Have you ever seen the Alfred Hitchcock classic film Gaslighting? In this movie, a manipulative husband makes his wife question her sanity by the constant dimming of the flame of a gaslight. What she does not know is that her husband is the one manipulating the lamp. He cuts her off from her friends and family to ostracize her. The abuser feels power over their victim in making them feel powerless and second-guessing their actions when there is nothing wrong with them.
This movie helped bring light to the term “gaslighting.” If you feel like you do not know what is real anymore and you ask your abuser, they will make it seem like you are the problem. This way, the blame is never on them.
By knowing the manipulation tactics used through gaslighting, you will no longer be in the dark.
Someone who abuses you through gaslighting is a pathological liar. It does not matter if you call them out for lying to you. They will still stick with their story no matter what. Their goal is to always make you look like the bad guy for even making these accusations.
Even though the abuser clearly knows they are lying, they will still put on a great performance. Because of their convincing nature in making you believe they are sane, you start to second-guess yourself.
Not only will the abusers lie to you, but they will lie to the people you know. In order to sell the story about your sanity going haywire, they need an audience.
All the abuser has to do is tell stories to your peers that you are emotionally unstable. Unfortunately, people will side with the abuser since this person “cares” for you. The gaslighter can say that others have been speaking about you when that could not be farther from the truth.
If you tell the gaslighter about your fear of the strange occurrences you are noticing, they will shut you down. You will be told to calm down or that you are overreacting. This will minimize the way you are thinking.
Feeling like you are wrong whenever you are scared will make you feel helpless in your own home. You will feel like you cannot cope with your mental health worsening by the minute.
When you speak to your gaslighter about your experiences, they may use sweet words as an another attempt to cover up their manipulation. They could constantly reassure you how much they love you and that they would never hurt you. Because these are the words you want to hear, it will be easy to believe them just like your peers do.
If the same behavior is repeated, then the sweet-talking is another manipulation tactic. Their goal is to use these words so you can never suspect their wrongdoing.
How to Cope
The first thing you can do before taking any action is some deep breathing. You need to make sure you are in a stable place mentally away from the lies your gaslighter has been telling you. Then, physically remove yourself from the situation.
It can also be helpful to find some evidence for your claims. Look through emails, text messages, or a journal to track what you see or hear. That way, you can look back on the evidence and know that your suspicions are valid.
You also need to set boundaries with the gaslighter. Let this person know that you refuse to tolerate any time that they trivialize or deny your feelings. While this part may be difficult, ending the relationship will end the abuse you are going through.