You may have heard of the term "gaslighting". It is, unfortunately, a fairly common occurrence and is among the more subtle kinds of emotional abuse. But take note, it is still abusive and can often cause its victims plenty of distress. When done unto someone, gaslighting can cause a person to question their own feelings, thoughts, and sanity. Their perception of reality can often confuse them as their gaslighter will try to convince them that they cannot trust their own thoughts or instincts. This is often rooted in power imbalances, most usually in gender and sexual inequalities.
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Gaslighting can happen anywhere and with anyone—with significant others, with families, friends, work colleagues, and even with yourself. Because this kind of treatment is often so subtle in the beginning, people may not immediately recognise it. But here are five telltale signs to note in case you suspect someone may be gaslighting you.
1. Becoming too defensive when you confront them or express your needs
In any relationship (even with yourself), it's important to stay attuned to your needs; and as adults, we (should) all know the right way to express them to our partners or loved ones. If you've ever gently, honestly, and carefully expressed yourself but find that your partner or friend immediately got defensive, that could be a form of gaslighting. If they immediately get angry and say things like: "you're overreacting" or "you're being too much", or even insisting that you're too sensitive, that could be a subtle yet destructive form of gaslighting. They might even sometimes withdraw and refuse to listen to you at all. Always remember that your needs are valid and must be worked out through compromise with the people in your life. Don't ever let someone belittle the way you feel because only you know what you need or want in a relationship.