What is Gaslighting and is it Happening to You?

gaslighting

If you recognize any of these signs in your relationship, you might be a victim of gaslighting

With the influx of sexual assault and harassment allegations flying around the term “gaslighting” has been used extensively. But what is gaslighting, really? By definition gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. He manipulates her until what she knows to be true becomes what she thinks is true, and then she doesn’t know what’s true at all anymore.

Men have used gaslighting as a tactic to quietly discredit women for years. In October, The New Yorker published a report that shows just how Harvey Weinstein gaslighted women. In 2015 during a NYPD sting operation, recording captured Weinstein admitting to groping a model named Ambra Battilana Gutierrez. He described the incident as something he’s used to being able to do to women.

The worst part of the recording to me is that Gutierrez said no 5 times in a span of just under 2 minutes to Weinstein’s sexual advances. Just one no should be enough- but that didn’t stop him. He then went on to try to guilt her repeatedly into coming to his hotel room for a drink while he took a shower. Even though she voiced her discomfort, Weinstein kept pressing agitated saying things like “you’re embarrassing me” and “making a scene” at a hotel he visits often. He continued with threats saying “if you embarrass me in this hotel…” making her feel guilty.

This kind of behavior that makes the victim look or feel that they are in the wrong, when the opposite is actually true, is common in abusive relationships- specifically in intimate partner relationships. So how do you know if your partner is gaslighting you?

 

They Tell Blatant Lies

You know for a fact it’s lie, yet they are telling you otherwise with a straight face. They will continue to defend their lies until you’re not so sure what’s true anymore. Keeping you unsure and confused is the goal.

They Tell You or Others That You are Crazy

Making their victim feel “crazy” is one of the most effective tactics a gaslighter uses. They know if they question your sanity and make you truly believe you’re “crazy” you won’t catch on to their abusive behavior. This also sets the precedent that others shouldn’t believe you when you tell them your partner is out of control.

They Continuously Highlight Your Flaws

Gaslighters attack the foundation of your being. They constantly nit-pick your flaws until you’re insecure and lack confidence. They use this tactic to control you and make you feel like there is also something wrong with you and you’re not good enough. Making you feel vulnerable and insecure allows the gaslighter to gain more power over you.

You are Always Saying Sorry

At this point in the relationship, you are constantly second-guessing yourself. Anything you do feels like a mistake and you constantly blame yourself for what is going wrong in your relationship.

You Feel Alone and Trapped

Many victims of gaslighting feel trapped or alone. Some victims isolate themselves because they are ashamed about feeling stuck and powerless. Gaslighters aim to isolate their victims by inciting doubts about those who don’t agree with their relationship. Without sources of support, the gaslighter gains more control of the victim.

Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse and can be devastating to its victims. Ruth Glenn, the executive director at the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, told the Huffington Post, “The first things that victims and survivors will say is the hardest thing to get over is the psychological and emotional abuse,” she said. “It is permanent. And it really reaches into your psyche.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing these behaviors do not hesitate to take action.