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What Is Gaslighting In A Relationship And How To Stop It

Gaslighting is the act of mentally and emotionally abusing someone to an extent that the victim loses his or her sense of perception, self-esteem and self-worth.

Gaslighting is the act of mentally and emotionally abusing someone to an extent that the victim loses his or her sense of perception, self-esteem, and self-worth. 

The term got its recognition from the film 1994 "Gaslight.” In the film, the husband isolates the wife from friends and family, then begins a campaign to make her think she has gone mad. His purpose is to have her declared mentally insane so he can obtain power of attorney, then steal valuable family jewels. 

Gaslighting can occur in any relationship: between parent and child, politician and their followers, employee and employer, and close friends. Unfortunately, counselors are seeing an increase in gaslighting in romantic relationships, as reported in the University of Miami Health News. The online publication cites causes such as greater irritability and diminished social interaction due to the pandemic. 

How do you know if you are a victim of gaslighting?

Gaslighting In Romantic Relationships:

In a romantic relationship, the abuser tries to maintain control over the weaker partner. This affects the victim's mental condition and can lead to trauma, anxiety, and depression. Dr. Stephaine Moulton Sarkis, author of “Gaslighting: Recognized Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People -- and Break Free,”  reports observing gaslighting to be present in about 30% to 40% of couples she treats.

Men and women are represented equally as perpetrators of gaslighting.

Signs Of Gaslighting In A Relationship

These are some early signs of gaslighting:

  • You start losing confidence and trust in yourself.
  • You doubt yourself even making the most basic decisions.
  • You get confused and crazy while arguing with your partner.
  • You often apologize for mistakes you haven't even made. 
  • You often wonder: "Am I a worthy partner?"
  • You don't feel happy and satisfied with your relationship.
  • Your partner hurts you again and again and never apologizes for their mistakes.
  • Your partner does not give you a chance to speak anything during the conflict.
  • Your partner often tells stupid lies.
  • Your partner tries to line up people against you.

How To Shutdown Gaslighting:

If you feel you are being psychologically abused, explore your options. Although most individuals who experience gaslighting decide to end the relationship, sometimes children and financial dependency prevent them from leaving right. 

If you are unable to end the relationship, remember:

  • It is normal to experience many strong emotions like anger, fear, anxiety, and frustration when you are in a situation of gaslighting. But at the same time, try to keep yourself calm so that you can deal with the situation more effectively. Calmness will help you refine your vision and help you to determine fact from fiction.
  • Yoga or meditation plays an important role in improving your state of mind. Practice some mental exercises to get yourself out of the state of confusion and depression.
  • Do not hesitate to discuss your problem with those people who are very close to you. Friends and family members can help you to gain clarity.
  • Seek the help of a professional. A therapist can help you to recognize emotional manipulation. Seeking a therapist or finding an online Gottman marriage therapist are good options.

The Bottom Line:

Gaslighting is a dangerous type of manipulation and can have a devastating effect on a person's mental health. It can affect your social life and isolate you from your family and friends. But you do not need to handle it alone. 


Author’s Bio: 

Sunny Skousen is an experienced writer who has over 20 years of experience in ghostwriting, blogging, journalism, speech writing, and content marketing. She specializes in writing about Couples Therapy, Family Therapy, Faith-Based Counseling, Anxiety Disorders, Mood Disorders, Grief/Loss and Trauma, Supervision and Consultation, and more!


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