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What is gaslighting?

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niaveone posted 8/21/2013 22:25 PM

I get "the fog" (my WS calls it "the hole")and the "180", but having a hard time with "Gas lighting"?

Dreamboat posted 8/21/2013 22:33 PM

Gaslighting is when the WS twists your words and thinking to make you think that what you know is real is not real. When a WS uses words and actions to make you doubt yourself and to shift the blame from them to you.

The origin of the term comes from a film in the 50's called "Gas Light" starring Grace Kelly, where her newlywed husband made her think she was crazy.


PurpleBirch posted 8/21/2013 22:40 PM

It's kinda like when you see a blue bird fly by, and your WS manages to convince you that you are crazy. That bird wasn't blue, it was yellow! Like that one we saw that time at the park. You don't know what you're talking about, as evidenced by any (all) previous times you've ever been mistaken in your relationship.

That's what it feels like to me. It makes you doubt things you have seen with your own eyes.

PhantomLimb posted 8/22/2013 00:24 AM

An example: out of the blue, my WS tried to get me to sign a postnup signing away my spousal privileges because he said we were "fiscally incompatible". We had been together over a decade and this had NEVER come up before.

Why was this gaslighting?

I have no debt. My credit cards are manageable and nearly paid. I paid off my substantial student loans last year. I just took a second job to help save even more for a down payment. My car was paid off within two years.

Whereas WS has 40k+ on his cards, and well over 100k on his student loans. He had to sell his car and rides a bike to work. He didn't even have the money for the lawyer it would take to write up the damn thing.

The complete insanity of his argument is what led to DDay. He just kept trying to fight this losing battle that made sense only in his own mind. Finally he started bawling and I had to guess what the real story was.

And even after that the fiscal argument came up here and there again. At one point he suggested that I should have purchased fewer dresses for work so I could buy plane tickets to go visit his mother more often.

Hmmmmm.... let me get back to you on that one.

[This message edited by PhantomLimb at 12:26 AM, August 22nd (Thursday)]

Nature_Girl posted 8/22/2013 00:40 AM

STBX walked up to me and asked me for my key ring. Since he was my husband I handed them over without question. I never saw the keys again. I asked him for the keys back, he denied taking them. I said I needed the keys so I could drive the kids around and lock/unlock the house doors. Too bad, so sad, he screamed that I lost the keys, I could damn well search for them. Which of course I did. He'd scream & berate me over & over at how I lost everything, I couldn't be trusted for anything, I'm always causing problems... Then he found out how much it was going to cost to replace the electronic fob that controls my car and then he dialed the fury up several more notches at how much I was costing him. I went without keys for probably 1.5 months, maybe two, before he got me some replacement keys for the car, house and the fob. He threw them at me and cursed me out for always losing things and making his life fucking miserable. By that time I was convinced that I had, indeed, lost the damn keys. Even though I clearly had the memory in my head of him asking me for the keys, he managed to convince me otherwise. I was apologizing to him!

And THAT, my friend, is gaslighting. I have many, many examples. For instance, in the part of the house where I spent the majority of my time there is a forced air vent. I liked it opened & pointed a certain way. He would secretly go in the room & close the vent entirely. After a period of time I'd realize the room seemed stuffy or too hot/cold, I'd go crazy for a while trying to figure out what was wrong, then I'd discover the air vent was closed. I'd open it again and scratch my head, wondering how it got closed. I'd ask STBX if he closed it, but he'd always angrily deny doing it and be highly insulted that I even dared to ask him such a thing. For years this would go on, with me wondering if I was closing the vent without knowing it, certain that I hadn't, and yet the vent was closed. I'd wonder & research if air vents could close themselves, but of course they don't. So I would be back to wondering if I was closing it. I would be back to wondering if I'd even opened it, or if I only MEANT to open it but didn't actually do it. I would doubt my sense of reality. But you know what? The whole time that bastard WAS secretly closing the vent. He was. And now I know he was because since he's been out of the house that vent has never again mysteriously been closed. It was him all that time. He would close it and he would lie to me about it.

THAT is gaslighting. It's all about power & control, getting the victim to lose their mind. It's deliberate.

whatnow8 posted 8/22/2013 07:39 AM


My husband does similar things, but without all of the verbal abuse. I'm glad for you that he's gone.

PhantomLimb posted 8/22/2013 07:53 AM

Geez. My example was just my WS being a deluded idiot, trying to convince me I was as "bad" as he needed me to be to justify his behavior.

Those other examples are WWs being seriously evil.

PurpleBirch posted 8/22/2013 07:55 AM

Those examples are both sad and better than what I wrote. I am having this memory issue right now, so I know I was gaslighted, but can't remember the details. I start talking, forget the word I want to use, and say "thing" instead. I'll be like: "Go get your... Thing.". My oldest is constantly saying: "You mean ____ mum!?!". Frustrating to say the least.

tushnurse posted 8/22/2013 08:21 AM

Gaslighting is what kills our self esteem, I really believe that. For months I found that whatever I did was wrong. I sucked at everything (According to H). Which sucked.
In addition he would do things like have to go out of town for work, and tell me I told you about this. You knew this was coming up, you never listen to me. Or he would talk about some work issue out of the blue, and act like I knew about it, and I would ask what he was talking about, and he would swear that he had told me and that I never listen. It was maddening. The last part was him not keeping straight what was sharred with me and what was shared with AP. DUMMY!!!

Of course looking back I realize he was the issue. NOT ME.

If you think you are being gaslighted, I recommend you call bullshit. That's what I started doing. He would complain that the house had clutter everywhere, and I would stop him and say well darling it looks like it's all your stuff. You seem capable of taking care of it.

Then he'd shut up and get super mad. I would get stronger, because I knew I was right, and he couldn't bully me anymore!!!

gonnabe2016 posted 8/22/2013 09:50 AM

t/j @ NG --

did he give you your keys back or were they true replacements? Because if they were know that you are bound to find the originals in your garage at some point right?

end t/j

clralb posted 8/22/2013 12:09 PM

I would doubt my sense of reality



he would do things like have to go out of town for work, and tell me I told you about this. You knew this was coming up, you never listen to me


I think the gaslighting is one of the worst things to do to a person. At one point I really thought I was going crazy. Talking with friends, though, helped me over it. I was not crazy. He was perpetuating the cruelest mind game on me.

Nature_Girl posted 8/22/2013 12:19 PM

LOL @ gonnabe!

These were true replacements. I've never found the keys he took. I have torn apart this house, I've torn apart the garage, but of all the crazy things I've found those keys are not one of them. What scares is me wondering who he gave those keys to? Why would he have taken the keys? He had his own set, why take mine, why refuse to give them back to me? One of the first things I did when I kicked him out was change the locks.

I thought for sure I'd find those keys after he was gone. I will always wonder what the story was with my keys.

BeyondBreaking posted 8/22/2013 12:31 PM

My daughter's dad gaslighted me all of the time.

It started out with simple stuff. My keys would be missing from my purse. I swore up and down that I had put my keys in my purse, but in the morning when i went to leave, they weren't in there. Searched the house high and low, and found them in the kitchen. He would say, "Oh you airhead. You just forgot where you put them again." This happened multiple times.

Then, it happened about bigger stuff. He would say one thing, and then completely flat out deny it. "No," I would insist, "you said xyz." He would shake his head and say, "No, I never said that. You always remember things wrong. That's why you're missing your keys every morning, and that's wny you're misquoting me." I would think...gee, maybe I am just not remembering things correctly lately.

It came out much later that he had been the one who had moved my keys (and other things) to make me feel like I was losing my mind. Then, later, he used that in order to manipulate me into thinking he did/didn't say things, etc...

StillGoing posted 8/22/2013 12:34 PM

Gaslighting is a form of mental abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making a victim doubt his or her own memory, perception and sanity.[1] Instances may range simply from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, up to 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. The term is now also used in clinical and research literature.[2][3]

ladies_first posted 8/22/2013 13:44 PM


Projection and gaslighting are also on the list of common sociopath techniques. Sociopaths refuse to be held accountable for their behavior and often assign their own behavior to their victims. For example, a sociopath could accuse a victim of stealing when it is the sociopath himself that steals. Gaslighting is a common practice of abusers who attempt to convince their victims they are defective for any reason such as making the victim more emotional, more needy or dependent. For example, if an abusive person says hurtful things and tries to convince you that you are mentally unstable and starts recommending that you get professional help, you might be in the presence of a gaslilghter.

Martha Stout, The Sociopath Next Door


Signs of being gaslighted:

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 partner'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.

MOTIVE: making the victim more emotional, more needy or dependent. If you're uncertain about the small things, you won't dare question the big picture: "Why to hell am I staying married to this emotional blackmailer?!?"

silverhopes posted 8/22/2013 14:03 PM

In "Gaslight", the house used gas lights instead of electric or whatever, and if the husband had the lights on in the attic, then the gas flow would slow to areas in the rest of the house and the lights would dim. So the wife would see the dimming of the lights and question it, which her husband always denied and then said she was crazy. It also represents that the lower the lights went, the more obscured the truth was from her, the more it could hide what her husband was really doing. Crazy-making.

sparklezombie posted 8/22/2013 14:59 PM

Yeah, what everyone said is right on. My WH will twist my words, twist events, not remember things. HE says I've been withholding sex since the beginning of our marriage even though he was denying me for years before I finally quit asking. He says that I've just used him, that I don't know how to manage money (I run a successful law practice for a living), that I'm selfish and that I've never loved him. It's awful to have these conversations and it's awful when you believe this crap that he says. Clear the fog, stop allowing the gaslighting and life will start to look much better. At least for me.

gonnabe2016 posted 8/24/2013 02:10 AM

****I still think that NG will find her original set of keys in the garage****

cayc posted 8/24/2013 14:03 PM

Yes, I know, the Daily Mail, but it's a good synopsis and notes some interesting things about how it's usually occurring in romantic relationships, men more often do it to women, it usually happens to strong, rational women, and the kicker? When you tell your friends, they too discount how you feel b/c they say things "oh no, I"m sure he's not meaning that, after all he loves you so much!"

BTDT, bought the t-shirt.

And I bet that t-shirt is in NG's garage too. Probably in the same box as those keys

Nature_Girl posted 8/24/2013 14:33 PM

Cacy & Gonna, you're killing me!!!!!!!!!

At this point I'm a little frustrated that, when I kicked STBX to the curb, I did not know to carefully go through his shit as I was throwing it in Hefty Bags. I wonder now just how much I unwittingly gave back to him because I didn't know how much he was hiding from me! I may very well have given him the damn keys again in one of those bags!

He told me I never had a sewing kit that my mother gave me as a present. Told the kids I didn't even know how to sew (well, I can sew a button, doesn't that count?). Told me I was delusional, I had no such sewing kit. Of course I found it after I kicked him out, top shelf in the kitchen, far above my reach, hidden behind the phone books.

Told me he didn't know anything about the magnetic key to my treadmill. Told me I was probably mistaken, the treadmill didn't even need a key to turn on, I just had forgotten how to turn it on. Of course I found the key to the treadmill after I kicked him out, on another tippy-top shelf in the kitchen, hidden behind his old water bottles & sports drinks.

Both of these examples show how the abuser uses gaslighting to make the victim question her reality. How it totally undermines her self-esteem and ability to trust her own judgment. And how the abuser brings in others to join in the abuse. I thank God I am still alive and not in a mental hospital. Imagine what it's like to have your spouse insist - to the point of screaming & cursing - that you did or did not do something which you are certain did/didn't happen. Imagine being told you went to places you know you didn't go to, being told that you never had certain items of clothing you're certain you used to wear. Imagine trying to reminisce with your spouse about various activities you engaged in, only to have your spouse insist that the two of you never did those things.

I am certain he wanted me dead. A few of my family members have independently told me they feared the same thing.

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