Abusive relationships can take many different forms. While physical abuse is typically easy to recognize and identify, emotional and psychological abuse can be much more subtle and harder to notice, even when you are the victim.
One form of emotional abuse that is particularly insidious is gaslighting. Gaslighting is a form of microaggression or psychological manipulation in which the abuser tries to make their victim question reality, themselves, and their perception of events.
Questions To Ask Yourself
If you’re not sure whether or not you are being gaslighted, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Do you constantly apologize, even when you’re unsure why?
- Do you feel like your partner is trying to undermine your relationships with other people?
- Does your partner use your trust in them to undermine your trust in yourself?
- Does your partner diminish or dismiss your accomplishments and successes?
- Do you feel like your partner is constantly changing the rules or moving the goalposts?
- Are you often told that you are overreacting, misunderstanding, or being too sensitive?
- Are your goals and values questioned or dismissed?
- Do you feel like your partner is trying to control your behavior or thoughts?
- Does your partner deny or distort reality, even when presented with evidence to the contrary?
- Does your partner make you doubt your own memory or perception of events?
- Does your partner make you doubt your judgment and decision-making abilities?
These are not the only signs of gaslighting, but if you answered yes to any of the above questions, you might be in a gaslighting relationship. Consider reaching out to a friend, family member, counselor, or therapist for support.
Why Gaslighting is Toxic
Once you know what’s happening and how it works, it’s easier to see just how toxic and damaging gaslighting can be.
Gaslighting can erode your self-confidence and self-trust, making you question your perception of reality and causing you to doubt your own judgment.
It can make you feel isolated and alone, cut off from your support system.
It can be hard to recognize and easy to rationalize—”Maybe it’s just a misunderstanding or a miscommunication,” “Maybe they’re right. I am overreacting.”
It can undermine your relationships with others, making you mistrust and suspicious of everyone.
Gaslighting can make you feel like you’re going crazy or that there’s something wrong with you.
All of these effects can seriously impact your mental and emotional health, as well as your overall well-being.
If your relationship is contaminated with gaslighting, you must reach out for help. Talk to a trusted friend or family member, or seek professional counseling or therapy. You deserve to be in a healthy, supportive relationship—one that builds you up and supports your perspective, not one that tears you down and makes you question your reality.