gaslighting

In the final scenes of, The Girl on the Train, we find out Rachel (played by Emily Blunt) isn’t the pathetic, raging drunk she was initially depicted as. It’s revealed that her alcoholism is a direct result of her husband, Tom’s (played by Justin Theroux) manipulation both during and after their marriage. He repeatedly pressured her to drink excessively and then planted false memories the next day.

 
Tom was gaslighting Rachel.

As defined by The National Domestic Violence Hotline: Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse in which a partner causes the victim to question their own feelings, instincts, and sanity.

The term “gaslighting” has been used quite a bit in reference to strategic tactics used during the most recent US presidential campaign. This is when a candidate claimed something had (or hadn’t) happened and when confronted with contradictory evidence, refused to acknowledge otherwise.

The term originally became popularized from a 1938 film of the same name, starring Ingrid Bergman who is slowly being driven to doubt her own reality because her husband intentionally lied to gain control over her so repeatedly and with so much confidence that she begins to doubt her own sanity. And, in this film like in real life, a bit of Stockholm Syndrome can develop as well: The victim, now uncertain that she can perceive reality correctly, becomes more dependent on the gaslighter than ever.

Unfortunately, gaslighting is not reserved for movie plotlines or the political campaign trail, it is a form of psychological abuse that happens everyday in real relationships.

Sometimes the gaslighter is doing it intentionally to gain control and power over their victim and sometimes they have the belief that their reality can and should overwrite their partners. Either way, if you are in a relationship that has you questioning your own memory, perception and even your sanity this week’s video/blog/podcast are for you.

In this Real Love Revolution video all about gaslighting, I will cover:

  • The definition of gaslighting
  • How to know when you are being gaslighted
  • Stages of being on the receiving end of gaslighting
  • How to accept this reality so you can change it

 
A few indications that you might be a victim of gaslighting are constantly second-guessing yourself, feeling confused about what did and did not occur, not telling other people in your life about the conflict in your relationship, constantly apologizing and despite having many positive things in your life, feeling unhappy or depressed.

Click here to download the full Checklist: Signs You Are Being Gaslighted now to understand if this is happening to you.

If this blog describes your situation, please don’t give up. The first step is to understand that it’s happening. In next week’s follow up video, I’m going to help you figure out what your 50% is of this dysfunctional behavioral dance is and how to draw boundaries in your relationship around gaslighting. This kind of manipulation is not love.

Drop me a comment here on the blog and let me know what resonated with you after watching this video. Then head over to my YouTube Channel and SUBSCRIBE for free access to every Real Love Revolution video! Join the conversation with #RealLoveRevolution on social media and share the love!

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Thanks for watching, reading, and sharing!
And as always, take care of YOU.

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  1. This brilliant article has well said that about political gaslighting and it can be also helpful for my friends because they were saying about the gaslighting issues a few days ago. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hi Terri
    I’m aware many of your subscribers are women, however, I am an exception. I don’t even know where to start. I’ve been looking at my situation from different perspectives and made every attempt at trying to figure out if my wife is right or I’m really a bad partner. For years I have contended with my relationship reality. It truly is a lonely feeling. And quite frankly if it wasn’t for my beautiful loving children, I wouldn’t be in a healthy place at all. They hold me to some degree of sanity. Meanwhile, I have rearranged everything I do to be the least confrontational expectation based on prior experiences. Notice I said least. Everything is a battle. Everything is a “wrong doing”. From how I bathed my child to going to a concert for one of the other kids to when I mow the grass. And I’m not exaggerating. I can do NO right. I have been through a lot in my life and those experiences give me the strength to move on. I find myself sacrificing my own wellbeing so the kids don’t take the wrath and receive any emotional or verbal abuse. Commonly, I say to myself, “I can take it, they are far less deserving.”. I am a veteran. I have had many tough hurdles to become an architectural designer. I have a great job. I love being a father. I don’t do drugs. I have a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. I guess what I’m saying is, WE ALL SHOULD BE HAPPY AND THANKFUL. But, I’m not. The kids are Leary of some of the normal things kids shouldn’t have to worry about. Even just going to the bathroom they are critized by her as if they have no right to use the bathroom Andhave our 2 year old boy that is also involved. I’ve reached out to family for support. I’ve tried friends. They say they are there if I need anything or to talk to, but it’s distanced “support”. It’s my word against hers kinda things. Two sides of the story I hear people say. I hear her telling her friends and family how big of a price of sh1t I am and allow it to happen, not wanting to argue, I let it go. I dwell on, ‘is she right?’. ‘is she recruiting people to hate me?’. ‘am I doing that by talking to my friends and family?’ I’m stressing SEVERLY over divorce and what would happen to my baby boy. To complicate this further, I have 2 beautiful children from previous relationship. And she has a boy (17 year old) from a previous. They are feeling the effects of all of this. My other kids mother and I are great coparents. I am even friends with her fiancee be he’s actually a great guy(also a veteran) and he is GREAT with my kids But the gaslighter (my wife), does not like it and feels threatened. Insecure. And verbally lashes out on me and says extremely vulgar things. Your video explaining gas lighting made me shed some tears when you described how it feels. I am a loving person. I typically do a lot for others. Especially my kids. I don’t know what to do. I feel so stuck. And afraid. Her other child, the teenager, hasn’t seen his father since he was 9. I been in his life for 5 years now. I have figured out his father may not come around due to how she is. Not Because he doesn’t care about his son. She threatens me all the time she will get full custody because they always side with the mo and I will be lucky if I see my little buddy ever other weekend, and it scares me to death she’s right. My kids are all I want. I want them to be happy. And I think the more they are around someone so poisonous and toxic, it’s going to drive them away from me. I care about all my kids. All 4 of them. That includes the teenager that isn’t mine and has no father figure. I have bent over backwards for all of them especially my wife. I get nothing in return. I expect only love and respect. Feels as if I’m living in a twilight zone. Stuck. And paralyzed.

    1. Mike,
      I am so sorry to hear about your painful situation. You are not crazy AND what you are feeling is valid and real. If you have not sought therapy please do. You need to uncover, unpack and understand why you have stayed in this situation and where you learned that love is painful and one-sided. A good therapist can help you make a plan to either make it better by getting into therapy with your wife if she is willing or make an exit plan. You have a legal right to see your children- she is bullying you using your love for your kids and threatening to take them away. So unfair. I am sending you strength and protection to do what you need to do to save yourself and your kids. Good luck.

  3. It is so good to have more insight. I feel that this knowlege is helping me as I start to rebuild my trust with in myself. I was blessed to have tenacity so I’m not giving up…although the pain has been so great I have considered it. I built a family with some one I love that was mentally unhealthy and we have suffered a great deal. I was so hasty and saw the signs but I was in a sunken place when we meet. I often feel guilty and the feelings of confusion seem to occupy so much of my thoughts. I want to move forward in a healthy balanced way and get my confidence back. I want to build the best life for my children. I want to manifest my dreams, and I’ve been holding and hiding the pain for so long. The path to freedom is within reach, i know it! I just cant seem to find it and maintain it in this toxic space and energy thats left behind. Ive only stayed because there has been some remorse at times and I need his support currently with our young children. He’s so mean and manipulative at times and then dials back into the charm. Im over the apologizies and dont honestly believe he can change. This cant continue on. I just want to find my out, but I’ve got to find the strenght within me first. Thank you so much for your message. I love you all and find gems of inspiration from whats been shared here. Its nice to have a safe place to release and ease out some of my jumbled emotions. I send my love and well wishes for everyone who is suffering silently.

    1. Thank you for sharing here with us. I am happy to hear you are not giving up and do understand how complicated getting out can be especially with small kids. Slowly but surely make your plan and continue to work on yourself and you will make it happen. You and your children deserve a happy, joyful, safe life. I am holding space for you and sending strength!

  4. I experienced this for 6 years. It has been absolutely devastating. Slowly but surely I began to feel as though I was losing my mind. She kept telling me how horrible my memory was. Even making fun of me about it and bringing my kids in on the joke. I began to question everything about myself. Lost completely any sense of self, spirit, wholeness. If you see the signs early on please run. These individuals will never see fault in themselves. They are incapable of doing it. It will ALWAYS be your fault. Everything. It is truly the most damaging things I have ever experienced and I have far from recovered from it. Just trying to pick up the pieces. I also slowly began to be convinced she was right. She must be. There must be something wrong with me.

    1. I am so sorry to hear about your painful experience. Truthfully, besides being trusting, her gaslighting you does not indicate that anything is WRONG with you. Learn from your experience and slowly but surely heal your wounds. You don’t deserve that crap, my friend. I am holding space for your healing. Thank you for sharing here with us.

  5. Wow!!! I have been having sich a hard time with depression and you actually described exactly what i said to my theapist a few weeks ago. I dont get it I used to be such a happy fun person I just want to be that person again. The harder I try the worse it gets.
    Today was a wakeup when he again said that I dont coom I need to make dinner instead of just pizza pockets … Ive worked the past 2 days all day leavimg at 8 am returning at 6 je has not Friday I made pizza pops as a snack amd offered him one. Thursday I mad chicke. Pot Pie and on wednesday I made a full Prime Rib Roast Dinner ! Be he is the one tjat always cooks amd I do nothing im just entitled.
    Thank you for helping me to see what is happening I pray there is a solution cause I am so stuck since I cant leave the house with out this happening. Which has resulted in my barely working

    1. Brittany,
      thank you for sharing here with us. I hope that you will take some of what you have realized to change your situation. You don’t deserve that behavior and you are the one who has to change it (the other person will be happy to continue in the way, most likely) I am witnessing you with compassion and sending you strength and courage to choose you. xo

  6. I was gaslighted for years. The more I caught on the worse it got. The more he drank too. I have always had an extremely strong mind, an started writing things down when a heated moment arose. So I knew I wast crazy. He convinced me and his family for years that I was doing things I knew I wasn’t. He also said I was bipolar and would often put me down in front of the kids. One time he threw a beer bottle on the wall and said I did it. Leaving the dripping watermarks on the wall. Later my kids told me they saw daddy do it.

    One day he hurt our son on accident while he was drunk. Then he threw our 8 year old son to the bed he shouted I was hurting him. I didn’t hurt you. (all while my son is holding is arm and back in tears of pain.) I guess I am a F’N lair, he said. My 13 year old little girl was there to witness it. That was it for me. I at that moment realized he was doing it to our children too. I thought I could protect them and I couldn’t. I filed a PPO and left him the next day. Now he is telling the court I am crazy. But my kids are now striving without him in our life. They actually talk and we laugh and play games. Soon the date will come around where I will need to prove the things he did so he cant gain control and hurt our children again. How do I prove to the court that this man is dangerous and is an emotional abuser.

    1. Sorry to hear of your struggle, Shannon but good for you for getting out! Document everything that happens in writing. Make no verbal agreements at all – do as much with your ex over email or text so you will have evidence of any wrong doing. So good to hear your kids are doing better now. Keep up the good work and don’t let him push your buttons. You can do it!

    2. I want you to know that gaslighting is a very dangerous form of abuse. You can read about it Google. I am proud of you that you got the PPO. My mother never did that. It took a lot of inner strength and courage. Talk to an attorney and a therapist who understands the malignant narcissist disorder. Your reaction to his gaslighting was completely normal. You tried to save you sense of self, it was quite intelligent of you to write it down, to self validate yourself, they make you second guess yourself. It will come back to you, the strength within yourself, you are definately not crazy my friend you are quite normal. That is just what he wanted you to believe. He said the same things to you many of them say, that you are bi polar and crazy. The therapist can help you to learn how to keep safe from him. That behavior of the malignant narcissist is used by the FBI, it is said to be the most dangerous form of interrogation, because it breaks down the victims sense of them self their inner trust of what is really real. Be strong within yourself and know that you have the power within you.. I want to add to your self validation that they do do this to you and I have gone No Contact and I realize in your situation it may have to be absolute minimal contact, do see a social worker who can help you with the decision you have to make and they I am sure can tell you what they can do to help you in your court case and they will give you the support you need and the information.

      1. Hi Brittnee,
        Thank you so much for sharing this. Gaslighting is absolutely a form of abuse and a very sneaky one that is (by definition) difficult to recognize). I’m holding space for you with so much compassion ❤️

    1. Thank u its taken me so many years to figure this out I’ve lost myself my happiness and my worth but I’m glad I’ve found out when I was told it wasn’t all about it it was true it not it was about them.I change every part of myself I believed I was crazy.Now its time to come back were I am happy not perfect but happy.I hope and pray I’m not to far gone to feel I can trust my own thoughts again.thank for your YouTube video .my eyes have opened to this at least .

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