10 Signs You are a Victim of Gaslighting

For a method that has existed for decades, people tend to be surprisingly ignorant about gaslighting. And that is sad because gaslighting is something that can affect your mental stability, both in a relationship and also for prolonged periods after you escape.


WHAT IS GASLIGHTING?



In simple terms, gaslighting is me breaking you down and making you question your basic reality.

In her book Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People--and Break Free, Dr Stephanie Sarkis talks of the most common techniques that gaslighters use to break down people and make them vulnerable.

10 signs You are a Victim of Gaslighting



01. They tell outrageous lies deliberately.
The aim is to keep you unsure as they say it with a straight face.
Eg: Me telling you that you cancelled our dinner plans even though you know you did not do it.

02. They deny things you have proof of.
 You show me proof that in fact, I cancelled the dinner plan (a call log, perhaps). And I still deny it even though it is right there visible to both of us.
Seeing my 'sincere indignation', you start to wonder if perhaps I am right.

03. They target your self-esteem and weaknesses.
In a relationship, we do let our guard down and reveal intimate memories, insecurities and moments. Now imagine, I decide to use it against you.
"If only you weren't so fat, you would have been an excellent dancer."
"It is not your fault that people think you are stupid."

04. The lies build up, wearing you down gradually.
It is never a single quick swipe of the sword. Multiple small stabs over a period of time as I bleed your self-confidence and reality away.
"You left the lights on."
"You must have forgotten to text her."
"You said you would get the milk."
"You must have used the money to buy something."

05. Their actions do not match their words.
Narcissists are smooth talkers, in general. That is the problem though.  What they say and what they do are two different things. So keep an eye out for whether I actually do what I claim to do.

06. They mix lies with positive reinforcement.
One of the key differentiating factors from a purely abusive relationship is this - I add a few compliments in the mix. My aim is to simply keep you off-balance. You wonder if despite all this, maybe I am not a bad guy, after all and maybe I do really love you.
That maybe you have been misjudging me. After all, you have been questioning your reality till now. Maybe I am the only one who is really there for you.

07. They project their behaviour onto you. 
Another key factor. I make you believe that you are the one who is cheating in this relationship (after you caught my texts with another woman!). I cast suspicion on looks 'I saw you giving others' and how 'you deliberately showed your cleavage to that guy the other day which no decent woman would do.'

See what I am doing? Even though YOU CAUGHT ME, I am going to put you on the defensive. I am going to make you question your own behaviour around other men.


10 signs You are a Victim of Gaslighting


08. They manipulate relationships with those around you.
I need you to be dependent on me. A key factor involves breaking down your other relationships. I don't even have to talk to the others. I just have to add their names into conversations with you.
Example:
"Sanjay was telling me you were insecure because of your bad looks.''
"Nisha did mention that she did not trust you around her husband but I told her she was being silly."

Multiple small stabs, remember? By making you distrust those around you, you find yourself trusting only me to be honest with you. I am now special... you need me.

09. They make you and everyone around question your sanity.
Part of my end game is to destroy your credibility not just to those around you but even to yourself. That way, should you actually try to get out of this web of deceit, nobody is going to believe what you tell them about me.

10. They make you believe only they can be trusted.
Since I have established that everyone around is actually insulting or mocking you behind your back, you now find that even if I am harsh, I am 'the only one being honest to you.'


Gaslighting Extras -

The term 'Gaslighting' originates from the 1944 movie 'Gaslight' in which a husband slowly convinces his wife that she is crazy by making her question everything she believes in.


  • Gaslighters tend to be people suffering from an anti-social personality disorder, a narcissistic or an authoritarian nature. There is no gray here - they are 100% right and you are 100% wrong. 
  • Lies usually tend to be for one of two reasons - 1) to increase my self-worth in your eyes or 2) to make you question your reality and leave you dependent on me.
  • Gaslighters get reinforced when they see victims become more dependent on them. On a large scale level, this can apply to politicians and God men whose followers believe their words blindly, reinforcing their cult status in their own minds.  
  • Even intelligent, educated men and women can become victims of gaslighting. It is not associated with intelligence as much as the emotional quotient of a person.
  • Even if faced with reality and innumerable proofs, it is very difficult to get them to consider therapy or even acknowledge that something is wrong with them.  


This scene from the 1944 movie 'Gaslight' perfectly illustrates quite a few tactics in just 2 short minutes.


As a victim of a very insane gaslighting relationship a long time ago, I can truly say it was a harrowing experience to be in. I have seen things and done stuff that present-day me cannot believe I was dumb enough to do, stuff I am still embarrassed to put down on paper. I have believed lies so outrageous even a six year old would know better. I have stared at irrefutable evidence of falsehoods and wondered if I was mistaken.

Gaslighting is tough to escape but escape you must for the sake of your own sanity.

11 Comments

  1. This is a little assuring - Even intelligent, educated men and women can become victims of gaslighting. It is not associated with intelligence as much as the emotional quotient of a person.
    And, even if faced with reality and innumerable proofs, it is very difficult to get them to consider therapy or even acknowledge that something is wrong with them.
    It’s so sad we don’t these things when we are going through them. Wish everyone is more educated about these sensitive issues.

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    1. There is no such thing in my books as getting the perpetrator to acknowledge or consider therapy. By default they are narcissists who will never accept a fault of theirs. My advice is always to the victim - to get out of the relationship ASAP and find a way to heal and move forward.

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  2. It is a very important issue.Being a victim of gaslighting with perpetrators in the form of a fellow colleague,a friend,an relative and many more in my bitchy workplace,i know how it feels like.At times we curse ourselves for all the mistake they do,not knowing they are actually responsible for all the troubles..Anybody can fall into their trap.

    Freakedoutmedico

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    1. True... anyone can fall for this and be a victim of gaslighting. All the more reason that I need to write posts and make people aware of stuff like this

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  3. Well written, Doc!

    And there is absolutely no possibility of ever making them see reason! Because that would imply that they were wrong in the first place. Which they never are!

    And you can't even talk to anyone in your common circles about what's going on, because they go to such extreme lengths to maintain their "image"!

    Plus, everything is done so subtly... constant subliminal messages to your psyche! That you don't even realise before it's already too late!

    I would say it's so much worse than physical violence, or even sexual abuse! At least those are upfront and out in the open. And you can get support from your friends or family (or atleast from special help groups).

    But with this kind of psychological abuse, you don't even know who to talk to, because hardly anyone has ever heard of it!

    I hope more and more people read your post and share it to spread awareness.

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    1. I agree with every word you said 100 %. In my book, it is worse than physical violence at so many levels because this breaks you down mentally and leaves you entirely unsure of what is real and what is not.

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  4. A good one sir to save many people from getting exploited.
    Whether you're in family gatherings,school,college or workplace,one of the most important quality one needs to nurture is to be able to assess people and survive..Most common and difficult ones to distinguish at the workplace are gaslighters..Sadly they escape making us feel like a victim..They can be your head,boss,senior or even a fellow colleague.At times working in such an environment can be challenging and mentally draining.But the saddest part in when these gaslighters turn out to be your family members-partners,parents,siblings,cousins..It can be difficult to break free.If you've experienced gaslighting,then only you can save yourselves from one..These people are very charming sweet talkers and make people fall for their words,but deep inside are insecure and want to feel powerful.In order feed their insecurity,they try to prey on anybody whom they find as vulnerable. And later,they manipulate and use it against them..They even try to victimise the same person again and again if they see you not reacting.Incase they get caught,they put the blame on the victim,which is why it's very difficult to expose such people in front of the society.

    In order to stay safe,one must keep distance from such people.This only comes through experience..Having close friends and family to share all your troubles can do a lot of wonders and can even create a fear in the mind of the perpetrator to exploit you .Seeking help from a therapist is adviced if you cannot handle the aftermath of the gaslighting.

    I feel one must have a strong unshakeable self esteem about our abilities and qualities.Gaslighters fear bold, straightforward and confident individuals.

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  5. It's been a while that I have put words to text. And I don't know whether to compliment you on a very compelling read, or realise with some degree of shock, that perhaps, it resonating with me made me write in to you today. Both I guess .... Very well written

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  6. Wow!! This is an issue that is not talked about a lot and hats off to you for sharing your experience here as well.

    What torturous mentality these peeps must have to put someone through so much mental agony!

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  7. This post basically sums up every single relative of mine. No wonder I choose to stay away from them.

    Gaslighting is emotional abuse of the highest order. People need to be very wary of it.

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  8. New concept for me, though I had experienced it, didn't know its name till now. Thanks for enlighting us.

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