Gaslighting is a form of emotional manipulation. Like all abuse, it’s designed to gain power and control over you.

Someone who harms you in this way will plant seeds of self-doubt to alter your perception of reality.

It builds up gradually, with the abuser chip-chip-chipping away at your self-esteem, so you might be totally unaware that it’s happening to you. 

What behaviours does gaslighting involve?

Ever felt as though you’re constantly second-guessing yourself? Found yourself questioning your own instincts? Felt like you’re going crazy?

Or been accused of cheating by a partner who has form for cheating themselves? Then it’s likely you’ve experienced gaslighting. We’ve listed some examples of gaslighting below: 

  • Persistent and often blatant lying

  • Undermining your confidence or intelligence

  • Making you feel like you have to apologise all the time

  • Making you question your own judgement, so you’re scared to make decisions

  • Questioning your version of events, leaving you feeling confused and disorientated

  • Make you feel inadequate – as though nothing is ever good enough

  • Accusing you of going crazy, losing the plot or being mentally unstable

  • Criticising you – for example, your looks, your job or your abilities as a mother

  • Accusing you of being over sensitive, over-emotional, hysterical or neurotic

  • Switching between charm and rage

  • Accusing you of being paranoid

  • Making you feel on-edge – even if you’re not sure why

  • Accusing you of flirting or cheating – particularly if they have a history of cheating themselves

  • Isolating you from your friends and family by suggesting that they’re in agreement – that they also think you’re over-sensitive / unhinged / a bad mum / whatever

  • Making you defend them to other people – including family and friends who might have spotted the warning signs for themselves

  • Making you behave in a certain way because you’re frightened of how they will react if you don’t

If you’ve experienced any of the behaviours in this list, you’re not alone. We’re here to help. And we care.

Remember that gaslighting is a criminal offence covered within coercive control law. It is not your fault. With the right support, you can put a stop to it for good. Call us now if you need to talk.

“I can be hard work and he puts up with all the bad stuff…”

Happy and healthy relationships aren’t actually hard work. Sure, there has to be some give and take and the occasional disagreement is perfectly normal.

But daily arguments, shouting, conflict and a general feeling of always being wrong or worrying about what happens if you do or say the wrong thing isn’t healthy or happy.

Think about how your friends would describe you. Do they think you’re “hard work” – or is it just your partner?

Do you “give as good as you get” or does the conflict happen when you try to stand your ground?

Do you “rub each other up the wrong way” or are you experiencing a form of psychological manipulation that you haven’t been able to see?

“I’ve been depressed and he’s been there for me…”

Suffering from depression can be tough for the patient and those around them. But it can also happen if you’ve been living with an emotionally abusive partner.

Think back to a time when you were happy. Was it before this relationship? Could the relationship – or more specifically, your partner – be the cause of your depression?

Gaslighting can result in severe anxiety and depression if it happens for long enough. Perhaps you feel like a weaker version of yourself now? Maybe you felt stronger in the past? You might even feel guilty for not feeling like your usual happy self.

If you can relate to any of the behaviours in the list above, it might be time to consider whether you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship and decide what to do next. 

If you feel like you could be in an abusive relationship, have a read of our get help section. For more about the services we provide, take a look at our services.

Or for urgent temporary crisis accommodation, call our 24-hour helpline on 0300 123 5101 (or 01270 250390 if you’re calling from another area).