No, ‘gaslighting’ has nothing to do with your stove. This is a form of abuse that is prevalent in a lot of relationships. These relationships don’t necessarily have to be romantic ones. It can be a friendship, a familial relationship, or even a professional relationship. But what exactly is gaslighting and how do you identify the signs and common tactics? Read on to know all about it.
What is gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a form of psychological and emotional abuse where one party makes the victim doubt their own actions. It’s a manipulation tactic used to gain the upper hand on the victim and shift the blame to the victim. Basically, if someone starts making you doubt your judgement, what you saw or heard, and puts it across in a way that makes you at fault, that’s a sign you are being gaslit. The perpetrator turns the reality and makes the victim question their reality.
For example, you tell your partner that something they said is very hurtful and really affected you. Your partner, in turn, invalidates your feelings and responds by saying you are thinking too much or that you have made things up in your mind. This is one of the most common signs of gaslighting.
What are the common gaslighting tactics?
1. Constantly lying to you
Someone who gaslights is, more often than not, a pathological liar. It is quite common for them to lie continuously without changing their story, even if you show proof of their lies. In such cases, the person who gaslights often respond with comments like “You are crazy”, “You are cooking up stories”, etc.
2. Vilifying you
Someone who gaslights you will try to portray themselves as a victim and the other person as a villain. They will spread false rumours to prove you are as bad as they make you out to be. Many times, a person who gaslights will often have you believe that others are saying negative things about you, even if they don’t.
A person who gaslights will always twist the story and you will be left feeling guilty. For example, your partner hits you. When you ask about it, they respond by saying your actions angered them, so they reacted. Ultimately, the reason they hit you is because of you and you are the one at fault.
3. Distracting attention to something else
In most cases, when you ask a perpetrator a question or confront them with something, they will often deflect. They will either ask you a counter-question or change the subject to divert your mind. You’ll end up questioning if you even need the answer to your original question.
4. Shifting blame elsewhere
Someone who gaslights often shifts the blame to others rather than accepting their fault. Most often, the person to blame will be you. Even if you confront them about their actions, they will turn it around and put the blame on you. Their reasoning will be something to the tune of “if you hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have acted the way I did”.
5. Trivialising your feelings
Someone who gaslights will never take responsibility for their own actions. No matter how wrong they are, they will never accept it. This often leaves the victim feeling at a loss, unheard and unseen.
Signs you are being gaslit
The victims of gaslighting often feel depressed and anxious. All the manipulation causes a horde of mental health issues. It is important to know the signs and check to see if you are being gaslit. Some of the signs of being gaslit are:
- You constantly doubt your judgement
- You are always questioning your reality
- You are always apologising
- You are often confused
- You feel like you are all alone
- You often wonder if your partner is what they portray themselves to be
- You don’t trust yourself and hence struggle with making decisions
- You always assume everyone is disappointed in you
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