Gaslighting In Relationships: What Is It and What To Look Out For
Gaslighting is a dangerous form of emotional abuse; it can be hard to detect as it affects our own perception of reality. Gaslighting is a form of manipulation and psychological control. It is when, through false information, the gaslighter causes the victim to doubt his or herself. This is often related to their sense of perception, identity and self-worth.
While often gaslighting is depicted most commonly in partnerships, it can happen in all forms of relationships including family, friends and work colleagues. Victims that have been subjected to gaslighting can suffer in a number of ways, often developing anxiety and depression, with some victims suffering panic attacks and nervous breakdowns. Gaslighting can also affect a person's social life as their abuser may encourage them to isolate themselves, cutting ties with friends and families to retain control.
Gaslighting Techniques To Look Out For
Gaslighting can take many forms; however, the abuse is often verbal and emotional, with the gaslighter using a number of manipulating techniques to distort the victim's perception of reality. The first step of protecting yourself against gaslighting is to recognise it's presence. Once you have recognised that you are being manipulated, you can regain control and determine your own reality.
Here are four common gaslighting signs to look out for:
Lying is one of the most common forms of gaslighting. Often the gaslighter will make up lies, change or invent stories and twist words. Sometimes even using compassionate words as weapons or smooth things over.
Gaslighters can often be deceitful by spreading rumours and gossip, isolating the victim by discrediting them to friends and family. Sometimes they'll pretend they are worried about the victim while saying the opposite behind their back.
Often when a gaslighter is confronted, they will change the conversation or deny it happened, sometimes they will even shift the blame to absorb responsibility. By doing this, the gaslighter will often question the target's memory, twisting memories and making them doubt themselves.
A common technique is trivialising the victim's feelings and emotions. By choosing not to acknowledge the victim's feelings or make it seem like they have overreacted, the victim can begin to doubt them themselves, and the gaslighter is able to gain power.
As the level of gaslighting can vary from mild to extreme, sometimes gaslighters are not aware that their behaviours are considered as manipulative. It is important to know that if the behaviour is recognised in milder cases, you can work on new ways of healthy communication. However, in most extreme cases, gaslighting is a real form of intentional abuse, and can take a severe toll on the victim's self-esteem and mental health, and it is best to seek professional help.
If you think you might be a victim of gaslighting, it is important to recognise that you are not alone. While friends and family can offer support and validation, you may find it useful to speak to a psychologist. Therapy is a safe space where you can talk through your feelings and recognise unhealthy behaviours and regain control of your life.