After five years of marriage, Catherine* began to feel like she was going crazy. Her husband, Joe, would often come home two or three hours late from his job as an electrician.
“It started happening all the time without any reason and when I asked him why, he immediately replied that I was paranoid and dramatic. It wasn’t until after I began catching him lying that I felt I was not going crazy,” she recalls.
“Once he needed to go and install lighting at a friend’s home, but when I asked about that a week or two later, he would say another name. When I’d question him, he would get defensive and say I obviously didn’t listen. A few months later, I discovered he was having an affair. Ironically, even though I was beginning to see the truth, I still questioned myself."
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Catherine’s story is not uncommon. Common tactics used by gaslighters include lying, denying their actions, shifting blame, and even presenting evidence that contradicts the victim's reality.
Gaslighting refers to the systematic manipulation and psychological control exerted by one person over another. It involves subtly distorting someone's perception of reality, making them doubt their own experiences, memories, and even sanity. This insidious form of emotional abuse can have severe consequences on the victim's mental and emotional wellbeing.
It often begins subtly, with the gaslighter planting seeds of doubt and questioning the victim's reality. Over time, the gaslighter gains power and control by invalidating the victim's thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Constantly questioning one's own reality can lead to self-doubt, anxiety, and a diminished sense of self-worth.