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What is Gaslighting? Four Ways You Can Respond To Emotional Abuse

Updated: Feb 15

Written by Vivienne Juan, Associate Elect Partner

Have you ever felt controlled, and been made to doubt your own sanity?

Take a look at this short, one minute video, as it explains the three main components of gaslighting that you may have even experienced before.

Gaslighting is a technique of persistent manipulation by someone who causes you to doubt your own sanity in order to dominate you, and is a form of emotional and psychological abuse. The three symptoms of abuse are as follows:

  1. Being convinced that the abuse being suffered is your fault

  2. Being convinced that what you experienced wasn’t actually abuse

  3. Being separated from people who would otherwise be able to support you through that abuse

Since someone who is gaslighting you can oscillate between extremes of kind and cruel, you begin to second-guess yourself. You start to question if your understanding of what is happening is, in fact, the reality. You might even feel like it’s all your fault, that you deserve your abuse, and that you trust their judgment over your own! Similar to being trolled online, you may feel bullied and alone, and fear telling others of what you are going through, which can compound the pain and suffering.


Lighthouse Global, Paul S. Waugh Speaks To ITV News About Internet Trolls

Head Mentor Paul S. Waugh contributes to the debate about online anonymity through our Parents Against Trolls initiative.

If this sounds familiar, then the following advice may be of help to you, in order to take the first steps to feeling better in yourself, and be strong enough to rectify the situation. This might mean anything from having a candid conversation, through to removing yourself from the situation completely.

In this TikTok video from Dr Pria, you will find four suggestions of phrases you can use to stand up for yourself and respond to your abuser:

  1. “I know what I experienced”

  2. “We remember that differently”

  3. “I hear you, but that’s not my experience”

  4. “My emotions are not up for debate”

According to Psychology Today, gaslighting and narcissism often go hand in hand. While there could be other reasons for gaslighting, it makes for a very effective method for narcissists to feed on their prey, and we can actually experience this behaviour initially in our families, from our parents or our siblings, or both.

If you want to understand in more detail and depth about narcissism

and toxic narcissism in families, here is a thorough and necessary article from Sally Davis.

For more on handling toxic narcissism, and to get the right support, please check out our Parents Against Trolls & Trolling campaign to register your interest or join a support group.

Have a question? To send me feedback or share your thoughts,

please do get in touch and drop me an email — I’ll be happy to hear from you.

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