10 Things I’ve Learned About Gaslighting As An Abuse Tactic

 November 20, 2015

10 Things I’ve Learned About Gaslighting As An Abuse Tactic



  • “We’ll have to agree to disagree.”
  • “I don’t like how I feel right now, and I want to finish this conversation later (or never).”
  • “What?”
  • “You’re trying to tell me what my experience is, and I’m not okay with that.”
  • “Don’t contact me again.”

“Communicate, communicate, communicate,” right? “You can solve anything with enough communication.”

That might be a mantra, but it’s wrong.

You can solve a lot of things with communication, so long as the objective of both people is understanding. But the minute someone tries to replace your experience, it’s time to stop communicating, at least on that subject.

 

9. You Must Confront the Threat

Every gaslighting exchange exists under the shroud of some kind of threat. For my relationship, the threat started out as disapproval, then it was the relationship that was threatened, and eventually the threat escalated to his own life.




I had no ability to confront or resist the gaslighting until one by one, I confronted the fears that these threats produced in me.

I grieved. I spent a week in bed and cried over everything I had poured into the relationship. One by one I tried to internally break my attachments to the things that made me feel trapped.

I cried over the immense shame I felt and tried to build the strength to be able to hold it. First I grieved the family that I wanted so much to be a part of. Then I grieved my relationship with him. Finally, I questioned whether it was right for him to make me responsible for his life. It wasn’t easy.

And it was another six months before the relationship ended. But when I realized that I didn’t want to be in the relationship anymore, I had already internally confronted the threats that were waiting for me – and as one by one they came out in full force, I was able to put one foot in front of the other and walk out the door.

 

10. Gaslighting May Be Amplified in Families, Poly Relationships, and Other Groups

It’s hard to stand firm when one person is trying to replace your experience, but when they have a chorus of supporters, it is nearly impossible. There is a reason why cult abuse can lead to a complete breakdown of someone’s personality.

Group manipulation and abuse is devastatingly effective.

I can’t easily explain the level of shame and fear that a group you’re deeply invested in can produce with a coordinated attack. We need to be very careful of this in poly groups so we do not exploit this power or unwittingly enable abuse.




I know there is a lot of shame tied up in ending a relationship, and no one wants to be the bad guy. But we all owe it to each other to not participate in relationships where anyone’s self esteem is being degraded.

It doesn’t matter whose fault it is, and it doesn’t matter whether or not it is fair. There are bigger things at stake here. Let’s not punish each other for doing the things we need to do to be healthy.

***

For more information on gaslighting, or to get support if you or someone you know is being abused, visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline or call 1-800-799-7233.




20 comments on “10 Things I’ve Learned About Gaslighting As An Abuse Tactic

  1. Thank you! I knew I’d read this somewhere else first. Great piece, and shame on this site for reposting it without credit.

  2. Wow – I recently had a conversation with my mother that went something like this:

    Me:So what you are saying is that you know my feelings and my reasons for doing things better than I do? And even if I do not agree with the way you are presenting my story that is okay because you know it better than I do?

    Her: Yes, I have spent thirty years working on myself to be as wonderful as I am, and I have this knowledge and understanding of people – I know why they are the way they are and why they do things.

    Me: Well I do not agree with the way you are presenting my reality – it is far from what is actually happening.

    Her: Yes dear. (said in tone that implies she is humouring me and will continue to do what she describes as going into my biofield , believing that she is actually finding out information about me – even though I have told her she can’t do that without permission and I certainly haven’t given it).

  3. One of the best pieces I’ve read written on this subject ! Lived it and had no idea of it until the damage had set in and eventually turned to physical abuse. Thankyou so much for sharing this, I wish I had of understood it a few years ago. I still cant comprehend why anyone would intentionally want to do this to another person. It’s really sickening.

  4. If this article pertains to you and u will know if it does Please look into Narcissistic behavior and abuse the mental and emotional toll this takes on you is immense! Abuse does not only mean getting physically abused. This behavior does not happen over night it happens in time and u stay because u remember that man u fell in love with that was so sincere and loving he was everything your heart desired your prince charming! Im sorry but that mask fell off and that “act” that pulled u in did the job you will never see those traits again no matter how long u wait and try to fix things. These people do not feel inside as we do remember the person u fell in love with was a fraud. Think of them as vampires the will suck the life out of u and continue as long as u stay and u will lose yourself you will be shocked by this behavior “where did he go” Jeckyl and Hyde” he is so mean and cruel he makes you believe its YOU and your crazy! They have no sympothy or empathy they lie constantly they cheat they are very sneaky they hide things from you like there possessions things that u could care less about they now dont trust u and not because u did ANYTHING when u try to commuicate its always a debate you become weak from trying over and over you are lonely and everything is your fault. they eve smear your name to anyone who will listen you become angry that u invested all this time u blame yourself they make a ton of broken promises they hide money from u they believe all is THERES only u are there gas and they will take as long as u allow the ONLY way to save yourself and your life is to Leave and must have NO CONTACT they will try to get u back convince u they changed its bullshit NO CONTACT they never care about your needs they dont care how u feel. If any of this sounds familiar all i am asking is that u research Narcisisst and I hope u will get out. I am a victim of this it took me 9 years and i left 7 times. My 7th was my last i slowly am regaining my life YOU CAN YOU DONT NEED HIM there is help. I am still a work in progress i finally am finding myself again i did not like the person i was around him i became isolated financially controlled the more i gave the more he took and neglected me in every aspect. Hope this helps i am just paying this forward…

Leave a Reply