Has anyone ever told you that “you are overreacting” or “you have always been crazy”? These are some examples of gaslighting, and if you can relate to these statements, you have also been a victim. Gaslighting can come from a romantic partner, family member, or friend, and can make the victim doubt their own emotions, thoughts, or sanity. Therefore, it is important to know what gaslighting means, so let’s find out more about it.
The term “gaslighting” actually comes from the 1938 play “Gas Light” by Patrick Hamilton (which was later made into the 1944 film “Gaslight,” which is more well-known). In the play, a husband manipulates his wife into believing she is actually losing her sense of reality so he can commit her to a mental institution and steal her inheritance.
Gaslighting is a type of emotional and psychological abuse commonly observed in toxic relationships. The abuser uses psychological manipulation strategy that is used to influence, intimidate, or gain power over someone.
As a result of gaslighting the victim may experience feelings of confusion or powerlessness. The victim might even experience long-term effects of gaslighting including trauma, anxiety, and depression. For example, “I’m sorry you think that I hurt you.”, “You’re crazy — and other people think so, too” or “You know I’d never intentionally hurt you”.
Types Of Gaslighting
1. The Straight-Up Lie
It is a harmful type of gaslighting among other techniques. In this type of technique, the abuser lies to the face of the victim. The majority of gaslighting victims betray themselves by persistently believing in those lies and repeatedly falling into the same trap, making this type of gaslighting even more dangerous. It is most common in relationships where the partner lies about where they are, who they are with, or what they are doing.
2. Reality Manipulation
The victim’s version of reality is manipulated by the abuser. The victim starts to doubt their own sanity, judgment, and emotions because of the gaslighter’s repeated denial, deflection, and lies. This type of technique leaves the victim second-guessing their reality and questioning their reality.
Scapegoating is the technique where; the victim is always blamed for every mistake and failure. The abuser makes the victim believe that everything wrong has happened because of them.
The coercion behavior includes mainly three phases, i.e., ‘the charm offensive,’ the ‘pressure and manipulation,’ and ‘violent behavior.’ It is an intentional attempt to manipulate the victim into doubting their feelings, perception of events, and reality in general.
10 Signs of Gaslighting
1. Criticizing what you love to the extent that you start questioning your identity.
2. Lying to you and denying what they previously said and asking you to prove it, so you start to doubt your memory.
3. Being nice to you occasionally so you stay confused.
4. They make you believe only they can be trusted.
5. Blatant lying or constant cover-ups.
6. Feeling like you have to defend reality.
7. Denying responsibility for their actions.
8. Refusing to talk about an important topic.
9. Denying your reality and making you doubt your own sanity.
10. Always making you believe that every mistake or failure is your fault.
Here are 10 Gaslighting Phrases Abusers Use
I think you need professional help
This is how you treat me after everything I’ve done for you?
You always have to be right
There is something seriously wrong with you.
I only did that because of you.
You always take things the wrong way.
I never said that. Stop imagining things.
You’re too sensitive. Stop overreacting.
Don’t blame me, I never meant to hurt you.
I don’t know what you want me to say.
How Gaslighting Affects Mental Health
The long-term effects of gaslighting may include:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (trauma)
- Low self-esteem
- An amplified fear of danger, known as hypervigilance
- Suicidal thoughts
The victim might suffer from these effects, and this makes professional help even more important. It can help you navigate the trauma both as it’s occurring and after a particular event.
You can check out our post on What Does Not Make You A Bad Person
How to Deal with Gaslighting
1. Set some boundaries
It is a form of self-care and helps to make it clear how you would like to be treated.
2. Maintain distance
Leaving the situation can help to take a step back from the intense emotion that gaslighting can cause.
3. Consider Letting Go
End the relationship where you are constantly a victim of gaslighting. Considering walking away from a toxic relationship can save you from abuse.
4. Notice the signs
People have a tendency to ignore some questionable behavioural aspects, especially when they really like the other person. Therefore, it is important that you do not ignore the signs that you notice.
5. Stay in Touch
Staying in touch with family and friends can help you rule out the warning signs and make you feel supported.
6. Keep a Journal
Writing down your feelings can help you feel light. It is an amazing and safe option to vent out your feelings without being judged.
This post is an attempt to help the readers understand what gaslighting means and if, by any chance, it can be avoided. When we talk about mental and emotional abuse, gaslighting is one of the prominent techniques used by many people. The question here is: Does the abuser know that they are gaslighting someone, or is it unintentional?
Confrontation can also work if the other person is open to it (and gaslighting was not their intention in the first place). Whatever the case may be, it is your responsibility to identify the pattern and leave before it gets too traumatic or if the other person is not ready to make amends.