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Gaslighting: 5 Signs of Emotional Abuse and Manipulation

Gaslighting is a psychological phenomenon where a gaslighter manipulates their victim to the point that they question their own sanity. Gaslighting at its core is a form of emotional abuse that slowly cracks down their victim’s ability to make sound judgment. In a sense, gaslighting warps a victim’s reality by bending their memory and perception of events.

 

“Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over, but had me believing it was always something that I’d done”- Gotye. Somebody that I Used to Know

 

Anyone can be a victim of gaslighting. It is commonly observed in abusive family relationships, romantic relationship, toxic friendship and even professional relationship. Abuse isn’t just limited to physical, that is why it is important to determine the type of relationship you have to avoid future problems. Because even though the relationship is over the after effects of trauma will still persist.

Here are 5 signs of Gaslighting:

  1. They blatantly lie

Gaslighters are charming individuals. They exude confidence and assertiveness, and they speak with compassion that makes everything they say believable. However, when you confront them with a truth and have evidence to back it up, they will blatantly lie to your face to disprove your claim. They will do anything to make you believe that they are right and you are not. Gaslighters are not above using your own fears and insecurities against you just to make a point.

  1. They make you feel doubtful about yourself

Masters of twisting words and ideas, gaslighters feed on the inner doubt of their victims. Gaslighters will claim to know you better than yourself. They will take every opportunity to know more about your likes, dislikes, fears and aspirations. And once they have enough to hold over your head, they will use the information they know about you to make sure that they have control over you including your fears and things that you consider important.

  1. They will question your sanity

It may seem that gaslighters have selective amnesia. In fact, this is a common technique used by gaslighters to make you question your own memory and perception. Gaslighters will often make promises and then claim there were never any promises made to begin with. In arguments, they will counter and deflect valid points and assert that they are right all the time. They will attack your idea in a way that makes you question your own argument. They will tell you that you are overreacting, being too sensitive or you’re being hormonal when you’re anything but. Overtime, this will shift your mindset and you will begin to accept that they are right even if they are not.

  1. They will blame you and make you do things you don’t want to

They often have vices including drugs and infidelity. However, they will deny having them and in turn, they will accuse you of doing them. They may come out as paranoid and protective but at its core, gaslighters are projecting their wrong doings to you so that you will be distracted from seeing their behavior. Furthermore, they will make you do things you don’t normally do such as lying to your friends. For some, the brainwashing is already too great that they fail to see the wrongness of their actions because all they want is to please their abuser.

  1. They will silence and isolate you

The gaslighters will do everything they can to hold on to the power they have over you. Consequently, they will go out of their way to make sure that everyone thinks that you’re crazy to discredit your please of help and think of you as a liar. Gaslighters will also aligning everyone against you while gaslighters making you believe that everyone else cannot be trusted. As a result, this makes the gaslighter the center of your reality where they can do no wrong and their word is law.

 

Just like any psychological abuse, the scars from the trauma after leaving an abusive relationship is oftentimes long lasting. This is the reason why some people have trust issues. Some people will have difficulties adjusting to the environment and will be distrustful of people around them. That is why if you think that you are a victim of gaslighting or any abuse in general, seek help immediately.

 

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Sources:

Oxford Dictionary definition of ‘gaslighting'”.. Retrieved 20 April 2016

Dorpat, Theo. L. (1994). “On the double whammy and gaslighting”. Psychoanalysis & Psychotherapy. 11 (1): 91–96. INIST:4017777

11 Signs of Gaslighting in a Relationship https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/here-there-and-everywhere/201701/11-signs-gaslighting-in-relationship

You’re Not Going Crazy: 15 Signs You’re a Victim of Gaslighting https://lonerwolf.com/gaslighting/

Gaslighting Definition, Techniques and Being Gaslighted http://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/emotional-psychological-abuse/gaslighting-definition-techniques-and-being-gaslighted/#sthash.twpjkrKl.dpuf

Are You Being Gaslighted? https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/power-in-relationships/200905/are-you-being-gaslighted

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16 Comments

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  1. What’s making it harder to get out is everytime you try to leave, gaslighter always act sweet, as if they’re showing remorse and promise to be better. When your self-esteem already butchered down, it’s very easy to forgive them. Part of you know it won’t last, but part of you want to give them another chance, afraid that if you leave while they’re trying to be better for you, the fault will be in you or you will regret it later. Many times the cycle repeated itself. It could be days, months, years…they always go back to their old-self. They just cannot change, at least until they know what they did and really want to change themselves.

  2. How do you get out of the relationship?
    It’s hard because I know he’s toxic but I still go back and I love the good times we have.
    I never thought this would be me. I thought I was stronger but I get really depressed when i think we aren’t going to talk again partially probably because there is no ending us without a huge fight or him doing or saying something to me or to someone else that hurts. I just don’t know how to end it and remind myself it’s best.

    • Every time you feet like you couldn’t bare to loose him tell yourself that you can. Push yourself to be stronger. Tell yourself that you can handle the months of pain from missing him, but there do you have the certainty as to whether you’ll survive being with him if you stay. I listened to empowering music about independence and tried being around others again, maybe that’ll help you too. If its’ a huge fight then who cares, just know that you ARE strong enough to fight for yourself. You are the most important person to yourself than anyone else should ever be. You need to do what is best for you.

  3. This article reminds me of past relationships I have had in the past. Always laying out the rules, who I should and shouldn’t see, even clothes choices at times. These relationships did not seem abusive while I was in them and involved, but I always deep down knew something was not right between us. These relationships were not positive for myself or my life but without these experiences, I now know what I deserve. This post helps remind me of what I had overcome in my past and is an excellent example of a toxic relationship if my life ever aligns with someone such as this.
    Gaslighting constantly occurs and I am happy people actually have something to say regarding the topic.

  4. This article is wonderful.

    I think it’s really scary how common it is to meet people like that, and worse, to be charmed by people like that. Although we have all dealt with these types of schizophrenic relationships, I find it much more interesting to imagine a gaslighter reading this information and recognizing himself. I mean … Are they able to recognize themselves or are they genuinely oblivious to their own pathological condition? Are the advantages, both direct and peripheral, obtained by this manipulation sufficient to give up meaningful rewarding relationships?

    I know a case that fits perfectly with the main features of a Gaslighter, and despite knowing him for so long, I’m not sure I could obviate any answers to my questions.

    • They can also be females. Just felt that I had to put that out there. Too many people genderize these types of things. FYI i am a female however I have seen it in us too.

  5. The worst part about gaslighters is that they tend to be fantastic liars and now how to prey upon individuals. (For more information about how great liars exist, please read this article https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/extreme-fear/201005/top-ten-secrets-effective-liars). One thing I’ve always wondered, though, is why aren’t other people in the gaslighter’s life attempting to figure out a solution?

    Yes, I know different circumstances may prevent others from intervening all the time. However, what exactly is going through a gaslighter’s mind when they are exuding this power? What is the reason behind it? Could this perhaps be just a reflection of what they saw while growing up, or is it a symptom of some deeper issue that they have?

  6. Thank you very much for this article. I’ve experienced this from my family, friends and working environment. This article helped me a lot.

  7. Very simple yet profound video. My gaslighter fits many of these signs but not all. I am still with him and am becoming stronger and more able to speak my truth, with the help of a therapist and good friends.

  8. It took me 40 years to mount an exit even with a counselor’s help. This is so thorough yet digestible. I recognize every component. Thank you!

    • You’re welcome, Moliticon. Indeed, trying to escape gaslighting can be a very difficult process. That is why it is important to recognize the signs as early as possible.

  9. Thanks so much for sharing this info.
    I ‘ve been going trough this , for the last month or so..at my work place , but just couldn’t put my finger on it.
    Talking about it with my cooworkers , we are fuuly aware the something is awfully wrong in my nosses approach but now we know exactly wath is .
    Unbelieble to realize trough what lenght wouuld a company go to harase there the employees.
    Thanks again for sharing this info.

    • You’re welcome, Slobodan. I’m glad the article was able to help you in a way. Please like and share the article to help others who are victims of gaslighting.

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Written by Khole

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Hi!

My name is Khole. I mainly focus on Human Relations, Clinical and Abnormal Psychology as well as Psychological Research. My perspective is a combination of Psychodynamic, Humanistic and Gestalt.

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Gaslighting: 5 Signs of Emotional Abuse and Manipulation