Gaslighting is a concept that many people are unfortunately all too familiar with. In last week’s blog, we explored what gaslighting actually is, and the damage it can cause to victims.
This week, we’re running through some common red flags to look out for if you suspect that you, or someone you know is experiencing gaslighting behaviour.
You’re constantly second-guessing yourself
The very nature of gaslighting causes victims to question their own reality. So if you’re already unsure of what you’re experiencing, or wondering if your partner is actually doing anything wrong, it can be even more difficult to call out.
A gaslighter will repeatedly undermine and trivialise your thoughts and feelings. You might hear common phrases like ‘you’re being too sensitive’, ‘you’re overreacting’ or even ‘this is all your fault’. If someone you care about keeps undermining you in this way, you’re very likely to start believing them.
You won’t be able to distinguish between what’s real and what’s not, and this can be extremely distressing and damaging for your self worth.
You’re feeling isolated from other relationships
Your partner might be telling you lies about your friends and family. For example, saying they don’t really like you, or they talk about you behind your back. Anything that might make you reluctant to see them.
A gaslighter might even claim that their attempts to isolate you are an act of love. They’re ‘protecting you’ from people who don’t understand you, or ‘doing you a favour’ by removing them from your life.
It’s all an attempt to control every aspect of your life. Cutting off other important relationships makes it easier for them to be the centre of your attention.
You’re always apologising
A gaslighter will always shift the blame onto someone else.
If you call them out for their behaviour, they’ll claim you made them act that way. You’re the one making mistakes all the time, you’re the one in the wrong.
If an apology does ever come your way, it’s likely to be one that finds another, albeit subtle, way to blame you. ‘I’m sorry you got upset about this’, or ‘I’m sorry you had a problem with that’ are common examples.
You’re compromising yourself
All relationships need some level of compromise. But there’s a fine line between compromise and sacrifice.
When someone is being gaslighted, it might start off as small, seemingly insignificant changes. Like what kind of restaurants you go to together, or TV shows you want to watch. But it can escalate very quickly. Your partner might be telling you what you can and can’t wear, who you can and can’t talk to. Even what you can and can’t believe.
If you’re changing too much of yourself because your partner is forcing you to, it’s a big red flag. You should be loved for who you are, and be free to have your own beliefs and opinions.
You’re constantly anxious or stressed
Any one of these signs alone can cause real emotional distress to a person. And often, gaslighting involves a number of these different behaviours.
Everyone gets anxious and stressed from time to time. But if you’re feeling constantly worried and upset in your relationship, it could be a major red flag. You might be anxious about doing or saying the wrong thing, being undermined and insulted with no one to talk to, or even just exhausted from always having to second-guess your reality.
Harrogate Family Law can help
If any of these signs resonate with you, your friends, family members, colleagues or clients, they might be experiencing gaslighting. It’s really important for them to know they’re not alone. There is a way out.
At Harrogate Family Law,we can help if you’re looking for advice when it comes to leaving an emotionally abusive relationship. Get in touch with us today.