Welcome back to That’s What Pea Said…
As previously explained, in order for gaslighting to take place there must be a relationship between both parties, whether professional, romantic, friendly or family. There is a power dynamic between the abuser and victim.
• Blatant lying: The most obvious and most important sign of gaslighting is that the abuser will tell their victim (and often others) both obvious and blatant lies. It’s unnerving that they have the ability to lie with such ease, however these lies create the foundations of an abusive pattern. The victim will begin to question everything, including the simplest of matters. This self-doubt is exactly what the gaslighter wants.
• Constant denial: Similarly to their ability to tell blatant lies, gaslighters have the ability to deny something even thought the abuser knows exactly what they said. In some cases the gaslighter may even outright ask their victim to ‘prove it’ – especially if they know the victim only has their memory to recall the event which is being questioned. This technique causes the victim to begin questioning their memory and reality, whilst wondering if the abuser is in fact telling the truth. In some cases, the abuser will have the audacity to ignore the evidence against them when it’s pointed out by their victim. Despite the evidence being presented to them in black and white, they will divert.
• Using what you love against you: People who Gaslight use what the victim loves against them. For example, if the victim loves their job – they’ll find issues with it. If the victim has children, they’ll find ways to make the victim believe they should never of had them, or cause issues to sever their relationship. This is an incredibly abusive manipulation technique which causes the victim to question their self worth, their foundation and question their relationships with the people and the things which they hold dear.
• A loss of self: Consciously, or not – abusers who gaslight their victim follow a methodical timeline. This method of manipulation, happens over time, during which the victim becomes an entirely different person. This method of manipulation can turn the most confident person into a shell, whilst they’re completely oblivious to the changes which are taking place. The victims individuality withers away and they become vulnerable and fit the mould that the abuser wants them to be.
• Actions speak louder than words: A similarity between gaslighters is that they continuously talk, however their words are empty and meaningless. It is important to pay attention to their actions and behaviours as the gaslighters issues lie within their abusive actions and behaviours towards their victim.
• Building you up, to knock you down: A frequent technique used by gaslighters is to knock their victim down, in order to have the power of building them back up again. Unfortunately, during this process the victim becomes used to feeling this way. The victim becomes used to being knocked-down and re-built and the praise they receive may leave them feeling as though their abuser isn’t really that bad.
• Confusion: It’s natural that humans crave stability and this is something which gaslighters are more than aware of. The abuser manipulates their victim into a constant state of confusion, which leads the victim to desperately seek clarity. Due to the nature of gaslighting relationships, the victim will often seek clarity within their abuser, which in turn perpetuates the cycle and increases the power which the abuser has.
• Projection: Projection is a common behaviour within many toxic and manipulative relationships.
Psychological projection is a defence mechanism in which the human ego defends itself against unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to other. After being subjected to gaslighting, the victim will feel like they constantly have to defend themselves for things which they have been accused of, but which they have not done.
• ‘I’m not crazy, you are?’: Once the gaslighter has become aware that their victim is already questioning their sanity and relying on them for clarity, they will begin to reinforce their victims belief by confirming their concern that they are actually crazy. In order to cause further damage, the abuser may also tell others that their victim is crazy. When the victim seeks help their confidant may be reluctant to offer support as the abuser has already planted the seed that the victim is crazy.
• I’m not lying, you are: A common behaviour carried out by gaslighters is to tell their victim that everybody is actually against them and that all their friends are liars. When the victim believes their friends are lying, it causes their sense of reality to become blurred even further. Abusers who gaslight want their victims to feel isolated so that the victim relies on them for everything, in turn the victim feels more isolated. This allows the abuser to continue the cycle of abuse.
It’s important to be aware of gaslighting behaviours, to protect yourself and others. Following on from this post, I’ll be looking at the different personality types which conduct gaslighting behaviours.
Thanks for reading,