Have you ever spoken to someone only to find their version of events is very different from yours? Do you feel minimized or crazy? Are you constantly second-guessing yourself? If so, you may be the victim of gaslighting, or a form of emotional and psychological manipulation which is used in relationships to gain power or control over another person.
“Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse that’s seen in abusive relationships,” an article on Healthline explains. “It’s the act of manipulating a person by forcing them to question their thoughts, memories, and the events occurring around them. A victim of gaslighting can be pushed so far that they question their own sanity… [and] gaslighting, whether intentional or not, is a form of manipulation,” the article continues. “Gaslighting can happen in many types of relationships, including those with bosses, friends, [romantic partners] and parents.”
But what are the signs of gaslighting? How do you know you’re being gaslit? Here’s everything you need to know about this abusive tactic.
Someone may be gaslighting you if…
You frequently question your circumstances, memories, and surroundings.
Every relationship has its challenges, and sometimes that means confronting your own behaviors. But if you constantly find yourself “second-guessing” your reality, there’s a good chance you are being gaslit. “The most destructive thing about gaslighting is that it makes it difficult to trust yourself,” Aki Rosenberg, a licensed marriage and family therapist, recently told Mind Body Green. If you find yourself frequently questioning circumstances, memories, and events, stop, pause, and assess the situation. Distrust is a major indicator something is wrong.
Your partner is dismissive of your feelings.
Do you feel lonely and minimized? Does your partner dismiss your thoughts, feelings, and fears? If you regularly hear phrases like “you’re being too sensitive/too emotional/too dramatic” something may be off. Trivializing your thoughts and feelings is an abusive tactic.
Feelings of self-doubt aren’t just prevalent in your life, they are overwhelming.
Because gaslighting is insidious — it is manipulative and transpires over a long period of time — one of the key signs of gaslighting is actually internal. Feelings of self-doubt are persistent and prevalent in victims of this form of abuse.
Your partner doesn’t apologize for their actions.
Gaslighters rarely take accountability for their actions. Rather, they deny them — or twist a completely new tale, creating an alternate reality. “If your partner doesn’t apologize when you express hurt but convinces you that you shouldn’t think what you are thinking or feel how you are feeling,” that’s another telltale sign of gaslighting,” Rosenberg adds.
They lie or deny things, even if you have contradictory information or proof.
You know it’s a lie. You have proof and know the truth. You see it written on their face, and yet they tell you otherwise — bluntly and blatantly. They tell you pointedly, and with a straight face. Why? Because a hallmark sign of gaslighting is lying. Those who engage in this manipulative tactic hope that, in sticking to their story, they will break you down, making you question your memories and mind.
Trust is an issue.
If you struggle to trust others — and, more importantly, yourself — you may be the victim of 1) gaslighting, 2) trauma, and/or 3) another form of abuse. Trust issues often arise when it is shattered.
You are made out to be the “crazy” one.
Gaslighters, like all abusers, are experts at shifting blame, and they do so in several ways. They dismiss your thoughts, feelings, and fears. They lie and deny, making you second guess your reality, and they tell you things like “that’s all in your head” or “you’re imagining things.” But that’s not all: Gaslighters don’t just make you feel crazy at home — they portray you to family and friends as the unstable one in a group.
“The gaslighter knows if they question your sanity, people will not believe you when you tell them the gaslighter is abusive or out-of-control,” an article on Psychology Today explains. “It’s a master technique.”
You feel like everything you do is wrong.
Gaslighters are master manipulators. Their ultimate goal is to uproot your life and make you feel out of control, and they do this using many of the aforementioned tactics. They break you down over time — and from multiple fronts. But if you feel like a failure, like everything you do is wrong, you may want to look outward before turning your attention to yourself.
“At some point in your relationship, you may begin to believe that you are not doing enough,” the article on Mind Body Green explains. “Your partner has denied, minimized, or placed the blame on you when you’ve tried to voice your concerns. Over time this can cause you to internalize those messages to the point where you believe that it is your fault.” But it is impossible to be wrong all the time. Everything is not your fault.
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