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What is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a type of psychological abuse.  It is a manipulation tactic used to gain power.

 

Here are some of the warning signs of gaslighting

1. They tell blatant lies.

You know it's an outright lie. Yet they are tell you this lie with a straight face. Why are they so blatant? Because they're setting up a precedent. Once they tell you a huge lie, you're not sure if anything they say is true. Keeping you unsteady and off-kilter is their goal.

2. They deny something that they said, even though you have proof.

You know they said that they would do something; you know that you heard it but they deny it. This makes you start questioning your reality, your memory.  You think "Maybe they never said that thing", "Maybe something is wrong with my memory".  The more they do this, the more you question your own reality and start to accept theirs.

3. They use what is near and dear to you as ammunition against you.

They know how important your kids are to you, and they know how important your identity is to you. So those may be the first things they attack. If you have kids, they might tell you that you should not have had children. They might tell you that you would be a worthy person if only you didn't have a long list of negative traits. They attack the foundation of your being.

4. They wear you down over time.

This is one of the insidious things about gaslighting, it is done gradually, over time. A lie here and a lie there with a snide comment every so often.  Then they  start to ramp it up.  Even the brightest, most self-aware people can be sucked into gaslighting.  It is a devastatingly effective manipulation.  Like the "frog in the pan" analogy: as the heat is turned up slowly, the frog never realizes what's happening to it and so does not jump out of the pan to escape.

5. Their actions do not match their words.

When dealing with a person or entity that gaslights, look at what they are doing rather than what they are saying.  What they are saying means nothing; it is just talk.  What they are doing is the key to understanding the truth.

 

6. They use positive reinforcement to confuse you.

The person or entity who cuts you down and tells you that you don't have any value finds things to praise you for.  This adds an additional sense of uneasiness and confusion.  You might then think, "Well maybe they aren't so bad."  However, this is a calculated attempt to keep you off-kilter and keep you questioning your reality.  Consider what you were praised for; it is probably something that serves the gaslighter's purpose.

7. They know confusion weakens people.

Gaslighters know that people like having a sense of stability and normalcy.  Their goal is to uproot this and make you constantly question everything. At this point our natural tendency is then to reach out to a person or entity that will help us feel more stable which is often the gaslighter themselves, increasing their level of control. 

8. They project their own behaviour onto you.

They might be a drug user or a cheater and yet they are constantly accusing you of this behaviour.  This is done so often that you start trying to defend yourself and are distracted from the gaslighter’s own behaviour.

9. They try to align other people against you.

Gaslighters are masters at manipulating and finding people who will stand by them no matter what.  They use these people against you. They will make comments such as, "This person knows that you're not right," or "This person knows you're useless too."  Keep in mind that it does not mean that these people have actually said these things.  A gaslighter is a constant liar.  When the gaslighter uses this tactic it makes you feel like you don't know who to trust or who to turn to which leads you to turn towards the gaslighter for support.  This is exactly what they want.  The more isolated you are the more control they have. 

10. They tell you or others that you are crazy.

This is one of the most effective tools of the gaslighter, because it's dismissive.  The gaslighter knows that if they question your sanity, people will not believe you when you tell them that the gaslighter is abusive or out-of-control.  It's a master technique. 

11. They tell you everyone else is a liar.

By telling you that everyone else (your family, the media or others) are lying, it makes you question your reality.  You've never known someone with the audacity to do this, so you beleive that they are telling the truth.  This is another manipulation technique making you turn to the gaslighter for the "correct" information, which of course isn't correct information at all.

The more you are aware of these techniques, the quicker you can identify them and avoid falling into the gas lighter’s trap.