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Gaslighting: Designed to Destroy Your Sanity

The purpose of gaslighting is to gain control over your ability to perceive the truth. Your abuser does not want you to believe your perceptions. They want you to believe their version of reality. Gaslighting is the art of making someone else believe ridiculous lies.

hypnosisIn your gaslighter’s version of reality, you do not question them. You do not have a differing opinion. You do not have an individual thought or desire. Your gaslighter wants you to be just like them so you will feel, think, and act like them. They want a mind-numbed robot, not a lover, friend, child, employee, etc.

Gaslighting – How They Do It

There are several ways gaslighting is used to deprive you of your sanity. The following is not an exhaustive list.

Manipulates Your Physical Environment

The abuser could purposefully alter their victim’s physical environment and then insist the environment had not changed.

For example, the abuser could pick up your keys from your habitual storage place on the kitchen counter and place them on your dresser. The next morning as you frantically search for the keys, he says nothing – he watches you search or pretends to help you look. When you finally find the keys, you wonder, “How did they get on the dresser?” but your gaslighter says nothing.

The gaslighter may put you through this and similar missing item scenarios over the course of time. They’ll eventually use your inability to remember where you placed your things to infuse further doubt in your mind. She may say something like, “How can you be so certain you remember what I said yesterday when you can’t keep track of your own belongings?! Is there something wrong with your memory?”

And poof – you haven’t been able to keep track of your own stuff so maybe there is something wrong with your memory – the seed of self-doubt takes root. You begin to believe that maybe your abuser is right. This opens the door to self-doubt; self-doubt corrupts your perception of reality.

Once you begin doubting your perceptions, your gaslighter gains power over you.

Claims to Know the Motives of You and Strangers

Gaslighters insult their victim’s sense of security by attempting to make you believe they know your motives and the motives of the people around you.It’s uncanny how many gaslighters have psychic abilities – they profess to be able to read minds through their assertions of knowing one’s inner, true motive.

For example, you know why you smiled at the stranger who was enjoying the time with his daughter at the park. You perhaps felt happiness in seeing a father create sweet memories for his daughter that will last her lifetime. You remember your own father playing with you when you were young, and seeing the stranger in the park do the same thing causes you to feel joy.

You smiled at him – you couldn’t help it. He smiled back when he caught you looking because that’s what people do.

However, your abuser saw the whole thing. He is sullen and quiet (tempting you to draw out of him what is wrong) or begins telling you what you did was wrong right away. Either method of behavior quickly wipes the smile off of your face.

You abuser says that you smile at too many people – everyone thinks you sleep around or are naive and can be taken advantage of easily (or other such nonsense). Your abuser also says that the man in the park wants to sleep with you. A man’s sole motive in smiling is because he wants to get in your pants. He doesn’t smile at other women; you shouldn’t smile at other men. Your abuser presents himself as being concerned about your well-being.

Exploit Your Worst Fears

When your gaslighter engages in intimate conversation with you, s/he is actually probing your mind for weapons to use against you. Your abuser listens to you intently, their eyes doe-like, concern emanating from their every pore. You feel as if they are listening to you, and you expose your soul.

Every intimate detail you reveal during this conversation will come back to haunt you very soon.

In some future conversation, your gaslighter will say casually: “Don’t you see? This is why no one takes you seriously.” The “this” they refer to could be your fear that you are too sensitive, too clingy, too something that you definitely do not want to be. And you will take it to heart because your abuser knows you so well! You told them that!

In a future argument, your abuser will threaten you with: “You will end up with NO ONE!” invoking your fear of abandonment. Or they’ll say, “No one could love a person like you!” implying that even they do not love you and only tolerate you because they are forgiving/kind/stuck with you.

If you’ve expressed a commitment to loyalty, you’ll hear “I thought you meant it when you said you would love, honor and cherish me forever! If you loved me you would…” If you’ve said you thought you were gaining weight, you’d hear “You are getting fat and its ruining our sex life.”

Deny The Truth

Then, to add insult to injury, when you feel bold enough to tell your abuser that you were hurt by one of their statements, they will say, “What? I never said that” or “You misunderstood” or “Can’t you take a joke?” or “That’s not what happened.”

Hmph. Can anyone say bull$hit?

———————

There are ways to nip gaslighting in the bud or recognize and stop it at its later stages. In time, gaslighting relieves you of your ability to perceive the truth. Go to the library and check out Dr. Robin Stern’s book, The Gaslight Effect or buy it from Amazon.

You can find Kellie Jo Holly on her website, Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

*Both women and men could be abusers or victims, so do not take my pronoun choices as an implication that one gender abuses and the other is victimized.

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43 Responses to Gaslighting: Designed to Destroy Your Sanity

  1. Kellie says:

    What I want to know is where do abusers learn this crap?My ex was abused by his mother and father and I guess he got a lot from them. But it amazes me how much thought and energy went into his gaslighting.
    He must have spent hours planning and thinking…….

  2. Kellie (from texas) says:

    The night my ex “confesses” to me that he had been cheating on me with prostitutes and going to strip clubs the length of our marriage he decides to try to convince me that I already knew.
    That I knew the whole time so when I tried to show emotion or get upset and talk about it with him I was immedietly dismissed. I wasn’t allowed to say anything because I already knew.
    I couldn’t believe what I was hearing from him. I was so depressed…..

  3. Jill says:

    A few weeks ago i was confiding in a friend of mine whom i feel safe telling my horror story to. He asked me if I heard of the gaslight effect. I laughed saying what on earth is that? After he explained what it was I was chilled to the bone from the reality that he just explained the last 5 yrs. of the nightmare I had been living. My gas lighter almost distroyed me mentally,emotionally,physically,financially, and spiritually. His goal was to make me look as mentally incapable as he could and through the eyes of everyone around. He took me from being a strong, vibrant, outgoing and well balanced woman to a crumpled up rag so battered down I couldn’t stand on my own two feet I was so weak. my story is a severe case of gaslighting one could imagine im still slowly healing and recovering from the trama.

  4. Alexa says:

    This is such an important topic for survivors of such abuse techniques. So validating! Indeed – the thought of someone we were so close to scheming and planning to hurt us is really difficult to wrap your brain around. I don’t know that I ever have myself (and it’s been ten years now). THANKFULLY – escaping my abuser’s presence has eventually gotten me to a place where I no longer feel a compulsion to understand him. It took a while, but I can say now that he no longer is in my mind 24/7.

  5. Free At Last says:

    Alexa, I am praying to get to the point where my abuser is no longer on my mind. I was traumatized by this man for over 10 years and its still hard to fathom that a person can be so destructive and disturbed. My abuser was my best friend then my lover. We now have a child together. Once I exposed his unfaithfulness and I had exerted strength and certainty his pathology really started to show. It”s INCREDIBLE. I have to see him when I pick up or leave my daughter with him. He lies incessantly about any trivial thing. He exaggerates minor issues concerning my daughter. I really need insight on how to deal with this crap. I have decided to seek more counseling because I really have been severely abused. I still have the compulsion to understand his tactics and why he is the way he is. Thats what landed me on this blog. It seems that everytime I have the slightest contact with him I have to come home and read up on his condition. I think that its to remind myself that the problem is not me. He is a really screwed up individual.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Sharing an observation that I wonder if others may have… I have experienced all but the first example in this article — at least, I *hope* I’ve not experienced that (I really don’t think I have).

    My observation is based on this horrified reaction to the illustration — the feeling of, “how could anyone actually *do* that to someone else…let alone someone they supposedly love?!!!” I can’t believe it. And yet, I can easily believe all of the other things because I have seen them firsthand. But somehow, this makes those other things seem less despicable to me — how strange.

    I suppose that the basis of this differentiation comes from the strongly held belief that no one I love could be so *deliberate* in trying to hurt me. I know that in my weakest moments, I have used words (that I knew I regretted even as I said them) to lash out/fight back…while weekly feeling even as I said them that they never even hit their mark, but only made *me* feel more horrible for trying to. Guilt over fire with fire and a lack of self-control. This is how I imagine any normal person would feel.

    By contrast, I simply cannot fathom such a *strategic* approach to making someone feel awful and/or crazy! To misplace their belongings and then act innocent like that…repeatedly, no less! That just strikes me as the mark of a truly sadistic and cruel person. The painful words born out of heated and regretful spontaneity are so much more forgivable (to me) — but the evidence of such spiteful and plotted acts is much harder to ignore.

    As I type this, though, I am reminded of the existence of that evidence, too. It didn’t come in the form of misplacing my things to destroy my sanity (which most certainly did suffer from the other behaviors outlined in your article — why is that so much easier to overlook???), but it was there. And it was far less covert. I had plenty of time to think about it during the hours spent in a cold jail cell and the five weeks of displacement from my home that followed. Over three months later, I am *still* enduring the hardships brought on by a relationship started less than a year ago — it feels ridiculous. As does the fact that I continue to wish that my love had been enough to keep any of this from happening.

  7. Cat says:

    I had never heard of gaslighting until today…having read this article three times now. I’m sad…very sad…as I’m in my late 60′s and have had severe panic disorder and depression since age 23. My husband has been VERY supportive of me all these years. But I think back to my Mother….long since deceased. I loved my Mother…very much…was an obedient..VERY obedient child and teenager and did everything she asked. “LOVE” was given out when my report card held straight A’s and taken away if there was a “C”. “LOVE” was given if I agreed with everything my Mother said. I was NOT allowed to date or SPEAK to a boy…even in high school or when I worked. I HAD to think and agree with her. Now I’m wondering if she was part of the root cause of the severe panic disorder and unipolar depression I have as an adult? But why would a mother do this to a child? I don’t understand….but she ruined my life! :-( (((

  8. Renae says:

    I never knew what gaslighting was until I came to terms with the abuse in my marriage. He has been doing this to me for yrs and it has previously worked well for him. Now I call him on his gaslighting and he does not acknowledge my remarks at all. I am healing myself and divorcing him because of yrs of verbal, emotional and physical abuse. He denies all of his inappropriate behavior. It is interesting to say the least to see a man who has lost his most powerful weapon over me….control. I have it back.

  9. Andrea says:

    OK, so this is long. Its what I learned from my GL experience. I promise I’m not trying to be pedantic, I just talk a lot.

    Many people commenting have expressed a certain natural lack of understanding regarding why a person would act in this manner. I say “natural” because (I’m taking for granted that) your goal in relationships is one of mutual respect and affection, emotionally supportive, and (romantically or familially) having unconditional love. This is a good thing. And I promise there are other people out there (friends, lovers, etc) who genuinely seek the same things.

    1.
    So the first difficult thing to fathom for me was that some people just don’t have that goal. They will say they do. They might even believe that what they want is the same. But the reality is that some people have different understandings of what a “relationship” is or what “love” even means.
    For most of us love means being able to be vulnerable because we know we are still safe. For others love (for whatever reason) is equated with control. In fact the concept of making oneself vulnerable to ANYONE can be in total opposition to what their life has taught them.
    You are from Mars or Venus, and that person is from the inside of black hole. And it sucks for them, but there’s nothing you can do without getting sucked in too. You can’t fix it.

    2. Once you understand that you do not have the same goal (love, respect), its a little easier to deal with.
    Its like driving somewhere with someone. It seems like you’re heading in the right direction, but s/he keeps making turns and detours. And you’re like “Am I reading this map wrong?” and you realize “No, the map is right. Oh gosh, my driver only speaks bushman and is made out of fucking Dark Matter. I need to get out of the car.”

    3. Once you understand you come from different mental/emotional orientations, get out of the car. Now, stay out of the car. Don’t try to figure him/her out so that you can communicate, and s/he can “understand.” Because you are making the dangerous assumption that s/he even wants to understand. They don’t. Why should they? They know they’re right, and you’re wrong. But they’ll let you try to explain to reel you back in. They’ll even use your insights when figuring out how to get back in your head.

    4.
    “But how could someone act so harmfully and cruelly to someone they say they love?!”
    Because, this type of control is selfish.
    When that person acts out, s/he has no doubt whatsoever that what s/he is doing is Right. And that you DESERVE it. People don’t do evil things with the belief that they’re wrong (Nazis, Witchhunts, Trail of Tears). They do them with justifications, and will absolve themselves for… ever.

    So hang in there gang, its a hell of a lesson to learn, but life’s about to get better if it hasn’t already.
    Its been about 8 years since my Gaslighter. Having been through it, its like you gain superpowers when people try to pull similar tactics again.
    Its like you’re Wonderwoman, deflecting manipulation with your wrist cuffs, and seeing through the BS with your Lariat of Truth.
    And you know that doubt you may have, of whether you are difficult to love, or even worth loving?
    OK, think back to one kind thing you’ve done, for an adult, child, animal, whatever.
    No, seriously, stop reading.
    Stop.

    Got the memory in place?

    OK. Yes. You deserve to be loved.

  10. Kellie Holly says:

    Thank you, Andrea! And I truly loved the ending… You summed up why we deserve to be loved perfectly (and got in my head to do it)!

  11. Sandra says:

    I’m having trouble finding the right things to say to help a friend leave her gaslighter. She knows I left mine, she knows what gaslighting is, she has read many of the articles available. But she doesn’t want to be alone. There’s “something about him”.

    People are starting to cut off from her, because they need to cut off from HIM, really – and that is bringing her lower. Of course he is loving it, watching her friends go away.

    I wish I knew what to say to help her see just how manipulative and controlling he is.

  12. Kellie Holly says:

    I wish I knew how to “make them see”. But I don’t. I do know that trying to force them to admit they’re being abused will drive YOU crazy. The page How to Help A Domestic Abuse Victim is my advice. I know that no one, not my mom, sister, or best friends, could “make me see” before I was ready to see.

  13. Annie L echypardious says:

    This article is so accurate. I remember watching the old black and white film ‘Gaslight’ years ago (Ingrid Bergman) and finding it scary. Later domestic abuse was even scarier but followed similar patterns. Lying about me, calling me a prostitute, accusations of cheating, were done to cover up his own deviancy, but I didn’t find that out until much later, after it had caused me a huge amount of emotional stress.
    So nice to see plenty of women with good understanding of the subject and clear, steady insight.

  14. Chris says:

    40 years of marriage, did all I could to make him happy , but he never appreciated anything and usually complained about always made think I did a bad job, did all he could to make me seem crazy , then it hit me, after realizing he was doing thing to make me feel like jam losing my mind the key story with
    Putting the keys were you can’t find them then yell. When you new we’re they were will now I know I was getting gaslighter, wow forty years of devotion to this man I found what a gaslighter was today very happy now I have to try to get way any suggestion that might help me would be apprciated

  15. Cynthia Holt says:

    I had a conversation with a friend a few months ago and she brought up gaslighting. I had no idea what it meant and really couldn’t grasp the concept. It dawned on me over the past weekend. My husband has been gaslighting me for years. He makes me feel like Im crazy and Im a horrible person. I make excuses up for him and his behavior all the time. I am thinking that I need a trip back to my therapist and something has got to change. I ordered the book from the library and we’ll see..Wish me luck whomever reads this.

  16. Phil says:

    Very intersting article ! I just want to add one thing. This problem is not only a “woman problem”. I’m a man, and i’ve been emotionnaly abused. I loved and i suffered (and now i know why). Please do not beleive that only women have this problem (this is the sensation i have while i’m reading all your (very interesting) comment). I think it’s not a matter of genre. Really. And i hope that many more men can talk about this problem.
    My exprience of this is not so different. I thought i was going crazy in my relationship. Every dispute was going nowhere, or was like a boomrang… it took me a few years to understand that my girlfriend was not a “victim” and i was not a “persecutor” (like she wanted me to beleive it) etc… it took me years to understand (and accept) that I had to “get out of this bus”. There is no way to deal with this kind of person. There is nohing to save in this kind of relationsip. Unfortunately. Being seperated hurts. A lot. But what hurts the most is to forget your values, your believes, your personnaltiy, yourself, your life, because you love ” a black hole” who CANNOT be loved. I wish more men can talk about their own experience and can be aware about this problem.

  17. Kellie Holly says:

    Dear Phil, women talk about abuse more than you guys do. I think you’re right about the “genre” … I have not met a female survivor who denies abuse happens to men, too. My personal website offers mentoring for men and women who suffered abuse in the past or present. We only have one male mentor. Want to help us out?

    We don’t get many requests from men for mentoring at this point. But plenty of women don’t care what gender their mentor is, so even if we don’t have a bunch of guys reaching out, your experience is still needed! If you’re interested in becoming a mentor, go to http://verbalabusejournals.com/help-with-domestic-abuse/domestic-violence-survivor-mentors/i-want-to-be-a-survivors-mentor-application/

  18. Lisa Whitt says:

    Omg! I heard for the ‘very first time’ about this word ‘gas lighter’ today! I have been married to this man who profess’ to love me beyond words. Now that I look back over ten years, I see how much he has been trying to make me think I was losing my mind! What the heck! I never would have thought that this man would have done this to anybody much less myself. Now some things fit about some of the things he said other women have done to him. I tried to kill myself over something that he accused me of! I have been so stupid and now my eyes are opened and believe me now I am going to find my way out! He has alienated my family away from me and I have nobody I can rely on so I have to do this by myself. I know I am a great person, I don’t cheat, I don’t lie, nor do I steal! I try to help a lot of people and they know the real me. But I don’t know how to get away with my mind still in tact, let alone my emotions. I will figure it out I guess!

  19. Bev says:

    Just read a definition of the new para psychology. yesterday. OLD BEHAVIOR with a new name.I’m in my seventies and just divorced a man with behavior patterns that was destined to destroy a relationship. I have an adequate sense of responsibility and accountability. I can say honestly ” regrettably I did not have the skills to deal with my husbands adhd,or the events in his life contributed to his needs

  20. lwest says:

    its true isnt it how do the abusers learn to be so shitty , my father was is a gaslighter and abuses my mother in this way and i had a boyfriend who was the same boy its so abusive and it made me feel so bad

  21. Good girl now says:

    I was with a psycho who, somehow, got a key to my apartment. When we went out one night, I bought a joke “voo-doo” doll that you stick pins into to get what you want. One day I came home and the doll was lying on a stool, in the center of the room with pins stuck all over it. It freaked me out, but I figured that he probably did it, so I never said a word to him about it. He folded up newspapers so that stories about violence would be the first thing I would see. After he became physically abusive during sex, he would use hypnotic techniques so that I would not remember. I wondered why, when I looked into a mirror after sex one time, my neck was all red. A year later, under hypnosis by a therapist, I recalled how he used to strangle me, saying it was auto erotic asphyxiation! There are some strange people out there. One never knows until it’s almost too late.

  22. 23 years of THIS in my relationship! says:

    What solutions do the experts provide on this?Surely someone must have some really helpful advice for us to use to get our sanity back! It makes a person so angry and you end up trusting no one, because of the abuser turning all facts around because of his/her insecurities! When you tell them something they perceive it as an argument. You cannot have a decent conversation with them, then they feel threatened! You end up leaving it and stop talking to them! There must be some sound resolutions for this! Counseling they will not have, as there is NOTHING wrong with them!

  23. The only thing you can do is decide how you want to handle yourself in response to the gaslighter’s words and actions. There is nothing you can do for or to them, no words of reason you can speak, NOTHING you can do to change how they treat you.

    When you’re fed up with the gaslighter treating you poorly, you must decide what you can do to save your sanity. It isn’t up to you to save the gaslighter, too.

  24. Candy says:

    I book marked this article to read and reread to make sense of what has happened to me through the years and this morning my husband said “don’t gaslight me”. I said that is from an article I bookmarked and he said “I bookmarked it too”. I guess the mind games never end – even when you try to get yourself some help.

  25. worried nana says:

    I just realized the abuse I suffered and am now suffering from has a name. How can I save my grand children if my daughter won’t and my stepson? Please !

  26. You can be a healthy role model to your grandchildren every time you get the opportunity. Telling them how horrid their parent(s) are will not work. You can bolster their self-esteem and teach them about gaslighting and bullying so they have the knowledge they need to combat it. You’re a great Nana! Show the kids how great you are.

  27. Candy, you nailed it perfectly. You now understand that he will turn anything around on you in hopes of making you feel as if YOU are the abuser, the gaslighter, the crazymaker. Learn all you can about how HEALTHY relationships work and what mentally healthy people do to get through the days. Ignore his lies and try not to share ANYTHING of yourself anymore. Use your knowledge to protect your mental health and ignore him/his tricks to the best of your ability. You got this.

  28. Lauren says:

    After reading this and other articles, plus multiple years of counseling, I now recognize my father has been a gaslighter to me. I have thought for so long that I’m crazy! I am 44 years old, educated, professional and a kind, loving daughter and he still treats me like a 16 year old. I’m divorced so I’ve always thought his overbearing, nosy, controlling, unsolicited opinions were for my own good. The times I’ve tried to take back my life, thoyghts, feelings, beliefs or opinions he gets “wounded” and retreats into his pouting and silent treatment until I cave in and apologize. If I share any info at all about myself or my life, he uses it or the reverse of it, to “catch” me later. Over the years, I have truly second-guessed myself and my danity. I have been told (and often believed) that I am “too sensitive”, “set in my ways”, “demanding”, “over-reactive”, “stubborn”, “emotional”, etc.. it’s as if being any of those things is bad and I am a bad person. My father does not recognize or respect the person I am and I don’t dare demand it from him. My prayer is that by reading about others experinces and how they recover, I too will find the courage to recover!

  29. louise harris says:

    recently i have been trying to understand what has just happened to me. i left with my children almost a year ago. i am ‘getting there’ slowly from emotional point of view however he is still very much present. i came accross the term ‘gas lighting’ the 1st site honestly really affected me emotionally it almost brought feelings back i could relate to everything. i thought i was mad.. well sadly i stayed too long and it has affected me so much anxiety, panic attacks, depression, dark thoughts. i thought it was best to stay for the sake of the kids but it got too much i finally could see it amd the fact it is not good for children to be in this situation. reading this has made me realise it wasnt me. but i still dont know if he knew. but of course he did. see. .. even now i still manage to in some way see it differently even when staring me in tje face. i wish i read sooner about this maybe i would have taken action sooner. its a slow long thing that has even your own family seeing the ‘nice bloke’ he is and me looking unhappy. “cheer up” well. im putting a face on cos he just hhad just sparked a row minutes before u arrived. oh i could go on. This gives me some sort of emotional peace in a way i know it wasn’t me.

  30. Sally Green says:

    I think my daughter has been gas-lighting me. In fact, I am certain she has. She is 40 yrs. old..her dad is a sociopath, however somehow she has turned her rage on me, & constantly tries to convince me I am crazy (I have Bi-Polar 2 & PTSD, which has been treated with both medication & therapy). I have made amends to her for any way in which I have harmed her. She mails me pages and pages of “issues” she has against me….ie ~ “I don’t think you even know how your behavior affects others, you can’t just keep changing meds..you need therapy (my therapist discharged me 3 yrs ago and told me I was healthier than most people who don’t even have a mental illness), you have harmed my children and husband & I constantly have to be hyper-alert when you are around. There is a lot of crazy-making. She just unfriended me on FB because I finally told my own story, which included that I have a mental illness & that I was married to a sociopath for 25 yrs. My son unfriended me as well & told me I have just lost my son. Although I am sad, I know I am stable & doing better than I have in years. My inner gut says this has all been born out of their dialogue with their dad regarding me. Any experience with Narcissistic/Sociopathic folks? I have an MSW, which has given me a pretty solid education, plus our family was involved in a religious cult, which used gas-lighting as one of their most powerful tools. Please offer me some insight.

  31. I think you have all the insight you need. The combination of your gut and your education gives you all you need to see the truth. It hurts when our kids reject us, but I think they have to do that sometimes so they can get distance and then see the truth themselves.

  32. Andrianna says:

    What I want to know is what happens to the Gaslighter especially one that you have been married to for many years. Even if you are strong they are going to always try and break you.?
    I have finally found out what my husband has been trying to achieve for years. I even went to a Psychiarist because I thought I had the problem, and back then the Dr said my mind was fine it was the person who was feeding it. 27 years from the day after I was married it started not very much at first but when the kids came along it really got bad. Now I am a mess and can’t cope with anything. I am not especially afraid of him leaving it’s more that I need him to leave me not the other way around. I feel that the kids are watching and waiting and he will manipulate there minds as well. Yes I will go see the Dr. My friends have tried to help him see that my depression is because of his lack of emotion and care and love but he cannot see it and blames me for everything. I think the biggest turning point was when I got a job… Oh he so hates it . The thing is I feel normal and happy when I am at work. But why do I always want tat ideology of maybe we can work on this and be a happy family?

  33. Misty says:

    From months on I’ve been trying to find out why my ex-boyfriend is denying that he cheated after I found solid proofs in chat and mail- he claims those also to be lies that he told his friends. Once he acted like his FB account was hacked..later he said it was his friends chatting and the funny part is that he himself forcefully exchanged passwords with me. He would intentionally make me jealous and put my self esteem down in the past 6 years. He’s been manipulating me since i was 17. He has literally moulded my personality, outlook and thinking the way he wants it to be. I was known to be very independent, mature, joyful and morally conscious person- that was before I met him. He brought out my childhood insecurities of being bullied and made me sensitive after which slowly he made me believe that I’m too immature, emotional and clingy..and possessive. While he can be possessive I’m not allowed to. I would be criticized a lot and he made my personality such that I started accepting these as jokes. Now I’m funny and jovial more than a normal person would be. I joke about almost everything..i guess that was my way of coping with his ‘jokes’. But I never hurt people like he does.
    All arguments would turn around and bang on my face as my fault. I ceased fighting with him and started analyzing and taking blames on myself. He lies about the past, cooks up stories of meeting with accidents, makes up all kind of bullshit to gain sympathy, make me jealous or put blame on me. What I can really connect with everyone else here is the fact that I have become a person who is constantly analyzing him, our relationship and doubting myself to be wrong and insane. I’m depressed, guilty and hurt all the time. Always feel confused and guilty while I’ve given my 200% into the relationship. When I finally realized he’s been lying and cheating apart from using me for money, and talking ill of me to people, I was shocked and started wondering how he managed to turn everything on me all these years. That’s when I came across gaslighting. He’s been crazy making me since the beginning of the relationship. He’d omit things and say he said them to me. In our last fight he even tried to make me believe that in the first year of relationship I was having casual sex with him without commitment or relationship and that’s untrue. He almost made me think and analyze about it though I know it’s not true.

    Oddly, he always introduced me to all of his friends and family but never agreed to meet anyone of my friends or family. He used to say that my friends are really stupid and that I should get better friends.
    He’d give me sensible advice, and then say i can’t handle things, making me feel like Im the stupid one. I still am not able to start thinking clearly. My life has stagnated and my potential crushed.. I’m just glad I did not marry him. Had I not suspected he’s using me I would have ended up making a family with him and I can’t imagine what might have happened after that. However I’m not able to trust anyone or myself after what has happened I feel very alone and disconnected. I’d be glad if I can connect with someone here who can help me out because I’m really distressed. We still speak and I’m afraid he will manipulate me. He’s even told all his people now that I’m the crazy one. I feel so betrayed and hurt that no one’s going to understand to what extent he has control over my mind.

  34. Misty says:

    Once he purposely ‘forgot’ my birthday. and when he called me in the night i was so sad and angry(obviously) that I hung up on him. Later he blames on me saying I should have been understanding and said ‘It’s alright’ instead of being upset..that would have been a ‘mature’ reaction. Tears well up as I remember every time he purposely upset me and how did I become so blind? I feel so unworthy after spending 6 yrs with him. Another time when we were on long distance, he called me at 12 wished ‘happy birthday.’ i said thank you..i love you and he said ‘good night’ and hung up.
    Once he had the audacity to tell me “you are the one who is loving and caring you should be the one to go down on your knees and formally ask me to marry you’

    Once he said he wants to choose a gift for his friend, and he was insisting on bracelet that had heart and ring…We ended up choosing a bracelet. He was so adament he wants to give her a ring. Later I found out (recently) that she was the girl he told his friends he slept with.

    Another time he brought and showed me a necklace, saw how it looks on me and then said it’s for his friend’s girlfriend whom i knew. But the way he showed at first was as though it was meant for me.

    I made it a point to make him feel special on everyone of his birthdays. He did not gift me a single thing. I confirmed that he’s a psycho when on my last birthday in august I met him and he frantically emptied a plastic card holder in the parking lot..when i say frantically I mean he was sweating and shuffling his fingers..stuffing the cards in all his pockets. then he hands it to me and says it’s for me. and he even mentioned how much it costs. Later I saw the same card holder being sold on the streets for less than 1/10th of what he told. He has financial issues and I’ve given him lots of money when he needed it for his mother’s treatment. But financial burden does not mean you can’t do sweet things for your girl on her birthday.

    Later while going he said ‘sorry i screwed up your birthday’.

    He’d complain about my body and praise other girls’ bodies in front of me. once when i wore something nice, everyone said i look nice but he asked if i just woke up and came. Once he was supposed to join a talk organized by my office and i kept waiting near the venue on the road.. he kept sayin he’ll reach in 10 min and reached after 45 min. I missed the event because of him and was in tears when he came. and he started to blame me again asking me why i didn’t go ahead without him. How could I when he kept saying he’s going to reach in 5 min and 10 min!? and i was scared he’d scold me that he can’t find the venue so i thought i should take him there.

    He also has the habit of making girls believe that he has interest in them and then friendzone them.

    He’s done all kind of weird things no guy would ever do. I still do not know what is the problem that he’s got. are a lot of guys like this? Sometimes i completely doubt myself. am i that bad that i don’t deserve love? Am i too good natured to not be taken for granted? he’s the only boyfriend i’ve had.

  35. Julia says:

    Yes, I am a victim of mental and verbal abuse. I have another story of how I discovered this form of abuse. I met my “love” now ex love of my life online at POF, things happened quickly and he was very attached to me right off the bat and I fell in love when he showered me with his attention and smooth words “HI beautiful” etc. So things progress and I move in with him, and even trired to have a baby for months (I had baby fever) until the about eight months in, Icame to notice that he was online every morning before work even before I would wake up and than I discovered all the porn and ex girlfriends he was lusting after every morning, I thought he was pooping but he later told me something else I rather not mention to the women he was talking to online, he even did it at work, I mean this man has the demon inside of him ruling his thought actions and how he treats the woman who love him. Oh please pray for these kind of people! He will act and talk like a sweet innocent boy with blue eyes but his heart is wickedly cold.

    He was also telling his friends that they too were “beautiful” too. So I got mad at him but he said I was being too jealous and I cried and he said “I don’t want to lose you” so I stayed. A month later I logged on to the website we met on to see if his profile was still active, sure enough it was active, he was even online at that moment I checked, my heart sank, while he was at work he was looking for women with the headline “looking for fun” and status living together I think I am a pretty smart woman but I lost it, broke down and ran away to the woods. He came looking for me and said that it was to help his brother out.

    Being the light hearted person I am, I forgave him but I really never trusted him. Than one night his drunk brother and I got into an argument where he told me all the things my supposed love had thought about me. is brother yelled at me, yelled some more, go in the other room, he follow me and yell at me some more until I had to physically fight him off in front of his 5 year old and 11 year old, My guy sat in the recliner, I beg him to make his brother stop screaming at me, and he just sat there, with no emotion at all claiming that everything this drunk hooligan was spitting in my face, I ran for my life, too many guns in the house, through the front door, in the middle of the country, fell flat on my face as I was running, walked down a dark highway, in a big circle back to that little blue house, and my so called boyfriend never even came looking for me. He told his brother that I was being lazy because I didn’t have a job, although I was a full time writer and going to school online, cleaned the house, did all the dishes, made the bed every morning, scrubbed the showers, to he toilets,and baby sat his brothers kids while he was passed out drunk and I was trying everything to conceive his child. Hum, think he tried to make me look like the bad guy.

    Still he said he “loved me” BUt I knew that blank stare he loved himself more than anyone, he was selfish and he didn;t care how much I was hurting, he watched me cry, pack my things an hundred times and than turn around and make me feel like I was the one who did him wrong. FInally, I went to church and the chuch warend me to get out of there, my family, my freindsand even the songs on the radio told me to leave. I didn’t want to let our dreams die, I wanted to forgive and move on. I wanted to love him for enterinty, but its just too hard to love a man with a mental illness. And that is what this is, a very seroius mental illness that may haunt him for the rest of his life, he may never discover true love because of it, but at least I know I can heal and am glad that it was less than a year long. I packed up my stuff and moved to my brothers house 5 hours away, I had to leave my beloved cat because I had limited options, I could only take one, I have two cats, someday I will go back for my cat not for the broken man because I know only God can save his soul. I was wrong to have moved in with him, I had horrible nightmares of cheating, abuse and self destruction but once I moved away, my life has become so much more peaceful, and I get to reconnect with my family and seek truth and healing from God’s word . I kept making excuses for his behavior, I was blinded, I didn’t see what they saw or at least he painted a different picture in my head, he controlled how I felt about him. We didn’t break right away after I moved out, he kept asking me to come back, but deep down he knew that I didn’t want to come back.

    So I slammed the door, locked it and threw away the key. No contact what so ever, I want to be nice, I even want to send him a christmas present because he was always such a tight ass with money, He wouldn’t even buy groceries. He made me buy them with my little food stamps. Ug, how could I be so deceived!

    He said I was acting crazy, and that he just talks to the other women. I know from the get go he didn’t respect women. I wasn’t aware of the gaslighting until I received a message from God. I had an owl hoot at my window, well guess what that means, owls reveal hidden truths. And the very next day someone mentioned “gaslighting” and it rang a bell so loud I cried and now I know the truth and can make wiser decisions. I thought I was acting out of control because not only did he make me feel like I was a loser but he thought I was stupid enough not to notice his divided attention. ONe foot in the door one foot out. Should of took a hint when he referred to dating as test driving a car. I guess I had to go back to the dealership I may be a clunker but I have a good engine. Over and over I would be the one crying because I thought I was being a bad girlfriend by pushing him away with my jealousy. He told me : “you are going to have to change if you ever want to come back here” I had to take a day to think about that. “I have to change?” I started to get mad that night, and messaged him the next morning. “No I don’t have to change, what I do have to change is my taste in men”

    So I slammed the door, locked it, and threw away the key. It the first time I haven’t talked to him in days, but the more space, the more I see how he was manipulating my thoughts about him and the true status of his heart. I want to be nice, I even want to send him a christmas present because he was always such a tight ass with money, He wouldn’t even buy groceries. He made me buy them with my little food stamps. Ug, how could I be so deceived! Thank you Jesus what A blessing it is to have A God who lets me fall but helps me back up.

  36. Debs says:

    I like this article…. It just goes to show that if anyone tries to say or do anything about bad behaviour in a relationship they are a gas lighter….;-)

  37. sam says:

    I have read the info and can relate this to the last 10 years of my life which ended with my soon to be ex husband having me arrested for domestic abuse. as a prison office dealing with sex offenders and 26 years service the term narcissistic manipulator is him and I now look at what he did and why and for what so he looks good to others very sad and it is all.coming crashing down karma

  38. M. says:

    Just today I ended a brief relationship with a man I initially met online, and I’m so glad I was astute enough to “see” him for what he really was, before becoming further involved. Before we ever met in person we talked for hours on the phone. He is a medically retired police officer w/no kids and has been divorced three years after a 15-year marriage. Our commonalities were numerous, and he was very funny, attentive and charming. (Initially) Once we became intimate though, I immediately noticed a change in him. Whenever I’d speak-up about what my relationship needs were or set boundaries, he would get upset, raise his voice and twist everything around on me. I am, by nature, a very strong woman who is down-to-earth and very easy-going, so his yelling and claims of me being “unfair” and making him sound like a “monster,” didn’t just surprise me, they made me take notice immediately. The second week together he came to my house w/a small TV and even went out and bought a brand new DVD player. (I am not a TV watcher & told him I always watched movies on my Mac), but he was insistent about giving me these “gifts.” In reality, he was ingratiating himself to me and was purpously “indebeting” me to him which was so obvious, even Ray Charles could have seen it! Then there was the casual mention about needing a dog sitter for his upcoming trip to Aruba. I saw that one coming as well, and said I’d be happy to do it for $20 a day and meet half way between our places the day before to pick up his dog. There was also mention of a ride to and from the airport, but I stood firm. Later that evening I received a nasty text that “girlfriends shouldn’t charge their boyfriends to dog sit or require meeting half-way to pick-up the dog!” There was a phone conversation later started out friendly enough, but that escalated into me, the woman w/a normal BP of about 100/68, yelling SO loudly at him, my own dog got scared! I told him I wasn’t going to talk anymore and hung-up. I text later in the evening to say I was basically frustrated w/his inability to recognize I deserved respect, should be cherished and appreciated and that if he couldn’t control his temper I would walk away. He text back something smart and then another text about how he was willing to try and work on communication, but yet still managed to throw a twisted, nasty comment in. I text for the last time to thank him for his support in one area of my life and didn’t receive a response until four hours later. He wrote, “I do care for you, M. Very deeply.” But I knew he was full of $%#!, called him and said I was walking away, wished him well, and would drop his TV/DVD player off when I was in the area next. He responded, “So that’s i..?” (He never did get out the word “it,”) as I ended the call immediately as I knew he would have said anything to keep me on the line!! I deleted his text, photos, blocked his #, blocked his email addresses and blocked him on Facebook, too. I am incredibly grateful I had a pretty good understanding of what gas-lighting was. As many have said in articles I’ve read about it, there was always a “nagging feeling something just wasn’t right,” but most recipients just couldn’t put their finger on it. I am convinced he is also a Narcissist or has BPD as he (inevitably) exhibited so many of the symptoms. “Friends” who, when I actually met them, hardly acknowledged him, no social life to speak of, haughtiness and extreme verbosity about his accomplishments as a police officer. He was also sexually aggressive with almost no real tendency toward lovemaking or true intimacy (in addition to a problem w/ED), a possible drinking problem (which he hid when around me), but I strongly suspected, and the list went on. I am very fortunate though, unlike many of you who have taken the time to comment on your own experiences with Gas-Lighting. I spent only a bit more than a month with this man, so reading about 10, 15 and even a 40-year relationship was tough. I recognized his crazy-making early enough to cut loose early. I cannot even fathom what it would have been like to endure this for many years, though. And I have to admit that this is not the first time I’ve met and gotten involved with a Gas-Lighter (possible Narcissist) I’m beginning to think that perhaps my strength, kind demeanor, sense of empathy and compassion are magnets for these kinds of men. And while I believe there’s truly nothing wrong w/me mentally or emotionally, I have to wonder if women like myself are prime targets for men with deep-seeded feelings of self-loathing and a lack of self esteem. It makes sense to me that a Gas-Lighter will feel better about himself just by initially being associated with a confident and strong person just long enough to earn their trust and let their guard down and then do whatever is necessary to drain their supplier to feel better about themselves. I’m no psychologist, but I’d like to know if there’s some correlation. Perhaps if I spoke to a therapist I would be able to pin-down the reason why they’re drawn to me like bees to flowers.
    I’m not so jaded by my negative, albeit, brief experiences with the crazy-makers to take myself out of the dating pool, but I think I need a respite from dating. I’m tired of consuming those “Gas-Lighter” cocktails–a fruity, sweet, tasty drink you initially THINK is awesome, until you discover it’s SO full of the hard, nasty stuff, that you suddenly realize how sick you’ve become by them and find yourself mindlessly staggering into a doctor’s office!
    (Much love and best wishes to all of you who are still struggling. You will eventually be okay because you truly are stronger than you think!)

  39. Anne says:

    Help…… I think I need to escape my relationship ship

  40. Visit the NDVH at http://thehotline.org. Take advantage of their free calls or chats. They’ll set you on the right path. Also, download the safety plan offered at the bottom of the following page: http://goo.gl/7AxCb0

  41. May says:

    Its reassuring to read articles like this. My “abuser” was the one to initiate the divorce because I “bullied” him into not lying on our tax return (of course, that is not how he would explain it). I had simply had enough and wasn’t backing down and next thing I know he’s telling me we’re getting a divorce via text message during lunch with my coworkers. At the same time I had been diagnosed with Lyme’s and a couple other unfortunate illnesses and I truly believe that he divorced me because I wasn’t bringing in enough money. When he said we’re getting a divorce I was so ill I could barely work 15 per week. And we had moved to a new state only 16 months prior that was far away from my family and friends so I had no where to go when he “kicked” me out (it wasn’t until later that I learned I didn’t have to leave the home). Even my own lawyer didn’t believe me about how manipulative he was because he LOOKS like the nice guy who always gets taken advantage of, whereas I was the high flying marketer until I got too sick to work. He has a PhD, and despite working for Fortune100 companies and making major contributions to branding my 6 years of college never got me a degree, therefore everyone assumes he’s the trustworthy one and I’m… Well I’m just not. We’re not officially divorced but yet everything has to be on his terms. I’m a “drama queen” for begging for a good coparenting relationship. He constantly is threatening to take my kids away from me (we share 50/50 custody) and he says things exactly like what you have in this article, yet he’s covert enough about it that no one else will ever see the pattern. I’m dying over the fact my children spend so much time with him. And there’s literally nothing I can do to help them. My youngest recently told me that she cries for me at daddy’s house and he just says, “oh well” and that he’ll bring her to see me but never actually does. My oldest seems completely oblivious to his ways and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. In Virginia, emotional abuse cannot be used as defense in court during divorce proceedings. That’s a load of crap.

  42. David Miller says:

    I read about this.. I have been in therapy for a month now. For 23 years I have been told how every problem thats happened is my fault. At first I busted my ass trying to make her happy.. Church everySunday. Putting my entire family in the back burner for her wants and needs. Feeling like I was at fault.. like I was crazy. Being told I needed to understand her better. She is your wife…
    I know there are a lot of ladies on here who have opened up.. .this happens to guys too

  43. v says:

    Oh so eye opening! Didn’t learn this term until yesterday and have been relentlessly researching it. I honestly didn’t know such a thing existed. I have been battling a gaslighter for a year now, in a relationship for almost 6, but since I decided to fight back/retaliate this past year things have only gotten worse. Perhaps he senses I am on to him and he will not concede or double down, the most stubborn of individuals. He is/was right always, his way or the high way, truly. Truly sadistic! I now tell him when feeling very down and depressed from his antics, do you want that little girl to grow up without a mother, you are trying to destroy me! I am not sure if it falls on deaf ears, reaching him seems impossible.
    The seeds were being planted many years ago to undermine my trust in myself. It seemed innocuous at the time albeit frustrating. One example, “I’m going to kick my daughter’s(his adult daughter from 1st marriage) butt for taking two steak knives.” Me: Why did she take them? ” Oh, they were having a cookout and Lou’s father didn’t have any.” Me: Oh…. A week or so later, I was doing the dishes in the kitchen, putting knives back into the block I innocently asked, “Hey did your daughter ever bring back those knives?” “What?” Me: “The steak knives?” “I don’t know what you are talking about?” Me: “The cookout?” “I never told you anything like that.” Aghast!
    He never “remembered” and I was told to drop it, like so many things over the years.
    It basically came down to I was making the whole thing up, doesn’t know where I get these ideas from, etc. I just couldn’t figure out at the time what the heck was going on. I didn’t see it as something to lie about not saying. I was baffled and confused and things would happen like this here and there, making me doubt my memory. The seeds were being planted, the seeds of self doubt. And here I sit almost 6 years into this abuse and am trying to claw my way out, back to myself former brilliant self, with my two year old daughter in tow. Where will we end up in this life? My tactic to deal with this now, just outright ignoring him, I have to save what sanity I have left. I have to be here,present for my daughter.
    He never comes at me in a yelling, name calling fashion, though we have had shouting matches. His dirty work is far more sinister and covert, it’s done slowly over time, it’s relentless in it’s aim to destroy me, it’s purely evil. Sad! One of his favorite lines is, “I just want peace and harmony.” But the irony is he is the one causing so much tension, upheaval, he’s the puppeteer in all of this, he just doesn’t claim it.

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