You’re Not Going Crazy: 15 Signs You’re a Victim of Gaslighting (2022)

The only way you can describe how you feel is that you feel minimized. You feel crushed and smothered. You’re constantly second-guessing yourself; your feelings, your perceptions, your memories, and a small, suffocated part inside of you wonders whether you are actually going crazy.

You feel neurotic, you feel hyper-sensitive and you feel an overwhelming sense of alienation.

What is wrong with you?


If you can identify with what I just wrote, you are most likely experiencing a sophisticated manipulation technique known as Gaslighting. This technique undermines your entire perception ofreality and can slowly creep into your relationships, friendships, family life and work life.

Although you might feel crazy, although you might feel imbalanced and irrational, there is still hope.

Table of contents

  • What is Gaslighting?
  • 3 Examples of Gaslighting
  • How to Know Whether Someone is Gaslighting You
  • Tactics Used by the Gaslighter
  • Why Empaths Often Get Gaslighted
  • Healing the Wounds Ignited by Gaslighting
(Video) You're Not Going Crazy 15 Signs You're a Victim of Gaslighting

What is Gaslighting?

Inspired by the 1940 and 1944 films “Gas Light,” where a husband systematically manipulates his wife in order to make her feel crazy, the term “Gaslighting” is now commonly used to describe behavior that is inherently manipulative.

Gaslighting, at its core, is a form of emotional abusethat slowly eats away at your ability to make judgments.

Essentially, a Gaslighter spins their negative, harmful or destructive words and actions in their favor, deflecting the blame for their abusive deeds and pointing the finger at you. This is often done by making you feel “overly sensitive,” “paranoid,” “mentally unstable,” “silly,” “unhinged,” and many other sensations which cause you to doubt yourself.

Commonly adopted by psychopathic, sociopathic and narcissistic types of people, Gaslighting tends to eat away at you slowly until you realize that you’re a shell of the former person you were.

3 Examples of Gaslighting

Let’s take a look at some examples of Gaslighting.

In a family scenario: Andrew’s father is an angry, bitter man. Every day Andrew is afraid to “tip the balance” of his father’s mood because he often bursts out in fits of rage calling Andrew a “bastard” and a “worthless little loser,” among many other hurtful names. When Andrew confronts his father about this aggressive name-calling, Andrew’s father laughs and tells him “to stop being so sensitive.”

In a relationship scenario: Jade has been married for 5 years and has two small children with her husband Mike. For the past few months, Jade has been trying to establish a small art shop, but when she asks for her husband’s assistance his mood darkens: “I can’t believe you’re spending so much time on this shop—don’t you care about me—don’t you care about your kids? You’re supposed to be mothering them!” he exclaims. Jade is shocked, “But I just wanted you to help me with setting up the store! And I haven’t been neglecting anyone!” Mike comes up very close to Jade’sface: “You see! Now you’re denying it. When I married you I thought you’d be there for your family. I should just take the kids and go already!” Mike storms off. Later, when Jade sits down to talk with Mike about his threat, Mike says, “Honey, you know you were overreacting, and you know that you’ve been obsessing over this shop too much. That makes the rest of us feel very ignored and excluded, I hope you understand that.”

(Video) How to Spot the Hidden Signs Someone Is Gaslighting

At work scenario: Sophie has been working in her department for the past five years when she is given a promotion to migrate to another level of the company that pays a higher salary. However, Sophie has been given a trial period to determine whether she is capable of fulfilling her duties or not. Nervously, she meets with her new supervisor, Kelly. At first, Sophie likes her supervisor and fulfills all of her tasks on time. However, her supervisor begins to ask her to do belittling chores and favors here and there with increasing frequency. While Sophie is fine with helping out, she finds that Kelly is becoming more and more demanding. Finally, as Sophie’s work piles up to an unbearable level, she tells Kelly that she needs to focus on completing her work, but she can help another time. Later, in a staff meeting, Kelly introduces Sophie to everyone and says, “Although she’s not keeping up with us yet, I’m sure she’ll learn to embody our hard-working ethics soon!” Immediately, Sophie blushes and feels publicly insulted and humiliated, fearing for the security of her new job. Later when Sophie asks her supervisor why she thinks that “she is not embodying their hard-working ethic,” her supervisor says: “I think you misunderstood me. I just said that you’re not used to our pace of work so that other people can help you out.” From then on Sophie accepts all extra demands and chores, no matter how much work she has, or how demeaning the tasks are.

How to Know Whether Someone is Gaslighting You

Gaslighting is so harmful because it promotes anxiety, depression, and with enough frequency in our lives, can sometimes trigger nervous breakdowns. So the question now it: are you being gaslighted? How can you know whether you’re experiencing this subtle form of manipulation in your life? Review the following tell-tale signs:

  1. Something is “off” about your friend, partner, son, daughter, mother, father, sister, brother, colleagues, boss, or other person in your life … but you can’t quite explain or pinpoint what.
  2. You frequently second-guess your ability to remember the details of past events leaving you psychologically powerless.
  3. You feel confused and disorientated.
  4. You feel threatened and on-edge around this person, but you don’t know why.
  5. You feel the need to apologize all the time for what you do or who you are.
  6. You never quite feel “good enough” and try to live up to the expectations and demands of others, even if they are unreasonable or harm you in some way.
  7. You feel like there’s something fundamentally wrong with you, e.g. you’re neurotic or are “losing it.”
  8. You feel like you’re constantly overreacting or are “too sensitive.”
  9. You feel isolated, hopeless, misunderstood and depressed.
  10. You find it hard to trust your own judgment, and given a choice, you choose to believe the judgment of the abuser.
  11. You feel scared and as though “something is terribly wrong,” but you don’t know what or why.
  12. You find it hard to make decisions because you distrust yourself.
  13. You feel as though you’re a much weaker version of yourself, and you were much more strong and confident in the past.
  14. You feel guilty for not feeling happy like you used to.
  15. You’ve become afraid of “speaking up” or expressing your emotions, so you stay silent instead.

Tactics Used by the Gaslighter

You’re Not Going Crazy: 15 Signs You’re a Victim of Gaslighting (3)

Gaslighters use a variety of subtle techniques to undermine your reality and portray you as the disturbed and messed up one. These include, for example:

  • Discrediting you by making other people think that you’re crazy, irrational or unstable.
  • Using a mask of confidence, assertiveness, and/or fake compassion to make you believe that you “have it all wrong.” Therefore, eventually, you begin to doubt yourself and believe their version of past events.
  • Changing the subject. The gaslighter may divert the topic by asking another question, or making a statement usually directed at your thoughts, e.g. “You’re imagining things—that never happened!” “No, you’re wrong, you didn’t remember right.” “Is that another crazy idea you got from your (family member/friend)?”
  • Minimizing. By trivializing how you feel and what you think, the gaslighter gains more and more power over you, e.g. “Why are you being so sensitive?” “You don’t need to get angry over a little thing like that!” “I was just joking around, why are you taking things so seriously?”
  • Denial and avoidance. By refusing to acknowledge your feelings and thoughts, the gaslighter causes you to doubt yourself more and more. For example, “I don’t remember that, you must have dreamt it!” “You’re lying, I never said that.” “I don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re changing the subject.”
  • Twisting and reframing. When the gaslighter confidently and subtly twists and reframes what was said or done in their favor, they can cause you to second-guess yourself—especially when paired with fake compassion, making you feel as though you are “unstable,” “irrational,” and so forth. For example, “I didn’t say that, I said _____” “I didn’t beat you up Johnny, I just gave you a smack around the head—that’s what all good fathers do.” “If you remember correctly, I was actually trying to help you.”

Why Empaths Often Get Gaslighted

An empath is a person who is highly sensitive to the energy of others. Empaths are known as energy sponges because they absorb the emotional pain around them. As a result, empaths tend to be highly self-sacrificing in an attempt to make everyone’s lives better.

When it comes to gaslighting, empaths are easy targets because they often struggle to differentiate themselves from their abusers. In other words, while they are highly intuitive and perceptive people, empaths often lack personal boundaries and struggle to say “no.” And no boundaries = perfect prey for narcissistic gaslighting techniques!

I’ve explored the issue of narcissistic gaslighting abuse in my book Awakened Empath.

If you think this might be an issue for you, it’s definitely worth checking out. This is a serious issue that can create long-term harm in your life, especially if you’re a sensitive person.

Healing the Wounds Ignited by Gaslighting

Gaslighting causes us to doubt our own memories, perceptions, and judgments, throwing us emotionally and psychologically off balance.

(Video) Gaslighting Explained | 15 Signs You Might Be A Victim Of Gaslighting

If you feel as though your self-esteem, confidence, and independence has withered under the flame of gaslighting you are not alone … and there certainly is hope!

Almost all of us, including myself, have experienced one form of Gaslighting or another throughout life.

The problems arise when Gaslighting is a frequent shadow that trails behind our relationships and partnerships.

The good news is that knowledge and awareness is the first step to healing your life and rebuilding the strong, perceptive person you are … and you have already taken it!

While it is true that in some situations we genuinely might be overreacting, or might genuinely be exhibiting irrational behavior, it is also important for you to listen to your instinctor intuition.

Do you have a heavy feeling in the pit of your stomach? Do you feel weighed down and oppressed? Do you feel depressed? These are signs that you have unconsciously picked up on deception and “foul play.”

While we can consciously be fooled, unconsciously we can’t, and often we will have a lingering feeling that “something just isn’t right.” Make sure that you listen to this feeling and seek help, either professionally or socially (i.e. a trusted group of friends or a support network).

The Awakened Empath eBook:

Written for the highly sensitive and empathic people of life, Awakened Empath is a comprehensive map for helping you to develop physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual balance on every level.

(Video) You're Not Going Crazy- The Abusive Game ‘Gaslighting’

In summary, here are some ways to support yourself in the face of gaslighting:

  • Firstly clarify to yourself how, when and who is gaslighting you. Think about what ways they make you feel unhinged and like you’re losing it. Write down whatever you can think of. You must be able to confirm that you’re being gaslighted before you can move on with your life.
  • Pay attention to the signs of being gaslighted, like feeling confused, belittled, “crazy” or manipulated. Take a deep breath, clear your mind, and center yourself. Set aside regular time for grounding each day through meditation or a mindfulness exercise. These techniques will help you to stay objective even in difficult circumstances.
  • Decide whether it’s worth continuing your friendship or relationship. If you’re in a working relationship, think about whether it’s worth staying in your job or not. If you want to stay, think about ways to minimize interaction with the gaslighter until you feel grounded and confident.
  • Talk to trusted friends or loved ones about your problem. Alternatively, seek help from a mentor or therapist who can help you do some shadow work.
  • Shift your perspective from being a victimto being a warrior/winner or whatever word feels the most empowering. You don’t have to remain a victim for the rest of your life, and by reclaiming your personal power, you’ll also be able to help others in similar circumstances.
  • Read my emotional abuse article todeepen your understanding of this topic.

I hope these actions can help you regain a sense of personal clarity, confidence, and empowerment once again as you recover from the gaslighter’s mind games.

***

If you have left a relationship in which you were being gaslighted, and are being targeted by a narcissist in your life again, check out my article on “hoovering” which is another twisted emotional manipulation technique.

Are you experiencing Gaslighting? Do you know someone else who is? Do you have any recommendations that would help others? Please share below.

You’re Not Going Crazy: 15 Signs You’re a Victim of Gaslighting (6)

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(Video) 11 Signs You're a Victim of Gaslighting

FAQs

What are 10 signs of gaslighting? ›

10 Signs of Gaslighting Behaviour
  • Blatant Lies. You know the person is lying, often and with ease, yet they say they do not recognise this in their behaviour. ...
  • Deny, Deny, Deny. You know what they said. ...
  • Using What You Love Against You. ...
  • Losing Your Sense of Self. ...
  • Words Versus Actions. ...
  • Love and Flattery. ...
  • Confusion. ...
  • Projecting.
May 15, 2019

What are the 11 signs of gaslighting? ›

👓 11 Warning Signs of Gaslighting | Psychology Today
  • They tell blatant lies.
  • They deny they ever said something, even though you have proof.
  • They use what is near and dear to you as ammunition.
  • They wear you down over time.
  • Their actions do not match their words.
  • They throw in positive reinforcement to confuse you.
Oct 4, 2018

Am I being Gaslighted or am I the gaslighter? ›

You are guilty of downplaying others' emotions.

When a person is hurt by something you've said or done, your usual response is that they're overreacting and to stop making things up. This may make a person believe their emotions are not valid or excessive. If this sounds like you, you are definitely gaslighting.

Do gaslighters love their victims? ›

Often a gaslighter will use some of the following tactics to maintain control over their partner: They use their love as a defense for their actions. They accuse their victim of being paranoid. Constant criticism of their victim.

What does a gaslighter fear? ›

It is a covert type of emotional abuse in which the bully or abuser misleads the target, creating a false narrative and making them question their judgments and reality. 1 Ultimately, the victim of gaslighting starts to feel unsure about their perceptions of the world and even wonder if they are losing their sanity.

What is a gaslighter personality? ›

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which a person or group causes someone to question their own sanity, memories, or perception of reality. People who experience gaslighting may feel confused, anxious, or as though they cannot trust themselves.

How do you outsmart a gaslighter? ›

Here are eight tips for responding and taking back control.
  1. First, make sure it's gaslighting. ...
  2. Take some space from the situation. ...
  3. Collect evidence. ...
  4. Speak up about the behavior. ...
  5. Remain confident in your version of events. ...
  6. Focus on self-care. ...
  7. Involve others. ...
  8. Seek professional support.

What are gaslighting tactics? ›

Today, we use the term gaslighting to describe someone who tries to manipulate another person by making them question their reality. This type of emotional abuse is designed to make the victim doubt themselves and their own experiences.

How do you spot a gaslighter? ›

How do you recognize that gaslighting is happening?
  1. You ask yourself, “Am I too sensitive?” many times per day.
  2. You often feel confused and even crazy in the relationship.
  3. You're always apologizing.
  4. You can't understand why you aren't happier.
  5. You frequently make excuses for your partner's behavior.
Jan 3, 2019

What is a good example of gaslighting? ›

Gaslighting happens when an abuser tries to control a victim by twisting their sense of reality. An example of gaslighting would be a partner doing something abusive and then denying it happened. Gaslighters may also convince their victims that they're mentally unfit or too sensitive.

What gaslighting sounds like? ›

It sounds like you feel strongly about that, and my emotions are valid too” “I feel like I'm not being heard, and I want some space” “I understand that this is what's best for me” or “I know what's best for me” “This is what I want and what I need right now”

How do you defend against gas lighting? ›

3 strategies for how to defend yourself against gaslighting behavior
  1. Pay attention to the signs. People who gaslight you are prone to being deceitful. ...
  2. Be assertive. ...
  3. Consider letting go.
Apr 27, 2021

Can you gaslight someone unintentionally? ›

Sometimes gaslighting happens unintentionally – perhaps because of someone's desire to deflect responsibility for a mistake. But some people engage in it intentionally and regularly, and that's when it can have an especially toxic effect.

Do gaslighters know they are gaslighting? ›

Gaslighting lies on a spectrum. Some gaslighters don't know they're gaslighting and are largely unaware of how their behavior is affecting the other person. But some gaslighters are very well aware of what they are doing, and it is done with intention and without remorse.

What does gaslighting look like in a relationship? ›

Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse in relationships. It happens when one person convinces their target that they're remembering things wrong or that they're misinterpreting events. The gaslighter is trying to manipulate the other person and presents their own thoughts and feelings as the truth.

What mental illness causes gaslighting? ›

Certain mental health conditions such as narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder lend themselves to gaslighting as those illnesses give people a distorted view of themselves and others and a propensity toward manipulating others for their own ends by any means necessary, as well as never ...

Who do gaslighters target? ›

Gaslighter's Victims

People who are most susceptible to being victims of gaslighting more often exhibit characteristics of ADHD, anxiety or depression, said Sarkis. Gaslighting is present in about 30 to 40 percent of the couples she treats, where such disorders are more commonly represented.

What is the goal of a gaslighter? ›

A primary goal of gaslighters is to keep the victim hooked. If a victim disagrees with or questions their abuser, he or she may try to make themselves seem as if they themselves are being victimized by their targets. Alternately, they may try to lure a partner back with positive reinforcement.

What do gaslighters do when confronted? ›

Gaslighters gain control or avoid facing the consequences of their behavior by hiding and distorting information. They may tell blatant lies or subtle ones. Even when confronted with specific facts that contradict what they are saying, gaslighters may continue to repeat the lies.

Am I the narcissist or the victim? ›

The Difference Between the Victim of a Narcissist and a Narcissistic Victim

Can gaslighting make you crazy? ›

The INSIDER Summary: People can toy with other people's memories and make them feel like they're going crazy. It's called gaslighting, and it's super manipulative. Look out for lies, isolation, projection, and having them say "you're crazy."

What personality type uses gaslighting? ›

Gaslighting Defined. Gaslighting is the use of a patterned, repetitive set of manipulation tactics that makes someone question reality. It's often used by people with narcissistic personality disorder, abusive individuals, cult leaders, criminals, and dictators.

What does God say about gaslighting? ›

God is always trustworthy, but it can be difficult to trust even Him at first. However, Hebrews 6 offers hope when you've been a victim of gaslighting, by reminding you that no matter what your abuser has told you, God cannot lie, and His promises are true and trustworthy.

Are gaslighters insecure? ›

As stated before, narcissists and gaslighters are ultimately insecure and thin-skinned. To counteract this lack of confidence, they will project false and exaggerated images of themselves. Many narcissists like to impress others by making themselves look good externally.

How do you turn a narcissist table? ›

How to Turn the Tables on the Narcissist - YouTube

Why do men Gaslight? ›

One of the most common reasons people gaslight is to gain power over others. This need for domination may stem from narcissism, antisocial personality, or other issues. Like most cases of abuse, gaslighting is about control. As gaslighting progresses, the target often second-guesses their own memories and thoughts.

What gaslighting sounds like? ›

It sounds like you feel strongly about that, and my emotions are valid too” “I feel like I'm not being heard, and I want some space” “I understand that this is what's best for me” or “I know what's best for me” “This is what I want and what I need right now”

How do you expose a gaslighter? ›

Here are eight tips for responding and taking back control.
  1. First, make sure it's gaslighting. ...
  2. Take some space from the situation. ...
  3. Collect evidence. ...
  4. Speak up about the behavior. ...
  5. Remain confident in your version of events. ...
  6. Focus on self-care. ...
  7. Involve others. ...
  8. Seek professional support.

Videos

1. 11 Signs You’re A Victim Of Gaslighting
(Harriet Yetes)
2. 10 Examples of What Gaslighting Sounds Like
(Psych2Go)
3. 16 Signs of gaslighting fearful avoidants need to be able to recognize
(Paulien Timmer - Healing the fearful avoidant)
4. Signs You’re a Victim of Gaslighting
(Rebecca Zung)
5. 15 Signs You're Being Emotionally Abused | Relationships & The Psychology Of Emotional Abuse
(Personal Development School)
6. 8 Signs You’re Dating a Sociopath
(Psych2Go)

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