Gaslighting: Help For Being Gaslighted

Updated October 5, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Content Warning: This article mentions trauma-related topics which could potentially be triggering. If you or someone you know is or may be experiencing abuse, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, available 24/7, at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) or text "START" to 88788. Live chat is also available on the National Domestic Violence Hotline website

Do you know someone who constantly makes you feel anxious, makes you question your reality, or leaves you feeling like you constantly need to apologize? This could be gaslighting. Continue reading to learn more about gaslighting and the signs of a gaslighter.

Learn How To Identify Signs Of Gaslighting In Your Relationships


This article will cover the origins and signs of gaslighting, gaslighting behavior, how to respond and navigate a gaslighting power dynamic, and information on professional help that you can seek out for additional support if you or a loved one has experienced gaslighting.

Origins Of This Term

The term "gaslighting" comes from a stage play that eventually became a film. The 1944 movie Gaslight tells the story of a wife with a controlling and manipulative husband. In his attempts to control her, he began to manipulate her environment in ways that made her question her judgment and sanity. The husband would dim the gas lights in their home and make them flicker, then would deny that anything was happening when she mentioned it (hence how the term gaslighting came to be). He would tell her she was crazy and that nothing was wrong with them. The emotional trauma she experienced was severe. In the end, the woman found someone who helped her proving that she was not losing her mind and that the events were happening and not her imagination, and she left the marriage. This abuse is not easy to detect. Victims are often so overwhelmed by the abuser’s hurtful behaviors and the self-doubt that it causes that it may take a long time to realize what is happening and to get help.

Understanding Gaslighting Abuse

Gaslighting is the act of manipulating someone using psychological efforts to make them question their sanity. It's a severe form of emotional abuse that often leads the person being gaslit to feel confused and question their memories, thoughts, or events that have happened. If gaslighting behaviors are not stopped, products of this behavior can result in a victim doubting and losing their sense of identity and self-worth.

Being gaslit can occur in any type of relationship, whether in romantic relationships or professional relationships. Being a gaslighter is a common technique used by abusive spouses or intimate partners, narcissists, and people who try to control large groups of people such as cult leaders. We often want to understand the psychology of the person and whether they are acting as a psychopath. The effects of this form of abuse can often be devastating, leaving a mark on your memory.

Gaslighting Symptoms

Gaslighting may take on different forms and often happens in stages. Some of the most common signs of abuse from a gaslighter include:

  • Denial: The abuser denies they said something, even if there is proof of their lie. 
  • Lying: Abusers tell lies and act shocked if you confront them with the truth.
  • Fake praise: Abusers will often use fake praise or acts of appreciation leaving you wondering if they are truly abusive or if you misunderstood. 
  • Projection: This is the act of accusing someone else of your shortcomings or faults. 
  • Manipulation: Abusers are typically master manipulators. One way people try to manipulate through is they attempt to turn friends or loved ones against them. This often leads the victim to isolate from others who may be helpful or supportive. This gives the abuser even more control over a victim’s life.

If you or someone you know is or may be experiencing abuse, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, available 24/7, at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) or text "START" to 88788. Live chat is also available on the National Domestic Violence Hotline website

Abusive Personalities

What makes a person think that it’s okay to manipulate or gaslight someone else and how can you identify them? There are personality traits that can signal to you that a person is gaslighting. Additionally, people can use gaslighting as a manipulation tactic without realizing what they are doing.

It is not uncommon for gaslighting abusers to suffer from their personality and mental health issues. They likely have deep insecurities as well. Gaslighting involves manipulating any situation a person can to make it benefit them in some way and thus ease their emotional pain. 

Gaslighting Causes

A person gaslighting is often fueled by their desire to have control or gain things they want without having to work for those benefits or taking responsibility for their actions. These kinds of individuals may convince themselves that what they are doing to you (being a gaslighter) is for your good and that you should appreciate them. Although their behavior may suggest otherwise, they often feel intense anxiety about the thought of losing you. They may also lack the emotional intelligence and facts to understand that they are a gaslighter and are gaslighting you.

Whether the abuser understands what they're doing or not, being gaslit can be damaging to you if you don’t get help. These individuals don’t want their victims to think for themselves, make decisions or have their friends or other personal relationships outside. 

In Your Relationships

The kind of gaslighting individual who is unfaithful in a relationship may try to convince their partner that they are crazy or imagining things, even if the partner is sure they saw an inappropriate text message or heard a conversation to suggest otherwise. When victims try to address their partner’s gaslighting behavior, the abusing partner may employ tactics to make the victim second-guess what they saw or heard, and will gaslight them into doubting themselves.

In The Workplace

These kinds of individuals at work can cause disruptions in your work performance and hurt your emotional and physical health when you're being gaslit. Experiencing this abusive situation in workplace relationships may cause you to lose focus and have trouble performing your duties. The intense stress can affect your ability to work, as being gaslit is a form of emotional abuse. Keep an eye out for any form of gaslighting in the workplace.

If you or someone you know is or may be experiencing abuse, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, available 24/7, at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) or text "START" to 88788. Live chat is also available on the National Domestic Violence Hotline website

Signs Of Gaslighting

  • They tell you they told you to do a job, but you know they never did.
  • They move things in the work environment and then try to convince you that you moved it yourself or imagined where it originally was.
  • The report you for not doing your job correctly when you know you didn't make the reported mistakes.

Techniques Used

Gaslighting people tend to use specific techniques. These can include:

  • Countering: Telling you that you remember something incorrectly, attempting to create a power struggle and make you doubt yourself.
  • Trivializing: Making you feel like your thoughts and feelings don't matter, or that you’re being overly sensitive.
  • Withholding: Keeping money or affection from you.
  • Stonewalling: Refusing to listen or engage with you in conversation.
  • Blocking: Changing the subject.
  • Diverting: Questioning the validity of your thoughts.
  • Forgetting: Pretending to forget things that happened.
  • Denying: Telling you something never happened.
  • Faking compassion: Telling you they're doing something harmful for your good.

Thoughts, Feelings, And Behaviors

When experiencing this kind of abuse - your thoughts, feelings, and actions may change dramatically. It might be challenging to name this gaslighting. You might experience isolation and a decrease in self-esteem. While you once may have felt confident or self-assured, you may now feel like you can't trust your mind, bringing lots of confusion to your life. Experiences like this can damage your perception of yourself. Take some time to think about how your thoughts toward yourself or others may have changed since being in a relationship with this kind of individual.

How To Handle Gaslighting And Abuse

If you have been gaslit, it’s important to understand that this is abuse. It is an emotional abuse tactic that can leave you feeling unsure about yourself, others, and life in general. If those experiencing this kind of abuse do not get help, it can have a long-lasting effect on both mental and physical well-being.

If you are in a relationship with someone who is manipulating or abusing you, it may be best to end the relationship and seek an outside perspective through counseling to help you deal with the emotional trauma. While the option that may seem obvious to others is to leave the relationship immediately, if you are married to or live with this kind of individual, you may not feel like you can leave right away.

Keep a journal of everything that happens, a sort of narrative of your life. Write down your thoughts and feelings to cultivate great emotional awareness and build trust in yourself. This process, of translating your thoughts to words, can be healing, too. If possible, find a trusted friend or family that you can confide in to discuss your concerns. Online therapy has also been proven to reduce symptoms caused by trauma.

Read the study here:

A therapist-assisted cognitive behavior therapy internet intervention for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Pre-, post-, and 3-month follow-up results from an open trial.

Working with someone who uses gaslighting can make you feel like you don’t even want to go to work. What seems like their constant insults or questions regarding your work performance or abilities can make a day at work feel like a year. A lot of people experience this. Remember, many of these types of individuals use tactics of manipulation to make you question yourself which makes them appear the “better person” in their minds.

As with a personal relationship with this kind of individual, you should set boundaries and if the individual crosses those boundaries, it’s okay to ask for help from a supervisor or other authority figure.

Get Help

At first, it may be difficult to understand what gaslighting can do to you emotionally or to your relationships. When a relationship is just beginning, you may not realize that you are being manipulated or abused. In addition, perceptions of gaslighting will vary from person to person.

If you or someone you know is or may be experiencing abuse, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, available 24/7, at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) or text "START" to 88788. Live chat is also available on the National Domestic Violence Hotline website

Establishing relationships with friends or family who can encourage you as you learn to deal with and overcome this form of abuse is important. Talking to a counselor or mental health professional can also be very helpful as it allows you to express your thoughts and feelings with someone who has an objective view. They're also there to help with additional mental health challenges, like depression, anxiety, or paranoia. They can help you unpack the thoughts in your head. And they're available to help you learn ways to cope with your emotions and to begin rebuilding your self-confidence and esteem.

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Learn How To Identify Signs Of Gaslighting In Your Relationships

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Gaslighting can be one of the most painful abusive behaviors to be subject to. The good news is, if you are willing to reach out, you can make yourself a better life beyond being gaslit. With the counselor's support, you can regain the self-confidence that the individual took away from you. They'll be able to look at your specific case and evaluate how this behavior is affecting your world. Through this open discussion, you can learn to love who you are, gain helpful tips for when you experience gaslighting, trust your sanity, and set your sights on a happier life - take the first step away from a gaslighter today.

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