Gaslighting - A Subtle Tool For Manipulative And Abusive Partners
Are you being made to feel your fears are baseless and unwarranted? Have you been made to feel you are getting paranoid over nothing when you strongly feel otherwise? Are you at a place, or ever been at a place where, you have to question your own sanity and perception over something you feel is wrong with your partner, or in the relationship? If you answered yes to any of these, then you are probably being gaslighted.
According to Stephanie A. Sarkis Ph.D. Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It is a subtle way through which manipulative and narcissistic partners make you feel you are seeing what is not there, you are making things up, you are being needlessly insecure and everything you are seeing, believing or claiming, without hard facts, is a figment of your imagination. If they know your troubled past, they may add that you are seeing ghost from your past.
Many people have been made to accept that the abuse they are going through in their relationships and marriages are not as abusive as they appear, and that, maybe they are the problem and not their abusers. If they looked at things through the eyes of the abuser, probably, they would realise they have been looking at the whole issue wrongly. That give the abuser the upper hand in defining what constitute abuse in the relationship or marriage.
The first objective of a gaslighter is to make you question your reality and perception of an event or an experience. Once they successfully make you question it, they then have a premise to introduce self doubt into your thinking, making you second guess every action you take, and thereby giving them the undue benefit of the doubt. It feeds the abuser's desire to misrepresent and hide facts, so they are always in control of your thinking and reality. In the end, the victim patterns their reality on the 'truths' from the abuser, while doubting their own reality.
Gaslighting is a form of emotional and psychological abuse.
Gaslighters use lies, seduction, flattery and charm in a consistent and sustained way to alter your perception. A typical example is a partner who introduces a lover as a relative and builds a whole story around it. Anytime you find a crack in the story, they hush you up with either an indirect display of anger or hurt for not trusting them, or seduction to take your mind off it. They pretend they themselves can't figure the intricacies of that family relationship except they know they are relatives. They then find ways of reassuring you that the complexities of that relationship is insignificant, and that what you have with them is what matters. They thus belittle that reality and realign your reality to the love and pleasure you have with them.
Insecurity in a relationship is not always paranoia. Some are real and need to be dealt with. However, a gaslighter will turn their mistakes, errors and indiscretions around and blame you for being crazy, insensitive, and even abusive. Why must you always go out to receive a phone call when we are together, or why must I always call before I visit you? As genuine as these queries maybe, a gaslighter will ensure, you come to accept there are genuine reasons for them, that there is a reason why specific numbers are not stored on their phones but they know them off head, that there is a reason why their mechanic calls them at odd hours or why they are consistently on the phone with their mom or uncle yet they can't ever hold that conversation in front of you.
They will convince you through carefully choreograph reasons why they go for days without talking to you, why you don't need to worry when they come home at 1am, or why they sometimes refuse to give you answers when you put them on the spot. They will ensure you are on the same page with them about the need to cut off your friends (and close family support system), change your number or give them your bank details.
Some narcissistic sociopaths (who are good at gaslighting) do not end it with you; that is the dangerous part. They extend it to your circles of friends and family. How do you convince anyone your husband is a monster at home, when he is like a dove to all your girls and family? How do you convince them he is not helpful when he is the one who serves them when they visit? How do you tell anyone that he is a cheat, when you are splashed all over the place; from his wall paper to DP? He is a church leader, he is a loving father, he is an upstanding member of the community; there is a chasm between that facade and the bedroom abuse you are complaining about. Maybe it is you who is the problem. Everyone, in the end, concludes.
From this point, it is not only him who has gaslighted you; your entire circle of friends and family have also been put in a place to question your reality, or make you question it.
Gaslighting, in the long term, can damage anyone subjected to it over a period of time. It basically makes you lose trust in your own perception and instincts. Over time, a particular person or group of people, through this means would have ensured that you come to disregard your gut feelings and things you feel and suspect around your environment. That has a direct impact on your self esteem and self worth.
It also has a way of impairing your judgement in other areas of your life. From your work, children and social relationships. All the abuser had to do was to make you question your reality.
In the final analysis, a gaslighter's agenda is to make the one who feels emotionally or psychologically abused, the one who is at fault, and the problem.
Do not let anyone take your right to feel secure away by making you think you are being paranoid. Do not let anyone alter your perception of what is an abuse, be it emotionally or psychologically. You could be gaslighted.
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