Let’s talk about gaslighting.
Definition? Well, by the book it’s “a form of mental abuse.” Abuse that causes its victims to doubt themselves, their sanity, their memory, and their perception. It’s a form of manipulation that it is far too common.
Gaslighting has been dubbed as one of the craziest but most effective forms of mind control on multiple platforms. If you don’t believe me, Google it. The results are endless.
The term actually stems from a 30s play called “Gas Light,” where the husband tried to drive his wife insane by dimming the gas lights in their home and then denied that they were changing.
Gaslight starts out harmless. Minor. Something that you might not even notice. “You’re too emotional…You’re overreacting.” Sometimes it’s a flat-out: “That never happened.” Sometimes it may be or even seem unintentional, but that doesn’t mean it still isn’t happening. But you ignore the signs anyway.
But then it changes. Instead of it being a once and while ordeal, it’s something that starts to happen, well, frequently enough that you begin to question yourself. See gaslighting goes beyond the stigma of “am I crazy?” Victims of this abuse will start to question everything about themselves. They no longer trust their instincts. They second guess themselves, constantly.
On top of feeling like their feelings are irrational, the victim will more than likely try to please their abuser and try to show them that they are “normal,” in an attempt to win their affection back.
Gaslighting victims may often ask themselves these questions or say these things:
- Am I too emotional?
- Do I have the right to feel this way?
- Did he/she really _____?
- I must be doing something.
- What is wrong with me?
- How can I get him/her to love me again?
- Am I good enough?
- I’m sorry.
Take the example below:
Cassie confronts Dan about staying out late; she thinks he’s cheating on her. Dan has been staying out later than usual and may not be communicating why to Cassie, so when she confronts him, shit goes left. He calls her “crazy” or maybe even “a bitch” and says she is “imagining things.”
However, it’s okay for her to feel this way, because Dan is coming home late at night.
When the fight is brought up later, and Cassie mentions everything Dan said, he dismisses it. Says it “never happened”, or asks why she doesn’t “just get over it.”
Now, though this may seem normal or not that big a deal to some, this is a textbook definition of gaslighting. Dan is trying to control the way Cassie perceives the situation, he is instilling in her that she has no right nor reason to confront him about coming in late. He even goes as far to call her names, and say she needs to get over the situation.
I’m going to say this again, for the person who may doubt this. Gaslighting is a form of mental abuse, mind control, manipulation and domestic abuse. The types of abusers who use this usually are looking for power, for control. And you may wonder, how can someone sit there and allow someone to warp what they think, and to diminish them?
That’s the worst part about this.
This form of abuse isn’t as easy to pinpoint. Your partner hits you with emotional blows so that there are not physical scars. When you realize what is happening, you’re already in over your head. Already doubting yourself.
One more time, for the person in the back. Gaslighting is not okay.
If you’re questioning if you’re a victim of gaslighting (or know someone who is), seek help.
For help, call 1-866-331-9474, chat at loveisrespect.org or text “loveis” to 22522, any time, 24/7, 365 days a year.