Gaslighting is the act of saying things that are untrue or manipulative to make someone else feel as if they don’t remember something right or become confused. This is a type of emotional abuse aimed at lowering the self-esteem of the victim and is often used in narcissistic relationships to alter the power balance between partners, trapping the victim in the relationship. It can happen in just about any type of relationship, not just romantic ones.
It Never Happened
The number one phrase people will use when gaslighting a victim is that “it never happened.” This is done to make the victim confused and feel as if they don’t have a good memory or are remembering something wrong. Often, the victim remembers every detail of what happened, but it puts the abuser in a poor light, so the abuser wants to change history by saying it never happened. Those who notice gaslighting like this may want to look into emotional abuse support as soon as possible.
You’re Too Sensitive
Feelings are valid, no matter who has them or what feelings they have. It’s okay to be upset at something that happens. Yet, abusers will often tell their victim that they’re too sensitive. This is a way of minimizing the victim’s feelings, making the abuser the one in control of the situation. It’s not that the victim’s feelings aren’t valid or that they’re too sensitive, it’s that the abuser cannot feel the feelings and doesn’t want the victim to, either.
No one wants to be told they’re crazy. When someone is a victim of emotional abuse, it’s easy to feel a little bit crazy, especially when faced with frequent gaslighting and manipulation. The abuser often adds to this by telling the victim they’re crazy. This often goes along with phrases like “it never happened” or “you’re too emotional” as the abuser wants to further invalidate the victim’s feelings.
You Should Have Known
Abusers who become physically abusive will often use this phrase when they’re trying to make the victim feel like they’re the reason for the physical abuse. The abuser will try to blame the victim, saying that the victim should have known the abuser would be unhappy. Basically, the victim shouldn’t have done what they did to cause the abuser to act out. The thing is, however, it’s hard to impossible for victims to always know what will set off the abuser, so they often will not have known that it would lead to further abuse.
False apologies are used all the time. Most people recognize fake apologies that turn the apology around onto the other person. These false apologies are common in abusive relationships and are a form of gaslighting. Though the abuser does say they’re sorry, it’s almost always followed by “but…” This is where they turn it around and blame the victim instead of actually apologizing for their behavior.
Your Memory is Bad
Like saying something never happened, abusers will tell victims that their memory is bad. The main idea behind this is to cause confusion and make the victim feel like they’re forgetful. Instead, the likely reason this happens is that the abuser is trying to change history or have more control over the victim.
If you are worried that you’re being gaslighted, it’s time to take a closer look at the relationship. A healthy relationship won’t include gaslighting or manipulation. Talk to a professional to get a better insight into what’s happening and to get help leaving the relationship.