What is Gaslighting?
- You’re crazy - that never happened.
- Are you sure? You tend to have a bad memory.
- It’s all in your head.
Does your significant other say things like this to you a lot? Do you often start questioning what’s really true – or even your own sanity – within your relationship? If so, your partner may be using what mental health professionals call “gaslighting.”
This term comes from the 1938 stage play Gas Light, in which a husband attempts to drive his wife crazy by dimming the lights (which were powered by gas) in their home, and then he denies that the light changed when his wife points it out. It is a very effective form of emotional abuse that causes a victim to question their own feelings, instincts, and sanity, which gives the abusive partner a lot of power (and we know that abuse is about power and control). Once an abusive partner has broken down the victim’s ability to trust their own perceptions, the victim is more likely to stay in the abusive relationship.
Signs of being a victim of gaslighting (Stern, 2009) include:
- You constantly second-guess yourself.
- You ask yourself, “Am I too sensitive?” multiple times a day.
- You often feel confused and even crazy.
- You’re always apologizing to your partner.
- You can’t understand why, with so many apparently good things in your life, you aren’t happier.
- You frequently make excuses for your partner’s behavior to friends and family.
- You find yourself withholding information from friends and family so you don’t have to explain or make excuses.
- You know something is terribly wrong, but you can never quite express what it is, even to yourself.
- You start lying to avoid the put downs and reality twists.
- You have trouble making simple decisions.
- You have the sense that you used to be a very different person - more confident, more fun-loving, more relaxed.
- You feel hopeless and joyless.
- You feel as though you can’t do anything right.
- You wonder if you are a “good enough” partner.
If any of these signs ring true for you, give us a call at 1-866-331-9474, chat online, or text loveis to 22522. Our advocates are here to support and listen to you!
[Head over to loveisrespect.org to read this blogpost in its entirety.]