“Gaslighting:” The Abuse That Can Destroy Sanity


You may be reluctant to trust people.

You may believe it’s your fault when people hurt you.

You may feel confused, indecisive, chronically anxious, regularly depressed, and lousy about yourself.

You may not even know why.

Have you been the target of gaslighting?

“Gaslighting is the systematic attempt by one person to erode another person’s reality, by telling them that what they are experiencing isn’t so.” – Dr. Robin Stern, author, The Gaslight Effect.


Gaslighting Is Deeply Disturbing 

Gaslighting is a form of emotional and psychological abuse.

It is “commonly used by abusers, narcissists, and sociopaths in an attempt to control others and to exert power over them,” says Christie Hartman, Ph.D. “The more [gaslighters] can make their victims feel confused, worthless and even crazy, the more control they have.”

Adding to the confusion, gaslighters are often confident, highly intelligent and charismatic.

But beneath “this blustery bravado,” says Laurie Kendrick, “masks rampant insecurity.”


Gaslighting Behaviours

Gaslighting is not a one-off. It is a regular and bizarre pattern of confounding behaviours.

Here are two basic examples (keeping in mind that variations on these behaviours are endless.)

#1: You misplace a favourite sweater. You ask your partner (the gaslighter) if he has seen it. He scolds you for losing it. He shames you for your forgetfulness. What really happened was that he put a hole in your sweater by inadvertently stepping on it. He will NEVER admit to this. He wants you to take the blame. You do. He wins.

#2: You tell a gaslighter that a family friend, ‘Tom’, threatened your life, and you’re deeply frightened. The gaslighter dismisses your story and the threat to your safety. She may insist, to your face, that “Tom” is a person of the highest character. There is no support, empathy, or acknowledgement shown for your story. You, the victim, start to question your sanity and your own reality.


Why Such Cruelty?

A gaslighter’s dark and cruel side is often ‘activated’ when their power or control is threatened. This dark side can rise without warning.

The gaslighter in the “sweater” story above, for example, will not confess that he stepped on her sweater. That would make him appear weak. Weakness is a threat. So he messes with the victim’s reality instead.

The gaslighter in the “Tom” story may be trying to mask Tom’s history of disturbing behaviour. Thus the gaslighter portrays Tom as a saint, ignores the victim’s scary story, and twists the truth.



Gaslighters Have Many Other Tricks


  • They gossip about you to others to build alliances against you.
  • They poison your mind against other people.
  • They use the silent treatment as punishment.
  • They call you strange names to keep you off kilter.
  • They trick you, to keep you in line.

Their false sense of superiority, alone, can be astounding. For example, they may have to the audacity to go with a “let’s agree to disagree” stance on an argument, with a victim, on a subject they know nothing about, were not present for, and are not entitled to have an opinion about.

“As you can see,” says Christie Hartman, Ph.D., “[gaslighting] is some fucked up shit. People who do this kind of thing are emotionally corrupted and have no clue what love is.”


Gaslighting Tactics: No Joke

It is deeply disturbing that a gaslighter can acquire this amount of power and influence over a single person.

It’s another thing to grasp how disturbing and sophisticated gaslighting tactics are. The tactics are considered similar to those used inbrainwashing, interrogation, and torture that have been used in psychological warfare by intelligence operative, law enforcement and other forces for decades.”

Gaslighting is never a minor matter.


Escaping Gaslighting Abuse

To survive gaslighting, a victim has to understand it and escape from it.

There is no fixing or changing a gaslighter. They will never apologize or make amends. They are right, everyone else is wrong.

The goal must be to change yourself.

Thus if you suspect that you are a target of gaslighting, the following steps are essential:


1. Fully Educate Yourself. Gaslighting is a “truly insidious form of psychological abuse” says Julie Hunter.  It is imperative, therefore, to learn all you can about it. Information, here.


2. Learn About Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) 

“NPD” and gaslighting behaviour are often linked. NPD is also deeply disturbing. The link between it and gaslighting, here.


3. Do NOT Argue With A Gaslighter. 

A gaslighter can fly into a rage when feeling threatened. This display of intense anger can stun and silence a victim. If you engage in a heated exchange with this person, it is liable to damage you further. Take your truth to someone who actually cares about you.


4.  Stop Being A Target. 

People pleasers, empaths, and those with low self esteem can be favourite targets of gaslighters. THIS is the time to recognize how vulnerable you can be, as a people pleaser. Information, here.


5. Re-assess The Relationship.

Going “No Contact” with a gaslighter is often inevitable.

Others who support and enable the gaslighter should also be up for ‘no contact’ consideration. They may have condoned abuse against you.

‘No Contact’ is not an easy, happy outcome. It can be painful, shocking, lonely and alienating.

But: “No Contact” DOES comes with happy certainties:

  1. You can (and will) reclaim your own mind, truth, experiences  and identity.
  2. The abusive behaviour will end.
  3. You will find that other people genuinely respect and honour you.
  4. Soul replenishing work, and a rebuilding of self-esteem, can finally begin.


More about the ‘no contact’ option, here.


Moving Forward

Your feelings, emotions and experiences belong to YOU.

The truth is the truth.

“Your reality,” as Shea Emma Fett says, “is not up for debate.”

If you have been the victim of gaslighting, you have been seriously abused. Your reality has been twisted. Someone has been toying with your sanity. 

Has this abuse been unintentional? Is the gaslighter suffering from his/her own afflictions that can’t be helped? (Typical question, coming from a people pleaser.)

Who cares?

Protecting YOURSELF against this madness is ALL that matters.

Time – right now – to educate yourself.

Time to receive loving guidance, comforting support, strength and caring advice from others, who want the very best for you.


If you are being gaslighted, are in crisis, and need information about crisis lines, worldwide, visit: yourlifecounts.org






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This entry was posted on Saturday, November 25th, 2017 at 2:32 am and is filed under Posts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.



While I don't publish all comments, I welcome and appreciate your feedback and participation. If you'd prefer to keep your comment 'private,' please use my contact form (located on my website menu) and indicate this. I will happily respond to all comments and questions.

  1. December 6th, 2017 | Brenda Secord says:

    Gaslighting is real and it’s dangerous. Abusers use gaslighting to attempt to override ones reality. It can leave long term scars. Never allow anyone to silence you. Victims of abuse need more resources and support.

  2. December 13th, 2017 | abby says:

    Thanks for your comment, Brenda. NO doubt about the scars, especially the shock of learning that a ‘loved one’ is capable of such manipulation and betrayal. It’s a shock that lasts a lifetime. As for support, I think job one is to educate people about this abusive pathological phenomenon so that they recognize it. That’s a start.

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