Abuse can take on many forms within an intimate relationship. In addition to physical and psychological abuse, a person may also use manipulative tactics to control and undermine their spouse. This is known as gaslighting.
Gaslighting can be difficult to identify because the victim may begin to call their own sanity into question. Over time, many abuse victims believe they are responsible for what is occurring, which leads to immense guilt and shame. Being able to identify the signs of gaslighting is the first step to getting the help you need.
Examples of gaslighting within a relationship
The term gaslight is derived from a movie of the same name where a man attempts to drive his wife insane through manipulation and lying. Lying is at the heart of these behaviors, as it allows the abuser to have an upper hand over his or her victims. The victim of gaslighting may become increasingly anxious and confused. You may also feel unsure when making decisions or assume blame for all problems within the relationship. Victims of gaslighting are quick to apologize for things that are not actually their fault or criticize themselves for responding “incorrectly” to their partner’s actions.
Why gaslighting occurs
This form of psychological abuse is often linked to narcissistic personality disorder. Narcissists require constant attention and affirmation. They are also unable to have empathy for others or admit mistakes. As a result, narcissists rarely apologize for the things they have done. Instead, they will pass the blame to you somehow. Narcissists also feel an immense sense of self-importance, to the point where they may play up their abilities or accomplishments to a massive degree.
It is possible to get help for these issues if your abuser is willing to admit the problem and undergo therapy. But that is rarely the case, which means the best course of action is to leave the abuser. While this can be difficult, especially if you have been together for a long time, it is in your best interest.