What is Gaslighting?
Like sexual abuse, gaslighting can be motivated by the gratification of power and control over someone. Perpetrators will use calculated manipulation tactics to emotionally abuse their victims. Gaslighting is the manipulation of someone to control their perception of reality and happens gradually over time. Gaslighters will slowly chip away at your identity, your emotional stability and your confidence. This can be a gateway to sexual abuse by controlling the relationship and taking advantage of their power in your life.
Anyone can be a perpetrator of gaslighting - your significant other, your parent, your friend, your boss, your teacher, your mentor, etc. Here at Trees of Hope, we want to equip you with the knowledge about the process and impact of gaslighting so you can identify if you are a victim of gaslighting and protect yourself in the future by becoming empowered within your own identity.
It’s simple to learn the facts about gaslighting. The real challenge is identifying when gaslighting has become a part of your everyday life. If you have experienced a combination of the scenarios listed below, it may be a sign that you are a victim of gaslighting:
Your concerns are minimized.
Often, someone who is gaslighting you will find a way to manipulate an argument so that you are the one who ends up apologizing instead of them. Gaslighters will never admit that you caught them in a lie and will make you question yourself.
Creating confusion about the importance of your beliefs can take away your ability to give uncoerced consent.
Your feelings and emotions will be invalidated. Key phrases to look out for include:
“Your actions made me do this”
“You’re being paranoid”
“You’ll never find someone who will stand you as I have”
“It’s not me, it’s you”
Gaslighters will reframe your perceptions and make you believe that any problems are your fault. You may even feel guilty or ashamed for accusing the gaslighter.
If you feel afraid of doing something or talking to someone because of how your significant other will react, that’s a red flag.
Gaslighting controls the victim into living a life of fear rather than a life of joy.
Feeling like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster.
Perpetrators will strategically provide the attention, love, and/or validation you need one moment and behave in a completely opposite manner the next moment. This not only influences you to believe you are doing something wrong but also encourages you to try to appease them, leading to constant confusion.
Feeling isolated from friends and family.
Gaslighters will slowly weaken your ties to other important people in your life so that they are the only person in your life that you can rely on.
Making excuses for their behavior.
Being gaslighted will often lead you to make excuses such as “He/She probably didn’t mean it that way”; “It’s not that big of a deal”; “I’m probably remembering what happened wrong”; “I shouldn’t overthink it”.
Trust your instincts if you feel that someone’s actions or words towards you are wrong.
What To Do
If you believe that you have been a victim of gaslighting, repeat this phrase to yourself: “It is not my fault”. It’s hard to identify the signs of gaslighting and even more difficult to come to terms with the fact that someone you trust has betrayed you in that way. Try to build trust in yourself and bring out the courage within you to remove yourself from gaslighting conversations and seek support. Remind yourself that the most important validation of who you are comes from your own heart.