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Gaslighting is a manipulation tactic used by abusers to control their victims. Gaslighting is when someone works to make you doubt your version of reality because if they can convince you that you are crazy, they can get you to do or think whatever they want you to.

To someone who has never been gaslit before, the concept may sound crazy. It is pretty crazy when you think about it, but it does happen. A lot of times, it can be done by your partner, but abusive parents are even guilty of it. I would barter that the gaslighting and abuse that starts with your parents is what sets most people up to end up in abusive relationships later on.

A lot of times, when we grow up in abusive situations as children, we don’t often accept it for what it is, because they are our parents, and we want to believe they have our best intentions in mind. The sad reality is that isn’t always the case. But, as we get older, we can see our childhood from a new perspective and I think that can be beneficial. Here are 6 gaslighting phrases abusive parents use.

1. That isn’t what happened, you are being too sensitive.

When you recall something that happened that your parent doesn’t want you repeating, they will rebut it with a phrase like this. To them, it’s outrageous that you would be emotionally hurt or offended at how they have treated you poorly in the past. And to downplay what has happened, they will call you too sensitive.

2. You don’t know what you like, here let me see that.

A gaslighting parent wants you to feel dependent on them. When they see you taking control over your life and making choices of their own, they are likely to try to step in. One way in which they can do this is to make you feel like you don’t know what you want or how you feel. You need them to do that for you.

3. You must have dreamed it.

Whenever you bring up past abusive acts, they completely refuse to acknowledge it. Instead, they will flat out say it didn’t and that you must have made it up or dreamed it up.

4. There you go again, making things up.

In the same vein as ‘you must have dreamed it,’ accusing you of making things up makes you appear to be crazy or like a liar. When your credibility is diminished, you are far easier to control.

5. Don’t be silly, that never happened.

It can be very disheartening to try to bring something up, in hopes that they will recognize it and take responsibility for it, only to be shut down. “That never happened, don’t be silly,” is a double whammy, because not only are they denying it outright, but they are also saying you are silly for even saying it out loud.

6. Now, why did you make me do that?

Perhaps the biggest gaslight is when someone makes you feel as though you are responsible for their bad behavior. An abusive parent may blame you for them losing control and abusing you. If you even so much as looked at them incorrectly, you are to blame for them abusing you.