The psychological term “gaslighting” has become commonplace. Once only used by therapists and lawyers with niche practices, gaslighting has become part of the mainstream vocabulary.
The term is a reference to a classic film where a husband makes his wife believe she’s slowly going crazy. He does this by messing with the gas-fueled lights in their house and insisting she is the only one who sees anything.
Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse where the abuser undermines a victim’s sense of reality and faith in their own memory and observations. Can you recognize the signs of gaslighting to protect you from this Insidious habit in your own marriage?
Gaslighters lie, even when confronted with evidence
What sets the gaslighter apart from a liar is that they try to undermine someone’s objective perception of reality. When you catch a liar in a falsehood, they might come up with an excuse or another, even weaker lie. A gaslighter is likely to deny the truth and insist that you are wrong despite the evidence.
Gaslighters will involve other people in their ploys
An emotional abuser will isolate someone by turning their support network and community against them. They might start telling stories to the people in your inner circle about abusive behavior in your relationship, only they reverse the roles. They might tell people that you seem crazy or unstable. They may also try telling you that you’re crazy or try to cut you off from friends and family.
They will slowly build the story up over time to undermine your credibility. People who gaslight often do so for years. They may be nice in many situations, but insistent about lying to you on one or more topics.
Gaslighting is a manipulative and dangerous form of emotional abuse. Documenting it can be difficult, but it can help you regain your sense of trust in your own observations. If you have been subject to gaslighting or other forms of intensive abuse during your marriage, you may want to consider divorce or possibly a protective order to keep you safe.