33 Gaslighting Signs in an Abusive Relationship

Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse. The person will manipulate you into questioning yourself, your sanity, and reality.

In an effort to control every aspect of the relationship, the abuser will get you to rely solely on him or her for the truth. If you need some reassurance that you’re not going crazy, there are gaslighting signs to look for in an abusive relationship.

1. A gaslighter will use your insecurities, weaknesses, shortcomings, and fears against you.

He or she will first learn everything about you out of feigned interest only to use that information to poke fun at you, to show how you’re not good enough or to prove that you’re defective in some way.

“How can anyone be afraid of a little spider? You’re so weak.”

2. The abuser will shame you.

It doesn’t matter if you’re alone together or out in public. This person will find a way to make you feel bad about yourself either due to your insecurities or because you questioned his or her words or actions.

“Why can’t you lose weight and look more like her?” Or perhaps the individual will intentionally start conversations with attractive strangers in an effort to make you jealous.

3. This person suddenly becomes the victim if you try to criticize his or her behavior or actions.

The gaslighter will deflect the argument by somehow twisting the information to make you the cause for that behavior.

This is done to make you forget the original issue and try to make you focus on your alleged shortcomings instead of what the individual has done.

4. He or she will tell blatant lies.

The abuser doesn’t care that the things he or she says are lies. What this person is doing is normalizing the behavior so that you don’t ever question anything that he or she says.

If you don’t call the gaslighter out on it right away, you may soon wonder what is the truth and what isn’t, and this leaves you confused and off balance with your abuser.

5. The gaslighter repeats the same lies over and over again.

Repetition of this abusive behavior is one of the keys to success for the manipulator. By saying the same things repeatedly, he or she can get you to eventually believe what the person is saying or at least question your version of the truth enough that you begin to doubt yourself.

For example, the individual may always tell you that he or she is the best partner you’ve ever been with or that the or she always treats you so good.

6. The abuser is always right.

Because the individual feels the need to always be on top, this means that, consequently, you’re always wrong. Having the upper hand at all times is what gives this person his or her power over you.

7. A gaslighter will come out and accuse you of being wrong.

Not only does the person always have to be right, but he or she makes it clear that you are wrong about everything. The manipulator will say anything just to discredit whatever you say. This can occur in conversations alone with the abuser or even in front of other people.

8. He or she knows everything about you.

The person will claim to know you so well that he or she knows you better than you know yourself. If you try to correct any misinformation, that individual will just say that you’re lying, both to that person and to yourself.

9. The manipulator uses projection.

Whatever it is that the individual is doing wrong, he or she will turn it around and make accusations that you’re the one engaging in the behavior.

The person may constantly accuse you of cheating on him or her if the gaslighter is the one who is cheating. This may come in the form of questioning you about your whereabouts or why you were five minutes late in getting home from work.

10. The gaslighter conveniently forgets conversations and events.

Selective memory is common with the individual. Everyone forgets something occasionally, which is what helps to normalize this behavior. However, consistency is an important factor.

If the person regularly forgets only certain things, especially those that will make him or her look bad, you’re probably being gaslighted.

11. He or she will change the subject.

Rather than have to come up with a fictitious story or use other forms of manipulate behavior, the person will quickly move from that topic to another as a way to confuse you and make you forget what you were discussing in the first place.

12. This person will minimize the behavior’s impact on you.

Perhaps you’ve heard him or her say, “That didn’t really hurt” or “Don’t be such a big baby.” These statements, and others like them, are simply ways to make you feel like you’re overreacting to the circumstances.

13. A manipulator will invalidate your feelings.

Trivializing the way that you feel about an occurrence is just this person’s way of making you feel like you’re overreacting. Again, it’s you who’s the real problem here.

14. Your abuser will challenge your memories of events.

If you bring up something that he or she did, there must be something wrong with you and the way that you remember the situation. The person will even convince you that you have an ongoing memory problem so that he or she can switch up your reality whenever the person feels like it.

15. The gaslighter will make you doubt yourself.

Whether your memories or even your abilities to perform tasks, the individual will make you question yourself. You’ll begin to wonder if you actually recall conversations or events the way that they really occurred.

You may begin to doubt your ability to do small tasks around the house or at work, possibly preventing you from doing the grocery shopping on your own or applying for a promotion at work.

16. Denial is a common tactic used by manipulators.

The person simply denies that an event or a conversation even occurred in the first place. Basic denial is meant to halt further accusations or conversation on the matter.

17. He or she may deny doing anything wrong.

This isn’t the same as complete denial. In this case, the abuser will claim that what they did wasn’t bad. They’ll claim that it’s something that everyone does, including you, that they deserved to do something they enjoy, or that it was a natural progression of events based on something you said or did.

18. You’re making mountains out of molehills.

He or she may consistently claim that you’re blowing events out of proportion or that you’re always overly dramatic or sensitive. Not only does this minimize the impact of what he or she has done, but it also invalidates your feelings and the reality of the situation.

19. The abuser may pretend not to understand.

“What are you talking about?” This puts you on the defensive, having to state your case and all of the details of a situation, Handling you when you’re in defense mode is what the gaslighter does best. He or she is now able to use basic manipulation tactics to counter everything you say.

20. This person blames you for his or her bad behavior.

If the gaslighter has done something wrong, it’s only because you made this individual do it. He or she wouldn’t have had to go out and have a fling if only you’d given the abuser enough love at home.

Because you’re overweight, this person stays out late at the bar to avoid coming home and having to be intimate with you. Whatever mistakes the manipulator makes are allegedly in your control when in reality, you have no power in this relationship.

21. A gaslighter may withhold information.

The person will do this to make you look bad. Perhaps the two of you are going to your parents’ house for dinner, and the manipulator was supposed to tell you to bring something specific.

When you arrive, your mom asks for that item. Of course, you know nothing about it. However, your abuser will claim to have told you and will use this opportunity to further degrade your recollection of events.

22. He or she simply refuses to listen to you.

This individual will effectively shut down any conversation that is not beneficial to him or her. The person may say, “I don’t have time for this” or “Why do you always have to start trouble when you know I have these work problems on my mind?”

23. Your manipulator will infer that you’re imaging things.

Again, it all comes down to your memory problems as the reason that you can’t seem to get the information correct. Perhaps, this person will tell you, it was only a dream that you recently had.

24. You’re the one who is lying.

If it ever comes to the point where you confront the gaslighter about his or her lies, be prepared for it to be turned around to make it look like you’re the liar in the situation. The individual will twist the truth so badly that you’ll begin to question if it’s all in your head.

25. The individual will promptly dismiss any evidence you may have against him or her.

In fact, the point that you have evidence that you are trying to use against the gaslighter is just more proof that you’re the one who has a problem. Again, the focus is switched to you and your shortcomings.

26. A gaslighter will invalidate you as a credible witness.

Because you’re the liar, have a bad memory, or tend to blow things out of proportion, anything you say can’t be believed, especially when it involves your abuser.

27. He or she will call you crazy.

This person will question your mental stability and may come straight out and say something like, “You’re losing it.” A more subtle version of this can be if the abuser asks you if mental illness runs in your family or if the individual says, “Your mom doesn’t act so insane.”

28. You’re the one who needs help.

Your abuser will turn it around that you need professional help or that you need to be taking some kind of medication for your problems. He or she may even turn you on to illicit substances as a way to control you.

29. A manipulator will make you question your sanity.

Once the topic has been broached about the possibility of you being the crazy one, this person will build upon that until you begin to doubt and question yourself if perhaps it is you who has a mental problem.

30. This person will chip away at your foundation.

Whether your kids, your family, your job, or even your faith in God, the gaslighter will use this against you by trying to make you believe you’re not good or worthy enough or that you don’t know anything about the topics that you’re experienced with. Once a building’s foundation is broken, the entire structure collapses. It’s the same way with you.

31. The gaslighter will slowly wear you down.

Because the individual’s tactics are so subtle and work consistently over time, you aren’t even aware of what’s happening. Some people have compared this to a pile of sand or a bowl of rice.

If you take just one grain away, you don’t even notice a difference. However, over time, you’ll find that the whole pile is gone or the bowl is empty. You may not even realize how it happened.

32. He or she will offer selective praise.

Once in a while, the manipulator will actually give you the validation you need. This is especially true of it’s something that you’ve done that was of some benefit to him or her. While this empathy is just a show, it’s an effective tool to keep you hanging on and begging for more approval.

33. This individual uses manipulative language to get what he or she wants.

The most common phrases often begin with, “If you really loved me…”

Although gaslighting may occur with other forms of abuse, it is, in and of itself, a form of abuse. For your sanity and self-esteem, you need to get out of that relationship though the gaslighter won’t make it easy. He or she is the one who is putting up with you, no one else would want you, or you can’t make it without him or her are common responses.

Stay firm in your beliefs, and get third-party assistance if need be. No matter what the manipulator claims, you deserve better.

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