- Gaslighting is a dangerous form of manipulation which causes the victim to question their own sanity, judgment, even memories.
- The abusers place blame onto their victims and rely on their victims’ insecurities.
- If you feel threatened by an individual, you often feel confused around the individual, or you feel weak or afraid of the individual, you might be a victim of gaslighting.
- It’s important you recognize this form manipulation and get yourself out of the abusive situation; which means understanding these signifiers of gaslighting is also important.
- To heal and move forward from gaslighting, talk yourself through the situation, consider approaching the individual about the manipulation, tell your loved ones, and focus on where you can/should go from here.
I know—what the heck is “gaslighting”? It may sound funny but it’s actually a really scary form of manipulation, which got its name from a popular 1940’s film titled Gas Light. In this movie, a husband methodically manipulates his wife into thinking she’s crazy, hence referring to this form of emotional abuse as “gaslighting.”
How Does Gaslighting Work?
These manipulators use their destructive words and actions to their benefit, by pushing their abusive tendencies and blame onto their unfortunate victims. They succeed in doing so by making their sufferers feel “sensitive,” “silly,” and even “crazy”—however the self-doubt manifests.
Because the victims of gaslighters are made to doubt themselves, it’s often difficult for them to realize they’re being manipulated, which is why it’s so important to educate yourself on the telltale signs of gaslighting. If the following signs feel all too familiar, you may be in a gaslighting situation yourself:
- Something isn’t quite right about your relationship or the particular individual—you can’t pinpoint the issue, but you keep your hazards on in their presence.
- You feel threatened around this individual, but can’t explain why.
- You’re always second-guessing your ability to recall important details of past events.
- You find yourself feeling confused and disoriented.
- You never feel good enough, and you’re always trying to meet their expectations—even if they are harmful or unreasonable.
- You feel threatened and/or nervous around this individual.
- You’re always apologizing for something—but not because you want to or should, because you feel inclined to.
- You feel like you’re going crazy or you’re losing it.
- You’re made to believe that you’re overreacting or just too sensitive.
- You’re hesitant to make decisions because you don’t know if you can trust yourself.
- You feel weak and distanced from the strong person you used to be.
- You’re afraid to speak out about how you feel so you keep everything to yourself.
You should also make yourself aware of the many tactic that gaslighters use to manipulate their victims: they often minimize and discredit their victim’s feelings, change the subject when the victim brings up their concerns, twist the scenario around and place blame on their victim, and put on a mask of confidence or compassion to make their victim think they’re “crazy.”
Healing and Moving Forward from Gaslighting
The concept of gaslighting can be hard to grasp and even harder to identify, especially in our own relationships. Nobody wants to be the dramatic or “crazy” girlfriend or boyfriend, which is exactly what gaslighters rely on and feed off of; but if the issue isn’t identified and confronted, it can lead to a variety of serious mental health issues, such as the development of anxiety and depression. That means the time to confront this issue is always now—and here are a few ways to go about the healing process:
1) First, talk to yourself about the problem. Are you feeling unlike yourself? Do you feel like you’re being manipulated? Talk out these feelings and maybe even write them down, so you can look back at them and assure yourself that you’re not the problem—that you’re instead being manipulated, and it’s not okay.
2) Decide how to approach the individual about the manipulation. Gaslighting doesn’t just occur in romantic relationships—it can also happen at work or between family members. If you’re able, you should sever ties with the manipulator. But if you’re forced to work with them or be around them (such as a fellow employee or relative) you should limit your interactions with them as much as possible.
3) Talk to other people about the manipulation. Simply talking to loved ones about the harmful relationship and how you feel about it will help you heal immensely. Talking with a mental health professional can also be beneficial and should be considered.
4) Focus on moving forward. You may have been a victim of gaslighting but you are not defined by your manipulation. Instead, you’re an incredibly strong individual who came out on top. So move forward with your new sense of self and live the awesome life you’re entitled to.