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How to spot gaslighting in a relationship

Gaslighting is a specific form of emotional abuse and coercive control, where the manipulator tries to get the victim to question their own reality, memory or perceptions. It is a way for the perpetrator to gain power and control, by constructing a narrative that keeps the gaslighter in the ‘right’ and the victim in the ‘wrong.’

Classic examples of gaslighting include:

  • alienation or isolation;
  • denying the truth;
  • minimising or dismissing someone’s needs:
  • shifting blame; and
  • paranoia accusations.

Common phrases that are considered gaslighting by charities are “You’re crazy, I never said that”, “That never happened”, “You’re being paranoid” (examples of denying the truth or paranoia accusations).

Gaslighting may also take the form of attempting to invalidate a person’s emotions or feelings, such as “I can’t believe you’re crying over this”, or “You’re too sensitive”, or “You’re being dramatic”.

It is important to remember that if you are experiencing confusion, guilt, shame, uncertainty, and self-doubt, you may be experiencing gaslighting in your life.

For advice and support

Gaslighting may occur alongside other forms of abuse, as it is commonly part of a pattern of behaviour called coercive control. If you are in immediate danger, call the police on 999.

The following charities provide a range of advice, support, and more detailed resources in regard to domestic abuse:

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.

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Amy Blaettler

Trainee solicitor

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