What is Gaslighting? How to Know if You Are Being Gaslighted

I learned something the other day – again.  Until recently I had heard the term “gaslighting” before, but to be honest I didn’t really know what it meant.  I came across the term being bantered about in a forum and decided to find out just exactly “What is gaslighting.”

So What is Gaslighting?

Wikipedia defines gaslighting as the following:

“Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making a victim doubt his or her own memory and perception. It may simply be the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, or it could be the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.

The term “gaslighting” comes from the play Gas Light and its film adaptations. In those works a character uses a variety of tricks to convince his spouse that she is crazy, so that she won’t be believed when she reports strange things that are genuinely occurring, including the dimming of the gas lamps in the house (which happens when her husband turns on the normally unused gas lamps in the attic to conduct clandestine activities there). Since then, it has become a colloquial expression that is now also used in clinical and research literature.”

what is gaslighting

Gaslighting can occur in all different types of relationships, but just exactly what is gaslighting?

Gaslighting can occur in all different types of relationships – at the office, in our friendships, between parents and children, and, between siblings.

After some further research on the subject I realized that I was a gaslighter.  I wouldn’t say that I was an extreme gaslighter, but to some extent I was prior to the affair and certainly I was while it was going on.

Though I couldn’t find anything that would indicate that all cheaters are gaslighters, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if you are a cheater, then you probably are one to some degree.  If you are the betrayed then chances are your spouse gaslighted you at some point. Perhaps this occurred prior to the affair, but most assuredly it happened after you suspected or discovered the affair.

For instance, I would sometimes tell Linda that she was crazy or that she must be imagining things.  That’s gaslighting.  When confronted by Linda about my past flirtatious behaviors, I would say something like “You’re imagining it” or “You’re overreacting.”  That’s gaslighting.  When a cheater tells his/her spouse to “Just get over it already.”  That’s gaslighting.  When the cheater tells his/her spouse that “We’re just friends.”  That’s gaslighting.

Gaslighters are masters at convincing you that your reality isn’t…real. They believe that their perception is reality and that yours is crazy. Can you relate to this?

Gaslighting is different from denial.  Rather, it turns the denial into an attack on the person’s ability to be in touch with reality. Gaslighting turns suspicions that the betrayed spouse has which are often valid into an attack on their sanity.  As a result you begin to question what you know are the facts and wonder if you even know what’s real anymore or if you ever did. It’s a form of mental abuse and manages to deflect the situation away from the cheater and back on you.

In the book by Robin Stern,“The Gaslight Effect: Don’t Be Afraid To Speak Your Truth” she says that:

“Gaslighting is the systematic attempt by one person to erode another’s reality. This is done by telling them that what they are experiencing isn’t so – and, the gradual giving up on the part of the other person.”

Stern goes on to say that it typically takes two people to gaslight: one person (usually a man) who needs to be in control to maintain his/her sense of self; the other, who needs the relationship to maintain his/her sense of self and because of this, he/she gives in repeatedly.

How Do you Know if You Are Being Gaslighted?

In an article in Psychology Today , Ms Stern offers the following warning signs:

  1. You are constantly second-guessing yourself.
  2. You ask yourself, “Am I too sensitive?” a dozen times a day.
  3. You often feel confused and even crazy at work.
  4. You’re always apologizing to your mother, father, boyfriend, boss.
  5. You can’t understand why, with so many apparently good things in your life, you aren’t happier.
  6. You frequently make excuses for your spouse’s behavior to friends and family.
  7. You find yourself withholding information from friends and family so you don’t have to explain or make excuses.
  8. You know something is terribly wrong, but you can never quite express what it is, even to yourself.
  9. You start lying to avoid the put downs and reality twists.
  10. You have trouble making simple decisions.
  11. You have the sense that you used to be a very different person – more confident, more fun-loving, more relaxed.
  12. You feel hopeless and joyless.
  13. You feel as though you can’t do anything right.
  14. You wonder if you are a “good enough” girlfriend/ wife/employee/friend/daughter.
  15. You find yourself withholding information from friends and family so you don’t have to explain or make excuses.

Hopefully this opens your eyes to gaslighting or at least answers some questions about what is gaslighting.  Believe it or not, there is hope if you are a victim. Stern says that the good news is that “…once you can identify and name the Gaslight Effect, you are empowered to recognize it and heal your relationship — or change it! Then you can reclaim your reality and, along with it, your self-esteem and your life.”

 Here’s a  link to another  good article to read on the subject from the Huffington Post.

 

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40 Responses to What is Gaslighting? How to Know if You Are Being Gaslighted

  1. rachel March 15, 2012 at 7:16 am #

    Yup, this is me too!! My husband constantly tells me that I’m crazy. When he flirts, he just comes back with a comment that he’s a friendly guy!
    Again, Doug this web site is wonderful!!

  2. battleborn March 15, 2012 at 7:45 am #

    This is so insightful! Unfortunately for those of us who have been diagnosed as bipolar and having depression even prior to the affair already go through these questions/feelings on a daily basis. Gaslighting from our CS makes our “condition” much worse. I continually believe I am losing my mind based solely on my CS telling me I said something that I know I didn’t. Well, this post gives me hope that I am not losing my mind, it’s him who lost his by having the affair.

    • Andrea July 12, 2016 at 7:06 pm #

      I was thinking the same thing! Unfortunately with depression and anxiety some of these thoughts are already present. But gaslighting makes it even worse.

  3. Emotionally Confused March 15, 2012 at 11:17 am #

    Doug, I am so glad that you have found a term for this condition! I had about every warning sign. Until therapy and my husband leaving our home, I actually thought I was going crazy!! This is why i asked my husband to leave our home. Once he left, and I wasn’t faced with the gaslighting every day (only when I saw him) I was able to slowly build my sanity and mental health back up. As I always second guess myself if it was a good decision to ask him to leave (because he ended up in a sexual relationship with his AP after) I now know that nothing is more important than strong mental health for yourself. I just often would wonder why I could not get myself together when he was living at home and I could without him there. I now have my answer. Thank you!

  4. Dave March 15, 2012 at 11:44 am #

    For years my wife denied her affair even though I caught her walking out of the OM’s apartment with him in tow. When I tried to get the truth, she’d attack me. She kept this up for years. Eventually, I doubted everything that I believed and withdrew from everyone. I didn’t know who I could trust and ended up letting in other people who were “master manipulators” that hurt me again. The combination put me in therapy and on meds for years. Just as I was finally feeling mentally healthy and off everything, her affair came up again this New Years eve. I don’t know why it came up, why I asked, or why she finally admitted the truth – but it was far worse than just an EA.

    The first time around it took years to heal, especially with her continuing the lies and attacks. Now I really feel broken, because I saw the truth but convinced myself that I was crazy. With the truth SLOWLY leaking out over the last few months, I do not know what is real and what isn’t. To make matters worse, if they could be, I don’t believe the “revelations” are over. My entire being has been shaken to its very core. I don’t feel that I even know who I am or who I was. I’m back in therapy and back on the meds, withdrawn from everyone, and feeling like a failure. I truly doubt my capability as an employee, a husband, a lover and friend…as a person. I am starting to believe I will never feel normal again.

    • Anita March 15, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

      Dave,
      I recommend you talk with a pastor, he will help you
      get set up to go in the right direction.
      When you learn who you are in Christ, you will have a
      good solid foundation.
      Of course your a good employee, and husband, a lover,
      friend and ect…
      Your wife’s past should not determine who you are, her
      past belongs to her, this is her responsibility to overcome
      her past. You are only responsible to you.
      Whatever new information that comes to light, you do
      not internalize this. This is her past. Forgive her and
      don’t dwell in it.
      Who you are, should not be based around someone elses
      behavior.
      What does God say about you, I know he doesn’t say
      your worth and value are based on how your wife has
      treated you.
      Instead your worth and value come from him, so do not
      allow yourself to think any different.
      My Best to you!

      • Dave March 15, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

        Thank you for the kind words. I don’t have a pastor since I’m not a religious person, but I am working with a very good therapist who has already helped. He has been doing this for 40 years and we are both working with him. He is a good man and we both trust him, so in a sense he fills the role of a pastor – just at $150 per hour. (a little levity to lighten the mood)

        He told me in a one-on-one session that it seems that my wife is starting to get it. He will be helping her discover her own issues and help her to work through them so that she can fully work on her behavior and accept what she has done and why.

        If she can do that and stop the lies, projection, and stonewalling, we might have a chance and I will definitely feel much better. I also know that whether she does these things or not, at some point I have to stop owning her issues, stop letting them affect me, and someday forgive her.

        • Anita March 15, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

          Dave,
          You are not responsible for her issues, they belong to her.
          By forgiving her, its for you, it takes away the poison that you causes you so much pain.
          If she changes or not, should not effect who you are as a
          person. “For God hast not given us the spirit of fear, but
          of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1 vs7.
          Dave you are only responsible for you. It doesn’t matter
          what others say or do. Their actions do not determine
          who we are.

    • Joe March 16, 2012 at 10:31 pm #

      Dave,
      I feel for you man. There aren’t many husbands on here with CS wives. My wife continues her relationship with him and lies about it. We are completely separated, but still the affair was realized while we were still sleeping together and she still can’t acknowledge it. Which gives me encouragement that she hasn’t reached that stage yet and we still have hope after her awakening.
      Has she shown any remorse or concern for your hurt? Do you have kids?
      I am always looking to learn from and share more with BS husbands.

    • Holdingon May 29, 2016 at 6:41 am #

      I’m just now starting on the same journey you describe, my wife will tell me nothing. After reading this I may get out before I get hit another blow, don’t think I can take another and I know if she ever decides to tell the truth I’m going to get slammed. Wish she could just have been honest from the start.

  5. Margie March 15, 2012 at 11:58 am #

    Hi Doug, I read an article not long ago about “gaslighting”. I printed it off and showed it to my mother-in-law who knows her son very well. She and I looked at each other and it’s like a light bulb went off. It described my husband and who he really is. This has not only been displayed through our marriage but throughout his childhood to adolescence. So, needless to say, he’s a pro. It’s amazing to how your mind opens up to all the truths once you start going back in time and tracing the pieces of the puzzles which are now falling into place, with everything making “sense” to, opposite to what you were made to believe. In my case, gaslighting didn’t just happen with the affair, it played a part throughout our marriage and it’s now that I see it all and what I was blind to. It’s a mind game. You know, the saying goes, trust your “instinct”….and follow through with it. When I read the definition and how it connected to my husband, it opened up my mind to “boundaries”.

  6. Lynne March 15, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

    I can’t tell you how ironically timely this post is for me. After doing a lot of research, and from working closely with my online marriage coach (thanks “Notoverit”!), I have come to the discovery that my H is the KING of Gaslighters! Talk about knowledge being power!!!

    Throughout our relationship, and during our post D-day discovery conversations, my H has “gaslighted” his way through any and all discussions that have centered around his poor behaviors. His go to responses have been “I never said that”, “I would never do that”, “that is not who I am”, “you know me, I’m honest, trustworthy and loyal”. Even in the face of specific evidence, he would say the things that were being presented “did not happen”. He would also say that he couldn’t remember any of these things, but then would proceed to tell me alternate stories of “what really happened”. This ended up working for him for a awhile, as we would get so far off track that I would give up the conversation, which is exactly what the gaslighter is trying to accomplish. At the time, I called these conversations “crazymaking”, as I did not yet know the term “gaslighting”. The only time I was ever able to head these off at the pass was to say “okay, well let’s go look at your computer” or “lets look back at your phone bill during this timeframe”. This would stop him dead in his tracks because it wouldn’t allow him to come up with an alternate version of what happened–it was black and white and couldn’t be disputed.

    As my counselor has said, these are very manipulative and evasive tactics. Below are some ideas he gave me on remaining aware of when this is happening……..

    1) Keep your eyes and ears open wide when in the presence of gaslightering control freaks. Pay attention to details.

    2) Cultivate an unwavering belief in your intuition. And when it speaks to you, listen with utmost respect.

    3) Understand what the gaslighter’s true motive is in his/her exchange with you. It’s usually about simply getting you to see what you know to be true as to be untrue, or vice-versa.

    4) Do not let the gaslighter think you bought his/her story, as this only gives permission for more psychological abuse of gaslighting.

    5) As always, recognize, understand and trust the mental manipulations and distortions of reality are not about you.

    6) Lastly and most significantly, know you do not have to “win” to be centered and find peace. A successful closure to a bout of gaslighting does not require that you convince the controlling person to accept your perspective.

    I think it’s the first thing he goes for because it’s worked for him. Humans can be very animal-like in that regard. We do what works. Here’s another consideration — if you begin to block this technique of his, don’t expect him to be appreciative. In fact, it may even help you (maybe after you’ve tried to block a few times) to sit down and read some of these articles with him and in a very non-confrontational manner ask “Do you see any familiar patterns here?” And if he gaslights the gaslighting… then you might have to assert yourself and say “Well, I see it and it’s time for it to stop.”

    Also, here’s a great website he gave me that’s chock full of videos that are truly powerful…….

    http://www.cloudtownsend.com/video-advice/

    • Doug March 15, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

      Great stuff Lynne. Thanks so much for providing the extra tactics and website resource.

    • Healing Mark March 15, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

      Lynne. Outstanding post as always. “Gaslighting” behavior is just so useful for persons who are trying to hide the existence and details of an inappropriate relationship. It’s not surprising that CS’s resort to it. In my wife’s case, it’s not behavior that she had resorted to very much prior to her EA, and before the EA was discovered this type of behavior was identified as existing as a part of our communication “difficulties”. The fact that my wife had been resorting to these “tactics” was frustrating to her, and something she very much wanted to stop. Stopping her EA went a long way to her getting better at not “gaslighting”.

      A classic example of this for my W and me was the time my wife mistakenly asked me at a small party to get her phone and call our “friend” and her AP to invite him and his wife to come to the party. I did as I was told and when I went to her contacts to make the call, I found him listed as “BFF”. Needless to say, I went a bit crazy, and asked her not only “why” but also whether she thought this was appropriate and whether she now better understood why my gut had been telling me that the AP and my wife were more than “just good friends”? To my face and in front of an unfortunate small group of friends, she totally dismissed my feelings as being “crazy” and an overreaction. She also similarly attacked others at the party who disagreed with her assessments and indicated that they understood how discovering another man identified on my wife’s phone as a “BFF” could be hurtful and cause for pause. Thankfully, my W and I can look back at this time and chuckle at how silly her EA was causing her to act and how harmful it was being to me and our marriage.

      Generally, I am not a bitter man, but the AP is now identified on phone records and my wife’s and our home phones (unfortunately, he does not call her cell or our cell phone, and has not texted in about 11 months) as “Dickhead”! And his wife is identified as “TBPI” which is short for “To be possibly informed”. The AP knows each of the forgoing, and he nervously laughed when told and then informed me that my wife’s calls and my calls on his phone and their home are identified as “Blocked”.

    • DJ March 15, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

      Lynne and I share the same online marriage coach – he is amazing.

      I think Doug is right that every cheater displays some of these tactics. My husband did some of it, too. I wouldn’t call him a pro like some other cheaters, but he called me crazy a number of times, too.

      Lynne – just to clear up names – my blog’s name is Not Over It. I started it last February. But I generally use my name in commenting – DJ. Then another person here decided to use notoverit as her commenting name. Two different people! And there is somene else who has decided to be Not Over It Either. LOL! We must all think alike!

      DJ

      • Notoverit March 16, 2012 at 10:08 am #

        Yeah, guess it will take a lot of time to become “Overit.” LOL I am a different person from DJ.

    • Tammy December 10, 2017 at 7:54 pm #

      Thank you for sharing the advice you were huge I am not sure what I am going to do but these ideas are a great start. I hate this is something we have to deal with but nice to know I am not alone. I have had confirmation through much I have read.

  7. Lynne March 15, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

    Margie-

    Here, here! I learned exactly the same thing—once you can identify what’s happening in this regard, then establishing strong boundaries is the key. I now get that the reason my H was able to succeed in repeatedly gaslighting me is that it worked. I would just give up, which is exactly the outcome he was looking for. So there in lies my own growth in this area–I will never be gaslighted by him again. And yes, the next step is firmly setting boundaries in place that say I’m not going on this ride with you.

    My H used to say he didn’t like how I said things to him, or how I presented difficult conversations about his behavior. Now mind you, I would think things over very carefully before I said them—no yellling, no accusations, just presenting something that was making “me” feel uncomfortable and I’d like to discuss it with him. His standard was “I don’t like how you said that to me”–now this is gaslighting at the highest power–the whole conversation would then be about me and how I didn’t say things right. Score one for the gaslighter! The heat was off of him and on to me–very clever!

    Two weeks ago I told my H that I would no longer accept that response to me when broaching subjects with him. I said that I know myself well and know that I am very respectful and considerate in my approach with him, and I will not be told otherwise. I also explained to him that it’s not my approach that is making him respond to me this way, but rather it’s that he doesn’t like that I’ve raised the subject of a behavior of his that he doesn’t want to have addressed. You should have seen his face–he was busted and had no where to go with this. He called me later that day and said that he’s really thought about what I’d said and he was really going to work on it. Yep, setting boundaries are a beautiful and healing thing.

    • DJ March 15, 2012 at 7:28 pm #

      Lynne – I was smiling as I read your comment! Great going there!

    • Margie March 16, 2012 at 6:29 pm #

      Hi Lynne, I smiled when I read how you stood up to your husband in a respectful way, yet you got your point across. I have also been responding to my husband in this way. We rarely ever talk due to him no longer living in our home, however, there are occasions when we do concerning our children and he still tries the “gaslight effect”. Reverse it and make them own their behaviors. We are not responsible for them.

  8. Lynne March 15, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    Here’s a PDF Download of a book on the subject of Gaslighting/Manipulative People that comes highly recommended………..

    http://search.4shared.com/postDownload/PC5fkLFg/George_K_Simon_-_In_Sheeps_Clo.html

  9. rachel March 15, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

    My husband is constantly saying that he doesn’t like that I am angry about his e/a. Is that gaslighting? I’m really not sure how he expects me to react to this. I feel that he is using this excuse because he isn’t ready to start to fix things between us, or may never.
    Now I believe this is gaslighting when he say’s “I never said that” or “that’s not what I meant”. Clear me up please, I’m not very good at this game.

  10. chiffchaff March 16, 2012 at 5:04 am #

    rachel – I think that both the circumstances you describe could fall into the definition of gaslighting, as described here. Whether your H is deliberately trying to make you feel like you’ve gone crazy by doing so is a different thing, only you can tell that based on how he has been over time.

  11. Notoverit March 16, 2012 at 10:13 am #

    I am married to the most stubborn person in the world. I think his constant responses “I don’t remember” or “I don’t know” will eventually drive me to insanity. I believe it is gaslighting. But, there again, over the years I have noticed he is not very big on details (about things not connected to the EA). I go around and around in my head trying to decide if he is telling the truth or just avoiding the issue. Anybody else have this problem?

    • Holdingon May 29, 2016 at 6:55 am #

      Hope you have figured it out by now, my wife says the same thing, I don’t remember. Make up something and tell them that they said it at a certain time, watch how fast they remember they didn’t say that, then ask them what they did say at that time. I just said earlier that it’s funny how affairs cause amnesia.

  12. rachel March 16, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    Notoverit, of course I do!!! I said to my H that ok fine you were in the area where she worked and you stopped in her store to catch up and say hello. There was no reason to continue seeing her and texting her. I asked who made the first “lunch date”. His answer “I don’t know”. UGH!!! So agriviating! Who made the next “lunch date”, “I don’t know”. How does he not know. He is a man of great detail. An engineer! Of course he knows. It was him, but won’t admit it!Physicarist today for me. Because as he say’s I’m crazy!
    But he refuses to go to a marriage counselor for himself. This is so unfair!

  13. highwayman March 16, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    Doug, this is my first time making a comment. I had an affair on the computer with another woman that lasted for two weeks. i felt guilty toward the end and stopped contacting the other person. my wife found out about it a week later and she was completely devastated. It has been three weeks and it has been a hellish nightmare for both of us. I didn’t realize how much damage that I could cause and that my selfish acts would cause my wife so much pain. I now understand that my wife feels betrayed. I am ashamed and humiliated. I don’t know if I can ever forgive myself for hurting her. We have discovered that both of us had taken each other for granted and misunderstood each other. I am thankful that the affair didn’t progress and cause even more damage. Thank you for your insight and being an available resource for those of us who need help.

    • Doug March 16, 2012 at 2:50 pm #

      Highwayman, thanks for commenting. Understanding what you did and the pain you caused is a good start on your own road to recovery. Keep doing the things your wife needs to heal and chances are things will work out for you and your wife. Hopefully, in the not to distant future you will be able to forgive yourself and can work together with your wife to fix the problems in your marriage. Best of luck to you.

  14. Gaslighted March 16, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

    No doubt, I was gaslighted by my husband prior to the affair, and, then, certainly afterwards. Like others here, I had issues with his weird relationships to women for some time, though the EA was the culmination. All along the lights were turned down slowly with denial of my fears (“you are paranoid” “everybody has close opposite sex relationships” “you have an immature understanding of adult relationships” “nothing is going on” “you need to get a grip” “I don’t have to be be accountable to you. Nothing is wrong here.”). Eventually, I stopped trusting myself and shockingly pathologized my totally spot on instincts believing I was faulty, needy, unworthy, crazy, weak.

    Post DD all the normal downplaying and dodging of my sense of reality and what was so obviously true. Busting through to the truth or as close as I’ll ever come to it was a long, drawn out, and violent process of banging my head against the wall and insisting on the truth.

    Never again.

    This process of gas lighting is profoundly harmful and abusive and scary. I will never not trust my instincts and senses again. The lack of evidence will not fool me. People know when things are f-ed up even if they don’t know details. And they suffer. I have learned to be strong and learned my limit.

    If nothing else, that is a positive thing for me.

    Scary.

  15. Hurt&insensed March 17, 2012 at 11:19 pm #

    I actually came across the term gas lighting in an article I read about infidelity soon after D Day. I told my CS about it and made clear that it was psychological abuse and he had done it on numerous ocassions. He was thankfully mortified and very ashamed as I think like most CS’s, he saw his behavior in a less toxic way, considering it to be just more lying necessary to cover his a$$! On our first D Day when I found a very affectionate email to the OW (who I had absolutely no idea about) telling her he couldn’t see her that night; he actually said, ” it’s pointless me talking to you, it’s nothing like you think but you’re not going to listen anyway.” He promptly left the house and drove off, leaving me to hold it together in front of my children (who had thankfully not seen or heard any of this), whilst he drove up the road to phone the OW to tell her of the discovery! Every instinct I had told me he had gone out to delete any further evidence off his phone – I have since found out I was right. When I discovered 2 days later that I knew the OW ( who unbelievably has kids attending the same sports club as ours), I told him I was going to speak to her. At this point, he stepped up the gas lighting and told me they were just friends and she was just helping him with our marriage as she had just come thru a messy divorce (bit like asking Charles Manson for abysitting advice then lol)!! He told me it was his fault for involving her and that I would cause trouble and embarrassment if I started accusing her or even speaking to her when she had just been trying to help him! That kept me away for 2 more months so that he could carry on his ‘friendship’ which had already involved a night in a hotel, sex at her home numerous times, on skype and on the beach, going to concerts, bars, restaurants, hundreds of texts, sending underwear shots to each other etc. I don’t think my CS who is sooo remorseful and ashamed, can still comprehend what his ongoing lies, drip feeding of information and frequent changing of the information and the gas lighting has done to me. I still have triggers about things he told me and then realize that the incident never happened it was actually one of the damage limitation smoke screens he made up to throw me of the scent – its so scary and disconcerting! We are just over 1 year from d day now and I am in a low place again. Although I am not currently in a place to value my own qualities as much as I should, I do recognize that my intuition and hypotheses about everything that went on in my husbands physical, emotional, romantic relationship with the OW was absolutely spot on!! I will never squash down or ignore my gut feelings again – they were so loud and clear would have served me very well had I let them!

  16. spouse445 March 18, 2012 at 1:18 am #

    I am so amazed to see this term described! Almost a year after the active emotional affair left the open, the church leader still has my spouse’s heart tied to theirs. The sermons, blogs have occasional cryptic messages, or words, which were used in private with each other. Only they, and I know, I accessed communications in the midst of the affair; but tightly blocked to this day as a result. The 2 are being allowed to serve together in some capacities, I don’t think they recognize the danger of this being allowed to continue. I have been encouraged to leave; but we have no where to go, being many miles from the nearest town. I have been called crazy, paranoid, insecure, controlling, fearing abandonment, so many more things.The church loves this leader, as there is incredible level of conservative reformed teaching going on. It’s almost like hidden narcism taking place, only he, and my wife truly recognize the deepness, well, myself as well. HOW do I make it STOP?

  17. DetroitDiva April 19, 2013 at 8:42 am #

    Yep – been here, done that…my husband’s gaslighting came in the form of “But I’m just being friendly”, or “I haven’t DONE anything”. Often my attempts to have open and honest discussions about what I was seeing and feeling and the behavior I saw from him were met with gaslighting – I was “overreacting”, I was “insecure” and “imagining things”.

    I let this go on far too long – to the point where I doubted myself. I took a look at some old journals I’ve been keeping (I was always a diary kid) and this has been going on in one form or another for TWENTY YEARS (We’ll have been married 23 years in August).

    Every time, he was able to convince me his emotional affairs – and near-affairs – were just him being “friendly” and they really meant nothing because, after all, he was still home every night.

    The final straw for me? Finding out that the emotional affair (one-sided) that he had with a woman he met while taking college courses over 20 years ago was still in his life. He referred to her as “just a friend” – and I believed this, until I figured out she was the SAME woman I had a blow-up with him about 2 years into our marriage! I didn’t know her last name at the time, never spoke to her during that time, and finally realized what was going on after he crossed the line again.

    He was caught because I saw a FB message from him to her regarding a “story” he had written her. I questioned him about it, and he came clean. I figured out the past connection and asked about it, and he admitted to it. Made me furious…I was ready to walk away.

    He seems to be “getting it” this time…and we are working on our marriage (plus all the former unresolved issues). Progress is slow to this point, but it’s progress. I’m finding a lot of help here on this site and I appreciate all the sharing.

    • anonymous June 30, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

      I just wrote a huge post revealing my gaslighter, and his evil actions. However, as usual, he has remotely accessed our computer and deleted my post. I wll try again another time..

  18. Julie September 30, 2017 at 10:39 am #

    My husband will bring up someone from his past and mention her then when I get angry he twists it into I’m jealous or “you brought it up” or the classic “cant we just keep the past in the past?”.

    I wouldnt know about his past if he didn’t cram it down my throat. Then when he blames me and claims I brought it up, I get so angry and livid I can’t see straight. Then he blames me saying I have anger issues.

    It’s like living with an arsonist who will light a fire then sit and enjoy watching it burn. Little do they know the pain and scarring it causes.

    I’m in a 4 day stand off with my husband right now because he brought up a girl from his past, then when I got mad at told him I didn’t want to hear about it he said “You just can’t let my past go can you?”.

    Then when I blow a fuse he will do a complete 360 and say “I’m sorry, my fault, I feel so horrible, I’m a bad husband, I feel like shooting myself”.

    I said “Well don’t sit around talking about it, do it and put us both out of misery”. Of course it’s all a ploy to get my sympathy. I never play into it and tell him to stop having a pity party and grow some cojones.

    I’ve lot respect for my husband. He will lose steam and want me to forgive and forget with “It’s a new day can we move on?” after he has done damage.

    It’s not easy to move on. I’m tired of forgiving him too quickly as I feel that lets him know he can get away with it.

    It’s exhausting but I stand my ground. Then he changes his tune and we have a couple of great months where things are smooth, I slowly start trusting him again then BAM, he drops another grenade by mentioning some lady friend from his past.

    I think he enjoys provoking me as he seems he wants me to react so he can say I’m jealous or can’t accept his past. Problem is, I don’t care about his past, there is nothing to be jealous over and I could care less hearing about anyone he dated before me.

    It’s exhausting to be married to someone like this. If I could go back in time I would have never married this man. I miss my privacy and being single, I really do.

  19. Rose November 9, 2017 at 6:04 pm #

    After a year of emotional abuse (after 5 years of his EAs), on Christmas night, just after I fell asleep after two days of cooking and cleaning and making sure everyone had the perfect holiday, he shined a light in my face, screamed and told me I was mentally Ill for not wanting to have sex a second time in a day. That followed a year of him hiding my medicines and jewelry…moving empty hangers in my closet and saying a ghost did it, and moving his own stuff and blaming me. Who’s the mentally ill one?

  20. Farhana May 15, 2018 at 11:25 pm #

    Living with gaslighting parents isn’t easy, and I keep wondering about my sanity for years. My siblings and I were physically and mentally abused when we were kids, but as my parents enter their 50s, they stopped the beating but continue their gaslighting habit, even though some of us are already married.

    My sister ran away from home last few months, even threatening my parents to let her marry her abusive rocker boyfriend or risk losing her forever.

    My brother moved out against my parents’ will after he got married, and now he got stuck in the middle between my gaslighting parents and his domineering wife.

    I suffer in silence here for years. My parents warned me and my husband not to move out from the house, claiming that they wanted to teach us about filial piety and responsibility towards them and my preteen youngest brother.

    My father forced me to rent a high-end house under my name so that he, a habitual bad debtor, could escape the wrath of the owner while being fully aware that I just got my first job. To top things off, he expects me to pay for everything; the bills, the groceries, etc.

    My husband, being a pushover, listens to whatever my parents dictate us to do, and I can see that he is constantly being ‘advised’ by my mother on how to ‘raise, teach and control’ me.

    Last week I boycotted my brother (the married one) in a restaurant after his wife insulted me and my husband over dinner. Once we got home, my mother started to berate me on how immature and a big whiner I am since I was a kid, and convinced my husband that I’m a disobedient wife.

    My fertility specialist keeps warning my about my stress level, but I don’t think I could conceive at this rate when I keep worrying about all these every single day. I’m beginning to lose respect towards my husband, and I don’t have anyone I could trust with anymore, not even myself. Maybe I’m an arrogant, selfish whiner like they say I am. Maybe I’m not allowed to show emotions and obey them without question.

    Any idea on how to deal with all these?

    • Shifting Impressions May 16, 2018 at 12:26 pm #

      Farhana
      Your situation sounds almost cult like. Why would you still live with your parents once you are married. Are there religious reasons??

      As an adult you are absolutely allowed to show emotions and make your own choices.

      Perhaps you need to seek counsel from someone outside your religious situation.

      I am not sure if I am reading your family situation correctly….but I do know a few things about spiritual abuse.

    • Rose May 16, 2018 at 7:53 pm #

      Did your husband have an affair?

  21. Farhana May 16, 2018 at 7:54 pm #

    Hi there! Thanks for the reply.

    Nope, my family and I are not into cults or any weird, unconventional religion. I think my parents are paranoid people with empty nest syndrome, you see. Fyi my husband doesn’t have any affair with anyone; he’s an introvert and a total pushover.

    We’re a huge family of 8, and my mum was abused and abandoned when she was a kid. I understand that she was traumatised by her past and she doesn’t want to be left alone anymore, so that’s why she’s gaslighting us…i guess.

    So when some of us go to colleges or married, my parents feel a huge loss and make up excuses like “we can’t bear the thoughts of seeing you suffer alone out there if you move out so let us take care of you here..at least you get free food and lodgings” or “we know what’s best for you and we believe you’re not matured enough to survive outside” just to make us feel guilty and stay with after after we’re married.

    They can be manipulative just to fulfill their selfish needs but they just can’t accept the fact that some of us are full-grown adults who wanted to be given a chance to be independent. I know they go too far this time by controlling my husband but I’m afraid if I move out or ignore their wishes, my relationship with them would be sour.

    Slow talks won’t work; in the end, they’ll surely say “You always think you’re right, do you? Well, you know better that you’re wrong and we’re right because we’re your parents”.

    What else can I do to make them stop gaslighting me?

  22. Shifting Impressions May 16, 2018 at 11:02 pm #

    Farhana
    Good to know, no cult like stuff….you had me worried for a moment. Anyway, I am so sorry you are dealing with this. The best book I have ever read about gaslighting is THE GASLIGHT EFFECT by Robyn Stern. It would probably help to educate yourself on gaslighting. The thing is you are allowing it. You say you are afraid it will sour your relationship if you go against their wishes, but it sounds as if the relationship will sour in the end anyway if you allow them to control you.

    I would seriously think about getting the help of an objective counselor as well. You can’t change your parents behavior but you certainly can change your response.

    Good luck…I know It won’t be easy.

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