Have you ever been in a relationship with a person who nearly drove you out of your mind? Did they have a way of making you feel guilty beyond belief, even though it was them who made missteps in the relationship?
You may have been the unfortunate victim of gaslighting.
If you have experienced similar scenarios in your current relationship, you should take steps to find out what being gaslighted means. Watch out for signs that your partner is subjecting you to such treatment.
What is Gaslighting?
If you are unfamiliar with the term, “gaslighting” is a form of psychological abuse. A person who “gaslights” manipulates a victim into doubting their abilities, perceptions, memories and even sanity. The abuser, typically a narcissist, denies that the wrongdoing happened. The manipulator turns the tables on the victim, making them feel as though they are responsible for the events. The term has its origins in the 1938 Broadway play, Gaslight.
While most people employ simple manipulation to get what they want from their partners, a gaslighter’s aim is sinister. They intends to throw their partner into disequilibrium and undermine their self-confidence so that the victim can no longer function apart from them. The victim gradually becomes unsure of themselves and unable to make decisions. Depression slowly sets in.
Gaslighting does not have to be deliberate. A Gaslighter may use these tactics unconsciously, without realizing how abusive they are.
Gaslighting and manipulation are similar but distinct behaviors. While manipulation influences behavior, gaslighting does more. It alters a victim’s personality drastically. It does not have to involve threats or explosive anger; the gaslighter usually rationalizes their behavior, and you end up apologizing at the end of every conversation. The victim usually never remembers what the argument was about because of being too busy trying to make sense of it.
The Effect of Gaslighting
The effects of gaslighting are far-reaching and insidious, though subtle, they eventually lead to a person being a shadow of their former self. The Gaslighting Effect happens in stages.
It begins with a sense of disbelief. The gaslightee, or victim, does not understand, for a start, that they are receiving abuse. This person may feel that there is something untoward in the relationship, but cannot put their finger on it. The gaslighter resorts to little tricks to make the victim lose trust in their own perception, such as moving items from place to place, then denying that they did so. It leaves them confused and causes them to, gradually, lose faith in their own judgment. However, the victim knows full well that everything they say and does is either trivialized or turned against them.
The gaslighting then moves into its second stage. At this point, the victim still has enough gumption to defend themselves but is becoming increasingly angry, confused and uncertain. These feelings cause the Narcissistic Victim Syndrome, in which the victim unconsciously begins to bond with their abuser because of a misplaced sense of need.
The victim eventually becomes so depressed that they can barely recognize themselves. Without dignity and self-worth, their existence hinges on affirmation from their abuser. The gaslightee does not feel as if they can do anything correctly any longer.
Here are some signs that indicate that you could be a victim of gaslighting:
1. Constant Apologies
A gaslighting red flag is constant apologizing. If you are a victim of this abuse, you will find yourself using saying sorry after every argument. You will feel as though you are always walking on eggshells because you do not want to upset your partner.
Do you find it impossible to make decisions without your partner’s approval? You may be a victim of gaslighting. Your partner may have made you feel so unsure of your capabilities that you cannot decide anything without their help. Power and control are in their hands.
Your instinct will hint that something is awry with your partner’s logic, but they always manage to make you feel that you are the one with impaired judgment. You will start to feel confused over everything.
4. Personality Changes
You may find yourself changing as a person. While you may have approached life with jolly zest before, you may now find yourself losing your passion. The loss takes place gradually, after a few months.
Do you feel yourself disliking the activities you used to love and refusing to attend functions and engagements? If your partner is gaslighting you, you may withdraw completely from the social scene.
6. Making Excuses
Your partner lashes at you unreasonably, but you attribute it to a bad day at work. They may criticize every piece of clothes you wear, but you believe that they have incredible taste. If you find yourself making excuses for your partner’s poor behavior, they may have you caught in a bind.
“I probably upset him because of my weight.” “I must have made him angry because I did not cook what he likes. ” If you find yourself out-guessing yourself and trying to find reasons for the upsets in your relationship, your partner may have gaslighted you.
Have you noticed yourself becoming a regular Miss Marple? If you are always snooping around for proof that your partner has misjudged you or lied to you, they may have you wrapped around their finger.
Does your partner use the same phrases repeatedly when you question them? Repeating phrases is a classic brainwashing tactic. They make a think in the way the brainwasher wants once they sink in. Your partner may be gaslighting you if they have this habit.
10. Illogical Explanations
When you question your partner about their activities or wrongdoing, do their reasons make sense? If they are illogical, they may be a Gaslighter.
What can you do to avoid being a gaslighting victim?
If you believe that your partner is gaslighting you, develop an unwavering faith in yourself and your intuition. With a firm belief in yourself, you will have no need to second-guess or doubt your behavior.
Realize that your partner’s manipulations are not about you, and do not mean that you are not good enough. Furthermore, it is pointless to try to win every argument or change their perspective because a person with their ego is simply not going to shift their paradigm.
Gaslighting is reprehensible behavior. If your partner is using gaslighting tactics, it is time to decide how to move on.
By Michelle L.