Gaslighting is a term used to describe a particular type of psychological manipulation in which an abuser manipulates a victim into thinking they are losing their sanity. This term originated from the 1938 play, “Gas Light”, which is about a woman who is gaslighted by her husband.
Symptoms of being gaslighted include questioning one’s judgement, perception, or memory often leading to feelings of low self esteem. A victim of gaslighting oftentimes knows that something is not right, but they cannot pinpoint the problem. In a gaslighting relationship, the abuser takes advantage of the victim’s perplexities and makes the victim further invalidate their true feelings.
Not much is understood about how the tendencies of a gaslighting abuser arise, where they start from, only that they seek control and they understand that causing confusion weakens a person’s sense of truth through misinformation, denial, contradiction, and more. The signs of gaslighting, on the other hand, are well understood. An abuser does what they want and gets away with it and blames the victim in the process. The abuser lies and the victim spots the lie. However, the abuser will make sure that they keep this lie masked. Even if the victim has proof of experiencing this abuse, the abuser will make the victim question their own reality. Thereby, this sweeps underlying issues under the rug while their relationship burns to the ground.
If you are in a relationship where you feel you may be a victim of gaslighting, there are a few ways to determine that your reality is not a farce. Your abuser has systematically been able to gain control over major aspects of your life. They lie, and you notice the lies, but they keep defending their lie until you either believe them or just give up. The abuser knows what you value most in life and they use it against you. If you have strong bonds with your parents, siblings, children, or friends, your abuser may try to weaken those bonds and make you see faults in those you value most.
The main way the abuser takes control of a person in a relationship is by breaking down the very core of their being: their identity. If there are traits that you, as a victim, value dearly and live by, an abuser will know this and cut you down for it. This technique is followed with affection. Abusers tear down their victims like old buildings, to build up new facades in its place. The problem with this, is that people are more than the bodies and emotions that they identify with. People need to be more than facades.
Acknowledgment is the victim’s tool; it will help them confront the abuser’s gaslighting techniques. Once the victim acknowledges the abuser’s grasp, and points it out with brazen confidence, if only to themselves, they may feel freed from the shackles that keep them in a relationship that is being burned to the ground by gaslighting.
Making a comeback is part of human nature, even for victims of the worst abuse. Humans have survived all catastrophes and calamities that have faced them. A victim of abuse, who identifies the calamities in their relationship, can face the realities of the abuse by taking the right steps to rebuild their confidence.
Victims transform their desolated spirit to the vibrant personality they once had, perhaps even one that thrives more than ever before. Seeking upliftment from our families, friends, faith based communities, or even professional therapists can help.
At The Manely Firm, people walk into our offices each day who have experienced gaslighting and other forms of abuse. Walking through our door shows their desire for a brighter future, and we strive to help them along their journey.
Don’t let a gaslighter burn you to the ground. Escape before the conflagration becomes your own. Seek that brighter day. Walk through that door.