Gaslighting: the 8 signs of this dangerous emotional abuse

Gaslighting: the 8 signs of this dangerous emotional abuse

How to find the bond of the beginnings in his marriage?

Over time, the couple’s relationship changes. We move away, we communicate less, we argue. Yet we still love each other … So how do you get your relationship back on track and rediscover the bond and laughter that made us fall in love?

How to live better together?

“Am I going mad / mad?” “ That’s the question, recurrent, asked by victims of gaslighting. What is it about ? A technique of mental manipulation, gaslighting consists in making a person doubt their own mental health. It is a dangerous emotional and psychological abuse, long and exhausting, which locks its victim in a false reality, in a closed room with his “executioner”. It can be very difficult to become aware of it and therefore to get out of it. This is why it is important to know the signs, in order to protect yourself from what is one of the worst techniques of manipulation there is. To help you understand what gaslighting is, we give you the 8 signs of this dangerous emotional abuse.

What is gaslighting?

Behind this name which can be translated as “smoke screen” , hides a technique of mental manipulation which consists in making its victim doubt his reason. The term comes from the film “Gaslight” taken from a play and released in 1944 with Ingrid Bergman. In this American film, the husband makes his wife doubt his actions to such an extent that she ends up worrying about her mental state.

Gaslighting is therefore a dangerous and powerful manipulation technique that allows the person to slowly and gradually take control of his victim , making him doubt his cognitive performance, his memory and his perception of reality. She then becomes dependent on the false reality or distorted reality constructed by her toxic partner. The latter thus fully establishes his grip on his victim.

Indeed, immersed in this reality which no longer has any meaning for her, the victim then doubts his own mental health. It starts with destroying her self-esteem , causing her to lose confidence in her own opinion and opinion. Of course, this promotes fragility that can go as far as causing anxiety disorders and even depression.

Gaslighting: the 8 signs of this dangerous emotional abuse

Who practices this emotional abuse?

The gaslighter or abuser is found among one of these three categories of unhealthy, perverse and therefore toxic people:

  • Sociopaths
  • Narcissists
  • Psychopaths

How does the gaslighter set up its grip?

The person who uses gaslighting systematically reminds his victim of his faults and mistakes, real or imaginary , so as to make him understand that he is never doing enough, that he is wrong, that he is useless. . The goal ? To devalue her to make her lose confidence in her and make her feel guilty.

Indeed, the abuser does not thereby seek to make his partner aware of his faults in the hope of changing it. Not at all. Its goal ? Only formulate unfounded criticisms to belittle the other and thus better control them.  

Moreover, the gaslighter cannot stand criticism: if his victim dares to contradict him, he will counter-attack , accuse the victim of fooling around, find excuses by blaming his victim or even accentuate his hold. For this, he multiplies verbal violence but sometimes also physical.

Being a victim of gaslighting

To be a victim of gaslighting is to live in a permanent feeling of insecurity . It is totally losing control of one’s life and oneself, because nothing seems out of place and the victim ends up doubting everything, herself, others, what is true or not. She can no longer trust her feelings and her emotions, as they are called into question by her executioner.

Frightened, weakened, powerless and often isolated , the victim spends his time apologizing when it is she who is being mistreated . She asks forgiveness for anything and everything, all the time, so as not to start an argument or be persuaded by dint of being responsible for everything that is blamed on her.

She no longer knows what to think and do since she has been deprived of her internal compass and the more time passes, the more control over her is total.

So how do you know if a relationship is like gaslighting? What are the recurring signs of this violent and dangerous abuse? What are these manipulative people doing to their victims?

Gaslighting: the 8 signs of dangerous emotional manipulation

# 1 demeaning words

Like any manipulator worthy of the name, regardless of his or her category, the gaslighter will use and abuse infantilizing, disrespectful and abusive phrases to permanently demean his or her partner. He is not there to encourage or stimulate the other on the contrary, he does everything to make the other feel devalued, useless, useless, missing the point. He thus asserts his grip by making the other of his faculties doubt, by pointing to a pseudo hysteria or hyper emotivity for example. And he has no qualms about acting this way in public, thus humiliating his victim by calling people to witness, but with this condescension that the problem is necessarily the other.

Examples of typical and recurring sentences:

  • You are too sensitive. 
  • You take things too seriously all the time. 
  • Is it not okay? 
  • There you go, you get your ideas as usual.
  • You are wrong / You confuse as always. 
  • Again, you are exaggerating.
  • You always dramatize everything.

# 2 The lie is his signature

In front of you is a person who lies to you without blinking, even though they know full well that you know they are not telling the truth. It’s amazing, isn’t it? And yet, this behavior is intentional, because by making you doubt her honesty, she keeps you in a state of confusion and instability that allows her to manipulate you more easily over time. Thus, he denies banal things to weaken you, to make you doubt yourself.

For example, he told you that he goes shopping or picking up the kids at the end of the day, but when you tell him about it, he denies it altogether and is so convincing that you doubt your certainties. The more this is repeated, the easier it is for you to accept the reality that he wants to impose on you.

# 3 It attacks your sensitive points

Whether it is a trait of your personality, your children, your sick mom, your passion, it will start by attacking what is important to you, what is important to you, what touches you, to destroy the very essence of your person. He has no qualms about pressing where it hurts because he knows your emotions will take over.

This could imply that you are not a good mother or that you should not have had children, that you are not taking care of your mother well enough. Or, that you’re not good at your passion and it’s time to stop making fun of yourself. He can even make you plainly understand that you could have been a better person if you did not have so many flaws, but that then you are worth nothing. Without him anyway.

# 4 a long and gradual process

Gaslighting is characterized by its slow and gradual process that prevents the victim from suddenly realizing it . Otherwise, she would have the means to flee, a click that would make her realize that something was wrong. No with gaslighting, it is a process that wears you out that is put in place.

A little lie here, a nasty comment there… with a frequency that imperceptibly increases day by day. This is one of the insidious aspects of Gaslighting. Your abuser operates slowly and then it starts to build up.

Gaslighting: the 4 other signs of this dangerous emotional abuse

# 5 – he confuses you

He uses positive reinforcement to confuse you more, that is, he plays hot and cold. He who often belittles you, suddenly begins to compliment you. Obviously, this makes you think that you may have misunderstood, that it may not be so bad after all. In reality, it is, because these compliments are obviously a calculated gesture which aims, once again, to make you doubt your reality.

He knows that confusion weakens you and that you will fall into his trap. How? ‘Or’ What ? Everyone needs stability , which is why the principle of gaslighting is to attack the foundations in order to destroy. Thus, the victim will instinctively be led to seek his balance with a close person, namely the gaslighter himself.

# 6 a role reversal

To distract your attention from his unhealthy little game, especially if he’s worried that you might see clearly in his manipulative game, he turns the tables by posing as the person guilty of Earth’s worst evils. Here you are in the role of the executioner, responsible for the arguments, the crises of your couple.

Thus, he will constantly accuse you of acts of which you are not guilty: infidelity, emotional dependence, lies of all kinds … Here he is like a poor victim. By forcing you to defend yourself and to make matters worse, to reassure him, your attention will be diverted from his behavior and his perverse manipulation tactics.

# 7 control over your surroundings

Gaslighting is a manipulation technique that isolates its victims. For this, the manipulators do everything to ensure that their victim finds himself alone, isolated, far from his family, friendly and social circle. Manipulators have a knack for drawing people to their side, and can easily use that against you. For this he will create from all parts lies and arguments, by making you responsible, so that others do not want to see you anymore. He will not hesitate to tell you that everyone around you knows that you are useless, that you are wrong, to make you lose confidence in them, and thus control you easily.

Or he will persuade you that some people want to hurt you so that you cut the bridges of yourself … By passing off your family, friends and even the media as liars, the gaslighter will position itself in your eyes, as the only one. reliable source of information. Thus, his control over you will be absolute.

# 8 Her ultimate weapon: you’re crazy

It is a technique as old as the world but which unfortunately still works…. By repeating indiscriminately to those around you that you have lost your mind, he ends up convincing everyone. He positions himself as a victim , a worried, sad, lost partner to arouse compassion . Little by little, he distils his lies. You lose your mind, you forget things, you become aggressive, hysterical, violent … Anything is good to make others believe that you are crazy, unstable and therefore potentially dangerous for yourself and for others.

So if you ever manage to talk about the abuse you are going through, no one will believe you right away and it will be difficult for you to prove your point. The gaslighter always tries to be one step ahead, as on a chessboard, he places his pawns and knows how to use and control them when it is useful or necessary for him. A manipulator is intelligent, which is what makes him dangerous and malicious. He has no qualms, ever.

But his oversized ego, his pride, his arrogance and his overconfidence can turn against him. If this sounds like you, if your current relationship is showing all or some of these signs, don’t hesitate to ask for help and if you can, go.

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