Gaslighting is a term used to describe a form of emotional abuse in which the abuser manipulates their victim into doubting their own perceptions and memory. It is a tactic that can leave the victim feeling confused, anxious, and uncertain about what is real and what is not. While gaslighting can happen in any type of relationship, it is particularly common in intimate relationships. If you suspect that your partner may be gaslighting you, it is important to take steps to protect yourself and seek help if needed.
Gaslighting can take many different forms, but some common tactics include:
Denying that something happened: Gaslighters may flat-out deny that something happened even when there is clear evidence to the contrary. For example, they might deny that they said something hurtful, even if you have a text message or voicemail that proves otherwise.
Blaming you for everything: Gaslighters often try to make their victim feel responsible for everything that goes wrong in the relationship. They may blame you for their bad behavior, or make you feel like you are the one who is causing all the problems.
Dismissing your feelings: Gaslighters may tell you that your feelings are invalid, or that you are overreacting to a situation. They might say things like "you're being too sensitive" or "you're making a big deal out of nothing."
Twisting your words: Gaslighters may take something you said and twist it to make it seem like you meant something completely different. For example, if you say "I feel like you don't listen to me," they might respond with "so you're saying that I never listen to you?"
Changing the subject: Gaslighters often try to steer the conversation away from their bad behavior by changing the subject. For example, if you confront them about something hurtful they said, they might say "why are you always bringing up the past?"
If you have experienced any of these tactics in your relationship, it is possible that you are being gaslit. Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself:
Trust your instincts: If something feels off in your relationship, don't ignore it. Trust your gut and pay attention to any red flags that you may be seeing.
Document everything: Keep a record of any incidents of gaslighting that you experience, including dates, times, and what was said. This can be useful if you need to seek help from a therapist, lawyer, or law enforcement.
Seek support: Gaslighting can be incredibly isolating, so it is important to reach out to friends and family for support. You can also seek the help of a therapist or counselor who can help you process your experiences and develop strategies for coping with the abuse.
Set boundaries: It is important to set boundaries with your gaslighting partner and make it clear what behavior is unacceptable. If they continue to gaslight you despite your boundaries, it may be necessary to consider ending the relationship.
Trust yourself: Gaslighting can leave you feeling like you can't trust your own perceptions, but it is important to remember that you are the expert on your own experiences. Trust yourself and your own judgment, even if your partner tries to make you doubt yourself.
If you are unsure whether your partner is gaslighting you, it can be helpful to speak to a therapist or counselor who can help you sort through your feelings and determine whether abuse is taking place. Remember that gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse, and you have the right to protect yourself and seek help if needed.