Gaslighting: How to Spot It and Recover from Abuse


Gaslighting is the act of denying another person’s reality. There are different forms of gaslighting. The main two are denying facts and denying feelings. When you are being gaslighted you often feel as if you are going crazy. You feel as though your perception of reality must be wrong because it doesn’t conform to what you are told about the world around you by someone who is supposed to be trustworthy.

Who Is Most Likely to Gaslight You?

Gaslighting is everywhere, especially these days. You most likely experience some degree of gaslighting in several different aspects of your life. From politicians denying the world we live in and disputing proven facts, to a boss who can’t admit their own mistake, so they try to convince you the error was yours, to a partner who denies or dismisses your emotions as nonsense.

While you can experience gaslighting from any relationship, the most prevalent and most painful gaslighting comes from a romantic partner. Gaslighting is abuse. Blaming the victim and minimizing the abuse is typical for abusers. Gaslighting can be incredibly harmful and can cause a victim severe emotional damage, especially when gaslighting continues over the course of several years.

Making a person feel like they are insane by making them doubt their perceptions of reality has the potential to actually drive that person over the edge. Which is quite often the point.

Signs That Someone Is Gaslighting You

Gaslighting is often used when a person wants to deflect attention from their own behavior or situation and make you feel like you are the one with the problem instead. While there are extreme examples where a person will go out of their way to make you feel like you are insane, going to great lengths to make you feel like your mind has broken from reality, gaslighting is more often reactionary.

When you ask questions about an area in which a gaslighter is sensitive, rather than face the question directly, they will try to convince you that you are imagining things. Another tactic they might use is to steer the narrative away from what you are asking about them, onto a perceived or projected fault of yours so that you won’t inquire further.

If you think that someone may be gaslighting you, here are a few warning signs to be on the lookout for:

  • Are you constantly apologizing?
  • Are you often confused and feel like you are going crazy in your relationship?
  • Do you feel like something is wrong, but you can’t put your finger on it?
  • Do you have trouble understanding why you aren’t happier?
  • Do you wonder about your self worth?
  • Do you frequently ask yourself if you are too sensitive?
  • Do you have trouble making even small decisions?

If you are dealing with many, or all, of these issues, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are being gaslighted. These are all common symptoms of depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. However, if you find that you experience these symptoms only in relation to a specific person, they are probably gaslighting you.

Gaslighting Isn’t Always Intentional

Those who gaslight aggressively rather than reflexively know fully what they are doing and are actively abusive. With those who gaslight reflexively, though, it is more of a mixed bag. While many are still aware of what they are doing but continue to do it anyway, others are less self-aware of their actions. For some, it is purely reactionary. They probably faced gaslighting themselves at some point and subconsciously stowed the hateful tool away.

When you are involved in a relationship with someone who is actively working to gaslight you, the best path for you to maintain your mental health is to break off the relationship, whether it is a love interest, a family member, or a work associate.

When the person is not fully cognizant of what they are doing, though, there may be hope to repair the relationship. When you believe that someone is gaslighting you, draw their attention to their behavior and the ways in which it is affecting you. If they acknowledge your feelings on the matter, then you can at least attempt to work through the issue together. Counseling is going to be the best bet to break this toxic behavior.

Mental Health Epidemic

There is a mental health epidemic in the United States that many politicians work to gaslight the public about. They claim that there is no problem when everyone can quite clearly see that a problem exists. When there is a mass shooting, many politicians try to pass it off as a single crazy person who slipped through the system. However, the fact is the system is a large sieve, and most people slip through.

Victims of gaslighting often face a double dose. Not only are they gaslit by someone in their life, but when they try to draw attention to it they are often gaslit by others in society who say that they are overreacting. Gaslighting is real, and it causes real damage.