Gaslighting can be defined as a form of emotional abuse in which the abuser manipulates the victim into doubting their own sanity. It can be very confusing and traumatic for the victim, who may not even be aware that they are being manipulated.
In this blog post, we will define gaslighting, how to recognize it, and what you can do if you find yourself in this situation.
Narcissists are masters of the dark art of gaslighting. Their goal is to control and undermine the victim’s ability to think, make decisions, or feel confident in themselves.
This type of emotional abuse can be very difficult to spot. It often starts gradually, with the abuser making small comments or actions that make the victim question their own memory or perception. Over time, these comments and actions increase in frequency and intensity. In the end the victim starts to wonder if they are losing their mind.
The term gaslighting originated from a 1944 movie called Gaslight, in which a husband tries to make his wife think she is going insane by dimming the lights and making other small changes around the house. While this may seem like a harmless prank, it is actually a form of psychological manipulation.
Gaslighting in Relationships can be Defined as Psychological Domestic Violence
Now that we have defined gaslighting, we need to understand how to identify it. There are many different ways that gaslighting can manifest itself in a relationship. Some common examples include:
The narcissist constantly makes dismissive or belittling comments about the victim’s intelligence, appearance, or accomplishments. This goal is to convince the target that they are incompetent and that they are incapable of understanding what is happening to them and around them.
The abuser denies that they ever said or did something, even when there is evidence to the contrary. The narcissist will insist that the victim’s memory is wrong, and that they are “imagining things.” They want their victim to question their understanding of things they have seen with their own eyes and heard with their own ears.
The narcissist constantly changes the rules or expectations within the relationship without any warning or explanation. The constantly moving goalposts leave the victim feeling confused and off-balance.
Gaslighting Defined – What is the impact of gaslighting on the victim?
Gaslighting can also make it very difficult for the victim to trust other people, or to have healthy relationships. This is because the victim has been manipulated into doubting their own perception, and they may start to believe that other people are also untrustworthy.
This form of abuse also has a significant impact on the victim’s self-esteem. The constant questioning of their sanity can lead the victim to doubt their own abilities, and to believe that they are not good enough.
Gaslighting Defined – What should you look out for if you suspect that you are being gaslighted?
If you are feeling uncomfortable in your relationship, and find yourself wondering if you are losing your mind, it is important to trust your gut instinct. If something feels wrong, it probably is.
Some common warning signs that you may be in a gaslighting relationship include:
- You are constantly second-guessing your own memory or perception of events.
- You feel like you are “walking on eggshells” around your partner, never knowing what will set them off.
- You are constantly apologizing for things that you don’t even remember doing.
- You have a sense that something is “off” but you can’t quite put your finger on it.
I think my partner is gaslighting me. How can I be sure?
First, pay attention to the way your partner speaks to you. Do they regularly question your memory of events, or tell you that you’re “imagining things”?
Second, notice if your partner is trying to control your behaviour. For example, do they try to control what you wear, who you see, or where you go?
Third, take note of whether your partner is trying to isolate you from your friends and family. Narcissists often try to make their victims feel like they are the only ones who understand them. They convince their victim that they cannot trust anyone else.
Fourth, keep track of all the times your partner has lied to you, even when it was patently obvious that what they were saying was not true.
Finally, notice how you feel when you’re around your partner. Do you often feel anxious, confused, or even crazy? If so, these could be signs that you are being gaslighted.
If you are experiencing any of these things, it is important not to ignore the signs. Gaslighting can be a very confusing and traumatic experience, so you should not take it lightly.
What should you do if your partner is gaslighting you?
If you think you are being gaslighted, the most important thing to do is to reach out for help. Talk to a friend or family member who you trust, and explain what is happening. It can be helpful to keep a journal of the things that are happening, so that you can look back and see the patterns.
You should also consider therapy, either on your own or with your partner. This can be a space to talk about the gaslighting, and to work on rebuilding trust.
Finally, you should know that you have the right to leave a relationship that is abusive. If you are in danger, or if you feel like you cannot trust your partner, it is time to seriously consider terminating the relationship. You do not deserve to be treated this way, and it is not healthy for you to stay in a relationship with someone who is gaslighting you.
If you do decide to leave, you need to be prepared for the reaction. It is likely that your partner will try to convince you to stay. In fact this is when the gaslighting will reach unprecedented levels, as the narcissist goes on overdrive to convince you that it is all your imagination and they are in fact the best thing since sliced bread.
You might be subjected to love bombing, future faking and a host of other narcissistic tricks designed to suck you back in. Be strong and remember why you are leaving in the first place. You can do this!
For Further Reading:
You might also want to check out the following posts about gaslighting.
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