Have you ever found yourself trying your hardest to make things work but feel like you may be going crazy? Being in a relationship where you always have to watch what you say and still get ridiculed can’t be pleasant. Chances are there is nothing wrong with you but the immediate company you keep. Gaslighting is a form of subtle emotional abuse in which an individual manages to undermine your mental stability without you having the slightest idea.
Do you know what gaslighting is?
The unique thing about gaslighting as a kind of emotional abuse is that it is so subtle and neatly executed. Victims find it difficult to understand the depth of the problem they are in unless they read about it or someone points it out to them. Often, victims tend to suck up to the abuse because the gaslighter’s behavior is a mix of good and bad signals. The love and care the victims feel for their gaslighter will have them living off the good memories, ignoring the extreme but subtle emotional abuse.
Gaslighting is emotional manipulation. For example, if your partner promised to bring eggs home, and when you ask him for the eggs, he swears he never said that and you just remembered wrong, that can be a sign of gaslighting at a basic level. More seriously, if you have sure proof that your spouse cheated on you and during the confrontation, he manages to make you believe that you are overreacting, despite the evidence, you are being gaslighted.
How can you recognize a gaslighter?
Gaslighters can have narcissistic traits. However, narcissists often don’t understand the depth of their misbehavior and the harm it causes. Gaslighters, on the other hand, know exactly what to do to keep the victim on edge and gain complete control of the relationship. They are aware of what they are doing and the outcome of their actions. Gaslighting happens deliberately. The similarity with narcissism is that most of the time, the abusers believe themselves to be extremely important and always right. They lack empathy and hardly care about others’ feelings. They are only focused on getting what they want through manipulation or other forms of emotional abuse.
“If you alter your behavior because you are frightened of how your partner will react, you are being abused.”
– Sandra Horley
5 signs that you are being gaslighted
This article may have caught your attention because you may be starting to realize that you have been gaslighted. Here are a few signs you can identify in your relationship to tell if you are a gaslighting victim.
1. Partners who do not admit their mistakes
Abusers always have excuses as to why they committed a mistake. Most will not admit to their faults. Or, even worse, they may not acknowledge doing anything wrong or unbecoming. Gaslighters look for a chance to attack the victim. They are almost always in defense mode and never open-minded about a situation.
They may deny things despite obvious proof to the contrary. Even when, without a doubt, they are at fault, they deny the whole thing as if it never happened. These occurrences may make you start questioning reality and feel like you are going a little insane. If you don’t start seeking help or a way out, you might begin blindly accepting their version of events and give in to the torment.
2. Feeling insecure and questioning your worth
Your partner should be someone who lifts you up and make you feel safe. However, around a gaslighter, you will find yourself feeling inadequate and worthless most of the time. You’ll never know how to behave or what to say, or whether it is right or wrong. Your partner’s motives may confuse you. Victims often find themselves trapped in a cycle of abandonment issues around their partner. They are always confused and thus in a constant battle in their minds.
Gaslighting behavior might leave you questioning if you are a good person and worthy partner. This is because your opinion is never valid, and the abusive partner always finds a way of pinning the blame on you, even if it is clearly not your fault. With time you may judge yourself too much and measure yourself to be unfit to associate with others due to feelings of unworthiness.
3. You can’t have a conversation or make a decision without being worried
Due to being continuously criticized for your decisions and every other choice you make, you may have a hard time doing something as simple as having a conversation. You are constantly worried about the right thing to say so as not to anger your partner and avoid being attacked. You rummage through your head to have an open-minded conversation without being judged or ridiculed. Communication is the foundation of a relationship. Lack of that should tell you that there is something wrong. If you live with a gaslighter, you may find yourself feeling more at ease and safer when your partner is away.
4. The fault always comes back to you
Pointing out and criticizing your abusive partner’s mistakes will have her playing the victim and somehow turning the fault back to you. No matter the depth of her wrongdoing, she will find a way to manipulate you into thinking that it was all your fault in the first place. This will cause you to question yourself, your choices, and your behavior, often leading to depression. You will find yourself apologizing, even when you are the one who was hurt and betrayed. You may not fully understand how, but the gaslighter will make sure you feel that you are to blame.
5. You feel bad about yourself and where you come from
Gaslighters may direct their unnecessary, hurtful opinions and criticisms at the things most dear to you. For example, they may point out flaws in your friends and make you feel low for hanging out with them. The same can happen to the bond with your parents or children. They may point out faults in your behavior and things you don’t do right to make you feel vulnerable, unhappy, and never satisfied with yourself. Putting you down gives them the idea that they are the greatest and most righteous. Their goal is the satisfaction of making you feel crazy and inadequate.
If you are in an abusive relationship, talk about it with someone you trust, such as family members, friends, clergy, nurse, or doctor. Call the police at any time you feel you are in immediate danger.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline can give you advice and the name of a local shelter if you need one. 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
If you or someone you know experiences mental health issues, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional. Our Resource Specialist can help you find expert mental health resources to recover in your community. Contact us now for more information on this free service to our users.
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