Gaslighting ~ An Effective Form of Emotional Abuse

“You’re making that up.”, “You see everything in the most negative way.”, “Where did you get a crazy idea like that?”, “You have an overactive imagination.”

Have you heard something along these lines from your partner? Do you end up questioning and doubting yourself? Do you often find yourself questioning your instincts?

Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse in which  the abuser manipulates situations repeatedly to trick the victim into distrusting her own memory and perceptions. The term Gaslighting comes from the 1938 British play, “Gas Light” in which a husband tries to drive his wife crazy by dimming lights powered by gas in their home and then denies that the lights changes when his wife points out the change. In this play, the wife questions her own perceptions and sanity which is exactly what the victim of gaslighting does as well.

There are various gas lighting techniques that the abuser may use on the victim. These techniques throw the victim off topic and can lead them to question their own thoughts, memories and actions

Withholding ~ the abuser pretends to not understand the victim, refuses to listen and declines. For example, the abuser may say “You’re just trying to confuse me.”

Countering~ the abuser questions the victim’s memory, even though the victim is correct. For example, the abuser could say, “Remember what you thought last time and how you were wrong.”

Blocking & Diverting ~ the abuser changes the subjections and questions the victim’s thoughts. For example, the abuser can say, “You’re imagining things.”

Trivializing~ the abuser makes the victim believe that her needs and thoughts aren’t important.  For example, the abuser may ask, “Are you really going to let something so small get in between us?”

Forgetting & Denial ~ the abuser pretends to forget what happened and may also deny promises made to the victim. For example, the abuser may say, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

According to author and psychoanalyst Robin Stern, Ph.D., the signs of being a victim of gaslighting include:

•You constantly second-guess yourself.

•You ask yourself, “Am I too sensitive?” multiple times a day.

•You often feel confused and even crazy.

•You’re always apologizing to your partner.

•You can’t understand why, with so many apparently good things in your life, you aren’t happier.

•You frequently make excuses for your partner’s behavior to friends and family.

•You find yourself withholding information from friends and family so you don’t have to explain or make excuses.

•You know something is terribly wrong, but you can never quite express what it is, even to yourself.

•You start lying to avoid the put downs and reality twists.

•You have trouble making simple decisions.

•You have the sense that you used to be a very different person – more confident, more fun-loving, and more relaxed.

•You feel hopeless and joyless.

•You feel as though you can’t do anything right.

•You wonder if you are a “good enough” partner.

If you find yourself relating to these signs, then you may be a victim of gaslighting which is emotional abuse. Always remember you’re not alone and there’s help. Reach out to us by calling our 24 hour hotline 847-221-5680.