At its core, gaslighting is a form of manipulation in which one person causes another to question their judgments and reality. This happens through the creation of false stories, the invalidation of emotions, and intense criticism. The effects of gaslighting can be severe and long-lasting, including feelings of confusion, anxiety, depression, and loss of self-worth. It can also make the person become more vulnerable to further manipulation and abuse. In extreme cases, victims of gaslighting may develop mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), narcissistic personality disorder, depression, or anxiety.
So, how do we recognize when we’re being gaslighted and what are some of the signs? There are 6 types of gaslighting you should look out and they are as follows.
6 types of Gaslighting
Countering: Countering is when someone makes you question your memory. They may say things such as “You’re wrong. You never remember things correctly,” or “Are you sure? You know you have a bad memory.”
Withholding: When someone withholds, they refuse to engage in a conversation with the person they are talking to. A person using this technique may pretend to not understand someone so they do not have to respond to them. For example, they might say, “I don’t know what you are talking about,” or “You’re just trying to confuse me.”
Trivializing: This occurs when a person belittles or disregards the other person’s feelings. They may accuse them of being too sensitive or overreacting when they have valid concerns and feelings. For example, “You are overreacting” or “Don't be so sensitive”.
Denial: Denial involves a person pretending to forget events or how they occurred. They may deny having said or done something or accuse someone of making things up. For example, “I didn't say that” or “You are remembering it all wrong, you are making things up again”.
Diverting: With this technique, a person changes the focus of a discussion and questions the other person’s credibility instead. For example, they might say, “That is just another crazy idea you got from your friend” or “Your therapist doesn't know what she is saying”.
Stereotyping: A person using gaslighting techniques may intentionally use negative stereotypes of a person’s gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, nationality, or age to manipulate them. For example, “You are a female and if you say something people are just going to think you are crazy”.
Some strategies for countering gaslighting include:
Keeping a journal: Writing down your thoughts and experiences can help you keep track of what's really happening and can serve as evidence if you need to confront the person gaslighting you.
Seeking outside perspectives: Talking to friends, family, or a therapist can help you get a different perspective on the situation and can help you validate your own experiences.
Setting boundaries: It is important to communicate to the person gaslighting you that their behavior is not acceptable and to establish boundaries around what is and is not acceptable in your interactions with them.
Building a support system: Surrounding yourself with people who will support and believe you can make it easier to resist gaslighting.
Seeking help: If you are struggling with the effects of gaslighting, it is important to seek help from a therapist or counselor who can provide you with the support and guidance you need to heal and move forward.
It is important to remember that gaslighting is a form of abuse and it is not your fault. It's important to believe yourself and seek support when needed to remove yourself safely from the situation. You are not alone even if someone is making you feel like you are. Remember you can always call 1-800-799-7233 to talk to a free Domestic Violence Hotline that is available 24/7 if you are in need of help or a way out.