaslighting. This process can help you process your feelings, gain insights, and identify patterns or triggers. It also serves as a written record of your growth and progress.
Practice Self-Compassion. Be kind and compassionate towards yourself. Remind yourself that you are not to blame for the gaslighting you have experienced. Treat yourself with love, care, and patience as you navigate the healing process. Practice self-compassion through positive self-talk, affirmations, and acts of self-care
Seek Professional Help
If you find it challenging to cope on your own, reaching out to a therapist or counselor who specializes in trauma or abusive relationships can provide valuable guidance, support, and strategies.
Research Therapists/Counselors. Take the time to research therapists or counselors who specialize in trauma, abuse, or relationship dynamics. Look for professionals who have experience working with individuals who are trauma-informed. Read reviews, ask for recommendations, or explore online directories to find a suitable practitioner.
Initial Consultation. Schedule an initial consultation with a therapist or counselor to discuss your situation. This meeting allows you to assess their expertise, approach, and compatibility with your needs. Use this opportunity to ask questions, share your concerns, and gain insight into how they can support you in navigating the challenges of gaslighting.
Emotional Processing. Gaslighting often causes emotional turmoil and confusion. Working with a professional can help you process these emotions in a safe and structured manner. They can guide you through techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) to address the trauma and regain emotional stability.
Developing Coping Strategies. Gaslighting can leave you feeling powerless and unsure of yourself. A therapist or counselor can help you develop effective coping strategies to regain control and strengthen your resilience. They can provide tools and techniques to challenge negative self-beliefs, set boundaries, and improve your self-esteem.
Safety Planning. If you are still in a situation where your safety may be at risk, a professional can help you create a safety plan. They can assist in assessing the level of danger, identifying resources, and developing strategies to protect yourself physically and emotionally.
Establish No-Contact or Limited Contact
Depending on the severity of the gaslighting and your circumstances, it may be necessary to cut off contact or limit interactions with the gaslighter.
No-Contact. In severe cases where the gaslighting has caused significant harm or danger, implementing a complete no-contact approach may be necessary. This means cutting off all communication and contact with the gaslighter, including blocking their phone number, email, and social media accounts.
Limited Contact. In situations where completely cutting off contact may not be feasible or safe, setting firm boundaries through limited contact is an alternative approach. Establish clear guidelines for communication, such as communicating only through written channels or limiting interactions to specific topics or timeframes. This allows you to create distance while still maintaining necessary connections, such as co-parenting responsibilities or shared work environments.
Personal Safety Measures. Prioritize your personal safety when implementing no-contact or limited contact strategies. If there are concerns about physical or digital stalking, consider taking additional measures, such as changing locks, securing personal information, or seeking legal advice to obtain restraining orders or protective orders if necessary. Your safety should always be the top priority.
Self-Care and Healing. Utilize the space created by no-contact or limited contact to focus on self-care and healing. Engage in activities that promote self-reflection, emotional well-being, and personal growth. Explore therapeutic techniques or creative outlets that help you process emotions, rebuild self-esteem, and regain a sense of self.
Gaslighting can have a profound and lasting impact on individuals, affecting their mental, emotional, and even physical well-being. As the examples of gaslighting in this post show, these manipulative tactics erode trust, undermine self-confidence, and distort one’s sense of reality.
However, focus on the fact that the gaslighting may have caused wounds, but it does not have to dictate your future.
Believe in your resilience and the possibility of healing, leading to a life filled with authenticity, trust, and genuine connections.
Frequently Asked Questions About Examples of Gaslighting
Gaslighting can manifest in various ways within relationships. Some examples include the manipulation of facts, denial of abusive behavior, or making the victim question their perception of reality. For instance, an abuser might say, “I never said that. You must be imagining things” or “You’re too sensitive; it was just a joke.”
Gaslighting can occur in professional settings as well. Examples include a supervisor downplaying an employee’s accomplishments or abilities, constantly changing expectations without clear communication, or spreading false rumors to undermine the victim’s credibility and confidence.
Yes, gaslighting can occur on social media and online platforms. It can involve spreading misinformation, distorting facts, manipulating comments or conversations, or even creating fake accounts to harass or confuse the victim. Examples include online bullies dismissing someone’s experiences as attention-seeking or creating doubt by altering or deleting comments.
Gaslighting can be difficult to recognize, as it is a subtle form of manipulation. However, some signs include feeling confused, doubting your memory or perception, constantly apologizing, second-guessing yourself, or feeling anxious and on edge. It is important to trust your instincts and seek support if you suspect gaslighting.
If you’re experiencing gaslighting, it is crucial to prioritize your well-being. Consider seeking support from trusted friends, family members, or professionals who can provide validation and guidance. Establishing boundaries, practicing self-care, and, in severe cases, considering no-contact or limited contact with the gaslighter can aid in your healing process.