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Relationships Sundays

Abuse & The Abuser

What is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting seems to be a fairly new term that we are hearing more and more about.

In conversations that I’ve had, there seems to be some confusion around what it is, because it can be very hard to define.

Very Well Mind said it well when they explained it like this:

Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that often occurs in abusive relationships. It is a covert type of emotional abuse in which the bully or abuser misleads the target, creating a false narrative and making them question their judgments and reality.

 Ultimately, the victim of gaslighting starts to feel unsure about their perceptions of the world and even wonder if they are losing their sanity. (

Gaslighting is typically seen in romantic relationships but can also be present in friendships and family relationships as well.

It’s one of those forms of abuse that is incredibly difficult to detect because, like the definition says, it is a covert and subtle form of emotional abuse.

Some of the main tactics that you might experience with gaslighting are: lying to you, discrediting you, distracting you, minimizing your thoughts and feelings, shifting blame, denying wrongdoing, weaponizing compassionate words, and rewriting history.

Can you see how difficult this type of abuse would be to pinpoint? Because one fight where someone shifts the blame to you, or minimizes your thoughts and feelings does not equate to gaslighting. If you’ve been in any sort of long term relationship, chances are you have probably blamed the other person and minimized their thoughts at some point. And they've probably done it to you too.

But over time, when someone causes you to question your own reality - when you start to wonder if you are crazy because of how you feel - well that might be a good time to start asking yourself if gaslighting is happening in your relationship.

Recommended Movie


Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi

Interesting Fact #1

A gaslighter ignores and makes light of their victim’s thoughts and emotions to gain authority and power. They may tell the victim to calm down, not overreact, or to stop being sensitive, all of which undermine the victim’s reality and have the effect of making it seem that it is the victim who is in the wrong.


Interesting Fact #2

As well as communicating to others that the victim is wrong and overreacting, a gaslighter also makes up stories about the victim to gossip about with others.


Interesting Fact #3

Gaslighters blame the victim for anything bad that happens even when it’s their own fault or when they’ve deliberately created the problem to cause things to go wrong.


Quote of the day

“Gaslighting is mind control to make victims doubt their reality.” — Tracy Malone

Article of the day - What is Gaslighting and How to Know if You’re Doing it

To manipulate by distortion…a short way to define gaslighting. 

Gaslighting is a subtle yet harmful way of manipulating and controlling others. Gaslighters will make their victim doubt their own memory, judgment and even sanity. In simple terms, it’s an effective way of making someone believe that you’re right and they’re wrong, even if it isn’t the case. 

People who gaslight distort reality to control other people’s actions so that their needs are met and the other person is put in a weaker position in a relationship. Gaslighting is also a form of power-tripping. What makes gaslighting worse is that if left unchecked, the manipulations can grow so complex and potent that the person on the receiving end may find it hard to recognize and get out of this toxic relationship.

Are you guilty of gaslighting?

Usually, we think of gaslighters as people who are strategically and consciously manipulating others, and many people do use gaslighting to intentionally take advantage of other people. It’s recognized as a form of intentional emotional abuse

But there are also cases where gaslighters act in a way that makes people question their version of reality that affects their self-esteem and disempowers them, even if it wasn’t the intention. Without being aware of it, you could potentially gaslight others and not even know. 

Gaslighting can happen in all types of relationships, not just romantic ones. It can also happen between family members, friends and coworkers. Here are some signs that you may be an unintentional gaslighter:

1. When people express opinions that differ from yours, you tell them they are wrong. 

It’s natural for people to have different ideas and responses to situations. Some behaviors are so rude and unacceptable that, as a decent human being, it is just right to call the person out. 

But gaslighting is different. It is when you are, by default, unable to accept the fact that other people have a right to think or do things differently, and you feel compelled to tell them that what they are thinking or doing is wrong. 

Do you struggle to keep an opinion to yourself that could be very hurtful to someone else just because you think you know better? 

Do you make people feel afraid to disagree with you? Or do you put them in a position where they find it hard to respond to you? If your answer to these questions is a YES, then you are using the emotional abuse tactics of a gaslighter. 

For instance, bosses who gaslight their employees when they are challenged will double-down with counterattacks or arguments. These arguments could digress from the points at hand to discredit, confuse and distract their employees from the main issue and make them feel guilty for being human with real thoughts and feelings. 

As a leader, you are not expected to be right all the time, but you are expected to be human. It’s important to know the right words to say and when to say them so that those who belong to your team know that you care for what they think and what they feel. 

Your employees should not be afraid to be their real selves in the workplace

2. You believe it doesn’t hurt to tell a lie. 

Most of us, if not all of us, have told a little lie to get ourselves out of a sticky situation. However, if you are constantly lying just to hide your mistakes, you need to ask yourself: how do my lies affect the person I’m lying to?

Have you ever made a promise or a commitment to someone and then lied about having forgotten it? Or maybe you denied you ever said anything about it at all. Were you ever confronted for doing something that you’ve done but lied your way out of it?

You might think that it’s better or easier to lie to get out of a difficult situation. However, it may cause the person on the receiving end to doubt themselves and what they believe to be true not only in this situation, but going forward as well.

3. You are guilty of downplaying others’ emotions.

When a person is hurt by something you’ve said or done, your usual response is that they’re overreacting and to stop making things up. This may make a person believe their emotions are not valid or excessive. 

If this sounds like you, you are definitely gaslighting.

Gaslighting goes further than invalidating other people’s feelings, which makes it more damaging than we think. Invalidating means telling someone they shouldn’t feel a certain way. Gaslighting, on the other hand, makes someone believe that they do not actually feel that way. A combination of the two could have long term effects such as self-doubt, paranoia and anxiety among other traits that display a lack of confidence.

Why we need to stop gaslighting.

If you are guilty of any form of gaslighting, it’s time to change. Gaslighting often leads to terrible long-term consequences. It can damage someone’s self-esteem and confidence. It can also cause relationships to suffer. 

Over time, it can also cause more severe problems to the person being gaslighted, including depression, PTSD, feelings of helplessness and a condition called brain fog where people are unable to make decisions. These may continue even if the person is no longer in that particular gaslighting relationship. 

Changing an ingrained behavior like gaslighting is hard, but it is possible. The first step is to acknowledge that you have a problem and you are at fault. The next steps are as follows, in no particular order:

-Stop making excuses

-Start making amends

-Identify patterns of your manipulative behavior and what triggers it

-Do not be ashamed to seek help from a professional if you must

Ultimately, the antidote to gaslighting is empathy. It is a skill that can be developed by anyone. It is never too late to cultivate empathy in the workplace, in romantic relationships and between family and friends. 

As human beings, we all have the capacity to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. Understanding the feelings of others is what makes us human, after all. Of course, it is not always easy to get out of our heads and see things from another person’s perspective. It takes time and conscious effort to build and maintain empathy. But it is worth it. 

I wish you patience and strength as you or your loved ones face how gaslighting affects your lives.

In love and respect,

Hilary Corna

Question of the day - Do you believe that abusers who are gaslighting do it intentionally, or without knowing they’re doing it?

Abuse & The Abuser

Do you believe that abusers who are gaslighting do it intentionally, or without knowing they’re doing it?