15 signs of gaslighting

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IT’S the buzzword everyone is talking about at the moment – gaslighting.
But many people still don’t understand how truly insidious this form of emotional abuse is.
Inspired by the 1940 and 1944 films “Gas Light,” where a husband systematically manipulates his wife in order to make her feel crazy, the term “Gaslighting” is now commonly used to describe behaviour that is inherently manipulative.

Kissgate: Seann Walsh and Katya Jones were pictured in a passionate embrace.

This month shamed Strictly Come Dancing love cheat Seann Walsh was this week accused of ‘gaslighting’ after branding his girlfriend ‘psycho’ over her cheating fears.
Actress Rebecca Humphries slammed her ex on Twitter, revealing that he had aggressively called her ‘nuts and mental’ over her suspicions on his relationship with married dance partner Katya Jones.

The sinister tactic – which occurs when a person’s sense of reality is deliberately distorted by the perpetrator – can be left isolated and even suicidal as a result.
Here are some of the top signs to look out for if you suspect you’ve become a victim of gaslighting.


1. They tell you or others that you’re ‘psycho’ or insane


One insidious form of gaslighting is for the abuser to tell you or others that you are ‘deranged’ ‘psycho’ or ‘nuts,’ simply because you’ve questioned them or exposed them for who they really are.
They might even tell your friends and family that you need ‘mental help’ or tell them lies about you so they start to question your sanity or so you are isolated from your loved ones.
This can often result in the victim seeking counselling or taking medication because they start to believe they are actually, going insane.


2. They deny the truth, even if you have proof


You know they said they would do something; you know you heard it. But they deny it.
It makes you start questioning your reality and second guessing yourself. The more they do this, the more you question your reality and start accepting theirs.
You question your own thoughts and start to blindly accept his.


3. They are cruel to you but never acknowledge this


Many abusers will be outright cruel to you yet refuse to apologise or accept they are in the wrong.
This tactic is especially powerful as it takes advantage of the damaging notion of women being hysterical or overly sensitive. If the behaviour is not kind, it’s not okay.


4. They project


If you question them over something they have done to you, they will somehow manage to turn it back around and make you at fault.
They lie consistently but blame you for them telling lies, saying it’s because they are scared of your reaction.
This is done so much that as you try to defend yourself, and you are distracted from your partner’s behaviour. That’s exactly what your partner wants.


5. They distort your reality


Just like in the 1944 film Gaslighting, people who use this form of emotional abuse may hide things from you before replacing them in the same place so you begin to doubt your own sanity.
They may steal your credit card from you to buy something then say you told them they could use it, even when you know you didn’t, or they may say your best friend ‘came on to them’ while you weren’t looking.
The victim becomes so incapacitated by fear and doubt that they are easily manipulated into doing whatever the perpetrator wishes and they feel reliant upon them.


6. You feel as though “something is terribly wrong,” but you don’t know what or why


Something in your gut just doesn’t feel right, yet you can’t put your finger on why.
You feel on edge, anxious and are constantly worrying about what they’re up to even though they say you have nothing to be concerned over.


7. They minimise your feelings


By trivialising how you feel and what you think, the gaslighter gains more and more power over you, e.g. “Why are you being so sensitive?” “You don’t need to get angry over a little thing like that!” “I was just joking around, why are you taking things so seriously?”
You begin to think something is wrong with YOU, even though they’ve said or done something to hurt you.


8. Twisting and reframing


When the gaslighter confidently and subtly twists and reframes what was said or done in their favour, they can cause you to second-guess yourself.
When paired with fake compassion, they can make you feel as though you are “unstable,” “irrational,” and so forth.


9. You feel insecure


If you are in a relationship with a partner who gaslights you, you are probably often unsure of yourself.
You may be insecure about your behaviours, uncertain about your partner’s motives, and nervous about your partner’s response to you at any given time.
Suddenly, as if overnight, you have gone from a confident, highly-esteemed person to a nervous wreck.
You may start to subtly change things about your appearance or personality without realising, simply to please them or to desperately make yourself feel whole again.


10. Your partner does not admit their own flaws


Because a gaslighter is frequently in attack mode, they rarely, if ever, own up to their own flaws or shortcomings. If they are criticised, they are quick to blame others or make excuses.
Even when the truth seems crystal clear to you, a gaslighter will refuse to admit that he or she is wrong.


11. You are always apologising


One of the most common signs of being a victim of gaslighting is finding yourself frequently saying, “I’m sorry,” even when there is obviously nothing to be sorry about.


12. You seek acceptance from them


Although you are being treated poorly, you are constantly working to gain your gaslighter’s acceptance.
Often hoping to avoid tension and receive better treatment, a gaslighting victim may become increasingly compliant.
Because the gaslighter has the power to give acceptance to their partner, they can also take the acceptance away.


13. They use people against you


Whether it’s their family or flatmate, gaslighters know who will defend them no matter what, and they try to make you feel these people don’t like you.
The abuser will say things like, “even my best friends don’t like you,” or “my flatmate said you were out of order.”
It is important to remember that these things may not have been actually said. As a constant liar, the gaslighter uses this tactic to make you feel like you have no one to trust.


14. You wonder why you are depressed and unhappy


You have so many good things going on in your life, so why are you not happy?
Why have you gone from feeling relaxed to constantly feeling on edge ever since you became involved in this new relationship? This may be due to your partner’s abuse.


15. You stop trusting yourself.


Not only do you no longer trust yourself, but you also have trouble making your own decisions.
You assume that whatever decision you make will be wrong, even if it does not regard your partner.

Styletto Mag is a Scottish online magazine that publishes the latest articles on fashion, beauty, travel, food and relationships. The site was founded in August 2011. Styletto Mag is a sleek, easy to access online magazine which features shopping trends, beauty reviews, funny features, and women's lifestyle articles. To contribute or submit articles, send them to editor.styletto@gmail.com.

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