Skye likes writing about mental health, nutrition, and wellness. She is passionate about sharing information that will educate, and positively affect people's lives.
Dr. Aaron Wiegmann
Dr. Wiegmann earned his medical degree (M.D.) from Rush Medical College and completed his General Surgery residency at Rush University Medical Center and Cook County Hospital. He has a Master's Degree (M.S.) in clinical research and has published numerous peer-reviewed articles.
April 14, 2021
Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in a relationship, where one person is planting seeds of doubt in another’s mind that make them question their memory, judgment, and sanity in general.
The main purpose of gaslighting in relationships is power. Most of the time, it is about a need for domination within a relationship. Those who gaslight often feel like they need to control others and keep them close.
This can stem from:
In some extreme cases, abusers can become addicted to gaslighting, which feeds their ego.
According to Good Therapy, “Many gaslighters use the target’s shame and confusion to isolate them. The person may withdraw from loved ones for fear they will side with the abuser.” This isolation allows the abuser to be the only influential force in their partner’s life, and it’s an important aspect of gaining control and total power over someone.
One of the biggest signs of gaslighting in relationships is a major imbalance of power and continued belittling behavior. It’s important to note that a small power imbalance is not a sign of gaslighting or even an abusive relationship.
Some actions from your partner that are warning signs of gaslighting:
The most dangerous thing about gaslighting is that it’s hard to recognize it when it’s happening to you. Disregard specific warning signs or actions of your partner, and just take into consideration how you feel in your relationship. Trusting those feelings can be an easier way of identifying gaslighting. Some ways that gaslighting feels include:
The signs of gaslighting are essentially the same as the techniques.
These are all signs of gaslighting. A huge part of a gaslighter’s technique is to only do things subtly at first, and then worsen over time––this is a common technique with abusers, because it works very well, and masks the abuse from their victim.
Gaslighting in relationships is abuse, and it needs to be stopped. Recognizing that it’s happening is the first step to stopping it.
Ideally, a victim should seek out help, reach out to other loved ones, and leave the abusive relationship. If that isn’t possible, there are ways to protect yourself and avoid repercussions from consistent gaslighting.
Most importantly, keep your safety in mind. If a gaslighter is threatening to harm you, then you can call the police. Even if you feel like no one would believe you, prioritizing your safety is the most important thing.
Unfortunately, gaslighting can have an extremely negative psychological impact on the victim. Some examples of mental health issues that might stem from consistent gaslighting in relationships include:
One of the primary tactics that gaslighters use is to make you feel like you are alone. They want you to feel like they are the only person that you can trust. But you are never alone, and you will need to talk to family, friends, and possibly a therapist to make sure that you can get a handle on what your reality is supposed to be.
A trained therapist is one of the best resources that you can use to confront any type of abuse, including gaslighting in relationships. Not only can they teach you how to remove yourself from the relationship safely, but they can show you different ways to resist a gaslighter’s manipulation as well. Through our sister site PlushCare, you can get convenient, accessible therapy on your phone or computer with a trained professional. Make an appointment now, and begin sharing your struggles with a professional.
Sadly, even if you get out of the relationship and your abuser moves on with their lives, you might be left with some residual mental damage for a while.
Validation is one of the best ways to fix yourself after you get out of a bad relationship. If you can have friends and family validate that your memory is fine, your emotions are deserving of respect, and you are important, then you can slowly start to trust yourself again. Again, reach out to a therapist through PlushCare if you can’t get this support elsewhere in your life. They can help you build your confidence back up, and it can all be done online through video chat or phone calls.
Gaslighting in a relationship isn’t something that you should take lying down, but it is always important to communicate with your partner and make sure that their behavior is gaslighting. If you feel like they are manipulating you, then reach out for help.
Know that many people have gotten over gaslighting and have gone on to live normal lives. They regain their relationships, friends, family, and their trust in themselves. You can have that too, as getting better is always an option. Don’t forget it.
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