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.

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