Gaslighting is a term used to describe a form of abusive manipulation within a relationship. Gaslighting is not only confined to romantic relationships. It can happen in romantic relationships, working relationships, familial relationships, and even friendships. When somebody gaslights a person, they manipulate them into questioning their own judgement and sanity. This leads to the victim beginning to question their every thought, view, and ultimately wonder whether they are beginning to go crazy. There are many ways an abuser may attempt to gaslight someone such as lying to the victim, discrediting the victim, and placing the blame on the victim.
Gaslighting is not only confined to romantic relationships. It can happen in romantic relationships, working relationships, familial relationships, and even friendships.”
How an Abuser May Gaslight Their Victim
When a person is gaslighted, they will begin to question their every thought, memory, and emotion. The victim may attempt to confront the abuser with an issue they are having with them, only to be left questioning their own sanity. People who are gaslighting someone else will do nearly anything to avoid taking responsibility for their wrong-doing. A person who is trying to gaslight someone else may:
Lie to their Victim
A person who gaslights somebody else will typically lie to their victim's face unwaveringly. The person will not be likely to admit to their lie, no matter what proof the victim presents of the deception. The fact that they do not waver in their lies may lead the victim to beginning to second guess themselves, wondering whether they are remembering wrong or going crazy. The person who is gaslighting their victim will twist what actually happened in order to avoid making themselves out to be the bad guy.
Never Admit They Are Wrong
A person who gaslights somebody else will refuse to admit when they are wrong to avoid taking responsibility for their wrong-doing. The abuser will likely say their victim is overreacting or that the situation never happened in the way the victim remembers it. The person's victim will feel as though their feelings are invalidated and will never receive the closure of the abuser acknowledging their wrong-doings.
Oftentimes, when somebody is gaslighting another person, they will shift the blame to the victim rather than taking accountability of their mistakes. As mentioned before, a person who is gaslighting somebody is not likely to ever admit that they are wrong, so they will do anything to avoid having to do so. When the abuser shifts the blame to their victim, the victim will find their confidence in standing up to their abuser beginning to waver more and more as time goes on and the gaslighting continues. The victim will find themselves apologising, even when they are not wrong because they begin to question if they started the issue.
Minimising Their Victim's Feelings
When someone is gaslighting another person, they will likely minimise their victim's thoughts and feelings in order to make them question whether they are making a big deal out of nothing. The abuser will tell their victim things like, "Why are you so dramatic?" or "You're so sensitive." This is so the victim will begin questioning their thoughts, emotions, and judgement; giving the abuser the opportunity to avoid taking responsibility for their actions.
How to Spot When Someone is Gaslighting You
It is easy to say that you will never be the victim of gaslighting, but the truth is, sometimes it's hard to realise when it is happening to you. The best way to avoid being gaslighted is to know the signs. Here are a few signs to help you spot when you are being gaslighted.
You Find Yourself Questioning Your Feelings and Emotions: You may find that you are often wondering if you are being too sensitive or are overreacting to something that is bothering you. You may even begin questioning your judgement of your own feelings and emotions.
You Begin Questioning Your Thoughts and Memories: When someone is the victim of gaslighting, they will begin to doubt their thoughts and memories. This may lead to them being afraid to speak up about what is bothering them due to a fear of misremembering or misunderstanding.
You Find Yourself Apologising Often: As a victim of gaslighting, one may find themselves apologising often because they are beginning to question their own judgement.
You Find Yourself Becoming Dependent on Other People: When someone is being gaslighted, they lose the confidence needed to maintain their independence. They may begin depending on other people's accounts of what happened, or depending on other people to make decisions for them.
You Find Yourself Questioning Your Sanity: A victim of gaslighting may begin questioning whether they are crazy due to the constant doubts being shoved into them by their abuser.
Your Abuser is Often Saying Things Like:
"Stop being so sensitive."
"You're acting crazy."
"It was a joke!"
"Why are you always so dramatic?"
"That didn't happen."
Your abuser will say whatever they can think of to get you to question whether you are over-exaggerating or being oversensitive. The more they are able to get their victim to question themselves, the less likely they are to have to take responsibility for their actions.
You Find Yourself Making Excuses for Their Behaviour: It is common for victims of gaslighting to begin excusing their abusers behaviour rather than confronting it due to a wavering confidence in their thoughts and emotions.
You Find Yourself Becoming Less Independent: Gaslighting will take a toll on anybody's self-esteem. This will lead victims of gaslighting to begin depending on other people to help them with simple tasks, like making a decision for themselves because they have stopped believing in their own judgement.
You Begin to Question Your Worth: If a person is making you begin to question your judgement, worth, or emotions, you may be the victim of gaslighting. The more an abuser is able to tear down the confidence of their victims, the more likely they will be able to manipulate situations to work in their favour.
Gaslighting can happen to anyone. When a loved one begins to lead you to question your own sanity, it can take a serious toll on your mental health. If you believe you are being gaslighted, seek the help of a professional as soon as possible. A professional can get you the help you need to get through this situation and develop a treatment plan to help you heal. You are not alone. You are worthy. You will get through this.