I’m still writing my article/chapter of my book on passive aggressiveness and gaslighting, and i’ve come across the best description yet if the latter in one of my old notebooks. Alas, i didn’t write down the source:
“A form of mental abuse in which information is twisted or spun, selectively omitted to favour the abuser, or false information is presented with intent of making the victims doubt their own memory, perception and sanity. Instances may range simply from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents never occured, up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorientating the victim.”
I also started to make notes on gaslighting from personal experience after an abusive 7 year marriage and an ex who emotionally manipulated me as often as they could. I hope these might help some people recognise some of the signs:
7 Signs of Gaslighting in a Relationship
- You have become addicted to the person. You crave attention and it makes you feel euphoric when you get it. Low self esteem is non-existent when with the person as they make you feel special and wanted. They make you feel good about life and yourself.
- You see red flags but either can’t pinpoint them, or choose not to see them. It can range from being put down in a passive aggressive round-about way or they seem bored with you. You feel and think that there must be something wrong with you because of their behaviour or actions and try to fix it. There is nothing to fix and deep down you know that but that warning voice in the back of your mind is getting smaller and quieter the longer you spend with the person.
- You experience withdrawl without their ‘affection’. You become addicted to them, but your obsession with the person actively disgusts them.
- You are ignored, then paid attention to and then ignored again so you lower the bar for yourself again and again. Now that you are no longer getting your full fix, you’ll take whatever you can get, no matter what the kind of attention is being dished out. They will consider you to be emotionally discarded, but they will keep you to hand for when supply is low. You will get attention and affection here and there when they see fit, which will give you hope. But this will further erode your already very fragile self esteem.
- You begin to second guess yourself and your sanity. They keep you close and within reach, and they will gaslight your every request. This is your abuser puppeteering you. They will decline invitations by not only declining, but going further each time either by bad mouthing your friends or even scold you for having an interest in them in the first place. But because you love this person, you will being question your choice of friends and start to wonder if your gaslighter is right. You will start to withdraw from your friends in order to please the gaslighter, becoming more and more isolated. Slowly, you will second guess your every choice and thus making you more and more dependent. Your entire support network will eventually wittle down to just one person: your abuser.
- You feel guilty constantly. You apologise constantly. You become eager to please contantly. You will do anything to ‘repair’ the relationship, but anything you do feels like a mistake. You apologise, retreat and feel bad. You are now their captive completely and absolutely. They have you just where they want you: isolated, broken and wholly dependent on them.
- When you try to end it, they will question your ability to function without them. They will blame you for everything, and your sense of reality is now so distorted that you will back down, admit responsibility and the whole cycle will begin again
This list is by no means the be all and end all of gaslighting signs. These are just the ones that I have personally experienced over time.
I will be including a whole chapter on gaslighting and similar abuse in my book about mental health (when I actually sit down and write the goddamn thing), so I will no doubt be adding to this list and elaborating on each point.
Part 2 – Gaslighting: The After Effects