Gaslighting is a manipulation tactic used commonly by a person who emotionally abuses their partner. In essence, it is a form of psychological abuse where a person makes someone question their sanity, perception of reality or memories. It can be very hard for a victim to recognise that it is happening to them.
Abusers use gaslighting as a way to gain and maintain power and control in the relationship. They break down your confidence over time by making you think your interpretation of events is incorrect. The more you second-guess yourself, the more you start to believe their version must be the accurate one.
So, how do you recognise gaslighting? Here are six phrases abusers use to manipulate you:
- “You have a terrible memory” – To have you question yourself and doubt your memory. If you no longer trust your assessment, the abuser is in control.
- “You’re too sensitive” – If you try to express your hurt or disappointment over something the abuser has said, they minimise your feelings by telling you you’re making a big deal out of nothing. The intent is to make you feel stupid for standing up for yourself.
- “That never happened” – Abusers say or do something abusive and then simply deny it happened to sow the seeds of doubt in you. You start questioning your instincts and rely more on the ‘reality’ that the abuser creates.
- “I’m sorry you think that I hurt you” – This may appear to be an apology, but its not! Rather the abuser deflects responsibility for any pain they’ve caused and instead blames you for misinterpreting the situation.
- “You’re crazy – and other people think so, too” – Over time the abuser’s lies and distortions of reality make you legitimately question your own sanity.
- “You should have known how I would react” – Another case of the abuser trying to shift responsibility off themselves and onto you.
If you think you are being ‘gaslighted’ keep paying attention to your gut instincts, hold on to texts and emails, check in with a trusted friend, family member or therapist and consider calling out the abuser’s behaviour, but know that even in doing all this, their behaviour isn’t likely to change!