• 12/26/2023

14 Gaslighting Examples and How to Respond

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If you’ve been online in the past few years, you would have heard of gaslighting. Some people misuse the term, which waters down the real severity of the act. Gaslighting is an abuse tactic, and it’s crucial for everyone to know the signs. Learning about different gaslighting examples can help you identify abuse and toxicity. Once you notice the pattern of deception and manipulation, it can be easier to seek help and stop the abuse.

What is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is an abuse tactic where the abuser purposefully alters your perception of reality. Abusers lie and manipulate their victims to make them question their memories, perceptions and understanding of events. Gaslighting can come from any kind of relationship, whether romantic, familial, professional or platonic. 

Gaslighting can have some serious and damaging effects on victims. Over time, they can lose sense of reality and develop other issues like depression and anxiety. People who get gaslighted can experience the following:

  • Self-doubt: The victim no longer trusts their sanity and memory.
  • Feelings of incompetence: The gaslighted person feels they cannot accomplish anything without the abuser. Thus, they can fall dependent and have no way out of the abusive relationship.
  • Feelings of worthlessness: The victim can lose all self-esteem and confidence since they think there’s something wrong with their mind.
  • Becoming withdrawn: Since the victim is afraid their mind is slipping away, they might become withdrawn, stay home and avoid all social contact.
  • Distancing from support system: Abusers tend to isolate victims from their support system. Gaslighted people might distance themselves from those they need the most.

Gaslighting Examples

Anyone can fall victim to gaslighting, but it can be hard to recognize if you don’t know the signs. Here are some gaslighting examples:

1. Minimizing Concerns

A gaslighter will try to make their victim seem irrational. They will twist normal emotional responses and make it seem like the other person is insane for how they feel.

Example: “You’re going overboard. It’s not a big deal.”

2. Dismissing The Severity of Their Actions

An abuser will harm you and then try to minimize their actions. They might physically hurt you, and once you confront them, they will gaslight you by saying they barely touched you.

Example: “It wasn’t that bad. You need to toughen up.”

3. Denial of Events

Some gaslighters will outright deny something that happened. You remember it clearly, but they will deny it with conviction, which can throw you off and make you question your memories.

Example: “That never happened. I don’t remember that.”

4. Denial of Comprehension

A gaslighter will deliberately frustrate you and make you feel like your words are meaningless. They will try to avoid accountability by saying they don’t understand you even if you explain yourself multiple times.

Example: “I don’t know what you mean. You’re not making any sense.”

5. Denial of Truth

Abusers will try to combat facts to destroy your concept of truth. They will also discredit your existing sources of information so that you will mistrust them. Their goal is to be your only source of information.

Example: “You got that nonsense from those videos you like to watch. You know that’s not real.”

6. Shifting Blame

When something goes wrong, a gaslighter will always point to their victim. They will repeatedly do this to whittle away at the victim’s self-worth. Abusers will still shift blame even if they’re the ones obviously in the wrong. 

Example: “This is all your fault. You knew I’d react like that.”

7. Justifying Actions with Love

For abusive people, love becomes a weapon and justification. They will use the term as they see fit, whether to manipulate or to absolve themselves of all fault. 

Example: “I only said that because I love you.”

8. Isolation

Abusers will try their best to keep their victims isolated and emotionally compromised. Victims can feel like they can’t escape the abuse because they have no one else left except their abuser. 

Example: “Your friends aren’t a good influence on you. It’s so obvious that they want you to lead a bad life just like they do.”

9. Accusations of Paranoia or Insanity

Gaslighters want you to doubt your own sanity, so they will keep accusing you of mental decline to try and plant that seed in your mind.

Example: “You’re so paranoid it’s like you’re going crazy.”

10. False Concern

Another way a gaslighter can convince you of insanity is by faking concern. They will pretend to be caring by showing concern for your mental state.

Example: “That’s not how it happened. Are you okay? I’m worried you might not be thinking straight.”

11. Using Others to Validate Statement

As part of isolating you from your support system, an abuser will try to say that everyone agrees with their perception of you. You might withdraw from friends and loved ones, becoming suspicious of their real thoughts about you.

Example: “They all think you’re irrational, too!”

12. Indignation

A gaslighter will weaponize their indignation to make victims feel like they’re bad people. The goal is to make the victim seem accusatory and irrational.

Example: “Do you really think I would do that? How could you think of me that way?”

13. Blatant Lies

Lies are every gaslighter’s main weapon. They will lie constantly and confidently, making the victim feel like they’re losing their mind.

Example: Telling small lies daily to throw off the victim or telling one big lie and saying it confidently.

14. Constant Insults

Whether based on reality or not, a gaslighter will constantly insult and dismiss you. They want to establish that you are flawed in some way. They want to break down your self-esteem and make you chase after their approval, which will never come. 

Example: Telling someone they’re a slob repeatedly, even if the person is visibly neat and clean

How to Respond to Gaslighting

Here are some things you can do if you suspect someone is gaslighting you:

  • Inform others: Tell people around you what you’re experiencing so they can watch for the patterns. Next time you’re together at an event, they can verify events for you if your abuser tries to deny or alter things again.
  • Distance yourself: A gaslighter enjoys arguing and wearing down your mental health. Avoid giving them that power by distancing yourself. Take some time away from your abuser. If you live with them, call a trusted loved one and stay with them for a while.  
  • Reach out: Your abuser will try their best to cut off your support system because they can help you get out of the abusive relationship. Contact your trusted loved ones immediately if you feel someone is gaslighting you.
  • Keep proof: Since it’s your abuser’s word against yours, keep lots of evidence so you can refute their lies. Collecting evidence can also help assure you that you are not losing your mind. Use photos, videos, receipts and other methods to keep track of events. You can also keep a diary of events with exact dates and times. Just keep in mind these pieces of evidence are for you and might not be admissible in court if things escalate.
  • Validate yourself: Trust yourself. Your memories, perceptions and judgments of situations are valid. You are a worthy human with a sound mind and people who love you dearly.
  • Seek safety: If things are escalating, don’t hesitate to contact organizations or seek refuge at a local shelter.
  • End the Abusive Relationship: It’s easier said than done, but when you’ve reached your breaking point, it’s time to consider cutting ties with your abuser. Seek support at this time and end contact with your abuser for good.

Recognizing the Signs of Abuse Through

Understanding what gaslighting is can help people stand firm in their truth. Through awareness of abuse tactics, they can assert boundaries and seek help.  If you think someone is gaslighting you, trust your mind and seek support immediately.

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