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Originally, the word gaslighting came from a British stage play in 1938 called Gas Light. In the film, a husband pushes his wife to near insanity by convincing her that she is a kleptomaniac.

Put in simple terms, gaslighting is the act of making someone doubt their own reality, causing them to feel crazy. Oftentimes, narcissists and sociopaths do this to their victims in order to gain the upper hand. For example, a wife may constantly emotionally abuse her husband. However, to continue to be able to do this, she also makes him doubt his own reality. “I didn’t say that to you, you must be losing your mind.” She tells him. As time goes on, he truly believes he must be hearing things.

In many ways, gaslighting is mental torture. And over time, it can end up making the person who is experiencing the gaslighting end up in psychosis. If you believe you are being gaslit here are the signs and what to do to handle it.

1. The person you believe is gaslighting you is a notorious liar.

Gaslighters are liars. They lie about everything and to everyone. When you notice that this person is constantly working to make you doubt yourself, and they are also a liar, it’s likely you are being gaslit.

2. They constantly work to discredit you.

When you tell your account of things, even when it’s something simple, like explaining how your day was, this person will work to discredit you. They may say something like, “No, you didn’t walk the dog as soon as you got up. You went for a jog first, are you losing it?” As this goes on, they will begin moving from smaller things like how your day went, to major things, like their abuse. Their goal is to make you feel crazy.

3. This person is always calling your perceptions into question.

When you express concerns to this person, they may laugh at you or call you “too sensitive.” For example, you may say, “The way you acted earlier really hurt my feelings.” And their response will be, “Sometimes you take things too seriously, there’s no way what I did was hurtful.”

4. You are always apologizing.

You find that you always feel the need to apologize, even when you didn’t do anything wrong. Even worse, is that while in one moment you may realize you have done no wrong, in the next you begin to doubt yourself because everything gets turned around on you.

5. You feel disconnected from your sense of self.

Since being with this person or around them, you have started to feel disconnected from your true self. You are so lost in their perception of you, that you no longer know who you are anymore.

6. You are starting to believe you really are crazy.

Over time, gaslighting can cause you to truly feel crazy. At first, it will likely be subtle, but the longer it goes on, the more it can weigh on your psyche. Many people who experience gaslighting for a long period of time end up with higher levels of anxiety and in some cases, even psychosis.

7. You feel the need to protect your abuser.

When someone says something about the abuse you are enduring, you may feel the need to defend them. For example, someone may notice how they talk to you, and tell you, “If you need to talk about anything, let me know, I am here for you.” And in turn, you immediately respond and say, “They really aren’t all that bad. They love me and want the best for me.” However, deep down, you wonder if that is true.

Tips to get away from a gaslighter.

1. Enlist the help of your support system.

It isn’t always easy to get away from a gaslighter. When you realize what is going on and decide you want to get away, a great first step is talking to others who are close to you and that love you. Explain your situation to them, and enlist their support.

2. Journal what is happening.

As long as you are still with them, begin a journal where you write down your experiences. Write down each day’s activities and interactions with them in detail. When this person starts making you doubt your own reality, look back at your journal for comparison.

3. Take your power back.

Part of what empowers a gaslighter is our reactions to them. When you notice them trying to make you feel crazy, don’t react. If you are unable to respond without getting emotional, walk away. Don’t give them any more power than you already have.

4. Come up with a way out.

If you seriously want to go, make a plan to get everything you own, and part ways. If it’s possible, make a no contact rule, and once you are done, cut contact with them for good. If need be, bring your support system with you when you break up, if you feel as though they may try to harm you.