Gaslighting- What is it?

By

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month!! With that being said, I wanted to start off with bringing awareness to gaslighting. I plan on writing a few blogs on this one topic before starting the next. What is gaslighting? Giving examples of gaslighting. As well as sharing my personal experiences with gaslighting. As always, I invite my readers to comment, share and make suggestions on my blogs. So let us get right into it!

 

Do you know where the term “gaslighting” comes from? It comes from a 1938 stage play titled  Gas Light, Where the husband tries to drive his wife his wife insane by messing with the lights which in those days were controlled by gas. He would dim the lights and when she would notice it and say something to him he would tell her that the lights didn’t change.

 

So what is gaslighting exactly? Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse, where the victim begins questioning their own sanity. They begin questioning their reality and their emotions. This form of abuse gives the abuse an immense amount of power over their victim. As we know, abuse is all about control and power. Therefore, once the abuser manipulates the victims reality, the victim will be less likely to leave the abuser. Gaslighting is something that tends to happen gradually, it is not something that happens overnight. As time goes on; a victim can become, depressed, anxious, confused and even isolated to the point where they lose sense of what is actually going on. This in turn can lead to the victim relying on the abuser more and more and becoming more dependent on them defining what reality actually is. This creates a difficult and possibly dangerous situation for the victim to escape.

 

Below are examples of several gaslighting techniques. Is your significant other using any of these?

 

Withholding: This is when the abuser refuses to listen or acts like they don’t understand. Example: “You’re confusing me!” or “ I do not want to hear this again!”

 

Countering: The abuser starts to question the victim’s memory or thoughts. Regardless is the victim remembers them accurately. Example: “You never remember things correctly.”

 

Blocking/Diverting: When the abuser tries to change the subject or questions the victim’s thinking. Example: “Did you get this crazy idea from (persons name) again?”

 

Trivializing: This is when the abuser makes the victim’s emotions seem unimportant. Example: “You’re too sensitive.”

 

Forgetting/Denial: The abuser acts as if they have forgotten what has actually happened or denies things like promises they made to the victim. Example: “You’re making stuff up.” or “I don’t know what you are talking about!”

 

SIGNS THAT YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER IS GASLIGHTING YOU:

 

  • Always second guessing yourself.
  • You ask yourself multiple times a day if you are too sensitive.
  • Frequently feel confused or even crazy.
  • Constantly apologizing to your significant other.
  • Lack of understanding that with a lot of good things in your life you still aren’t happy.
  • You often make excuses to your friends and family for your significant other.
  • You withhold information from your friends and family in order to not make excuses for your significant other.
  • You are aware that there is something horribly wrong, but you can’t seem to express it, even to your own self.
  • You start telling lies to avoid put downs.
  • You have difficulty making even the simplest decisions.
  • You sense that at one point you used to be a confident,loving, carefree and more relaxed individual.
  • You feel hopeless.
  • You feel like you can never do anything right.
  • You start to wonder if you’re “good enough” for your significant other.

 

Gaslighting is a serious form of emotional abuse. It leaves the victim in a “fog-like” state. What was once their reality no longer exists. What was once their identity has been stripped from them. The victim’s reality has literally turned into a horrible nightmare. If you or someone you know is or has been a victim of gaslighting, I urge you to reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline which is exactly where I got the above information from.You can chat with one of their advocates online via the above link, or call and speak to an advocate at 1-800-799-7233.