Gaslighting is when another person makes us question our reality. Gaslighting can occur in workplaces, within family, friends but the most predominant area of life where we see gaslighting is in interpersonal relationships. This happens when the partner likes to take full control of the relationship. This is something which is commonly seen in toxic relationships.
Gaslighting may sound like
You are overreacting
You need help
You are so dramatic
I never said that
Stop imagining things
You are twisting that
You are joking
However sometimes it is hard to realize that we are being gaslighted. But know that this is a form of emotional abuse. The partner tends to trivialize one’s feelings and saying things now and later denying it even though they are true. There are certain signs when you think that you are being gaslighted like if you feel like lately everything is your fault and you are constantly apologizing, your sense of self-worth or confidence is decreased, feeling isolated from your friends and family, avoiding confronting your partner and.
This is a way of manipulation where the partner takes back control in the relationship to avoid confrontation or conflicts. Sometimes they may not be realizing that they are doing and this is something which they learn over time in the social world by watching this technique work with others. Most of the time they lack self-awareness as to their actions which are hurting the other partner.
It is essential to differentiate between gaslighting from genuine disagreement. Genuine disagreement is when perspective from both the sides is voiced and together come up with a strategy to tackle the issue at hand. Whereas in gaslighting is projecting that what one partner is feeling or thinking is entirely wrong. This no role of open communication with the partners here. There is the invalidation of one’s feelings, reality and judgement not just from the partner by making oneself invalidate it too through arising a lot of doubt and confusion.Gaslighting is a phenomenon where most of the time partners realize they have been gaslighted during the relationship once they have gotten out of the relationship. It is because many lack awareness of what gaslighting is and one simply fails to understand this thing can happen with anyone.
What helps is when one realizes that they are most of the times thinking of things in perspective which is not in line with the partner’s view of things, it’s time to take a step back and try to think of the event happened objectively, talk to your friends and hold your ground and try to have open and honest communication with your partner as to how you are feeling. This dialogue is very much needed to finalize on the next steps you should be taking in one’s relationship.
Mental health and over functioning of the individual can be greatly affected due to gaslighting. It can be seen that partners find it very hard to leave the relationship. This is because through countless fights and experiences they start believing that they can’t rely on themselves all the time. Since there is a lot of self-doubts involved they begin to wonder if they can even function properly at all outside in the world without the support of the relationship.
The current pandemic’s motivation was to stay home and stay safe but for some, it was a very hard time to stay at home. There has been an increase in abuse reports during pandemic all over the world. For some going out to work or study was an escape to get away from an abusive home environment. Abusive does not mean just physical, it includes emotional too. Hence it is a very crucial time to reach out to your friends and family and check on them as to how they are doing because sometimes having social support means everything to a person in need.
by - Anagha Ramesh
graphic by - Gayathri Nair