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The Dangerous Game of Gaslighting

By Rachel Vanni

Have you ever been with someone who makes you feel like you are going insane? Every time you get upset with this person they figure out how to turn it around on you, make you second-guess yourself? Odds are that you aren’t crazy, but you are being gaslighted.

Gaslighting is a tactic by manipulative people to try and negate your feelings by making you feel as though you are losing your sanity. For example, you get angry at a partner for saying something very insensitive. They may deny ever saying it or say that it was the way you perceived the comment that was wrong, not the comment itself. You were so sure that they said something over the line, but now you begin to question your own perception of reality.

Now of course, sometimes we are all in a mental state that we could take something innocently said and interpret it incorrectly. That one-off comment isn’t what I’m talking about. Gaslighting is done in relationships repetitively, with the goal of lowering another’s self-esteem, so they are more easily manipulated or control. It is a form of emotional abuse, full stop.

How to Spot Gaslighting

The tricky part about gaslighting is that you may not even realize it is happening until you have had it happen multiple times. There are a few key signs of gaslighting that you should look out for in relationships:

  • They tell blatant lies and deny saying them, even when you have proof.
  • You start seeing a pattern of increasing manipulation.
  • Their actions do not match their words.
  • They will uproot any stability you have in your life, making you question everything.
  • They begin to manipulate those around you, like family or friends.
  • They begin to tell others that you are unstable or crazy so that no one will believe you when you start to realize the abuse.

Once you begin to notice these signs, it will become apparent when you are being gaslighted.

I’m Being Gaslighted, What Do I Do Now?

You have a few ways to deal with someone who is gaslighting you. The best option would be to get away from the manipulative relationship as fast as possible. People who gaslight tend to be emotionally abusive and rarely ever change. If you cannot run far, far away due to an on-going co-parenting relationship, there are a few things you can do.

Keep hard boundaries: Layout what you both will and will not talk about. Every time they begin to drift off-topic, remind them of your boundaries.

Do not engage: It can be so hard not to give into them when they start calling names, telling lies, and hurting you. Do not communicate with them when they begin acting abusively.

Others will see through their manipulation: Even your children will see their tactics at some point. Don’t stress about having to correct everything that is said about you to others. Odds are, they see what is going on, or will very soon.

Are you dealing with being gaslighted and need assistance in speaking with your spouse or ex-spouse? Contact San Diego Family Mediation Center at (858) 736-2411 today. We are happy to set up a free consultation to discuss your situation.