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Gaslighting: A Form of Emotional Abuse That Can Leave Lasting Trauma

Last Updated
March 7, 2023

What Is It?
Signs
How It's Implemented
How To Stop It
Helpful Products

Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic used by one person to make another person doubt their own perceptions, memories, or even sanity.

- Blatant lies
- Denial
- Discrediting your memory
- Confusing or contradicting information
- Shifting blame
- Isolating you
- Trivializing your feelings
- Using your vulnerabilities against you
- "Crazy-making" behavior

- They may tell blatant lies or distort the truth
- The gaslighter denies having said or done something
- They may undermine the victim's credibility or cast doubt on their memory
- Gaslighters provide inconsistent, misleading, or conflicting information
- They deflect responsibility for their actions onto the victim or others
- Gaslighters may attempt to isolate the victim from friends and family
- They dismiss or minimize the victim's feelings
- The gaslighter uses the victim's insecurities, fears, or weaknesses against them
- Gaslighters may intentionally withhold important information

- Trust your instincts
- Document events
- Set boundaries
- Seek support
- Educate yourself
- Avoid engaging in arguments
- Prioritize self-care
- Consider professional help
- Evaluate the relationship

Gaslighting is a type of emotional abuse. It can make people feel confused, alone, and helpless. In this article, we will talk about gaslighting.

We will explain what it is and how to know if you are in an abusive relationship by paying close attention to your partner's behavior. We will also share some ideas for what you can do if you are being gaslit.

What exactly is gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that occurs often in an abusive relationship. It's when someone messes with your mind, making you doubt your thoughts and feelings. They might deny facts, tell lies, or blame you for things that aren't your fault.

Anyone can be a victim of this behavior - it happens in different types of relationships, including romantic ones. Gaslighting is harmful and can lead to mental health issues. It makes people question their memory and judgment, making it hard for them to see that they're in an abusive relationship. The constant doubt and confusion can cause severe stress and anxiety.[1]

Gaslighting Techniques and Tactics

Gaslighters employ various tactics to manipulate their victims, including:

  • Trivializing feelings:  The abuser brushes off the victim's emotions, making them feel like their feelings are not significant or rational.
  • Denying previous agreements: The abuser denies previous conversations or agreements, insisting they never happened, leading the victim to question their memory.
  • Manipulating the environment: The abuser moves or hides objects to make the victim doubt their memory and understanding of events.
  • Withholding information: The abuser refuses to share details or acts like they forgot conversations, leaving the victim puzzled and lost.
  • Countering: Challenging the victim's memory of events, even when the victim is confident about what occurred. This tactic makes the victim question their memory and sense of reality.
  • Blocking and diverting: Steering conversations away from the gaslighter's actions or behavior, making it difficult for the victim to address concerns or grievances.
  • False compassion: The abuser acts caring or empathetic only to manipulate and control the victim even more.
  • Playing the victim: Turning the tables and portraying themselves as the victim, making the actual victim feel guilty or responsible for the gaslighter's emotions or well-being.
  • Isolating the victim: Controlling the victim's social interactions and connections, making them feel alone and more dependent on the gaslighter for support.
  • Projection: Accusing the victim of the very behaviors or attitudes the gaslighter is exhibiting, causing confusion and deflecting responsibility. [2]

Effects of Gaslighting on Mental Health

Gaslighting can harm a person's mental health. Victims might feel anxious, sad, or suffer from PTSD because they are constantly manipulated and made to doubt themselves.

Gaslighting in Different Relationships

Gaslighting can happen in different relationships like dating, family, and work. It's essential to spot and stop this abuse early.[3]

Signs someone is gaslighting you

To recognize gaslighting behavior, pay attention to the following signs:

  • Disbelieving or denying what you say, even when it's true
  • They try gaslighting you by blaming you for things that weren't your fault
  • Making up lies or exaggerating stories to make you doubt yourself
  • Making you feel like your feelings and opinions aren't valid
  • Blowing off your concerns or making you feel like they're not important
  • Acting like everything's fine when you tell them it isn't
  • Constantly shifting the goalposts when it comes to what they expect from you
  • Isolating you and preventing you from spending time with family, friends, or colleagues
  • Overreacting or getting angry if you disagree with them
  • Withholding affection or attention as a way of punishing you for not doing what they want
  • Making you feel like you're not good enough or that nothing you do is right.
  • Making you doubt your thoughts and feelings and make you feel confused.
  • Using intimidation tactics to control or manipulate you.
  • Being condescending or belittling your ideas, opinions, and accomplishments.
  • Making embarrassing jokes about you in public or in private.
  • Refusing to take responsibility for their own words and actions.
  • Criticizing you or making fun of your physical appearance, body language, or mannerisms.
  • Refusing to listen to your thoughts and feelings.
  • Trying to control where you go, who you talk to, what you wear, etc.
  • Isolating you from family, friends, and activities that you enjoy.
  • Refusing to acknowledge or validate your feelings or experiences.
  • Making false promises with no intention of following through.
  • Blaming you for their bad behavior.
  • You start to question your own sanity and think you're going crazy
  • Invading your privacy by reading your emails and text messages without permission.

How does gaslighting work?

By Lying

People who engage in gaslighting often lie a lot. They never back down or change their stories, even when you show them they are wrong. They play games with the victims' memory by saying: "You're making things up," "That never happened," or "You're crazy."

By discrediting you

People using gaslighting tell others false stories about you. They act concerned but say you're not stable. This can make others believe them, not knowing the truth.

They distract you

When you ask an abusive partner a question or say they did something wrong, they avoid answering. Instead, they ask you a different question. This can make you confused and unsure of yourself.

They minimize your thoughts.

When someone is gaslighting you, they try to make you feel like your emotions or thoughts are wrong. They might say things like "Calm down," "You're overreacting," or "Why are you so sensitive?" By saying these things, they are trying to take away your power.

They shift the blame onto you.

Another way people try gaslighting you is to control you by making you think everything is your fault. They twist every conversation, so you take the blame for everything, even if it's not your fault. For example, they might say that if only you behaved differently, they wouldn't have to act as they do.

They deny that they've done anything wrong.

People who bully or emotionally abuse others often deny that they did anything wrong. They do this to avoid taking responsibility for their poor choices. This denial can make the victim feel unseen, unheard, and unimportant. This gaslighting tactic makes it very hard for the victim to move on or heal from bullying or abuse.

Their compassionate words are weapons.

Sometimes, when people are caught out or questioned, they try to improve the situation by saying kind words. They might say, "You know how much I love you. I would never hurt you on purpose."

What can you do when someone is gaslighting you?

  • Remove yourself from the situation. Also, try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or grounding exercises.
  • It's important to keep evidence if you're experiencing gaslighting. Write down what happened in a journal, and save text messages or emails so you can reflect on them and remind yourself of your perceptions.
  • Set boundaries. Tell others what you will and will not accept in a relationship. For example, you can tell the other person that you will not allow them to ignore what you say or make it seem unimportant.
  • Get someone else's opinion. Talk to a friend or family member about what you are going through. Having another person's perspective can make the situation more apparent to you.
  • Set consequences. Talk to the other person about what you need from them and tell them there will be consequences if they do not follow your boundaries.
  • Be firm and direct. When expressing your needs, make sure to be straightforward but also respectful. Speak clearly and concisely.
  • Be patient. It takes time for the other person to adjust and respect your boundaries. Be patient, but also be consistent in enforcing the consequences.
  • Communicate regularly. Regularly check in with the other person about how your boundaries are being respected and if any changes need to be made.

The Role of Therapy in Overcoming Gaslighting

Therapy can help victims of gaslighting regain their sense of self and heal from the emotional abuse they have experienced. Online therapy platforms like OnlineTherapy.com can be a convenient and effective way to access support. [7]

Conclusion

Experiencing dissociation in the workplace can significantly hinder your efficiency and concentration, making it essential to remain attentive and anchored. We've touched upon the triggers, indicators, and manifestations to be vigilant about, in addition to offering guidance on handling dissociation.

If the sensation becomes too intense or unmanageable, don't hesitate to consult a therapist for assistance. We invite you to share your insights on online therapy in the comments section below, and let's foster a constructive, English-language conversation around this vital topic.

FAQ

How can gaslighting affect your mental health?

It can affect your mental health by causing feelings of confusion, anxiety, low self-esteem, as well as depression. Recognizing the signs of gaslighting and taking steps to protect yourself from becoming a victim is essential.

Is gaslighting always intentional?

No, it does not have to be intentional for it to be damaging your mental health. It can also happen unintentionally, and the person doing the gaslighting may not even know that they are gaslighting you.

References

  1. Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People--and Break Free
  2. Gaslighting How To Recognize Hidden Behaviors
  3. Diversion Tactics Highly Manipulative Narcissists, Sociopaths, and Psychopaths Use to Silence You.
  4. Psychological Manipulation Techniques
  5. The Gaslight Effect: How to Spot and Survive the Hidden Manipulation Others Use to Control Your Life.
  6. Healing from Hidden Abuse: A Journey Through the Stages of Recovery from Psychological Abuse
  7. Techniques of Grief Therapy: Creative Practices for Counseling the Bereaved

⚠️Disclaimer: The information provided on this health blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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I have a passion for writing. I work as a Senior Marketing Manager for Islomania LLC. I have developed a strong interest in writing articles and website management during my time here. I enjoy both article writing, poetry, and story writing. In my role as a marketing manager, whether I’m writing an article, or a story, or improving other writers’ content, I always try to engage my readers and give them something to think about.
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