Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse based on the need for control and power—often leading to self-doubt and isolation. Narcissists often use this behavior to make the recipient feel crazy. It should also be noted that this behavior is intentional to make the other individual doubt his/her perceptions. Over time, the “victim” loses self-trust and ultimately self-confidence and self-esteem decrease.
It is very common for perpetrators and abusers to intimidate partners (e.g., no one else will put up with you; you will not find anyone as good as me) to increase dependency. Other statements may include “you are too sensitive,” “you are making things up,” and “you are crazy. I never said that.” As the relationship weakens, the perpetrator creates more anxiety, punishes you, and devalues your existence—leading to emotional instability. Gaslighting can occur in any relationship and also in the workplace.
The following signs represent that you may be gaslighted:
- Constantly apologizing
- Questioning if you are over-sensitive
- Second-guessing yourself daily
- Difficulty making decisions
- Making excuses for partner’s behaviors
- Feeling like you are constantly doing the “wrong” thing
- Desiring more relaxation and happiness, yet feeling hopeless
- Not sharing information with family and friends concerns within the relationship
- Believing you are inadequate and not doing enough
If you feel like you are being gaslighted, consider your options. Your safety is most important. After documenting some of the events and episodes, consider contacting a licensed counselor, lawyer, pastor, and/or law enforcement. Do not be afraid to ask for help—you are worthy of help and deserve it!