Gaslighting is one of the most common forms of emotional abuse. Unfortunately, most of us encounter it on daily basis but fail to recognize it. Gaslighting is defined as the psychological manipulation which makes a person question his own sanity. This will leave the victims confused, unsure, and unable to interpret the situation correctly.
Did you ever find yourself in an argument with your loved ones? Their words hurt you but instead of acknowledging and apologizing for the damage caused, they start blaming you for being too sensitive. This will make you question your stance and doubt yourself. This whole scenario is a perfect example of gaslighting.
Unlike popular belief, gaslighting is not limited to only the relationship of couples. It can exist between parents, friends, and boss-worker relationship. There is a strong need to understand and identify when a relationship involves gaslighting. It is a kind of emotional abuse that can be either intentional or unintentional.
Signs of Gaslighting:
Some of the warning signs of gaslighting in relationship are as follows:
1: Undermining Your Feelings:
The person may try to undermine whatever you are feeling and make you feel like you are overreacting or being upset over nothing. This will make you doubt what you are feeling and question your own emotions.
2: Creating False Stories:
A gaslighter will try to make you feel insecure by telling lies about how others perceive you. Additionally, he will try to convince you that your close ones are talking behind your back and are not saying good things about you.
3: Denial is The Weapon:
The abuser may say one thing to you at a time but will refuse to acknowledge what they said earlier making you question your own memory. He will deny saying that you are the one imagining things and he actually never said that.
4: Hiding Things:
The gaslighter will hide objects or things that are required by you just for the sake of sadistic pleasure. If you ask him, he will pretend to be unaware of the said object. And will imply that you are too careless to take care of your belongings.
5: Questioning Your Presence:
The abuser will try to manipulate your memory of a particular event by implying that you never were there. Or if you were present, you were mentally absent and hence unaware of what actually happened there. He will make you question your own memories whether they actually happened or were a mere figment of the imagination.
6: Appreciating You:
You heard it right. After the constant cycle of berating and criticizing, the gaslighter will shower you with affection and praise for something you did right. This will make you feel flattered and you will start believing that they are not bad after all. Just remember that such instances are rare and you will be stuck craving for them more and more.
7: Projection On You:
The abuser will accuse you of things that you never did making it difficult for you to keep in touch with reality. You will spend all your energy to defend yourself and would fail to notice that actually, your abuser is the one doing those things which you are being accused of.
8: Lying To You:
The abuser will never tell the truth. He will keep lying to you even about the simplest of things. Gaslighter will blatantly refuse to accept his lies even if the evidence is present. He will claim that the evidence is false and he is right.
9: Secure Shell:
A gaslighter will make you feel that everyone is against you or no one understand you better than he does. He will make you feel that he is the only one you can trust implicitly while the whole world is your enemy. Thus isolating you from friends and family.
The gaslighter will keep taking jibes at you and will indirectly keep mocking you. If you confront him, he will say that he didn’t mean it that way. And you are taking it in the wrong way eventually making you feel guilty about this whole situation.
Signs Of The Victim:
Following are the some signs to lookout for to identify a victim of gaslighting:
- The victim will feel unsure of everything in life and will struggle to take any sort of decision.
- The person will become a shell of his or her former self.
- Lack of confidence and unable to navigate social situations are common signs.
- Questioning that what he or she is feeling is too much. The victim will keep trying to evaluate if he is being oversensitive.
- Need to apologize for everything is overpowering and everything seems like their own fault.
- Assuming that what others are saying is more important and correct than whatever you want to say.
- Keep making excuses to yourself and your family about the behavior of the abuser.
- Waiting for the other shoe to drop and assuming the worst of every situation.
- Walking on eggshells around other people with the fear of offending them in any way.
- Reading too much into other people’s offhand remarks and thinking that they were said to hurt you.
- Alienation from friends and family is another common sign.
If you can relate to the above-mentioned situations and are finding the signs in yourself or your loved ones then it is a major red flag. It is time to take the situation into your hands and seek professional help. A trained professional will provide a neutral point of view to the whole situation and will help you identify the shortcomings. You need a clear picture and only then you can decide whether you need to work on a relationship or walk out of it.
Some gaslighters are harming you unintentionally and by professional intervention, things may improve. But some are beyond redemption and no amount of effort can save your relationship. The best course of action in such cases is to walk out and save your sanity.
“Playing the victim role: Manipulator portrays him- or herself as a victim of circumstance or of someone else’s behavior in order to gain pity, sympathy or evoke compassion and thereby get something from another. Caring and conscientious people cannot stand to see anyone suffering and the manipulator often finds it easy to play on sympathy to get cooperation.”George K. Simon Jr., In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People