How Can You Identify Gaslighting and How Can You Combat It?

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“Gaslighting” is a form of psychological manipulation in which an abuser presents the victim with a false narrative and then uses that narrative to create confusion and self-doubt in the victim’s mind. The person who is gaslighting is typically trying to gain control and power over the other person by forcing them to question their own intuition and judgement and by convincing them to accept a distorted reality.

Here we put aside our video games and our online casino South Africa game play for a bit to explore the issue of gaslighting including how to identify gaslighting behavior and how to prevent a gaslighter from succeeding in distorting the facts, events, memories and evidence that you know in order to invalidate your experience.

When Does Gaslighting Occur?

The goal of someone who is engaged in gaslighting is to make the victim question their memory, ability or sanity. Gaslighting most often happens in romantic settings but it can occur in any relationship including within a family, between friends or in an employer-employee relationship.

Tampa-based psychotherapist Stephanie Sarkis, PhD, LMHC, author of Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People—and Break Free told Psycom, “There are two main reasons why a gaslighter behaves as they do. It is either a planned effort to gain control and power over another person, or it because someone was raised by a parent or parents who were gaslighters, and they learned these behaviors as a survival mechanism.”

Examples of Gaslighting

Some common examples of gaslighting include phrases such as:

  • “This is for the best.”
  • “You’re overreacting.”
  • “You’re being overly sensitive.”
  • “You are being dramatic.”
  • “You know I only do it because I love you.” (justifying abuse)
  • “You’re too sensitive/needy.” (minimizing victim’s needs)
  • “You’re imagining things.”
  • “Why do you keep asking me for things?”
  • “I never said that.”
  • “I don’t know why you’re making such a huge deal of this.”
  • “You are the issue, not me.”
  • “If you loved me, you would…”
  • “You are just insecure.”
  • “You don’t really feel that way.” (invalidating emotions)
  • “I don’t think your family has your best interests at heart.” (with the goal of isolating the victim)
  • “It’s not a big deal.” (dismissing the victim’s needs)
  • “That never happened.”
  • “You made me do it.”
  • “I did it because you wouldn’t listen to me.”
  • “You’re not being honest with yourself.”

Who is a Gaslighter?

Gaslighters need power and control. In a relationship they need to be right about everything and to be in charge. They do this by routinely imposing their judgements on their victims. The gaslighter operates by consistently blaming, criticizing, intimidating and making abusive statements. S/he denies responsibility at every turn.

The goal of a gaslighter is to make you become overwhelmed in a state of confusion and self-doubt. Gaslighters manipulate people because of their gender identity, race, age, mental instability, or physical or emotional vulnerability. The gaslighter enjoys wielding control over the behavior and thoughts of his/her victim.

There are different levels of gaslighting. Some gaslighters are truly unaware that they’re gaslighting  and don’t understand how their behavior is affecting the other person. Other gaslighters, however, know exactly what they’re doing and they do it intentionally.

Gaslighting can happen in any relationship in which one person is so important to the other that the second person is desperate to do nothing that might upset the first person or cause the first person to leave them.

Gaslighting can occur between siblings, between a parent and a child or in an employer/employee relationship, though it is most common in romantic settings.

Signs that You’re Experiencing Gaslighting

Some of the signs that you’re experiencing gaslighting incude:

  • believing that you can’t do anything right
  • feeling a loss of confidence
  • feeling that you need to apologize all the time
  • experiencing frequent feelings of nervousness or anxiety, especially when you’re around the person that you suspect may be gaslighting you
  • constantly wondering if you’re too sensitive
  • a belief that you’re always to blame for things that go wrong
  • a feeling of hopelessness or emotional numbness
  • feeling disconnected from your sense of self/losing your identity

What to Do?

If you suspect that you’re being gaslit, ask friends or family members for their assessments.

Record events after they happen and then review them later for perspective.

When you’re speaking to the person that you think is gaslighting you, try to set your boundaries – say things like:

  • “It seems we remember things differently, so let’s move on.”
  • “I’m not going to stay if you: call me crazy/lazy; try to distort my reality;  blame me for things that go wrong; tell me that I’m being too sensitive; etc.”

Pursue your own interests and develop friendships and close relationships with family so that the gaslighter can’t isolate you or make you lose your sense of you.

Seek help from a mental health professional to learn the signs of gaslighting and how to work through it or, alternately, leave the person who is gaslighting you.


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