Definition, Examples, Signs, and Effects

Definition, Examples, Signs, and Effects


Gaslighting is a type of emotional abuse in which someone manipulates you into doubting your beliefs, experiences, or understanding of events. Gaslighting can make you question your sanity and how valid your feelings are. It can result in feelings of confusion, anxiety, isolation, and depression. Gaslighting can occur in all kinds of relationships, including personal, professional, institutional, and more. 

The term comes from the 1938 stage play Gaslight, in which a husband tries to drive his wife crazy by dimming the gas-powered lights. When his wife complains, he denies doing it, which eventually causes her to feel insane. 

Understanding what gaslighting looks like and how it can make you feel can help you protect yourself from it.

Gaslighting behavior can vary from person to person, but ultimately, the goal is to make you doubt yourself and reality. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, common examples of gaslighting include the following behaviors:

  • They deny things that happened when you bring it up to them. They may say something like, “That never happened. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
  • They say that they forgot something you told them. They may say, “I don’t remember you saying that.”
  • They dismiss or trivialize your feelings and make you feel like they’re not important by saying things like, “You’re being dramatic.”
  • When arguing, they change the subject and avoid taking responsibility. This may include blaming someone else for the argument, such as, “This is because of what your friend said.”
  • They question your reality by saying things like, “You don’t remember things correctly,” or “You’re imagining it.”
  • They refuse to hear you out, engage in conversation, or provide necessary information. They may say, “Not this again,” or “Stop exaggerating.”
  • They pretend not to listen to you. They may say, “I can’t talk to you when you’re like this.”

The effects of gaslighting can vary from person to person. They may happen gradually, and they may not happen immediately. However, if you’re being gaslighted, you are likely feeling confused and anxious. This is because the goal of gaslighting is to make you:

  • Doubt and second-guess yourself
  • Wonder whether you are too sensitive or dramatic
  • Apologize to your partner without knowing what you said or did that would require an apology
  • Make excuses for your partner or friend’s behavior to others, and even doubt your loved ones if they express concern
  • Stop yourself from sharing information with friends and family because you don’t want to have to make excuses
  • Distance yourself from friends, family, and loved ones
  • Feel bad about yourself
  • Lie to yourself and go along with what you’re told
  • Have trouble making simple decisions
  • Have trouble understanding what happened
  • Feel like you’re going crazy
  • Feel hopeless

According to the Domestic Violence Hotline, if someone is gaslighting you, trying to convince them of the truth is not effective. They are intentionally denying your reality and refusing to accept accountability for their actions. Even if you try to respond calmly and logically, they may not be willing to listen to you.

Therefore, if you know or suspect you are being gaslighted, focusing on your inner world, instincts, and gut may be helpful.

Try using “I” statements to share your experience and feelings in the present moment. By expressing how you feel right now, you can strengthen your reality and validate yourself when someone is trying to do the opposite. Examples include:

  • “I’m feeling confused.”
  • “I don’t know what to believe right now.” 
  • “I feel unsure about this.”
  • “I’m feeling uneasy.” 
  • “I’m feeling nervous about what I’m hearing right now.”

Remember to stay in the present moment. When you’re being emotionally abused, it’s easy to find yourself zoning out or triggered in a fight-or-flight response, which could lead to an argument or make you feel even more confused.

Repeating or re-phrasing what they just said can help you stay present and involved in the conversation. This can also clear up any potential miscommunication. Examples include:

  • “I’m hearing that you don’t remember agreeing to this.”
  • “You’re saying that I imagined that.” 
  • “You feel like I’m being dramatic.”
  • “You’re saying you don’t want to listen to me right now.”

When responding to someone who is gaslighting you, you can try to stay calm and present by speaking slowly, taking deep breaths, and asking for clarification. 

Gaslighting is most effective when you are isolated and alone. If you’re alone, you might rely on the person gaslighting you more to define reality, which can make the abuse harder to recognize.

Involving other people can be helpful because they can verify events and confirm that what you remember is correct. They can also validate your feelings and be your witnesses. If you suspect someone is gaslighting you, invite someone you trust to be there during an interaction. 

It can be helpful to gather proof and evidence of what really happened. This might include:

  • Journaling
  • Keeping a record of your events
  • Taking voice memos, pictures, and videos
  • Speaking to a trusted friend or family member and letting them know what’s happening

Talking it out with someone can help you understand a situation more clearly. The more proof you have, the more your experience and reality will be validated.

If you know someone is gaslighting you, it may be necessary to set boundaries. This might include:

  • Limiting your time with them
  • Minimizing other forms of contact with them
  • Letting them know that you don’t see eye to eye
  • Choosing not to spend alone time with them
  • Cutting off contact

Sometimes, you may have to end or leave the relationship altogether. In this case, a safety plan can be helpful. This personalized plan includes how to stay safe in the situation as you plan to leave and/or after you leave. A safety plan includes developing coping skills, knowing who you can contact for emotional support, and gathering resources for professional help.

If you are struggling to identify your reality or feel like you’re going crazy, it can be helpful to speak to a professional such as a therapist or domestic violence counselor. 

You can find a therapist through your health insurance or by searching directories such as Psychology Today. 

The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides immediate phone and text assistance 24/7. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 or text “START” to 88788. They can help you find local resources, legal help, deaf services, and culturally sensitive services. They can also create a safety plan with you so that you can leave harmful relationships or situations as safely as possible. 

Gaslighting is a type of emotional abuse intended to make you confused, anxious, and alone. Someone may use gaslighting to make you question your reality and feel like you’re going crazy, which gives them a sense of control over you. This can have a serious effect on your mental health, causing low self-esteem, self-doubt, and confusion.

If you think you are being gaslighted, stay present, gather evidence and proof, validate yourself, talk to someone you trust, set boundaries, and ask for help.

Source link

قالب وردپرس

Back to top