Gaslighting: do you know what it means and how to identify?

Gaslighting is a term that has appeared mainly on social networks. Although not everyone understands exactly what it is about, many people are well aware of the situation.

The picture generally designates psychological abuse based on the victim’s manipulation. The consequences can be immense and very negative, bringing great suffering to her.

Therefore, the Healthy Minute will explain what it is, how to identify and what to do to get rid of gaslighting in the relationship:

What is gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a form of manipulation in which the abuser distorts, omits or invents information in order to make the victim doubt his memory, perception and even his sanity.

Subtly, he uses this manipulation to annul his victim, disregarding his arguments, points of view, doubting everything she says.

Often, victims hear things like “are you overreacting”, “are you making things up” or even “have you gone crazy?” when they report something to the abuser. In addition, the abuse can be so intense that it makes you doubt your own feelings.

As a result, this damages the victim’s self- esteem and self-confidence, which is gradually closing in more and more, to the point of always doubting herself and her sanity. Some people even stop expressing their opinions and expressing themselves.

The name gaslighting comes from the 1944 film Gaslight, which portrays a husband manipulating his wife to the point of convincing her that she imagines things, that she does not remember events well, making her doubt her own perception.

Who suffers?

Most victims of gaslighting are women, but all genders can experience this situation.

In addition, psychological violence is often associated with romantic relationships, but it can occur in any type: friendships, family, co-workers, among others.

It may occur in isolation or in conjunction with other abuse and neglect. An unfaithful husband, for example, can use gaslighting to make his wife believe that “she is seeing things where she doesn’t have them” and that the betrayal never occurred.

The same can happen in cases of physical or sexual abuse, convincing the victim that his memory and perception are incorrect and that the abuse never happened.

It is worth remembering that the abuser does it because he has something to gain from the practice. The person does not always do it out of malice, sometimes they just do it to get rid of an unpleasant situation, such as demands from the partner.

However, regardless of the abuser’s motivation, it does not change the fact that it is a psychological abuse that can bring significant harm to the victim and the relationship as a whole.

Is gaslighting psychological violence?

Yes, gaslighting is a form of abuse and, therefore, psychological violence.

In general, it is accompanied by several other psychological violence, such as emotional invalidation and neglect or even verbal aggression.

However, gaslighting does not include other, more apparent abuses, such as physical aggression (although it can occur concurrently). Because of this, recognizing and reporting this violence is difficult, since most people do not understand these behaviors as abusive.

It is worth remembering, however, that many cases that begin with gaslighting and other psychological abuses can evolve into physical, sexual, patrimonial and / or moral violence.

How to identify gaslighting?

Identifying gaslighting can be difficult, as it takes advantage of a common phenomenon in everyday life: faults in memory and perception.

Nobody remembers absolutely everything that happened during a day, or even during a specific episode. Thus, the abuser takes advantage of these flaws in memory to include altered perceptions or even to invent things that have not happened.

In addition, gaslighting is usually quite subtle, which makes the abuse not seem like an actual abuse, but rather an everyday thing. Anyone who observes from the outside may also not realize that this is an abusive situation.

Therefore, identifying gaslighting can be quite difficult. The person should be aware of the following signs:

  • Doubting yourself (o) often;
  • When confronted, the abuser acts peacefully, pleasing the victim, in order to generate insecurities in the confrontation;
  • Ask yourself if you are acting too emotionally;
  • Apologize to the abuser frequently;
  • Need to frequently justify the abuser’s actions to friends and family;
  • Hiding information about the relationship with the abuser from friends and family;
  • Feeling responsible for all the problems that arise in the relationship with the abuser;
  • Feelings of low self-esteem, insufficiency, incapacity, lack of confidence, among others.

Gaslighting in the relationship: how to deal?

When you notice that you are experiencing gaslighting in a relationship, the best thing to do is to walk away .

  • If it is a love relationship, ending the relationship would be ideal, as abusers rarely change or stop abusing their victims;
  • If you are a family member or a friend, getting away from the person is an idea. It is not always possible to get away completely, but keeping contact limited to simple conversations, without much intimacy, significantly decreases the chances of someone practicing gaslighting;
  • Trust your judgment more. Remember that the abuser will try to make you suspicious of your memory and perception. Trusting yourself more is one of the ways to avoid one of the long-term losses of gaslighting: the lack of self-esteem and self-confidence;
  • Ask other people for help. Remember that many people do not know what gaslighting is, and it may be necessary to explain what it is and why it is a form of abuse, but if the person understands and is trustworthy, they will try to help you;
  • If you are trying to get out of an abusive relationship, contact support networks for victims of violence. There are several of these networks throughout the country, and there they can help you to get out of the relationship minimizing the traumas and losses that can occur;
  • Take care. Remember that gaslighting often wipes out the person, so it is possible that you have neglected to take care of some of your basic needs while experiencing this abuse;
  • Eat properly, take care of your hygiene, try to do activities that you enjoy, etc. In this way, you will be able to regain much of your self-confidence;
  • Don’t question yourself so much. Questioning yourself when making a decision is normal, but it shouldn’t be an impediment to making it. When dealing with a situation in which you need to make a decision, follow your time and your values, don’t question them and don’t let other people do it;
  • Seek expert help. Gaslighting can leave deep psychological wounds in the long run, but it can improve with expert help. Psychotherapy can help a lot in this healing process, so be sure to look for a professional.

There are different forms of abuse and violence, and many are not always easy to identify. Gaslighting is one of them, which, like other psychological abuses, has enormous negative impacts on victims.

Knowing and knowing how to deal with this situation is important to identify cases that may occur with you or those close to you. See more tips in the Healthy minute.