Gaslighting is a serious form of psychological abuse that has devastating effects on
the victim's mental health and well-being. Once the gaslighter has established control over the victim, it can be a long, painful process to regain that self-confidence back again, if ever at all. But it's important to remember that you are not to blame for the gaslighter's behaviour, and you have done nothing wrong here. If someone is systematically trying to break down your sense of reality and questioning your sanity, this is not something that you should have to go through alone or for very long. You deserve help and love and support from those who care about you!
Gaslighting happens when one person uses tactics such as lying or withholding information in order to make another person doubt their own memory or perception of events around them.
This sounds terrible, doesn't it? I will tell you right here and now...the addicted brain has this down to a science. And you may not even know they are doing it to you! Not pointing fingers, but it's a very common tool the addict will use to keep their addiction alive. And in order to heal yourself, you need to be able to recognize when you are being gaslit!
Here are some of the red flags you need to be aware of:
Lies and fabrication of memories.
When a person is gaslighted, they may be asked to change their story about the past or present in some way. They may be asked to lie about where they were when something happened and thus create a different version of reality than what actually happened.
Sometimes they will belittle the victim's emotions, thoughts and perceptions as irrational or crazy ("It's just how it feels").
Gaslighting is a form of mental abuse in which a person (or persons) attempt to manipulate another person’s perceptions, beliefs, or feelings in such a way that the victim comes to doubt his or her own memory and/or judgment.
The gaslighter will say one thing and then contradict themselves right away. They may also deny ever having said something at all—or admit that they did say it only not long ago but then deny saying it again now (this can be called “backtracking”). This is done accidentally sometimes: You ask your coworker if there's anything new on the project since you last talked with them; they reply that there isn't any news yet so why would they need more time? You ask them whether they're planning on attending our event next week; they quickly answer yes before realizing how vague this sounds and correcting themselves into saying no instead of yes but still being vague enough not to give away details about their plans for attending the event without giving anyone any useful information about why exactly she won't attend our event next week!
Withholding is when the gaslighter does not give you the information or resources you need to make a decision. For example, if you ask for help with an assignment, your partner may say: "I'm not sure if I can help with that." Or they might say something like "I don't know what kind of information we have on hand" or "Let me check my email." The withholding tactic works because it gives them more power over your ability to make decisions—they can decide whether or not they'll provide assistance based on their own gut feeling rather than yours.
Withholding makes us feel unsure and powerless; it also affects our self-esteem and sense of identity by making us feel like our opinions aren't important enough for others' consideration (or even recognition). This leads us down a slippery slope where we start doubting ourselves even further: If I say this isn’t important enough, then maybe there's something wrong with how much importance I place upon things! This cycle continues until it feels impossible for anyone who has been through this process alone ever again...
Countering is a form of gaslighting that involves the gaslighter contradicting what the victim says and then insisting that the victim is wrong. This can be used to make them feel like they are going crazy, or it can also be used to convince them that they're making things up.
It's important to note that countering doesn't mean defending yourself against all forms of manipulation—it just means knowing when you're being manipulated and taking action against it!
The gaslighter will make you feel like your feelings are unimportant, and they will only understand the situation or problem in their own way. They'll say things like "I don't see what's wrong with that," or "We've been through this before." This is another way of saying that no one else can possibly understand what you're going through because everyone else has their own problems and needs to deal with those first before considering yours.
Sometimes they will make me feel crazy for having my own feelings about something (i.e., making me think that others' reactions aren't real). If someone says something hurtful when they know it isn't true, they're probably just trying to make me think I'm crazy! It's also important not to let them do this because if people around us keep telling us that we're being unreasonable but really aren't...that could lead us down a path where we start believing them instead of ourselves--and then eventually stop trusting ourselves altogether!
Gaslighters will often deny things that they have said or done. For example, if you ask them why they said something, they might respond with "I don't remember." This is a denial tactic—gaslighters use it to make themselves seem more innocent than they are. Then when you bring up what you think was just said or done (for example: "You told me that your parents would never let me come over again"), the gaslighter will immediately say "Oh! I didn't mean it!"
Gaslighting also includes saying that a person's memory has been affected by alcohol or drugs—even though there's no way anyone could be affected by those substances while still remembering everything that happened earlier in the day!
Blocking and diverting.
You can blame the victim for any of your own actions or inactions, including:
Your own bad behaviour (“I didn't mean to hurt you! I was just trying to help…”)
Your partner's bad behaviour (“You really shouldn't have yelled at me like that. That was mean and unfair of you!”)
The entire world for being unfair (“It's so hard being poor and homeless—I wish there were more people who cared about us like they do their own families…but I guess we're just not worth their time yet? Why don't we ask them if they could do something? Maybe even donate some money? Please, someone, help us out before it gets worse than ever! We need help now more than ever before!”).
Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse that involves the gaslighter manipulating their victim by getting them to doubt their own memory and perception. It can occur in any relationship, whether it's between partners or coworkers. It's also common among family members—the abuser may be your mother or father, brother or sister, boyfriend or girlfriend (or even just someone who you're close with).
The goal is to make you feel like there are things wrong with how you think about yourself when in reality there aren't.
Do any of these points ring true for you? When in a relationship with someone who has an addiction, you are dealing with two very distinct people - one you love and the other who is an addict. They have the same face but you need to recognize who you are talking to at any time. Recognize this behaviour and when you hear it - know you can stand up to it.
But right now - recognize when it's happening! We will go into strategies in the next blog post!