What is gaslighting?

 What is gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a typical form of manipulation and control in abusive relationships. It is a covert kind of emotional abuse that occurs when the bully or abuser deceives the victim by fabricating a story and leading them to doubt their perceptions of reality. In the end, the victim of gaslighting starts to doubt their perception of reality and can even start to doubt their sanity.

Gaslighting is the psychological manipulation of a person, typically over a long period, that makes the victim doubt the veracity of their own beliefs, perceptions of reality, or memories. It typically results in confusion, loss of self-esteem and confidence, uncertainty about one's mental or emotional stability, and dependence on the perpetrator.

Gaslighting mainly happens in romantic relationships, while it can also happen in controlling friendships and among family members. People with mental illnesses can manipulate others. They utilize this type of emotional abuse to manipulate friends, family members, and even employees.

What gaslighting may look like?

A strategy known as gaslighting challenges a person's understanding of reality. You can doubt yourself, your views, recollections, and recent events when someone is gaslighting you. Following your conversation with the person gaslighting you, you could feel perplexed and wonder if there is something unusual about you. It's possible to convince yourself that you're acting extremely sensitively or that you're to fault for everything.

You may get confused and start to doubt your memory, judgment, self-worth, and general mental health as a result of gaslighting. It may be beneficial to be aware of the techniques that someone who is gaslighting you could use.

Lying to You

Gaslighters are generally compulsive liars who lie repeatedly and frequently exhibit narcissistic tendencies. Even when you call them out on it or provide proof of their lies, they regularly make plain false statements and refuse to back down or change them. You're making stuff up, that never happened, or you're insane, they could say.

Discrediting you.

Gaslighters disseminate untruths and slander about you to others. They could show sympathy for you while privately letting everyone know that you appear unstable or psychotic. Sadly, this tactic could be highly effective, and plenty of people back the bully or abuser without completely comprehending the issue. Additionally, if someone is gaslighting you, they could make you believe that you're the only one who feels this way about you. The person who is gaslighting you will do all in their power to make you believe that these individuals have said negative things about you even though they haven't.

Distracting You 

When you gaslight someone or call them out for something they did or said, they may try to change the subject by asking a question rather than addressing the matter at hand. This distracts you and leaves you wondering why you should continue to ask questions if they don't feel forced to respond. 

Minimizing Your Thoughts and Emotions

Your gaslighter might take control over you if you trivialize your feelings. They could respond, "You're overreacting," or "Why are you being so sensitive?" All of these imply that you are incorrect and minimize your feelings or thoughts.

Blame Shifting 

Another typical gaslighting technique is shifting the blame. Every interaction you have is somehow twisted to place the blame on whatever occurred to you. Even when you try to express your feelings over the abuser's behavior, they may shift the subject, leaving you to question whether you are at fault for their unruly behavior. For instance, they can claim that they would stop treating you unjustly if you behaved differently.

The Denial of Wrongdoing

Bullies and those who abuse others emotionally are known for not accepting responsibility for their actions. They behave in this way to avoid taking responsibility for their awful choices. As a consequence of this denial, gaslighting victims could feel unimportant, unheard, and neglected. Furthermore, this tactic makes it very challenging for the victim to get past the bullying or abuse.

Using words of compassion as weapons

When faced or questioned, a person who gaslights can occasionally talk softly and tenderly to defuse the issue. You already know how much I adore you, they would remark. I would never intentionally harm you. Even while they may be the words you want to hear, they may not be sincere, particularly if the same acts continue. However, they might be able to persuade you enough to let them off the hook and escape responsibility or penalty for their negative deeds.

Rewriting history

A gaslighter will frequently recount stories in ways that are favorable to them. For instance, if you later claim that your partner pushed you against the wall, they can respond by explaining that you tripped and they were attempting to balance you when you hit the wall. You could begin to doubt your memory of what happened. Exactly the opposite is intended, which is to promote uncertainty or doubt on your end.

Signs of gaslighting

Gaslighting is extremely tough since it is fundamentally unclear. It's really difficult to recognize since it's intended to confuse you. It frequently comes from a reliable and trustworthy person.

Examples of warning signs are:

The impact of "Twilight Zone." Gaslighting victims frequently describe a situation as strange and as occurring on a separate level from the rest of their lives.

The language that labels you or your actions as insane, illogical, or excessively emotional. Women frequently talk about being called a "crazy bitch" while discussing the abusive behaviors of their boyfriends.

Hearing that you're making things up.

Leave a conversation feeling bewildered and helpless.

Isolation. Many gaslighters try to keep their victims away from their friends, families, and other social networks.

Tone control. If you confront a gaslighter about something, they can object to the tone of your voice. This is a strategy to change the narrative and make you believe that you, not your abuser, are at fault.

A pattern of hot and cold activity. A gaslighter may switch between verbal abuse and praise, often even within the same discussion, to put a victim off-balance.

Five methods are listed by the National Domestic Violence Hotline that a gaslighter may employ against a victim:

Withholding. The abusive spouse acts as though they don't understand or won't listen.

Countering. Even though the victim has a clear recall of the events, the abusive spouse disputes it.

Blocking/Diverting. The abusive spouse shifts the conversation or probes the victim's ideas.

Trivializing. The abusive spouse minimizes the victim's requirements or feelings.

Forgetting/Denial. The violent partner makes up memories of what actually happened or disputes commitments made to the victim.

Impact of gaslighting

Gaslighting is intended to arouse apprehension and self-doubt, which is frequently detrimental to the mental health of a victim. When you are gaslit, you could feel:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Disorientation
  • Lowered sense of self-esteem
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Hypervigilance, or an exaggerated dread of risk
  • Suicidal thoughts

If you experience any of the aforementioned symptoms as a result of gaslighting, you might want to think about getting help from a mental health professional or another therapist. It can assist you in navigating the trauma both during and after a specific occurrence.

How to counteract gaslighting?

After learning how to spot gaslighting, the next step is to end the relationship, if at all feasible, and stay away from any probable gaslighting scenarios. Here are some steps you may do to defend yourself if you feel gaslighted in a romantic or professional setting.

Discuss the situation with others. Don't let the person who gaslighted you sever your ties to loved ones, close friends, or coworkers who value your opinion and care about you. Tell as many people as you can what's happening so they can verify your experience.

Prioritize deeds over words. Sometimes a gaslighter may say what you want to hear to maintain the relationship. But if their actions don't match their words, it's pointless.

Remind yourself that you are not to blame for the abuse of a gaslighter. Nothing you could or could have done would have prevented you from being gaslighted. The abusive conduct was the result of the gaslighter's attempts to dominate and manipulate you; it wasn't your fault.

Never attempt to reason with a gaslighter. Gaslighters won't react to reason or acknowledge their genuine motivations, therefore gaslighting is not reasonable conduct. If a partner, friend, or coworker uses a conversation to make fun of you, cast doubt on your sanity, or question your abilities, try to stop the conversation and the friendship.

Regain your own trust by practicing it. It could take some time and patience to start believing your instincts and perceptions again after ending a relationship with a gaslighter. Keep in mind that the picture that the gaslighter made of you is not accurate.

To treat the symptoms of gaslighting abuse after being in a relationship, friendship, or workplace with someone who was gaslighting you, further help is frequently required. Victims who have had comparable relationships might greatly benefit from joining support groups with other people who have experienced similar emotions. People who have been gaslighted might benefit from therapy to overcome the self-doubt, self-esteem problems, lack of trust, sadness, and/or PTSD brought on by this traumatic event.

Young adults can regain control over their relationships and sense of value by receiving treatment from kind mental health experts and a supportive peer group. 

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