Do you know what “gaslighting” is? I’m not terribly hip, so I somehow missed out on this phenomenon – my friend Soupsie mentioned it to me recently, she told me to Google it. Here’s the definition I found: a form of emotional abuse that causes a victim to question their own feelings, instincts and sanity, giving the abusive partner power and control.
The term “gaslighting” comes from a 1938 stage play called Gaslight, in which a husband attempts to drive his wife crazy by dimming the lights in their home (which were powered by gas), then denies that the lights change when the wife asks him about them. Once an abusive partner has used gaslighting to break down the victim’s ability to trust his or her own perceptions and beliefs, the victim is more likely to stay in the abusive relationship, because he or she no longer believes it’s possible to survive without the abuser.
Gaslighting usually happens gradually in a relationship — so gradually that the abusive partner’s actions seem harmless at first. Over time, a victim can be confused, anxious, isolated and depressed, and even lose sense of what is actually happening.
Crazy, right? But this has totally happened to me far too many times in my life – and I’m willing to bet that someone in your world has done it to you as well. This is what I really don’t get – people claim to care for you, yet think it is perfectly okay to mess with your mind like this. Ridiculous. We should all remember this:
This is the absolute truth – I don’t care how angry you are at someone, you do not do anything to them that messes with their mind. Gaslighting? Messes with the mind – and only assholes act that way. Shame on them.
Now that I know what gaslighting is, I’m interested in talking about what to do if this shit situation happens to you – here’s some suggestions: if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t — trust your intuition; believe in yourself and your own capabilities — you’re awesome, and shame on the fool that tries to tell you otherwise; realize that somebody manipulating you means that they’re crappy, not you — their desire to control you is on them, and it’s gross; don’t worry about trying to be right in this situation, because you are, even if the other person will never acknowledge it — being right doesn’t matter, but going out and living your best life and being happy is by far the best revenge.
Are you familiar with gaslighting? I hope that, if you are, it’s something that happened to you long ago, and isn’t part of your current situation. If this is something that is going on with you now – give me a call….we can get through this.