Are You A Victim of Gaslighting??

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Are you confused? In a daze? Constantly second guessing yourself? Questioning your feelings or your perception of reality? Do you feel like you are going crazy? Having trouble grasping on to who you really are? If so, you just may be a victim of gaslighting.

 

Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse. It is a sophisticated form of manipulation. It is used to cause doubt in an individual in hopes of making the victim question their perception of reality, their memory and even their sanity. The abuser’s goal is to have their victim second guess their every decision so that the victim is more dependant on the abuser. The more dependant the victim becomes, the harder it will be for the victim to leave. One method an abuser uses is to ignore the victim, then give them attention and ignore them again. Gaslighting often comes after other forms of emotional and physical abuse because the victim is most likely to stay in those situations as well.

 

Gaslighting comes in stages. Disbelief, protection and depression.  The disbelief comes into play when the signs of gaslighting first happens. You write the signs off as nothing more than weird behavior. Protection or defense comes in when you start defending yourself against the gaslighter and their manipulation. You could even say that the defense comes in when you also defend the gaslighters behavior. You begin making excuses for the things that they say. The stage of depression begins when you notice a lack of joy and you begin to notice that you are not yourself anymore. You feel cut off from family and friends. In fact, you feel like you’re cut off entirely from the world.

 

Psychoanalyst Robin Stern Ph.D lists the examples below as signs that someone may  be a victim of gaslighting:

 

  1. You are constantly second-guessing yourself.
  2. You ask yourself, “Am I too sensitive?” a dozen times a day.
  3. You often feel confused and even crazy at work.
  4. You’re always apologizing to your mother, father, boyfriend,, boss.
  5. You can’t understand why, with so many apparently good things in your life, you aren’t happier.
  6. You frequently make excuses for your partner’s behavior to friends and family.
  7. You find yourself withholding information from friends and family so you don’t have to explain or make excuses.
  8. You know something is terribly wrong, but you can never quite express what it is, even to yourself.
  9. You start lying to avoid the put downs and reality twists.
  10. You have trouble making simple decisions.
  11. You have the sense that you used to be a very different person – more confident, more fun-loving, more relaxed.
  12. You feel hopeless and joyless.
  13. You feel as though you can’t do anything right.
  14. You wonder if you are a “good enough” girlfriend/ wife/employee/ friend; daughter.
  15. You find yourself withholding information from friends and family so you don’t have to explain or make excuses.

 

If you feel or think like any of the above listed examples you are more than likely a victim of gaslighting/emotional abuse.It is a tough pill to swallow when you realize that you are being abused. It is extremely difficult and very emotional to acknowledge that someone you respect love and trust is hurting you. The only way things will change is when you’re ready to face the facts. Again, yes it is hard to admit. We start asking ourselves how we let this happen, how did we allow this person to gain so much control?

 

It is important for the victim to know that it is not their fault! Emotional and verbal abuse starts off so settle that it is easy to dismiss it. That is how gaslighting works. It eats away at you slowly. Your brain is very fragile. It believes whatever it is told. So if it is told negative things repeatedly, it believes it to be true and vice versa with positive things. That is why it is a good idea to get into the habit of daily motivation. Motivate and empower yourself. It can be something as simple as “I am strong”, “I am confident” or “I am beautiful.” Take the negative things that were told to you and say the opposite.

 

When you begin doing this in your healing process you will also begin to reclaim your reality and identity. Most importantly, you have to come to the realization that this relationship is unhealthy. No matter what the abuser may say to you to try to get you to stay or come back. Things will not get better and they will not change. In fact, the situation(s) will more than likely get worse. You owe it to yourself to be safe, healthy and happy.