Written by Writer’s Corps member Sarah Moon
Manipulation isn’t always obvious, it can be done subtly in a way that makes you second-guess yourself. Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic that can be used to undermine someone in their relationship. It can make you feel insecure and uncertain about yourself or your partner.
What is Gaslighting?
Most people have probably heard this word used online before, but what does it mean to gaslight someone?
- Gaslighting is a psychological manipulation that often occurs alongside other types of emotional abuse. Gaslighting can be done by romantic partners, family members, friends, and more.
- Gaslighting is when someone makes you believe your side of the story is wrong or didn’t happen the way you say and believe it did.
What are the Signs of Gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a technique used to gain power over someone else, whether is their actions, thoughts, or emotions. Some methods of gaslighting are calling your judgment or beliefs into question. Gaslighting can make you feel guilty about or invalidate your feelings, where your partner makes you out to be “the bad guy.”
Here are some common manipulative signs to look out for in your partner:
- Insistent on always being right
- Questions or ignores your judgment or your recollection of events
- Belittling, makes you feel like your thoughts and feelings don’t matter
- Often tries to convince you to think or feel something, even after you’ve expressed feeling uncomfortable
Unhealthy Behaviors via Text
It can be hard to understand a person’s true meaning via text. Without body language and tone indicators, you may be inclined to believe the best in your partner. In some cases, someone may not be deliberately manipulative and just be responding defensively.
Here are some gaslighting techniques that you can identify over text:
- Insensitivity – where the person doing the gaslighting makes the situation about them.
- Ignoring your version of the story by telling you you’re wrong or even stupid for your experiences and/or emotions.
- Denial- refusing to admit the truth or that they’re in the wrong.
Some common manipulative phrases are:
- “You’re overreacting”
- “You can’t take a joke”
- “I never said that/I never did that/That’s not what I meant”
- “I’m a terrible boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/etc.”
How to Respond to Gaslighting
Gaslighting can make you feel scared and insecure. If you think someone might be gaslighting you, here are some ways that can help you take back control:
First off, take screenshots of messages and photos. Take notes and log events to back up your version of events. While this may not be enough to stop a gaslighter, keeping notes will help you be more confident in yourself. If someone is making you feel unsafe, these messages are important evidence.
Ultimately, the most important thing is to take care of yourself and your emotional needs. Turn off your phone, and reach out to a friend or other trusted person. Do what you need to do to ensure your safety and well-being.
You Can’t Reason with Gaslighters
Unfortunately, you can’t reason with a gaslighter. One of the main traits of gaslighters is denial. Accusations, even done in a calm and careful way, can cause a manipulative person to lash out. And you can end up feeling in the wrong. What you can do is remove yourself from the situation.
Don’t respond to text messages or calls, even if they take a turn, and become very loving or desperate. Seek help from a friend, parent, or authority figure.
If you feel worried about your safety or even just uncomfortable speaking to your partner. Gaslighting is a form of abuse. And there is always a chance that an unstable or volatile person will escalate to violence if they don’t get what they want.
If you or someone you know is experiencing an unhealthy or abusive relationship, check out our real time resources, or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. If you’re in imminent danger, please call 911