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Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse and torment that involves manipulation by a person to the extent that the victim questions their reality, judgement, thoughts and even memories.
These are some telltale signs of an emotionally abusive situation involving gaslighting, intentionally or otherwise. These red flags are unequivocal signs of gaslighting and emotional abuse.
1. They invalidate your reality and make you question your judgement and perceptions: Imagine someone telling you the sky is pink when you can see it’s blue and they try to convince you to disregard what your eyes can see and instead, hold on to what they are telling you. A person who is gaslighting you will trivialise your feelings and make it seem like you’re exaggerating or imagining things when you point out their errors. This is a very clear marker of an abusive situation. Your feelings are valid and, if you feel like something is wrong or off, it probably is. A person who tries to superimpose their views over your own while making theirs seem superior at your expense is someone worth avoiding.
2. You feel stupid: Ever been in a situation where someone made you feel stupid and inferior even though the subject matter was something you were well versed in and confident about? Well, you have probably been gaslit. A person gaslighting you will attempt to make you feel stupid and to question your worth and intellect.
3. You doubt your memory: Imagine someone telling you an alternate version of an event you witnessed and trying to convince you that that’s what truly happened. Sometimes, they’re so persistent with it that you start to wonder if it’s your memory that’s flawed. They may also lie about past events to make you question your grasp on reality. When your memories begin to seem like an unreliable blur, you are more likely to trust their version of events.
4. You lose confidence: Gaslighting does a lot of damage to a person’s self-esteem and, where it is constant, their confidence wanes over time. There is a sense of helplessness that comes with gaslighting. You start to trust other people’s narratives and perceptions over your own. You also begin to second guess your actions and interactions with the person and structure your words and actions to suit them. You try to avoid upsetting them and retreat into yourself. This is a prominent sign of abuse.
5. They lie confidently and blatantly: You know something is a lie but the person telling it does so with conviction and confidence. The audacity in itself can be unnerving, making you wonder if maybe they’re not lying after all. These actions blur the lines between what is real and what’s fake; truth and falsehood. Straight-faced denial of something can make even a person who is very confident in themselves falter and doubt.