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It's emotional abuse


You may have heard the term gaslighting before or seen social media posts and reels discussing what it means and how it can manifest itself in different types of relationships - be that romantic, familiar or within friendships or work environments. Whilst it is a colloquialism that has become much more frequently used over recent years, the term actually originates from the title of the 1944 film Gaslight.

Gaslighting can take many forms but can generally be described as manipulating someone into questioning their own perception of reality. It is a specific form of emotional abuse and is a deliberate act of deception – wilfully misleading and manipulating an individual into believing they are wrong or not seeing things clearly. It causes people to doubt their own sanity, giving more influence and power to the abuser.

Gaslighting is usually a recurrent pattern of behaviour that undermines an individual’s ability to criticise, challenge or question the other person. It can make you question yourself, what’s real and what’s not and it can make you feel that your behaviour is the issue; that you are the one at fault.


So what are the signs?


In any kind of relationship there will be times where you disagree and this can also occasionally lead to arguments. Conversations may get heated; voices may be raised – differences of opinion are normal. As we have already said, gaslighting can take various guises, however one thing is always consistent – the behaviour is always intentional.

Whilst hearing the following statements once or twice may not mean you are being gaslighted, hearing one or more of these things multiple times, on a recurrent basis could indicate someone is gaslighting you:

Examples of gaslighting speech and phrases


You may also feel or experience the following:

Examples of gaslighting speech and phrases


What to do if you think you are being gaslighted?


Relate are the largest provider of relationship support in England and Wales and their website gives the following advice to deal with gaslighting:

If you are in a relationship where you fear the other persons reactions, their behaviour makes you feel unsafe and you are anxious or frightened about challenging their behaviour or control over you, you should seriously consider ending the relationship in a safe and swift way. This can be easier said than done – there are numerous reasons why people may remain in an abusive relationship. These organisations can support you with information on how you can leave safely.

The National Domestic Abuse helpline: www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk; 0808 200 0247 (open 24 hrs/day, every day).

Men's Advice Line: www.mensadviceline.org.uk; 0808 801 0327 : Monday – Friday 10am – 8pm.

Galop: National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse helpline : 0800 999 5428 : Monday – Friday 10am – 5pm.

More information on what gaslighting is and how to access help:

Visit the Relate website


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