In the US alone, a couple gets divorced about every 36 seconds. This
amounts to 2,400 divorces each day. If you’re going through a tough
time, you can at least know that you’re far from alone!
the common reasons for divorce is emotional abuse. Navigating this
dynamic between yourself and your abuser can make an already difficult
situation even trickier. However, in order to navigate it, you’ll need
to first figure out whether or not your situation truly is one of
That’s why we’re here today to talk about
gaslighting, what it looks like, and how you can get help. Read on for
some help in identifying whether you’re a victim of gaslighting and what
you can do to overcome your pain.
What Is Gaslighting?
the simplest terms, gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse that has
to do with making the victim question their sanity. The abuser slowly
and covertly will plant seeds of doubt in the mind of the victim. This
will cause the victim to believe that they are misremembering things or
making up things that didn’t happen.
Generally, this abuse tactic
is a way for the abuser to remain in control. They make light of the
victim’s beliefs and reassert that the gaslighter is stable while the
victim is not.
One of the main gaslighting tactics is denying
that something has occurred. For example, if the victim remembers the
gaslighter saying or doing something harmful, the abuser may deny that
this happens. They will convince the victim that they’re misremembering
things and being a bad person that paints the gaslighter negatively.
the abuser doesn’t flat-out deny that these situations happened, they
may belittle the victim in other ways. A gaslighter may treat you like
you’re blowing events out of proportion. They want you to think that
your emotional reactions are too intense and that you are crazy for
Sometimes, an abuser will stage dramatic and
strange events surrounding you and your relationship. These events are
meant to disorient and confuse you. Many times the abuser will also
swoop in and ‘save’ you from this event that they caused in the first
place. They will use this occurrence to prove that they are actually a
nice person and are the only thing standing between you and more
What Are Some Examples of Gaslighting?
comes in a lot of forms. However, the main examples of gaslighting come
in the form of things that an abuser tells you. Some common examples of
things that a gaslighter says include:
- “You’re overreacting, you overreact to everything.”
- “You just love to throw me off track.”
- “I was just joking! You’re so sensitive.”
- “You always are so dramatic.”
- “No one believes you, so why should I?”
All of these phrases are red flags that gaslighting may be taking place.
Another example of gaslighting is when an abuser flat-out lies to you about a situation that happened.
example, let’s say that your partner orders something online with a
credit card that you never said they could use. They may say something
like “you said I could borrow it and pay you back later, so I did.”
you try to tell them they’re misremembering, they will become angry.
You may not say anything at all. If you do, they may become angry and
yell at you. This can cause you to question whether or not you actually
remember things correctly.
Some gaslighting may seem like less of a big deal.
say that your partner loves brownies, so you decide to be nice and
surprise them with a homemade batch. Your partner gets home and says, “I
don’t really like brownies, but I do love cookies! That must be what
you’re remembering. Well, next time!”
This may seem like a minor
occurrence, but it’s part of a painful pattern. Your gaslighter is
breaking you down and getting you to question reality in many ways. Even
a seemingly innocuous occurrence like this is a big deal and should be
taken seriously if you notice it.
What Are the Warning Signs?
addition to these common phrases and persistent lying, there are also
other signs of gaslighting. Many of these have to do with your feelings
and behavior, but these changes are not your fault. Read on for some
signs of gaslighting that you need to know so that you can better
You’re More Anxious, Depressed, and Isolated Than Usual
While mental health issues can stem from many factors, they are often a sign of gaslighting. This is because a gaslighter:
- Knows how to make you blame yourself
- Creates elaborate scenarios to prove their devotion to you
- Tries to constantly keep you on your toes (a.k.a. anxious!)
- Dismisses your feelings of unhappiness and guilt
- Refuses to validate what you are going through
- May keep you away from other loved ones (for fear that they see through their manipulations)
you might imagine, all of these factors may make you feel alone and
depressed. If you begin to notice your mental health deteriorating, it
may be a good idea to assess your situation.
While worsening mental health isn’t always a sign of gaslighting, gaslighting almost always leads to mental health problems.
You Find Yourself Apologizing a Lot
of the main side effects of anxiety is that you end up apologizing
often. This is a concrete way that you can measure your self-doubt and
anxiety. Much of the time, you’ll just be apologizing for existing
because you’re scared. This should never happen, and it’s a sign of
serious relationship problems.
If you notice that you have been
apologizing persistently, take an objective look at the situation. Did
you actually do anything to apologize for? Do you remember doing that
If the answer to either of these questions is ‘no,’ you may be a gaslighting victim.
times, other loved ones will alert you to your excessive apologizing.
Don’t brush these concerns off, but look inward and figure out why you
You’re Making a Lot of Excuses
People who are in abusive (or even just toxic) relationships often find themselves making excuses a lot. These excuses can be to absolve their partner of blame to third parties.
lot of the time, people will say that it isn’t their partner’s fault
that something happened and blame it on external factors. This happens
even when external factors aren’t present. Those in toxic relationships
want everyone to see only the good in their partner. When you’re being
gaslit, this can lead to a lot of difficult lying on your part.
these excuses aren’t only things that you tell others. You also may
make excuses for your partner’s behavior internally. Some examples are:
- “She’s only late to events every single time because she is dealing with (possibly nonexistent) family.”
- “I know that he lies, but it’s because he had a difficult childhood.”
- “He only hurts me because he loves me.”
These are all thoughts that should give you pause.
Making Decisions is Really Hard
always make you question your decisions. As a result, you may find that
making choices is really hard when you’re being gaslit. If you used to
be confident in your decision-making skills but no longer are, take a
moment to assess why this is the case.
Did someone make you feel that way? Be honest and don’t make excuses.
If the answer is ‘yes,’ it’s time to begin implementing coping strategies. This can help you to bring back your confidence.
How Can You Cope With Gaslighting?
you identify that you’re a victim of gaslighting, it’s important that
you know what to do about it. Here, we’re going to discuss some ways
that you can cope with having been gaslit. Read on for the most
important things you can do to help yourself heal.
Don’t Second Guess Your Memory
love to make you question your memory. They love to sow the seeds of
doubt until you no longer feel in control of your thoughts or your mind.
One of the biggest impacts of this is that you no longer will trust
your memory. This makes sense considering that they’ve told you over and over again that it’s failing you.
it’s easier said than done, the first step towards healing is learning
to trust your memory again. If you recall something happening, it
For a bit of additional validation, keep a daily
journal of things that happen. When you begin to doubt something took
place, look in the journal. The event will be right there and you’ll
immediately have validated yourself!
Getting support from loved
ones is critical in the healing process, but affirmation also needs to
come from within. Next time you feel like asking another person (such as
your gaslighter) to validate a thought or memory, look inward. Take a
moment to affirm it for yourself instead of seeking external validation.
mindfulness is a great way to get in touch with your own mind as well.
You’ve been through a terrible ordeal, so it’s only natural that you
have a lot of feelings to process.
Let yourself experience both
positive and negative emotions. Once you get in tune with these
feelings, you can record them in your journal to become more in touch
with them. This will teach you to identify and cope with your feelings
and become more in touch with your mind and memory.
Stand Up for Yourself
doubt is a great way to support yourself internally. But what about
showing your abuser that you respect yourself? What about eliminating
all doubt that your memories, thoughts, feelings, and opinions are
That will take a bit of work. Standing up for yourself is
difficult, especially when you live with a gaslighter. However, it’s
necessary, and it will likely show your abuser that you aren’t going to
stand for their games anymore.
Some examples of things you could say include:
- “That isn’t how I remember things.”
- “That happened. I remember it happening.”
- “Do not lie to me.”
- “I remember that you said (x) on (y) occasion.”
- “My feelings and perception of this situation are valid.”
natural that you might struggle with saying these things at the
beginning of your healing process. However, a professional can help.
Get Professional Help
matter what you choose to do about the abuse, professional help for
gaslighting is essential. A therapist can help you practice mindfulness
and monitor your progress as you learn to validate yourself internally.
A professional can:
- Help you hold your ground by refusing to take responsibility what the gaslighter has done
- Ensure that you remember the facts and hold true to your truth
- Assist you in fighting back on your own terms
- Help you choose your battles
- Go over your journal (if you want) and assess progress
- Provide you with mindfulness activities
If you are forced to co-parent
with your former gaslighter, professional help is even more important. A
therapist can help you navigate the ins and outs of communicating with
them. They also can help you to maintain your sanity when doing so.
Assuming that you aren’t already in the process of getting a divorce, you should leave the persistent gaslighter.
Pack up your things, walk out the door, and turn to supportive loved ones. Talk to a therapist. Never look back.
there are kids involved, however, this may be more of a challenge. You
still should separate, though, because your well-being is also a
priority. You simply may need some professional tools to help you along.
allows you to communicate with the person you’re separating from about
the welfare of your child. It’s optimized to help you organize the care
and protect the well-being of your child while still letting you
maintain distance from your ex. This distance is a good idea for most
separated couples, but when dealing with someone who gaslit you, it’s
Being the victim of
gaslighting is both painful and challenging. However, if you know where
to look for help, you can begin to heal.
We’re happy to discuss your individual situation with you and point you in the direction of professional help. We also have many tools that help you manage your time and communication as you go through a divorce, including calendar, finance, and messaging applications.
We look forward to hearing from you soon!