In the last few years, gaslighting has become a hot mental health topic among young people. Today, a lot of TV shows, movies, and reality shows portray examples of gaslighting and such mental abuse. This is good because recognizing emotional abuse can help people avoid dangerous situations. You may accuse someone of gaslighting at work or in a relationship. But first, you must understand what is gaslighting. Also, you need to recognize and know how to respond to gaslighting.
Sometimes people may manipulate the truth on purpose. That might make you question your own feelings and thoughts. It’s a sign that they may be trying to gaslight you. Any person in a position of authority, not only a romantic partner, is capable of gaslighting you. There are concrete actions you may take to confront your abuser and seek help.
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What Is Gaslighting?
What is “Gaslighting” became known to people in 1938. First, there was the play “Gas Light” in 1938. Then came the movie ‘Gas Light’ in the 1940s, an adaptation of the play. In the story, a man makes his wife think she’s imagining the gas lights dimming. And she begins to believe she’s going crazy.
It’s common for abusive partners to resort to gaslit behavior as a tactic of manipulation. It’s a form of psychological abuse. In such a case, the abuser makes the victim question their own senses and experiences. Gaslight victims may start to doubt their own reality. They start believing that they are going crazy because of it.
The effects of gaslighting are usually long-term. It makes the victim question his or her own sanity, sense of reality, or memory of past events. He becomes disoriented, loses faith in himself, and questions his mental stability. The victim often becomes dependent on the abuser as a result.
Examples of gaslighting are seen most in love relationships. But it can also happen in manipulative friendships or even in families. People who gaslight others may be suffering from mental illness themselves. It is a form of manipulation to control their friends, family, and even coworkers.
Know The Causes To Respond To Gaslighting
Observation is the best teacher, and gaslighting is a learned behavior. They may have found that this is the best way to get what they want or exert influence over others. Thus they resort to this method. They believe they deserve to get what they want or that the desires of others are irrelevant.
People with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and such disorders are violent and abusive. They have an endless hunger for attention and praise. They have a false sense of self-worth and consider themselves superior. And it shows in their lack of compassion.
If you have all these signs, it could cause problems in your relationships. But gaslighting is not always caused by mental illness. This is something that anyone is capable of doing.
Among the causes of gaslighting is systemic abuse. Those in power can use it to hurt an opponent by making them look like no one can trust them.
10 Signs Of Gaslighting In A Relationship
What is gaslighting but the confusion it stirs up in a person? It’s difficult to recognize since it’s intended to throw you off. You can usually count on it coming from a reliable source.
Has any of the following things happened in your relationships? Has any person you know, you think is trying to gaslight you? Check to find out the following signs of gaslighting.
- Refusing to accept they were wrong even when you confronted them with evidence. And instead, claiming that you’re mistaken about anything you saw that actually happened.
- Speculating that others are talking bad about you or spreading rumors about you.
- Refusing to listen when challenged with a lie. Or changing the subject when caught, are common responses.
- When you call them out, they tell you that you’re overreacting.
- Blame shifting in relationships! They say that if you behaved in a different manner, they wouldn’t treat you this way.
- Making up for their lack of action with mushy words of affection
- Altering one’s account to downplay their aggressive actions
- Saying things like “It was a joke” or “You’re way too sensitive” to downplay their hurtful actions or words.
- Cut you off from support from others who could notice the effects in you.
Any of these signs of gaslighting in a relationship should raise red flags. Because they suggest the partnership is toxic. He/she may be having serious psychological effects on the individual experiencing it.
What Is Gaslight At Work
You can witness the signs of gaslighting even at your workplace. Your partners, colleagues, or bosses can gaslight you by shifting the blame. The abuser damages the victim’s confidence and sense of value. That happens when he or she does things that make the victim question what happened. A person could also be like that when he or she doesn’t like taking responsibility. They don’t own up for their mistake or enjoy taking credit for someone else’s work.
Whistle-blower gaslighting is the kind that occurs in the workplace. An employee may complain about a hostile work environment or sexual abuse. Others may blame them for exaggeration or poor understanding of what happened.
Gaslighting at work is more likely to happen with people from minority or neglected groups. Or when someone makes false claims about the past or habits of other people. Women of color, according to academic research complained of discrimination at work. They said they faced harassment at work. When women disclose sexual or domestic assault, they are especially vulnerable to gaslighting.
Examples To Help You Respond To Gaslighting
Different situations can lead to gaslighting. Here are a few examples:
- When someone challenges your memory, they are challenging your argument. They might question your certainty by asking, “Are you sure about that? I suppose you’re forgetting what truly happened,” or “You have a terrible memory.”
- A person may withhold support by acting as though they do not comprehend what is being said or by simply refusing to listen to the other person. If someone tells you that you are confusing them,” or that “They don’t know what you are talking about.”
- When someone minimizes or dismisses another person’s feelings, they are engaging in trivializing behavior. They might say they’re overreacting or “too sensitive” for having legitimate worries.
- Refusing to accept responsibility for one’s conduct is an example of denial. They could act as if they’ve forgotten what happened, claim they weren’t responsible, or place the blame on someone else.
- By casting doubt on the other person’s sincerity, one might shift the conversation’s focus. That’s just crap you found on the internet,” they would say. It’s all an illusion.
- The American Sociological Review published an essay arguing that it is possible to gaslight someone by making derogatory generalizations about their gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, nationality, or age. They might suggest that no one would believe a woman who reported being abused.
Effects Of Gaslight On Mental Health
“The more you try to squeeze the toxicity out of someone, the more their poison is soaked up by you.”
― Christine E. Szymanski
You keep hearing over and over that you are mistaken, confused, or crazy. This can have a catastrophic effect on your mental health. You start doubting your sanity and the truth of your views, feeling helpless and alone. Other signs of gaslighting include a lack of confidence and concentration and difficulty making decisions.
Gaslighting victims are at increased risk for psychological distress and even suicidal thoughts. Young adults with mental health concerns are more prone to gaslighting. This then worsens their symptoms.
Also, the victims deal with PTSD on a regular basis. They cannot trust others. They can’t even trust themselves after an abusive relationship. Because of this, they may get involved in unhealthy, codependent relationships. Such victims don’t recover because gaslighters rarely provide an apology or admit fault.
How To Respond To Gaslighting
Safeguard yourself from more gaslighting in a relationship by taking the following actions.
- Put some space between yourself and the overwhelming feelings gaslighting causes. Getting away from the situation can help. But if that’s not an option, try some relaxation techniques. Start doing yoga exercises like deep breathing or grounding exercises.
- Gaslighting can make you doubt your own sanity. Thus, it’s important to keep records of your experiences. Maintain a journal, save text messages, or archive emails. This will help to remind you that you’re doing great. Also, you shouldn’t second-guess yourself.
- Creating limits let others know what your comfort level is in a given situation. Let the other person know that you will not tolerate them dismissing or ignoring your points.
- Talking to a supportive person about your problems can help you see things well. Getting another person’s take on things can often help clarify things for you.
- Breaking up with someone who gaslights you, again and again, is unpleasant. But it’s by far the most effective approach to stop the abuse.
- Have you recently broken up with a gaslighter? Well, then it can take some time before you can trust your own judgment and intuition again. It is important to keep in mind that the gaslighter’s portrayal of you is not who you really are.
The person who is being gaslighted starts to doubt their own sense or point of view. It can happen in any kind of relationship but usually happens when one person is stronger than the other.
Examples of gaslighting are when people say that they feel confused or powerless. They might start to question what they remember or worry that something is wrong with their mind. It’s also possible that they’ll support the abuser’s actions and start to care about them.
Know what is gaslighting and avoid being a victim of it. If you already are experiencing signs of gaslighting, then start making a safety plan, or leave the relationship. Know how to respond to gaslighting and get help from a mental health professional.