Warning Signs of Gaslighting: What Are Some Examples of Gaslighting in a Toxic Relationship? by Dr. Bethany Cook Clinical Psychologist

Warning Signs of Gaslighting: What Are Some Examples of Gaslighting in a Toxic Relationship?

Q. What are some examples of gaslighting in a toxic relationship?

Gaslighting is a form of verbal abuse and mental manipulation that creates so much confusion and feelings of doubt in the intended "victim" that they begin to question their ability to accurately read and interpret what's happening around them. They stop believing in their own experiences, feelings and ability to accurately read their interactions with others (who aren’t gaslighting them) because they are constantly denied accurate reflections of the truth by the abuser.

What gaslighting might sound like:

Refusing to accept responsibility for something even when evidence is presented:

You: “I know you called X at 10:30 p.m. I see it here on the phone bill! AT&T isn’t making sh%t up.”

Them: “Um, companies are notorious for making mistakes on purpose trying to get more money. They are all run by people and people are stupid and mess up all the time. You know this. Who are you going to believe? Me or a stupid corporation that's out to make money and f%ck with people. I told you I didn't call X. I can’t help it if you don’t want to believe me. Why do you want to always pick a fight with me?”

If they get caught red handed, they will twist their behavior to point the fault to you:

You: “My sister saw you out to eat with P the other day. You even waved at her! Don’t try to deny it again!”

Them: “I won’t deny it because this time I was out with P; I wasn’t with them the three other times you thought I was. Look, I’m not the one in medical school. I told you I like going out with people and you’re not around. Don’t blame me. Once you have more time for me/us I will stop hanging out with P so much. I feel like anytime I make time for myself and do things I like, like you tell me, you get upset with me. Are you wanting to breakup?”

Minimizing their behavior/words if you get upset:

Child: “I am going to call the police if you hit me again!!!!”

Parent: “Go ahead and call them. I never hit you. You wanna know what it’s like to be hit? Go ask your grandparents. Better yet, have them show you the belts/wooden spoons they loved to use on me. What I do to you is a gentle reminder. If you get sassy I’ll slap your mouth. It’s called a natural consequence. When you are disrespecting your parents you’re gonna get slapped. Call the police. I know most of them. They will laugh at you because they beat their own kids and without marks. Well, to them that’s not abuse it’s ‘raising a kid right’. Here’s the phone.”

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Great information on something way too common!
I do not think I ever fully understood gaslighting until I read this. Thank you for the info.
Elisa Schmitz
You always shed so much light on issues that many of our community members are challenged by. Thank you for all the insights, Dr. Bethany Cook Clinical Psychologist !

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