Gaslighting Is Emotional And Psychological Abuse
Gaslighting is the attempt to convince another that what they perceive, believe, think or feel is inaccurate or untrue. Any attempt to make a victim doubt her own reality is gaslighting, and is abusive.
The devastation that gaslighting can cause to a woman’s brain and body is severe: this degree of psychological abuse can cause cause a woman to doubt her own sanity. This insidious form of abuse is despicable and women deserve safety from gaslighting.
How to Discern Gaslighting
By its very nature, gaslighting is elusive and difficult to pin down. In moments of emotional and psychological abuse, it may even be impossible for a victim to discern that she is being gaslighted. However, if a victim is able to read the following list and identify with any of the following points, she may be able to be fairly confident that she has been gaslighted by her partner, and is in an abusive relationship.
- You make excuses for your partner’s behavior to yourself, friends, and family.
- You constantly second-guess yourself.
- You ask yourself, “Am I too sensitive?” many times every day.
- You often feel confused or “crazy.”
- You’re husband tells you what you are really thinking and feeling, but he is wrong. He doesn’t believe you when you tell him the truth about how you feel.
- You can’t understand why, with so many apparently good things in your life, you feel a sense of doom.
- You sometimes lie to avoid the put-downs and reality twists.
- You think twice before bringing up certain seemingly innocent topics of conversation.
- Before your partner comes home, you run through a checklist in your head to anticipate anything you might have done wrong that day, make sure everything is just right, or think of the “good” reasons you have for not having done everything perfectly.
- You have the sense that you used to be a very different person – more confident, more fun-loving, and more relaxed.
Manipulation & The Tactics Used To Gaslight
If you are in a relationship where there is prevalent gaslighting, you are likely experiencing MANY things. Three of the most common experiences are being lied to (whether through concealment or falsification), the crazy-making that comes with the mind games, and feeling confused about reality.
Some of the common tactics used by abusive men to make their partner’s doubt their own sanity and reality are:
- Redirecting responsibility by blaming you for the problems in the relationship. The roles in the situation are reversed – he becomes the “victim”, and you become the “offender.” “Well of course we’re having problems in the marriage! You’re always so angry!”
- Discrediting your reality by saying the problems are your imagination or “faulty” thinking. “I wasn’t staring at that woman! You’re just insecure!”
- Saying you need OR dismissing the help you’re getting (Therapy, coaching, support group, etc). “You’re the one with the problems! You’re the one who needs help!” OR “That’s not really what you want; your coach is the one telling you to say that.”
- Highlighting and criticizing your character flaws. “You are shrill, blaming, and controlling, so of course I’m going to watch porn!”
How to Find Safety From Gaslighting
When women identify gaslighting in their relationships, they may feel terrified and confused as to how to proceed. It is difficult to accept the reality that you are in an abusive relationship, however, if your partner is gaslighting you, you are being abused.
You can protect yourself from abuse by setting and maintaining boundaries.
Some examples of boundaries around gaslighting are:
- Only I get to say how I feel: if someone else begins to tell me how I feel, I leave the room.
- I will be treated with love and respect; insults are not part of a loving relationship. I will only live in a home with someone who treats me with kindness. This means that I will not live with my partner any longer.
Only you can know what boundaries are necessary to keep you safe from emotional abuse, but one thing is certain: you deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. BTR coaches can help you determine what boundaries will help you find the safety you deserve.
Betrayal Trauma Recovery Supports Victims of Emotional and Psychological Abuse
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Remember, you are not alone.
THIS. IS. AWESOME! You’ve truly changed my life with this stuff. I began using the tools you taught me (along with the courage and confidence I knew you had in me) to create major changes within my own marriage. Between that and all of our followup sessions, you’ve empowered me to finally “turn off the gas.” This stuff is pure GOLD for us as survivors of addiction and/or abuse. I’m so incredibly thankful to have you in my corner!
Thank you! This post helped me recognize my husbands gaslighting and call him on it!
I never heard of this (gaslighting) til now.WOW! what an eye opener. Very informative!
My husband steels my possesions. From my business documents, jewlry, pictures. Sometimes I get things back and other times he throws things think away destroyning items like my Xmas ornaments, poisoning my apple tree… he has been caught several times and has admitted to many of these examples… he lies all the time…
Please help me, what is this and what am I dealing with????
He’s abusive. I’m so sorry! Have you considered joining The Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group, so you can get support to know what to do?
My ex used to gaslight me about my sensitive ears and nose. When something sounded wrong with the car or an appliance, he’d say, “I don’t hear anything,” and something did end up being wrong. And my absolute favorite, literal “gaslighting” – a couple of times after he did various DIY projects involving a gas appliance, I’d say, “I smell gas,” and he’d say, “I don’t smell anything.” Well, you can bet I called the gas company and of course, I was right – gas leak!
Thank you for sharing the truth that pornography addiction is abuse and causes psychological damage. I’ve been divorced three years after being married 18 years. I’m still healing from all the betrayal.