Emotional Abuse or Gaslighting

Gaslighting occurs when a person you trust to tell you the truth about reality, is, in fact, bending reality with lies. When this happens consistently over a period of time it causes you to question your sanity. When an abuser refuses to listen, appears to misunderstand what he is completely capable of understanding, or declines sharing his emotions, he is withholding a part of the essential intimate actions of the relationship.

Whereas, when a partner really does not understand the other, then at least the intent to understand and compromise should be there, with perhaps a request for the partner to help them understand somehow.

But when Gaslighting is the main technique and withholding is the tool, the abuser feigns confusion or a lack of understanding.

Blocking and diverting is a method of Gaslighting whereby communication is controlled and manipulated. The abuser refuses to comment or answer (because he has already stated “I’m not going through this again tonight”) and closes the discussion on things he “has already discussed.”

Also, when withholding information, the Gaslighting abuser prevents all possibility of coming to a fair resolution, or in giving comforting knowledge to the person in his/her relationship i.e. parent, sibling, spouse, partner, workplace colleague.

A Gaslighting abuser often accuses another of having done something wrong in order to justify his actions or to give misleading ideas as to why he treated the other person in a certain way when questioned. Whereas, healthy people in relationship to another do not want to see the person in their midst feeling bad or hurt, and instead desire to comfort or heal their pain.

Alternatively, the goal of abusive accusations is to blame the relational person for her anger, irritation, or insecurity, thereby proving the anger/abuse she is enduring is justified because she is at fault or in the wrong for the way she accused or reacted to something he did. Trivializing is confusing to her because, if she doesn’t recognize Gaslighting by “trivializing” for what it is, she believes she somehow hasn’t been able to explain just how important certain things are to her. “Trivializing” can be very subtle, so that the partner is left feeling depressed and frustrated but isn’t quite sure why.

Abusive forgetting is also a method of Gaslighting. The abuser conveniently forgets anything pertaining to what the victim has needed closure on. We all forget things sometimes; but this is not genuine oblivion; it’s denial that an event and/or interactions happened at all. These forgotten events usually have had great impact on the victim.

Victims of Gaslighting often try to discuss incidents with their abuser to help resolve issues sometimes only in the hopes of avoiding the same hurt, explosion, or confusion in the future, though he will still deny it ever happened, with an accusatory comment like: What are you talking about? I don’t have to listen to this! Thus, eventually a Gaslighting abuser wins the ultimate war, the final argument, when the victim begins to collapse mentally and emotionally. The worst Gaslighting abusers will then mock her, humiliate her by sharing her “wrongdoings” (of searching for a solution) with their mutual friends, hoping to garner a sympathic response from them. Perhaps it better eases his conscious to have others tell him it is all her, or that she’s just a bitch, or just a nag. Hell, she’s not worth the effort it takes him to keep on living with her!

If you are a victim of Gaslighting, hang in there. Recognizing that it is emotional abuse is a very big step. Trust your “gut instincts.” They have been entrusted by folks since Adam and Eve, and I just don’t think it is possible that you could be the only person without credible, solid instincts suddenly betraying you, repeatedly telling you that there is something very wrong.

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