7 Warning Signs That You’re A Victim Of Gaslighting
“You love someone. You don’t leave her to drown. And you don’t tell her she’s crazier than she already knows that she is!”
― Caitlín R. Kiernan
Gaslighting is a tactic of manipulation some people use to gain power over others.
Unfortunately, it works too well.
The word “Gaslighting” is inspired by the 1940 and 1944 movies Gaslight, where a husband systematically manipulates his wife to make her feel crazy and is now commonly used to describe manipulative behavior.
At its core, Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse that slowly eats away at your ability to make proper judgments. A Gaslighter spins their own negative, harmful or destructive actions and words in their favor, deflecting the blame for their abusiveness and pointing the finger at you. Often, this is done by making you think you’re “too sensitive”, “paranoid”, “unstable”, “silly”, and many other things that can cause you to doubt yourself.
Often adopted by psychopathic, sociopathic and narcissistic types of people, Gaslighting works at eating away at you slowly until you realize that you’ve become a shell of your former self.
Here are a few signs to help you understand if you or someone around you is experiencing this form of emotional abuse:
1. They use what you love against you
Gaslighters will use what is closest to you against you. If you have children, they may try to force you into believing you should never have had them. If you love your job, they will find issues with it.
This intrusive manipulation tactic causes the victim to question their own foundation as well as what they hold dear to them.
2. They blatantly lie
They will tell you outright lies with a straight face, even if you know they are lying. Why are they so blatant? Because they are setting up a precedent. Once they tell you a huge lie, you begin to question the truth in anything they say. The goal is to keep you unsteady and off-kilter.
3. They make you think there’s something wrong with you
You begin to wonder if you’re losing it or going insane. When arguing with your partner, they’ll tell you “it’s all in your head”. You can’t seem to get things right with your partner or you don’t feel good enough. You think it’s all your fault and that if you did better or tried harder, your relationship would improve.
4. They try to turn you against others
The abuser may also tell you that everyone else is lying and they’re all against you. Believing that everyone else is lying to you forces a further blur on your sense of reality. Gaslighters want their victims to feel like they’re the only one they can trust so they can continue to abuse them.
5. You second-guess your recollection of the past
Your partner tells you that it never happened or that you’re remembering the details wrong. For some strange reason, your partner’s interpretation of events does not match yours, making you question how reliable your own memory is or how justified your reaction is. They might claim that you’re “making things up”, or “You have a selective memory” and you’re “changing the story” to your own benefit.
6. You mistrust your own judgment over theirs
Your partner has successfully made you doubt what is or isn’t normal for a relationship. They can say things like, “You don’t know what makes a good relationship, or “It’s normal to fight like we do”. So you begin doubting your own judgment and think others have better logic than you do when given the choice. You distrust yourself and have trouble making your own decisions.
7. Over time, they wear you down
This one is done gradually, over time and is one of the most insidious things about gaslighting. A lie here, a snide comment there… and then it begins to ramp up. Even the smartest, most self-aware people can fall victim to gaslighting – it’s that effective. It is the “frog in the frying pan” analogy: The heat is turned up slowly, so the frog never realizes what’s happening to it.
The more you are aware of these techniques, the quicker you can identify them and avoid falling into the gaslighter’s thorny trap.
The following is a list of tips to help you when faced with gaslighting:
1. Try to clarify who the gaslighter is. Note down any time you have questioned your perception of reality. In order to proceed, you need to confirm the gaslighting is happening.
2. Set aside some time to meditate. This will help you in staying grounded and objective if the reality of your situation is under question.
3. Confide in friends or family who you trust, or seek guidance from a mental health professional.
4. Shift your perspective. You’re no longer a victim, you’re a survivor!
You can repair the damage
It is fully possible to regain the self-worth and confidence you lost at the hands of the abuser. Awareness and knowledge are vital for the regrowth of clarity and sense of self. You are already on your way.