Gaslighting is a common form of abuse in relationships.
Gaslighting is when somebody deliberately either withholds information or provides false information for their personal gain. Over time, the victim of gaslighting will become worn down by the abuse and less confident and trusting of themselves and their memory.
It’s a term that originates from a famous movie, Gaslight, based on a 1938 play. The film was released in 1940, and remade four years later to critical acclaim.
The movie enacts the marriage between a deceitful husband and a young woman, where the man is a criminal who spends his time trying to steal his wife’s family jewels. Every time his wife notices something strange (including the titular scene where he is in the attic looking for the jewellery and the gaslights flicker on and off), he tells her she is imagining things and that he believes she is going insane.
Gaslighting can happen at work, with friends, or with family. However, often the most destructive form of gaslighting occurs in an intimate relationship.
The personality traits of a gaslighter
Gaslighters are narcissists and have all the traits of a psychopath.
They are charismatic, and that draws people to them. Their charismatic nature often helps them get away with gaslighting, as people close to them may not believe someone so charming is capable of abuse, inadvertently enabling the behaviour to continue.
Like the jewel thief in the movie, gaslighters seek out relationships for the wrong reasons: what they can get out of it.
They lack empathy, enabling them to inflict mental anguish on their victims without a second thought.
Signs you are a victim of gaslighting:
- You feel you have changed for the worse throughout your relationship.
- You often feel paranoid.
- You second-guess your feelings. For example, you feel like you might be exaggerating your partner’s behaviour.
- You find yourself making excuses for your partner’s behaviour or actions.
- You purposely withhold information about your partner to other people, so you don’t have to explain or make excuses for their actions or behaviour.
- You feel like you are walking on eggshells around your partner, and nothing you do is right.
- You get confused about your accounts of your partner’s actions or behaviour and question if you have your facts right. Often, but not always, this is the result of your partner covering their tracks by denying your account or giving a conflicting version of events.
- You wonder if you are good enough for your partner.
What should you do if someone gaslights you?
If you believe someone is gaslighting you, a simple habit will help you catch them out: keeping records.
Whether they are in the form of simple notes or photo evidence, record-keeping is your first sign of defence against gaslighting. When you have a concrete record of an incident, it becomes impossible for your partner to convince you it’s all in your head (although they may still try).
Gaslighting is a form of abuse, so if you feel like you are a victim of gaslighting, the first step to taking your life back is to seek help.
We undertake all investigations with the utmost care and discretion.
And with Rivica, you’ll have someone by your side as you go through the process. Being in an abusive relationship is stressful, and so we will go the extra mile to be a place of comfort for you before, during and after the investigation.
Coming to terms with a gaslighting partner is not easy. Our investigations will support you by not only catching them out, but also helping you recover from the damage they have caused you.
To see how we can help you gain the clarity you need, get in contact with us for a free consultation.
If you or anyone you know is in need of support, there is help available. You can contact Lifeline 24/7 by phone on 13 11 14, Lifeline by SMS on 0477 13 11 14 (12pm to midnight) or the Suicide Call-back Service 24/7 on 1300 659 467. In an emergency, always call 000.