DEIDRE SAYS: If your partner puts you down and makes you constantly second-guess yourself, they may be gaslighting you.
Gaslighting is common in romantic relationships but also takes place within friendships, family relationships or at work.
It’s a form of abuse and occurs when there is an imbalance of power in a relationship.
It happens when someone wants to control you.
WHAT IS GASLIGHTING?
Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse that makes you question your perception of reality, and can even make you think you’re going crazy.
If you’re wondering where the term comes from, it’s a 1944 film called Gaslight, in which a husband manipulates his wife into believing she’s mentally ill by dimming their gas lights and telling her she’s hallucinating.
Examples of gaslighting include:
- When someone questions your memories of events or what you – or they – said.
- When they deny that something occurred, or accuse you of making something up that you know happened.
- If they refuse to engage in a conversation by pretending not to understand what you’re talking about.
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- If they belittle you or disregard your feelings. They might accuse you of overreacting or being irrational or over-sensitive, even if your concerns are valid.
- They might question your credibility, for example saying, ‘That’s just something stupid you read on the internet.’
HOW CAN YOU TELL IF SOMEONE HAS GASLIGHTED YOU?
- You’ll feel confused and find it difficult to make decisions.
- You’ll second-guess what you know is true.
- You might become depressed or withdrawn.
- You’ll find yourself apologising when you haven’t done anything wrong.
- You’ll make excuses for their behaviour or even lie for them.
HOW TO COPE WITH GASLIGHTING:
Talk to someone outside the situation who you trust, such as a friend, relative, counsellor or your GP. Tell them what’s happened and ask for their objective opinion.
Think about leaving the relationship if this is possible and start to plan your escape with help from a trusted person.
The Dear Deidre team can help.
Our support pack Abusive Partner will show you where to turn for support.
For a support pack and personalised advice, email us at email@example.com or for a prompt response, message us on Facebook.
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