January 01, 2023 By Leah Malone

What Does Gaslighting Feel like?


According to the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (n.d), domestic violence is a cycle of behavior used by an individual to take control and hold power over their intimate partner. The behavior may consist of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. Every situation is different, but any form of intimidation is classified as abuse. Gaslighting is an indicator of an abusive relationship and a form of domestic violence. 

If you are a victim of gaslighting, understand that according to the United States Department of Justice, last updated in April 2022, domestic violence is a national crime. Federal laws can help an overburdened state and local criminal justice system. There are services available to the public for victims of abuse. 

However, you may not recognize whether your partner is gaslighting you. Therefore, you will need to understand what gaslighting is, how to spot the signs, and the actions to take following an occurrence. Knowing will help protect you from continuing a toxic relationship that could lead to a serious risk to your well-being. 

What Is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a form of emotional and psychological abuse. An abuser may blame or deny putting down the victim and playing mind games. The abuser may convince the target the situation did not go as remembered and try to manipulate their partner by presenting that their thoughts and feelings are what is right. 

Detecting When Your Partner Is Gaslighting You

It may be hard to detect whether your partner is gaslighting you or not because it is a form of manipulation. Deciphering whether a situation was or is reality can be very confusing when a person is trying to get you to believe you are crazy and making others believe the twisted story. Here are a few different examples to help you recognize the red flags of gaslighting: 

  • “You are overreacting”
  • “I do not know what you want me to say”
  • “This is your fault”
  • “Everyone agrees with me” 
  • “There is something wrong with you. You need help” 
  • “I never meant to hurt you” 
  • “You always have to be right” 

The Effects of Emotional Abuse and Gaslighting

According to the Office on Women’s Health (OASH), last updated in 2022, you may not think you are being abused if you have not gotten physically hurt, but abuse is abuse. There are short-term and long-term effects that follow emotional abuse that is just as serious as physical abuse. 

Verbal and emotional abuse is when your partner gets angry in a frightening way, humiliates you in front of others, calls you insulting names, or threatens self-harm if you try to leave. It is important to remember that it is never your fault if you have been abused.

Staying in an emotionally abusive relationship has many lasting effects, as it is incredibly harmful. Abuse can impact your physical and mental health. Many victims suffer from anxiety and depression. You may: 

  • Question your memory of events
  • Hold in your feelings or actions in fear of upsetting your partner, “walking on eggshells” 
  • Feel used, guilty, or overall controlled
  • Isolate yourself
  • Feel unwanted
  • Use drugs or alcohol to cope

Recovering From Emotional Abuse

It is essential to acknowledge and reassure yourself that your value matters. To move on, it is imperative to cut off all ties with your spouse who is gaslighting you or seek couples therapy after your partner receives psychiatric help if you choose to stay. Take time to find yourself and gain your own identity back, and take time to recover when you are ready.

Reaching out to friends and family may help but speak to a professional therapist who uses different strategies to help you overcome the effects of gaslighting. A professional can work with you to further help you understand and cope with the situation. Seeking a professional such as a therapist will become a safe space where you can talk about the relationship and work on developing tools to help you cope in a healthier way. 

Support Network

Having a support network can help you through this process. Incorporating trusted friends and family members will ensure that you have additional resources outside of therapy to go to during times of challenges. Group sessions among peers can also provide a comfortable space to talk through your experiences. Being among others that share your experiences will help you realize that you are not alone. A strong support network will nurture growth and persistence in continuing to stay on the path of the life you deserve. 

Remember, you are not at fault. No matter the situation, a person should never be treated with disrespect, aggression, or emotional abuse. There is no excuse for this type of behavior. We all deserve to feel peace and harmony in the environment we live in. There are resources for you. 

Understanding what gaslighting is and its effects can help you recognize you are a victim of abuse. Don’t let your partner take control of your life. Take control of your life by seeking treatment and surrendering to recovery today. Here at Grace Recovery TX, we can provide the supportive guidance you are looking for. Our facility welcomes all women with services to help open up new life-changing opportunities. We want you to find your path to safety and healing. Our goal is to provide you with the proper mental health professionals to get you back on track to a healthy lifestyle. If you or a loved one are in need of professional help, please call us at (737) 237-9663.

About Author

Leah Malone

Learning to sit with uncomfortable feelings can be painful and disturbing at times. When Leah was able to see her behavior patterns and decided there was enough pain to be disturbed, she became motivated to make changes and accept the work that needed to be done to heal. She needed direction and had no clue how to heal on her own. Through a connection with God, authentic connection with others, honesty, willingness, and humility, Leah is now in recovery from addiction and trauma.

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