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Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse that’s seen in abusive relationships. It’s the act of manipulating a person by forcing them to question their thoughts, memories, and the events occurring around them. A victim of gaslighting can be pushed so far that they question their own sanity.

Gaslighting, whether intentional or not, is a form of manipulation. Gaslighting can happen in many types of relationships, including those with bosses, friends, and parents. But one of the most devastating forms of gaslighting is when it occurs in an intimate relationship.


Signs of Gaslighting

Some common signs are:

  • you don't feel like yourself anymore

  • you feel less confident than you used to

  • you question your own thoughts and wonder if it's YOU

  • you find it increasingly harder to make your own decisions

  • you make excuses for your partners' behavior and don't reach out for help because you don't want confrontation

  • you actually start to feel like you are going crazy

Common examples:

Your partner will deny something they said, even though you know they said it.

You know you heard your partner say they would do something; you know you heard it. But they outright lie and get angry denying they ever said it. You feel guilty questioning them, but question now whether you actually heard them say it or not. Maybe they didn't say it? The more your partner does this; the more you question your own reality.

Telling you people are talking about you.

Your partner may tell you people are talking about you behind your back. For example: "Don't you know? Your whole family is talking about how crazy you've become and think you are losing it." This causes paranoia and leads to isolation over time. It makes you fear reaching out for help, because you'll feel they will just think you lost your mind as your partner has been telling them.

Hiding objects from you and claiming they know nothing about it.

Are you all of a sudden misplacing items frequently when you never used to? This is another tactic abusers use to gain control. They may hide your car keys when you know you hung them on the key rack the last time you used them. Then they will act like it was all you and YOU misplaced them. They will add comments like "Wow you misplaced your keys again?" only to reinforce to you that you are losing your mind.

Recognizing that you’re a victim in your relationship is the important first step toward getting help.

If you think you or someone you know is the victim of gaslighting, call Passages for free, confidential help 24/7 at 800-236-4325.

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