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How does gaslighting work?
Gaslighting typically involves a series of tactics designed to undermine the confidence and sense of reality of their victim, usually a partner or spouse. Gaslighting tactics include:
- Denying actions or words, even when victims witnessed them or there’s clear evidence to the contrary
- Projecting their own behaviour onto the victim, accusing the victim of gaslighting
- Trivialising the victim’s emotions, experiences, or concerns
- Accusing the victim of overreacting or being hyper-sensitive, to invalidate their feelings
- Withholding key information, actively concealing the truth, or accusing the victim of lying
- Contradicting their own statements or insisting that the victim remembers things incorrectly
- Twisting the truth to place fault on the victim
- Deliberately isolating victims from friends and family, increasing their dependence on the gaslighter
Is gaslighting a form of abuse?
Yes, gaslighting is a recognised form of psychological and emotional abuse. It can occur in various types of relationships, including romantic partnerships, friendships, and even in work environments.
The goal of the gaslighter is to exert control and power over the victim, often causing significant harm to their mental and emotional well-being.
It is a coercive and manipulative method used to dominate the victim, which aligns with the broader definition of domestic abuse.
What are some signs of gaslighting?
Gaslighting can manifest in various ways, but common signs for victims include:
- Feeling as though they can’t do anything right, no matter how hard they try
- Constantly doubting their own recollections of events
- Feeling as though they are losing your grip on reality
- No longer trusting their instincts
- Lying or making excuses for the person gaslighting them
- Increased guilt or shame, as though everything’s their fault
- Loss of self-esteem, confidence, and independence
- Heightened anxiety and paranoia
- Disconnection from their former sense of self identity
- Knowing that something doesn’t feel right, while not being able to pinpoint what it is.
What can I do if I’m being gaslighted?
If you believe you’re experiencing gaslighting, or any form of coercive control or emotional abuse, we highly recommend that you seek professional support.
Call the police on 999 if you are in immediate danger. There are many UK-based organisations that can help if you are not in immediate danger but do need support.
See the Gov.UK website for more information on domestic abuse and where to get help. There are UK-based organisations dedicated to supporting people experiencing abuse:
Women and Children: Refuge – the freephone, 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247 and Women’s Aid.
Men and boys: Mankind & Men’s Advice Line
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