Gaslighting: Everything you need to know

Gaslighting: Everything you need to know

Gaslighting is a type of emotional abuse that can happen to anyone, especially in romantic relationships.

‘’Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse where a person or group makes someone question their sanity, perception of reality, or memories.’’

Gaslighting causes confusion, questioning reality, and feeling crazy. You have doubts about your perception, judgement, and ability. You get the impression that something is wrong with you, but you’re not sure what it is. You’re paranoid and too sensitive, and you’re second-guessing yourself. You’re afraid you’re overreacting because you’re defending yourself against something you can’t identify.

The effects of gaslighting may make it even harder for the victim to leave an abusive relationship as they may not even realise it’s happening.

Here are some ways an abusive partner may behave when they are using gaslighting tactics:

  • Insist you said or did things you know you didn’t do
  • Deny or at your recollection of events
  • Say you “too sensitive” or “crazy” when you express your needs or concerns
  • Express doubts to others about your feelings, behaviour, and state of mind
  • Twisting or retelling events to shift blame to you
  • Insist they’re right and refuse to consider facts or your perspective

Here are some examples of  gaslighting:

  • “That never happened.”

Abusers will commit an abusive act then deny that it ever took place.

You may start questioning their instincts and rely more and more on the ‘reality’ that has been influenced by the abuser. This result in a heightened a sense of dependency on the perpetrator.

  • “You’re too sensitive.”

Perpetrators use this statement to downplay and dismiss the victim’s emotions. They may tell you that you are making a big deal out of nothing if you try to express upset or disappointment. They want to make you feel stupid for even attempting to defend yourself.

  • “You have a terrible memory.”

Everyone has difficulty remembering specific things from time to time, but gaslighters will make their victim doubt their memory overall, covering a wide range of circumstances. They do this because the essence of gaslighting is to make the victim to question oneself. When a victim no longer believes their own observations, the abuser gains complete control in the relationship.

  • ‘’You’re crazy’’

Gaslighters may also cause their victims to doubt their own sanity. In order to further undermine the victim’s claims, the abuser might also attempt to persuade the victim’s family and friends that they are psychologically unstable. This decreases the likelihood that the victim being believed and limits access to resources that would make it possible for them to leave the abusive relationship.

  • “I’m sorry you think that I hurt you.”

Even though this comment appears to be an apology, it isn’t. Instead, this is a tactic used by abusers to shift blame and place it on the victim. The victim is left to question their own judgement and wonder if they truly did overreact after receiving this kind of apology. It could result in the victim depending on the abuser’s version of what happened.

Signs you’re experiencing gaslighting may include:

  • An urge to apologize all the time
  • Believing you can’t do anything right
  • Frequent feelings of nervousness, anxiety, or worry
  • A loss of confidence
  • Constantly wondering if you’re too sensitive
  • Feeling disconnected from your sense of self, as if you’re losing your identity
  • Believing you’re to blame when things go wrong
  • A persistent sense that something isn’t right, though you can’t identify exactly what’s wrong
  • A lingering sense of hopelessness, frustration, or emotional numbness

If you feel that you have experienced gaslighting or are currently experiencing this within your relationship, NIDAS are here to help. When you are ready, we are here to listen. You can contact us on 01623 683 250 or through our secure online form.