Domestic abuse can take on many forms, some of which are emotional. Gaslighting is one form of emotional abuse that can be quite hard to identify by those in the midst of an abusive relationship. Psychology Today explains the common signs of gaslighting and what you can do if you’re a victim.
Lies are at the heart of all gaslighting behavior. Abusive partners use lies to disorient their victims by offering blatant mistruths. When questioned about mistruths, the gaslighter will continue to lie and may even provide proof that what they’re saying is true. Over time, this behavior wears down the victim’s grasp on reality and they may come to believe that their perception is wrong.
Gaslighters also use kindness to get into their partner’s good graces. Poor behavior will be punctuated by periods of praise and affection, which become the impetus for the abuse victim to behave appropriately according to their abuser. However, these positive aspects will soon give out to negative behavior once again, which restarts the cycle. In the event you disagree with or fail to believe the abuser’s version of events, he or she may play the victim or become more outwardly abusive by offering threats or actual violence.
Over time, gaslighting takes a toll on multiple areas of a person’s life. That’s why it’s so important to identify the behavior early on and take the appropriate action. Keep in mind that many abusers’ behaviors stem from their own insecurity and internal strife. Don’t internalize their statements, especially when you know they’re not true. If you believe that your relationship can’t be salvaged due to the abuser’s unwillingness to change, the next logical step may be divorce.