Gaslighting is an abusive manipulation technique where a loved one manipulates someone in order to convince them that they, the abuser, are, in fact, not abusive and that the victim was in the wrong all along. It is all about altering their perspective and making them question what is reality/the truth. Think Mother Gothel from Rapunzel. Even though Gothel was the one who shouted at Rapunzel about the lanterns and mocked her, she phrased her following comments in a way that made Rapunzel feel guilty for having even spoken in the first place. Gaslighters use that guilt as a weapon to cast doubt on their victim's claims and confuse them enough that they can cast them as an unreliable source, preventing them from trusting their own judgment in the future.
Though gaslighting can be tricky to spot, this article will act as a guide to anyone who feels as though they are being manipulated by a loved one. Note, the best thing you can do in this situation is to remove yourself entirely and cut contact. If this is not possible, this guide can help you keep what is real and what is trickery straight until cutting ties is possible.
If the abuse escalates or includes physical, emotional, or other types of violation, seek help immediately.
8 Accept That Someone is Gaslighting You
It is hard to accept the idea that someone you love is hurting you. But sometimes the people around us do not have our best interests at heart. For the sake of transparency, this writer has dealt with gaslighting, first hand, and the biggest step is simply accepting that it is happening. If you find that you constantly feel guilt around this person and that you can never do anything right, you may be being gaslit. If you find yourself regretting even bringing something up or feel like you cannot express any negative emotion without it coming right back at you and you being to blame, you may be being gaslit.
7 Review The Situation From An External Perspective
A good way to see if one is being manipulated is to stand in front of a mirror, recount your stories and worries, and listen to your words as if someone else was speaking. Make no justifications and no self-deprecations. Just state the outright facts and how being around this person makes you feel. The distance from the topic that taking an external perspective makes will allow you to remove the guilt from the situation and see it from a relatively unbiased point of view.
Remember, if your friend came to you with the same issue, would you tell them that it was their fault or would you blame the person hurting them?
6 Record What Happened (In a Safe Place)
The best way to sort between what is real (i.e. what you know what happened) and what is a lie (i.e. what you were told happened) is to record the true events in a safe space. Think of Umbridge in Harry Potter. She was trying to convince everyone that Harry was insane and untrustworthy by convincing them that everything he said was a lie. She was trying to gaslight all of Hogwarts. But the creation of Dumbledore's Army kept that information safe and her attempts to manipulate them were no longer successful because they knew both what happened and that she was trying to say otherwise. Truth is power and it is the strongest power we have against gaslighting and trickery.
5 Tell A Friend
If you think that someone close to you is trying to manipulate you in order to treat you badly and convince you that you are to blame so that you don't leave or seek help, you need to tell someone. Tell a friend, tell a loved one, if you are concerned for your safety, tell the police. They are trained on the signs of gaslighting and will help you if things are dire.
Though, often times, gaslighting does not get to that place and is simply a tool in the narcissists' tool belt used to trick everyone into thinking that they are always in the right so that people feel sorry for them. If you are recognizing someone you know in any portion of this article, tell someone you trust.
4 Ask Yourself if They Are Ever At Fault
The easiest way to tell if you are being gaslit is to ask yourself if the person who is telling you that your version of events is wrong, that you are bad/guilty/at fault, and that you are stupid/dumb/or simply confused is ever in the wrong. Do they ever admit fault? Are they ever on the wrong end of a debate and admit it? Do they ever apologize for their behaviour or is every apology twisted in a way to place the blame back on you (e.g. "I am sorry that you misunderstood and got your own feelings hurt but it is not my job to interpret things for you.") If you find yourself always being to blame and them never at fault, you may be being gaslit.
3 Be Aware of Common Gaslighting Techniques
One of the easiest ways to prevent oneself from being gaslit is being aware of the signs. If you confront them and they reply with over the top reactions to being accused and say things like, "I cannot believe that you would attack me like this after all I've done for you," you are being gaslit. If their response to being caught in the act is something along the lines of, "I do not know what you think you saw..." you are being gaslit. If they try to evade fault and place the guilt upon you by saying things such as, "You know that you get emotional/sensitive about things like this..." or "It is not my fault that you were not clear..." you are being gaslit.
Think Rory and Logan from Gilmore Girls. Remember when Logan openly cheated on Rory, which broke her heart, but then convinced her that she was to blame for overreacting because he had misunderstood her and assumed they were on a break? So, according to him, technically he was not cheating and it was actually her fault for not trusting him and accusing him of cheating because she was unclear in the first place? Which ended with her apologizing and him continuing to treat her badly for the next few seasons? That is gaslighting 101.
2 Write Out Who You Are
Someone cannot tell you something that you know is false about yourself if you know who you are. Write down things that you know about yourself. What you are and what you are not. Not what people have told you you are but who you know you are. No one can convince you that you are stupid if you know that you aren't. If you know and you love yourself, then it is harder for someone to convince you otherwise. Gaslighters look for people who are easy to manipulate and showing that you will stand by your account of events, no matter what, will expose and break them.
1 Know That It is Not Your Fault
If you have been gaslit, it is not your fault. It is not because you were weak or because you were an easy target. It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. They are the ones who used you. They are the ones who betrayed your trust. They are the ones who manipulated and abused you. It has nothing to do with you. Do not hold onto any guilt surrounding your experiences with these people. You were manipulated and that is entirely on them, not you.