As if relationships weren’t complicated enough on their own, modern terms like ghosting and more just further deepen those complexities by showing us all that can go wrong in a relationship.
But on the flip side, these very terms also make us aware and prevent us from being taken advantage of in a relationship. Furthermore, they can help us realise if we are in an abusive relationship quickly and thus allow us to get out of a bad situation before we bring any harm to ourselves.
While terms like breadcrumbing and ghosting are relatively new and associated with the social media generation, there is one term that has existed for longer than anything and is much more dangerous than the mentioned two.
That term would be gaslighting.
What Is Gaslighting?
A term that emerged from the 1938 play Gas Light when the husband in the story tries to make his wife and others believe she is going crazy by influencing or changing certain things in their environment and upon her pointing out the changes dismiss them as just her imagination.
Basically, gaslighting is a form of manipulation where you try to destroy or alter another person’s perception of reality.
This can be done by manipulating, verbal disagreement and ultimately making them doubt that whether what they are seeing or hearing is even real or not.
Commonly, this form of manipulation is done by sociopaths or narcissist but many kinds of research and studies over the decades have shown it to be something common in abusive relationships too.
Why Does Someone Gaslight?
Although there is no concrete reason as to why a person would gaslight their partner, it is seen as a common technique to gain more control over another person.
As per several sources, an abuser’s main aim is to make their partner completely and wholly dependent on them, helpless without them. By making them question their reality and in turn their very sanity, they succeed in alienating that person and trust the abuser’s word over anyone else’s.
Gaslighting is perhaps the ultimate form of emotional and psychological abuse and toes the line to being called mental torture in its worst kind.
A person who is being gaslighted will usually become extremely insecure about their own thought processes, opinions, judgement and even gut feeling, brushing it all off as them once again just ‘seeing things that are not there’.
In 2015, there was a big change in the Serious Crime Act of England and Wales that included ‘controlling or coercive behaviour in a relationship’.
How To Realise You Are Being Gaslighted?
There are several symptoms or signs that can alert you to realise that you are being gaslighted. Some of them are:
1. You second guess everything.
2. Become fearful of taking decisions on your own and looking up to your partner who would ‘know better’.
3. You keep apologizing for almost anything. Nothing is your partner’s fault, it is always your fault.
4. You keep defending your partner to others.
5. You stop hanging out with others because of something or another your partner has said about them.
6. Your partner creates appointments like dates and all with you when you have other engagements. Then pulling a ‘they are important than me’ card to make you feel guilty about spending time apart.
7. You start to feel confused about the smallest things and question whether something really happened or not.
8. You start to believe you are not good enough, smart or intelligent enough.
9. You start to fear your partner but also feel guilty since in all respects ‘they are perfect’.
10. Your partner will sometimes throw in some positive reinforcements like dates, affection and more as a way to confuse you even more.
How To Break The Cycle?
The best way to break this dangerous and abusive cycle is to realise early on only that something is not right with your relationship.
The above tips are just a few signs, there are even more that are subjective from relationship to relationship.
Another good way to break this cycle would be that, if you are feeling suspicious of your relationship, keep a record somewhere of what you do, what you say and any appointments or more.
Even take pictures of things if you want, just so you have some kind of proof that you are not imagining things.
If your partner doubts your word or tries to manipulate you into thinking that what you are seeing is not the reality, take a look at those pieces of evidence and then reach out for help.
Either try therapy or reach to out to some close friend or family member who can help you decide on the next step.
But do keep in mind, that this cycle can be broken. You are not helpless or overreacting or ‘seeing things’.
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