Gaslighting is a form of emotional and psychological abuse that causes a person to question their reality, memories, instincts, and sanity. A person gaslights to obtain power and control, which are classic elements of abuse². Gaslighting often occurs in an intimate partner relationship, but it can also happen with family, friends, coworkers and even acquaintances².
According to various sources, some of the signs that you are being gaslighted are:
– Denial: The gaslighter denies something that has happened or an agreement made.
– Minimization: The gaslighter makes you feel like your feelings or concerns are not valid or important.
– Blame-shifting: The gaslighter blames you for their own mistakes or faults.
– Withholding: The gaslighter withdraws affection, attention, communication, or support to punish you or make you feel insecure.
– Causing confusion and doubt: The gaslighter lies, contradicts, or changes the facts to make you doubt your own memory or perception of reality.
– Isolation: The gaslighter tries to cut you off from your friends, family, or other sources of support or information.
– Criticism: The gaslighter constantly criticizes, insults, or belittles you to undermine your self-esteem and confidence.
– Projection: The gaslighter accuses you of doing or feeling what they are actually doing or feeling.
– Narcissism: The gaslighter acts selfishly, arrogantly, or entitled and expects you to cater to their needs and desires.
– Love bombing: The gaslighter showers you with excessive praise, attention, or affection to manipulate you or make you dependent on them.
If you recognize these signs in your relationships, you may be the victim of gaslighting. It can be very damaging to your mental health and well-being. You deserve to be treated with respect and honesty..
How can I get out of a gaslighting relationship?
Getting out of a gaslighting relationship can be challenging, but it is possible. Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself and end the manipulation:
- Ground yourself. One of the most important defenses on how to deal with gaslighting in a relationship is to keep your individual identity. A gaslighter will try to destroy your perception and the world you built for yourself. They will use hints, doubts, and gossip to break down your foundations. To counter this, you need to remind yourself of who you are and what you value. You can do this by writing down your thoughts and feelings, keeping a journal, talking to supportive friends and family, or engaging in activities that make you happy and confident.
- Get space. It can be helpful to take a step back from the intense emotions that gaslighting can evoke. You may need some physical or emotional distance from your partner to gain clarity and perspective on the situation. You can do this by spending time with other people, taking a break from the relationship, or finding a safe place to stay if you feel threatened or unsafe.
- Collect evidence. Gaslighters often rely on lies, contradictions, and denials to make you doubt your reality. To combat this, you can gather evidence that supports your version of events and contradicts theirs. You can do this by keeping records of conversations, texts, emails, or other documents that prove what was said or done. You can also ask for opinions or feedback from other people who witnessed the situation or know the facts.
- Speak up. Gaslighters may try to silence you or make you feel like your concerns are invalid or irrational. To counter this, you need to assert yourself and express your feelings and needs clearly and calmly. You can do this by using “I” statements, such as “I feel hurt when you say that” or “I need you to respect my boundaries”. You can also use facts and evidence to back up your claims, such as “You said this yesterday” or “This is what the email says”. You can also ask questions to challenge their statements, such as “Why do you say that?” or “How do you know that?”.
- Stay firm. Gaslighters may try to persuade you to change your mind or agree with them by using charm, flattery, guilt, threats, or promises. To resist this, you need to stay firm and stick to your decisions and boundaries. You can do this by repeating your points, saying “no” or “stop” firmly, or walking away from the conversation if it becomes abusive or unproductive.
- Take care of yourself. Gaslighting can take a toll on your mental and physical health, causing symptoms such as anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, insomnia, headaches, or stomach problems. To cope with this, you need to take care of yourself and prioritize your well-being. You can do this by eating well, sleeping enough, exercising regularly, meditating, relaxing, or seeking professional help if needed.
- Involve others. Gaslighters may try to isolate you from your friends and family or discredit you in front of others. To prevent this, you need to involve others who can support you and validate your reality. You can do this by reaching out to people you trust, such as friends, family members, co-workers, counselors, therapists, or advocates. You can also join a support group for survivors of gaslighting or abuse where you can share your experiences and learn from others.
- Reach out. Gaslighting can be hard to escape on your own, especially if you have been in the relationship for a long time or if you depend on your partner financially or emotionally. To break free from the cycle of manipulation, you may need to reach out for help and assistance. You can do this by contacting a domestic violence hotline or shelter if you are in danger or need a safe place to stay. You can also consult a lawyer if you need legal advice or protection.
Remember that gaslighting is not your fault and that you deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. You have the right to end the relationship if it is no longer healthy for you. It may not be easy at first, but with time and support, you can heal from the effects of gaslighting and move on with your life🌈
How can I tell if someone is gaslighting me?
Someone is gaslighting you when they try to manipulate you into doubting your own reality, feelings, memories, or sanity. Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse that can have serious consequences for your mental health and well-being. Some common signs of gaslighting are:
- They tell blatant lies. You know it’s an outright lie. Yet they are telling you this lie with a straight face. Why are they so blatant? Because they’re setting up a precedent. Once they tell you a huge lie, you’re not sure if anything they say is true.
- They deny they ever said something, even though you have proof. They may deny that they ever said something, even though you have proof, such as a text message or an email. They may also accuse you of making things up or misremembering. They may say things like “I never said that” or “You’re imagining things”.
- They use what is near and dear to you as ammunition. They know how important your kids are to you, and they know how important your identity is to you. So those may be one of the first things they attack. If you have kids, they tell you that you should not have had those children. They will tell you’d be a worthy person if only you didn’t have a long list of negative traits. They may say things like “You’re a bad parent” or “You’re worthless”.
- They wear you down over time. Gaslighting typically happens gradually over time, so you may not notice it at first. But bit by bit, your self-confidence and self-esteem are chipped away until you don’t recognize yourself anymore. You may feel like you’re always wrong, always confused, always apologizing, or always unhappy.
- Their actions do not match their words. When dealing with a person or entity that gaslights, look at what they are doing rather than what they are saying. What they are saying means nothing; it is just talk. What they are doing is the issue. For example, they may say they love you, but then cheat on you or hurt you in other ways.
- They throw in positive reinforcement to confuse you. This person or entity that is cutting you down, telling you that you don’t have value, is now praising you for something you did. This adds an additional sense of uneasiness. You think, “Well maybe they aren’t so bad.” Yes, they are. This is a calculated attempt to keep you off-kilter—and again, to question your reality. They may compliment you, buy you gifts, or do something nice for you after being abusive or cruel.
- They know confusion weakens people. Gaslighters know that people like having a sense of stability and normalcy. Their goal is to uproot this and make you constantly question everything1. And humans’ natural tendency is to look to the person or entity that will help you feel more stable—and that happens to be the gaslighter. They may create chaos and confusion in your life by changing plans, breaking promises, lying, or being inconsistent.
- They project their own feelings onto you. In the example above, a gaslighter who is cheating accuses their partner of cheating. How can someone who is cheating accuse their partner of cheating? Being called a cheater when it’s not true can be very confusing and upsetting for someone who would never cheat. They may accuse you of being dishonest, unfaithful, selfish, or crazy when they are the ones who are actually behaving that way.
- They try to align people against you. Gaslighters are masters at manipulating and finding the people they know will stand by them no matter what—and they use these people against you. They will make comments such as “This person knows that you’re not right,” or “This person knows you’re useless too.” Keep in mind it does not mean that these people actually said these things. A gaslighter is a constant liar1. They may spread rumors about you, gossip about you, or turn others against you.
- They tell you or others that you are crazy. This is one of the most effective tools of the gaslighter because it’s dismissive. 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. It’s a master technique. They may say things like “You’re crazy” or “You need help”.
- They tell you everyone else is a liar. By telling you that everyone else (your family, the media, the authorities) is a liar, it again makes you question your reality. You’ve never known someone with the audacity to do this, so they must be telling the truth, right? No. It’s a manipulation technique. It makes people turn to the gaslighter for the “correct” information—which isn’t correct information at all. They may say things like “Don’t trust anyone but me” or “They’re all lying to you”.
If you notice any of these signs in your relationship, you may be a victim of gaslighting. It is important to seek help from a trusted person, such as a friend, family member, therapist, or counselor. You deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, and to live in a healthy and supportive environment🌷.
Gaslighting statistics are not easy to find, as there is no clear definition or measurement of this phenomenon. However, some studies and reports have attempted to estimate the prevalence and impact of gaslighting in different contexts.
One study found that 35% of women and 28% of men reported experiencing gaslighting in their romantic relationships. Another study found that 47% of women and 39% of men reported experiencing gaslighting at work. A survey by the National Domestic Violence Hotline found that 50% of callers reported being gaslighted by their abusive partners.
Gaslighting can also occur in the public sphere, especially in the context of political events and disinformation. A study by researchers at the University of Warwick analyzed the use of the term “gaslighting” on Twitter and 4chan between 2016 and 2020. They found that the term increased significantly over time, especially around key political events such as Brexit, Trump’s election and impeachment, and the Covid-19 pandemic. This indicates that gaslighting is increasingly common in discussions of political events, on both mainstream and alt-right platforms.