Breaking the Psyche: Gaslighting

When entering a new relationships you often believe you will feel safe and happy. However, for some they begin experiencing a type of mental and emotional abuse called gaslighting. 

Gaslighting is used as a sort of psychological abuse to make someone question their own sanity. 

The reason this type of abuse works so well is because it is done in a slow process. This type of abuse can happen in any dynamic whether it is family, work, relationships or even friendships. 

It is very hard to recognize due to the process of this abuse. It may be easier to see and a relationship due to the fact that we have the idealization of what a relationship should be. However, family, work or friendships due to the doubts of maybe it is normal.

The abuser will typically start the process out with lying. They may make claims to have not said things. They will commonly tell a lie with a straight face. These types of abusers have a fantastic Poker Face. 

They may convince the victim that they didn’t hear something right. A very good example of this would be the abuser saying “ I never said that”  or “ now you’re just coming up with stories”. They do this to make the victim feel off-kilter and this is one of the first processes and taking the sanity away from the victim.

They may use other forms of lying to hurt or confuse their victims. Such as question the memory of the victim. They may even make claims like “I heard you say it! You never remember do you?”. These claims will only add to the victims feelings of going insane.


They will use things you care about as a way to manipulate you. They say things or comments such as” you would be such an amazing person if you don’t have all these negative traits”. Essentially  they’re attacking the foundation of who you are and what you stand for by slowly break you down.

They tend to break you down until you start to question whether it’s healthy. However they will compliment you to throw you off kilter even more. They do this to confuse you and make you question if things are really as bad as they seem. So a lot of times when a person is thinking about leaving this type of situation the abuser will start to throw in compliments and this is just meant to throw them off balance.

They abuser will use confusion to weakens them. They know that people feel a natural sense of secureness and confusion will affect you. Their main goal is to make the victim question what is normal and what is not. 

They have a high chance of projecting onto the victim. So if they are cheating they will often say the victim is cheating. This becomes so often that it’s almost accepted and they’re not concerned when they get these allegations.

They will often try and make it seem like people are against you along with them. Even if no one has made hurtful claims they will convince you that other people are saying hurtful comments. Such as, “ you know they think you’re just as worthless as I do”.  These hurtful comments make the victim feel as if no one is on their side.

If people begin to be on your side they will try and convince you not to trust them. They may say things like “Have you been talking to your sister again? She is always putting stupid ideas in your head.”

More information on the dangers of Gaslighting, take a look at this. (BrainCraft/Youtube)

  They may also tell others around you that you’re crazy and that you do these erratic and crazy things. And this is too make it harder for the victims to reach out to people. Due to the fact that people have been told repeatedly that the victim is just crazy so it allows people to be more dismissive.

One of  the most important things to remember in everyone’s at risk for this because this is such a slow process it is so hard for even the smartest of people to see that this is happening.

This type of tactic is very commonly used by leaders of cults or even dictators. However, it is most commonly seen in abusers and narcissists. 

It is very important to keep in mind that this type of abuse is done by someone whose is  a master manipulator and they just want control.

After leaving a gaslighting situation it is important survivors regain confidence and internal validation. They may also regain relationships they lost during the time with the abuser. It is essential for them to learn and remember it is not their fault. Having a support system may also prove to be beneficial.

Ashley Brown
Social Coordinator

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