Gaslighting is a common form of emotional abuse. If you are a victim of gaslighting in your marriage, your spouse will use lies and manipulation to assert control over your life. Over time, these behaviors cause you to lose confidence and self-esteem.
Medical News Today explains a few of the key points of gaslighting. Understanding how it occurs is the first step to getting help and getting out of the relationship if necessary.
Elements of gaslighting
Abusers often trivialize others’ feeling in an attempt to deflect blame from themselves. They will also question your ability to remember things that have occurred in the past, which prevents you from addressing legitimate problems in your relationship. Sometimes, the abuser will deny wrongdoing outright. They may also shift focus from the subject at hand to avoid talking about it.
How to identify it in your relationship
It is often difficult to detect abusive behaviors in your own relationship. You may feel confused or anxious, which is a product of constant abuse. You may also find it harder to make decisions on your own. Other signs of gaslighting include frequent apologies, even when you are not in the wrong, lying to others to hide the abusive behaviors, avoiding things you used to love doing, and wondering if you are too sensitive.
What you can do
It is possible for some relationships to mended after gaslighting has occurred. However, in many cases, the victim chooses to leave their spouse when the abusive behaviors continue. If so, compiling evidence of abuse is sometimes helpful. For example, taking note of abusive behaviors, including date and time they occurred, can be beneficial. You may also consider visiting a counselor or therapist. Emotional and psychological abuse takes a toll, even after you have left the relationship, and a therapist can help you cope with the past.