Unlike physical or sexual abuse, emotional abuse can be much more difficult to identify and recognize. Emotional abuse is often difficult for the victim to determine in terms of quantity and duration, and it also occurs in multiple forms. In essence, emotional abuse relies on bringing to light deep-seated fears of rejection, abandonment, unworthiness, shame, and emotional lability..
Gaslighting is one of the main tactics used in emotional abuse.
It aims to create a great deal of confusion and self-doubt in the victim. The term is based on the 1938 play and the later 1944 film "Gas Light", in which a husband tries to drive his wife insane by lowering the lights in their home, and then denying this fact when his wife verbalizes it. In Spanish it is also called "making gas light" and this form of psychological abuse consists basically of giving false information to make the victim doubt his memory, perception and / or sanity. This can range from simple denials by the abuser that certain events have occurred, to staging strange situations to disorient the victim. This type of abuse induces the victim to question their own feelings, their memory, their instincts or even their sense of reality.
Phrases like "you are crazy, that never happened", "you are doing things wrong" or "you are too sensitive", are some of those used in these cases.
Gaslighting people often use the following techniques:
You know what he's saying is a lie. Yet he is telling this lie so confidently that it truly makes you doubt. With this attitude, create a precedent and generate doubt and indecision..
You know he said he was going to do something, and you know you heard him. But they flatly deny it. It makes you start questioning your reality, maybe you never said that ... And the more he does it, the more you question your reality and start accepting his.
You know how important your children are to you, and you know how important your identity and your self-esteem are. So these may be one of the first things I attack. If you have children, they may even tell you that you shouldn't have had those children. It will tell you that you would be a worthy person only if you didn't have a long list of negative traits. He or she attacks the basis of your well-being.
What he is saying means nothing, let him finish speaking and see what he does. Your actions are more sincere than your words.
First he tells you that you are not worth it and then he praises you for something you did. This adds an additional sense of unease. You think, "Well, maybe it's not that bad." But it is a calculated strategy to keep you off-center again and again, to question your reality..
Gaslighters know that people like to have a sense of stability and normalcy. Their goal is to eradicate this and it will make you constantly question everything. And the natural tendency of human beings is to focus on the person who will help them feel more stable, and this person happens to be the Gaslighter.
Projection is the act of placing unacceptable feelings on another person. For example, a person who feels inferior constantly accuses others of being stupid or incompetent. The goal of projection is to shift responsibility and guilt from yourself to someone else. Victims of emotional abuse are not always aware that someone else's feelings are being projected onto them, so they interpret these feelings as their own.
Gaslighters are masters of manipulation. They know how to find the people who will side with them and at the same time against you. They can make comments like, "This person knows it's not okay," or "This person also knows you're useless." Note that it does not mean that these people actually said these things. A Gaslighter is a compulsive liar. When the Gaslighter uses this tactic it makes you feel like you don't know who to trust, so you start avoiding friendships and your world is reduced to the Gaslighter. And that's exactly what they want: isolation gives them more control..
This is one of the most effective tools of the Gaslighter, since they achieve the indifference of others. Know that if they question your sanity, people will not believe you when you tell them that you are being treated abusively or out of control. It is a master technique.
Telling everyone else (family, friends, or even on social media) that you are a liar, again makes you question your reality. This is one more manipulation technique. It makes others question all your information, believing that it is not really "correct".
Gaslighting usually occurs gradually in a relationship, so gradually that the abusive partner's actions seem harmless at first. But over time, the victim begins to feel confused, anxious, isolated and depressed, and even loses the sense of what is really happening..
The Gaslighting process happens in stages, although the stages are not always linear and sometimes overlap, reflecting very different emotional and psychological states..
Disbelief: it is when the first sign of Gaslighting occurs, we think that the behavior between us and our partner, boss or friend is strange or anomalous. But it is a behavior that will not be isolated, but will be repeated over time.
The defense: the next stage is the one in which we somehow defend ourselves from the manipulation of the Gaslighter. For example, your boss tells you that he is not satisfied with your work and is not going to upgrade you or assign you; You ask him why, but instead of addressing the problem, he tells you that you are too stressed or that you are too sensitive a person ... well, maybe there is some truth, but he does not answer the question of why not takes you into account for these improvements. You try to talk to him to start defending yourself and tell his boss that you are not sensitive or stressed, or that stress does not interfere with your ability to work. During this stage the abused person goes crazy for having a conversation and clarifying things, going over and over again in his mind, as in an endless tape, the arguments that he is going to tell him. But the abuser avoids any rational conversation that leads to a clear explanation and mutual understanding, he simply returns to give confused reasoning that makes the victim more disoriented.
Depression: when we reach this stage it means that we are experiencing a noticeable lack of joy. Some of our habitual behaviors we feel as strange and we question our actions or even the way we see ourselves. We cut ourselves more and more with friends, in fact, we do not talk to people about this relationship to avoid exposing our “failures”. People are rarely able to express their concern about how they are doing and that they are feeling that they are being treated as if they really have a problem..
With Gangslihgting, victims do not recognize emotional abuse when it is happening. Ultimately, Gaslighting creates a deep sense of confusion, incompetence, and fear..
Abusers make it difficult for victims to think clearly enough to take protective measures for themselves.
It is important to keep in mind that people who have been victims of emotional abuse during their childhood have a greater risk of being victims of emotional abuse in adulthood.