According to Wikipedia, Gaslighting “is a form of intimidation or psychological abuse in which false information is presented to the victim, making them doubt their own memory and perception.” It is one of the most damaging forms of emotional abuse because it can be so difficult to detect due to its (sometimes) subtlety.
My dear friend Jaymee Goh first introduced me to the term “Gaslighting,” and I’ve been fascinated with it ever since. It explains why phrases like “settle down” or “calm down” have the absolute opposite effect on me. It’s reminds me of past relationships, romantic, platonic and familial, dating back to the way my father spoke to my mother 37 years ago.
“You always want to talk.”
“You’re just being too sensitive.”
“You’re looking at it all wrong.”
Even more malicious is the wo/man who tells their spouse/SO they’re imagining things to cover up an affair. But Gaslighting also occurs in other non-romantic relationships, too. It can happen from a boss at work. Your doctor. Your friend. Anyone who uses these subtle manipulation techniques to make you think you’re crazy or doubt yourself. Narcissists excel at gaslighting, but one doesn’t have to be a narcissist to use it.
“Gaslighting is an insidious form of emotional abuse and manipulation that is difficult to recognize and even harder to break free from. That’s because it plays into one of our worst fears – of being abandoned – and many of our deepest needs: to be understood, appreciated, and loved. The abuser is usually a very insecure person. He has a need to put others down in an attempt to make himself feel better. He must be seen as right at all times.” (The Gaslight Effect)*
The following information was gathered from the amazing website Think Like A Black Belt which “teaches physical, mental, and emotional self defense against unsafe people.”
Signs of Gaslighting:
- You feel sabotaged but can’t explain it.
- You’re the one “needing” to apologize.
- You second guess yourself and feel a lot of draining confusion.
- You constantly feel like you have to prove yourself.
- You shoulder a lot of the blame in the relationship.
- Guilt follows you no matter what you do.
- It’s often implied you are inconsiderate, disrespectful, or too sensitive.
- You often defer to the other person’s take on a situation or matter.
- Life feels out of whack, but you can’t pinpoint the cause.
- As you think back, you remember being more carefree and confident.
- Lying seems easier to avoid drama or explanations.
- You feel you can’t defend yourself verbally or emotionally anymore.
- You find yourself accepting weird or bad behavior in the other person as normal.
- Confrontation with the other person has them offering a reasonable explanations and making you feel bad for questioning them.
“Message to Women from a Man: You Are Not ‘Crazy'”
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~ by omgrey on December 7, 2011.
Posted in Romance & Relationships, Trauma & Recovery
Tags: abuse, author, gaslighting, healing, heartbroken, honesty, infidelity, love, misogyny, non-monogamy, o.m. grey, olivia grey, open, open marriage, passion, polyamory, postaweek2011, relationship advice, relationships, romance, think like a black belt