Does your partner blame you for their abusive behavior or deny that their actions are hurtful? Are you starting to question your own version of events or reality in the relationship?
If so, your partner may be using a form of abuse called gaslighting, where an abuser refuses to acknowledge their actions or role in the abuse.
Gaslighting can include when your partner says:
- “You’re crazy – that never happened.”
- “Are you sure? You tend to forget a lot.”
- “You’re imagining things.”
- “It’s all in your head.”
- “You’re just making things up.”
- “You’re too sensitive.”
- “I don’t want to hear it.”
- “You’re being dramatic.”
- “Is that another crazy idea you got from [friend/family member]?”
What may seem like a harmless misunderstanding can become manipulative over time. If an abuser uses gaslighting to excuse or deny their abusive behavior, you may become confused, anxious, isolated and depressed, and begin to question or lose your sense of what is actually happening. In this situation, it can be very difficult to recognize that you are being abused.
How Do I Know If I’m Being Gaslighted?
If you think you might be experiencing this form of abuse, it’s important to get help and begin the journey in learning to trust yourself again. According to author and psychoanalyst Robin Stern, Ph.D., the signs of being a victim of gaslighting can include:
- Constant self-doubt or second-guessing
- Question whether you can do anything right
- Asking yourself “Am I too sensitive?” multiple times a day
- Feeling confused and/or that you are “going crazy”
- Question whether you are “good enough” for your partner
- Feel hopeless, unhappy or joyless
- Apologizing profusely to your partner
- Find yourself making excuses for your partner’s behavior to friends and family
- Feel that something isn’t right in your relationship, but you can never quite express what it is, even to yourself
- Creating your own lies or mistruths to avoid the put downs and reality twists
- Find it difficult to make simple decisions
- Feel as though you have become a different person, where before you felt more confident, more fun-loving and relaxed
If any of these signs raise a red flag for you, please call us at 1-844-7NATIVE (1-844-762-8483) Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. CST. Callers after hours have the option to connect with the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) or to call back the next business day. You are not alone.