Have you ever had the feeling of going insane? You may have had it because someone was trying to make you feel that way. One way abusers keep control of their victims is having them discredited to the point that they question their own sanity. They will feel terrible about themselves. Or cannot figure out what the reality is and what is not anymore. This is a tactic known as “Gaslighting”. It got its name after a movie from the 1950s where a man manages to trick a woman into thinking that she is going crazy.
It is actually one of the worst mind games out there.
So, have you ever heard the term “Gaslighting” before?
“Gaslighting” is a term used to describe emotional abuse. In particular, it is a psychological abuse which makes you question what has happened. Or how you feel about things. And whether you should be angry about actions caused by your partner.
“Gaslighting” has several ways. One of the most common ways is to deny that something has happened. Despite the fact that you know it happened. If you try to argue with your partner, they will cut off. They will start a “record repeat” answer until you get sick of arguing. For example: “We were not arguing yesterday. No, we didn’t.”
They can even change things around the home or delete mail. Some abusers dare to go so far and disorient people. This way, you will start questioning your memories — and cannot even find physical proof that you have left behind.
They may also start making you wonder what is wrong or right. This can often be done by citing religious textbooks, or by reading philosophers. They can even call you irrational, and tell you that you are the one who is abusing them.
“Gaslighting” can extend to family members.
When the abuser is trying to isolate you from your friends and family, they may start painting you as crazy. They may also tell your friends that you are trying to hurt yourself. Then they will portray themselves as the noble hero who is trying to help. They may even tell the authorities that you are suicidal if you leave them. They do this to establish control over you.
These kinds of abusers are also known to pick fights so that they can wear their victims down. More often they will say that the argument was the fault of the victim. Or they will just contradict whatever the victim said, so they can further tire them out.
Abusers can also be slick about it. They usually start their gaslighting very slowly. It can often start with slight, subtle boundary pushing. Gaslighters may even begin insulting you, saying that they are sorry when you confront them. Then they will say that you were too emotional. Soon, they may start giving you reputation for being “too emotional”. And every next complain that you have will be considered as another “emotional outburst”.
In some cases, they may even tell you how you are feeling. Or will “diagnose” you with something serious. If you say that you feel fine, they will probably say: “No, you’re depressed.” And if you say: “No, I’m trying to get work done,“ they will probably say: “No, you need my help you get a professional.” After that, you may say: “Dude, leave me alone!”, but still, they will continue saying something like: “You’re depressed, I CAN’T LEAVE YOU ALONE!”
“Gaslighting” can be hard to pinpoint.
Victims will usually remember that they used to be happier once. But they will not have the ability to recognize why they are so upset.
People that are gaslighted usually tend to ask themselves questions. They feel worn down and are frustrated with their life. But, who can blame them? Basically, they are being trained to feel in that way.
They usually feel like they cannot win any arguments, and are increasingly resentful of their partners. At the same time, they do not want to argue, even when they have to.
They also tend to apologize very frequently. These victims just learn how to assume they are in the wrong all the time. They may also feel that they cannot do anything right. Victims can even lie, to keep the peace.
At the final stage, they can no longer decide for themselves. They no longer know what is “normal” anymore. After that, they will assume they are crazy. They will rely on the abuser in order to decide for them. Simply said, they are too stressed to function properly.
For the gaslighter, it is about winning control at all costs.
It is also about exerting pain. They don’t care what you feel. It is about getting an ego boost or an emotional high from hurting, as well as controlling and manipulating the other person. This is the favorite tool of narcissists, sociopaths, as well as people that have an antisocial disorder.
If all this sounds like you, you will have to leave your relationship. Some experts on the domestic violence claim that the best way for dealing with gaslighting is disentangling as soon as you notice that someone is doing this to you.
You should not argue with them. Alert your family and friends to what they are doing. If it is possible, make sure the breakup hits them as a surprise. And the most important thing — do not go back with them. They will only escalate the abuse even more if you go back.
Being gaslighted is not your fault. This can usually be hard to believe when you are in such situation, but it is 100% true. “Gaslighting” is a tactic of abusing, and it is all the fault of the abuser. It can happen to anyone. The critical thing is to avoid dating people that seem to be playing “crazy games” with you in the future.