what is gaslighting

What is Gaslighting? Are You a Victim of it?

Today, there are more ‘names’ for the kinds of things people have been experiencing for decades and decades. And this is actually a good thing. 

Way back when, people would experience all kinds of abuse… not as overtly as physical, but mental, psychological, and emotional. And these kinds of abuse are just as harmful (sometimes even more so) than physical abuse. 

And that’s why, today, we’re talking about gaslighting (and love bombing).

What is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a subtle form of manipulation and psychological control. 

It’s when a victim is deliberately and systematically fed false information, which leads them to question all that they know to be true. Oftentimes, these lies are about the person themselves, which could lead to them doubting their own memory, perception, and even their sanity.

What’s even worse about gaslighting is that it takes place slowly and cunningly. So slow, in fact, that the victim may not even realise they’re being gaslit. 

Over time however, the manipulation tactics can grow more complex and potent, making it even more difficult for victims to come to terms with what’s being done to them.

And then, where does the term ‘Gaslighting’ come from? The term ‘gaslighting’ actually comes from the 1938 play called “Gas Light” that was produced in London and ran for six months. Later, it was turned into a film. It encompassed a wealthy woman who married a deceitful yet suave man who isolated and manipulated her with an end goal of getting her institutionalised.

Despite this playwright (and film adaption) being made so long ago, it is only recently that the term ‘gaslighting’ became “a thing”. 

And the thing about this form of manipulation is that it doesn’t start off with the tell tale signs. In fact, it’s usually the opposite, such as love bombing.

Love Bombing in the Realm of Gaslighting

Some relationships that are rife with gaslighting may appear seemingly perfect (in the beginning) and oftentimes can include an element of “love bombing”. 

Love bombing is when one praises another from the get-go (for example, on the first date), and immediately confides in them, telling them all about themselves, even before intimacy, which gives the victim a sense of trust. 

Someone who ‘love bombs’ will lavish another with over-the-top gestures and won’t take “no” for an answer. It also includes bombarding another with calls and texts, being overly intense, craving undivided attention, and convincing someone that they are their soulmate way too soon in the relationship. 

On the other hand, love bombing also includes getting upset when a partner begins to place boundaries, and becoming angry or agitated when they don’t have uninterrupted access to you.

Are You a Victim of Gaslighting?

You may be a victim of gaslighting if someone:

  • insists that you did or said something which you are sure you didn’t
  • denies your recollection of things
  • calls you “too sensitive” or “emotional” when you express your needs or concerns
  • twists events to put blame on you
  • refuses to be wrong
  • refuses to listen to things from your perspective
  • denies having said something
  • uses something or someone you love as ammunition
  • talks the talk but never follows through in action
  • adds dashes of positive reinforcement to throw you off
  • confuses you to weaken you and to cloud your memory and judgement 
  • projects their problems or issues onto you
  • tries to get people against you
  • talks ill of you to others so that they too tend to think of you as “crazy”
  • weaponises your flaws
  • humiliates you in public
  • belittles your ideas and emotions

If You’re Being Gaslit, You May…

  • feel confused and constantly second-guess yourself
  • find it difficult to make simple decisions
  • ask yourself if you’re being too sensitive
  • become withdrawn and antisocial
  • constantly apologise
  • defend the abusive person’s behaviour
  • make excuses for the abusive person
  • feel hopeless, worthless and/or incompetent
  • experience low self-esteem and depression

7 Things You Can Do if You’re Being Gaslit

Because being gaslit can be hard to detect, especially because it happens so slowly, once you recognise the signs, there are some things you can do to address the problem:

  1. Realise that it’s not about you nor is it your fault: a person who gaslights has an obsessive need to gain and maintain power. You are not to blame for their actions.
  2. Develop a support system: having close friends and family that you trust during this time can help you to raise your self-esteem and give you the power to talk to or leave the abuser.
  3. Minimise contact: try chatting less and avoid meeting them in-person as they will most likely have a hidden agenda.
  4. Be ambiguous instead of shouting or retaliating: when you become enraged, they may act like the victim to get sympathy. Being ambiguous is to say things like, “Really?” or “I’m confused. I have proof of xyz, so can you clarify what you mean?”.
  5. Journal: keep a diary of events that have happened.
  6. Positive self-talk: remember to remind yourself of your good qualities and successes to counter the abuser’s negative narrative.
  7. Leave & seek help: if it is a partner that is gaslighting you, the best solution would be to leave. If this seems difficult or even impossible, seek professional help.

Gaslighting is a very serious issue. And even though it starts off slow, often with an element of love bombing, try to listen to your insticts and have trusted family and friends who can help you see what’s going on. Keeping a support system, regardless of any life event or situation, is always important.