The term “gaslighting” comes from a movie called “Gaslight”, where a devious husband manipulates and torments his wife to convince her she’s going mad. Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse. People who use Gaslighting manipulate you to a point that you increasingly doubt yourself, your judgment, your memory, and even your sanity. Gaslighting can happen in many types of relationships, including those with partners, bosses, colleagues, friends and family members. But the most devastating form of gaslighting is when it occurs in a relationship between a couple.
How can we spot signs of Gaslighting in a couple?
People victims of Gaslighting:
- no longer feel like the people they used to be
- are more anxious and less confident than they used to be
- are often wondering if they’re being too sensitive
- feel like everything they do is wrong
- always think it’s their fault when things go wrong
- apologise often
- have a sense that something’s wrong, but are unable to identify what it is
- often question whether their response is appropriate
- make excuses for their partner’s behaviour
- avoid giving information to friends or family members to avoid confrontation about their partner
- feel isolated from friends and family
- find it increasingly hard to make decisions
- feel hopeless and take little or no pleasure in activities they used to enjoy
I think Gaslighting has been used in my relationship, what can I do?
If you suspect you are in a relationship where Gaslighting has been used against you, recognising you are a victim in your relationship is an important first step toward recovery. The next step involves consulting a psychotherapy professional. They can help you sift through your doubts and fears and understand the realities of what you experienced. You will learn how to manage doubts and anxiety and develop coping skills. Always trust you felt-sense, if something is not quite right in your relationship and if you have experienced one of more of the above signs, then remember there is nothing wrong about your thoughts, emotions or judgements, this is your truth and you have all the rights to express it.
Article adapted from <https://www.healthline.com/health/gaslighting#getting-help>
Sarkis, S. (2018). Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People – and Break Free. New York: Da Capo Press.