What is gaslighting?


You’ve probably heard of term gaslighting but what does it mean? Gaslighting is a form of manipulation used to emotionally abuse a person in a relationship. This happens when one person convinces another that they are wrong in recalling memories/information or it could be that they’re convincing the other person that they’ve misinterpreted what happened. This becomes confusing when the person on the receiving end knows the truth, knows what’s happened but because the other person is so adamant, they’re wrong, eventually they’ll start to doubt themselves and wonder whether the other person is right, and they did recall the event wrong.

It’s easy to think that you would or should notice when someone is gaslighting you but as with anything if you’re too close to the situation, it becomes harder to look at it objectively.

An example of gaslighting: Let’s use Adam and Amy. Adam wanted to speak to Amy about the way she is dismissive towards him when he brings up things that are bothering him: Amy proceeds to talk over Adam, telling him ‘that’s not what happened’, ‘I didn’t dismiss you’, ‘you’re the dismissive one’, ‘you don’t take responsibility’ as you can gather the issue of Adam feeling dismissed didn’t get discussed and now it appears it never happened, instead the tables have been turned and now he’s been accused of being dismissive. This reaction could leave Adam feeling like he’s got it wrong, that he’s misunderstood what was happening or even leave him feeling angry.

Gaslighting can have a negative impact on your mental health, whereby you’ll struggle with differentiating between reality and what you’ve been told (they’re not always the same), you’ll struggle with knowing the difference between truth and lies, it could lead to you relying heavily on your partner and creating co-dependency in your relationship and leaves you retreating within yourself by blaming yourself for the things that have happened even if they were not your fault. In a nutshell gaslighting can make you feel like you’re losing your mind, that there is something wrong with you, you won’t be able to trust your own judgement and start believing most of the things the manipulator is saying.

Recognising you’re being gaslighted is easier said than done, especially if you’ve been at the receiving end of this for years, don’t be hard on yourself if you’re struggling to see what is actually happening:

  • You’ll notice the white lies from the abuser
  • Even if you have proof of something, the abuser will still tell you you’re wrong
  • Despite having proof or evidence, they’re so adamant your wrong, you feel you may have missed something – why else would someone be so adamant?
  • You doubt your own judgement even if you have proof you’re right
  • You bring up a issue and they blame you for the behaviours they do to you
  • They don’t take responsibility for anything, it’s always your fault

The first step to anything is acknowledging what is happening, you can’t deal with something if you don’t see that it exists. Speak to others you trust and gain their insight, seek therapy to undo the trauma the abuser has done to you, so you can move past this and stop suffering.