Gaslighting, at its core, is a form of emotional abuse that slowly eats away at your ability to make judgments. Essentially, a Gaslighter spins their negative, harmful or destructive words and actions in their favor, deflecting the blame for their abusive deeds and pointing the finger at their victim. This is often done by making them feel “overly sensitive,” “paranoid,” “mentally unstable,” “silly,” “unhinged,” and many other sensations which cause them to doubt themselves.
Commonly adopted by psychopathic, sociopathic and narcissistic types of people, Gaslighting tends to eat away at their victims slowly until they realize that they’re a shell of their former selves. Gaslighting is so harmful because it promotes anxiety, depression, and with enough frequency in our lives, can sometimes trigger nervous breakdowns and even suicide.
Gaslighters use a variety of subtle techniques to undermine the victims reality and portray them as the disturbed and messed up one. These include, for example:
Discrediting you by making other people think that you’re crazy, irrational or unstable.
Using a mask of confidence, assertiveness, and/or fake compassion to make you believe that you “have it all wrong.” Therefore, eventually, you begin to doubt yourself and believe their version of past events.
Changing the subject. The gaslighter may divert the topic by asking another question, or making a statement usually directed at your thoughts, e.g. “You’re imagining things—that never happened!” “No, you’re wrong, you didn’t remember right.” “Is that another crazy idea you got from your (family member/friend)?”
Minimizing. By trivializing how you feel and what you think, the gaslighter gains more and more power over you, e.g. “Why are you being so sensitive?” “You don’t need to get angry over a little thing like that!” “I was just joking around, why are you taking things so seriously?”
Denial and avoidance. By refusing to acknowledge your feelings and thoughts, the gaslighter causes you to doubt yourself more and more. For example, “I don’t remember that, you must have dreamt it!” “You’re lying, I never said that.” “I don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re changing the subject.”
Twisting and reframing. When the gaslighter confidently and subtly twists and reframes what was said or done in their favour, they can cause you to second-guess yourself—especially when paired with fake compassion, making you feel as though you are “unstable,” “irrational,” and so forth. For example, “I didn’t say that, I said _____” “If you remember correctly, I was actually trying to help you.” etc.
Gaslighting can occur in any relationship. In a domestic situation, parent to child, child to parent, between siblings, between friends, between employer and employee.
The one doing the gaslighting is frequently trying to either cover their tracks over some misdeed, or has some agenda whererin the victims helplessness will benefit them, or to take abusive control over a situation or relationship, or simply to discredit the victim. The list goes on and on.
Imagine the situation of an abusive wife gaslighting her already unwell husband to her own ends. Financial abuse, belittling her husband in front of friends or family, emotional, financial and physical abuse. All the while she is hiding her own misdeeds, affairs, financial abuses and cruelties. Imagine being a child of that marriage. Will that child eventually believe the manipulative mother? Become like her? Who would that child ultimately blame should the marriage break down?
"He never works." "He is the laziest man I know." "He sits around all day doing nothing." "He only married me because he wanted children.." "He's not right in the head." "He's a nutter."
Imagine that the marriage did break down. Now jump ahead a few years. The child is an adult. At first the child might have sided with her father, having experienced some gaslighting from her mother herself. Imagine the child "guilt tripping" both parents simply to get her own way over things like money, holidays, education etc.
The father has spent most of his time being both mother and father to his daughter. He had home schooled her when she didn't want to go to school with her peers. He had taught her to use her mind, to explore the wonders of life.
After some time the father starts to rebuild his life. The now exwife is both angry and jealous. She decides to become the victim of the marriage even more. She writes to his family and friends telling them what a hard life she had with him. She has become so adept at lying that some might even believe her. After all.. it's "usually" the woman who is the victim of the man isn't it..
The truth is often very different.
The daughter, once one of his defenders, now sees that she is no longer the focus of his attention. She might start to think her mother was right all along. The mother takes advantage of this and rewrites history. She tells her daughter that she was mistaken in the past. She was young so she forgives her daughter for misreading the situation. The daughter might struggle to accept this at first, but as she herself feels slighted by her father because he is making a new life for himself, she starts accepting her mothers point of view.
The father is now doubly gaslighted. His ex wife is still spreading lies about him, twisting the history of their marriage to suit her end game. His daughter now considers him to be the bad guy. He was abusive to her and her mother. He was the bully. He was the controlling one.
Mother and daughter are rewriting the past to suit their own ends.
The "family" situation gets more and more out of hand. The family and friends that support the father are called biased, enablers and liars. The mother is playing the hard done by victim and is supported by the daughter.
Though the daughter has now turned on her father, she has in fact become yet another victim of the mothers gaslighting. So much so she has become a gaslighter herself. Both are making the father doubt the past, doubt himself, his own worth.
What is the father to do? Does he fight for the truth? Does he try his hardest to make his daughter remember the truth about her childhood? There are enough home videos, photographs and written statements which show what a good father he was, not perfect, but certainly not the monster he is now being portrayed as. Does he expose the mother, taking legal action against her and risk alienating his daughter even more? Does he even have to try exposing his daughter and make her face up to her own lies?
He is "the man".. He is not expected to be the true victim. Society dictates that "MAN" is the strong one, the bread winner, the king of his castle" etc.
Outdated, toxic masculinity imagery.
Over the past years he has been told to "man up!" to "Get over yourself!" "Stop living a fantasy!" "Admit you were useless!" "Admit you were the bully and control freak" "You're a nutter" "you're brain damaged" and this list too goes on and on.
Let us now throw another few facts into the melting pot..
The father had been a victim of early childhood abuse, he was uncertain of his sexuality, he suffered from PSTD and depression/anxiety most of his adult life. He came from a good home and had relatively wealthy parents.
The mother knew the above. She had spent time in prison before they were married. She was over a decade older than her husband and already had two other children from two different men. She also had a drink problem and was addicted to codeine. She was very clever at getting her own way.
The father was used as a money bank, he was physically, financially and emotionally abused by his wife. He was dyslexic and often had to rely on his wife to read mail and do the accounts.
For much of their marriage he feared for his own and his daughters safety. He did work, he did bring in a lot of money to the home. He did so in such a way that he could keep a close eye on his daughter, trying to keep her safe. He cooked and cleaned, took and fetched his daughter from school. He saw his wife threaten and violently shake their daughter. He saw his drunken wife drag their daughter out of bed by her hair and threaten to drive away with her and leave him. He saw his wife with other men and turned a blind eye.
He saw his daughter beg him to leave her mother, on more than one occasion. He asked her to wait for two weeks and then he would ask her if she still wanted him to take her and leave. He often defended his wifes behaviour to his daughter. Mother and daughter would argue and he would try and calm everyone down.
For almost two decades he was so entrenched in the marriage he could see no means to escape and also ensure the safety and wellbeing of his daughter. Once his daughter was over eighteen and starting in higher education he thought that mabe one day he could be free.
When he did finally break free, well in truth he was thrown out by his wife (though she later claimed he had left her) he thought he could still be a good Dad and remained close to where his daughter was at University. He thought he and his daughter had an unbreakable bond.
He was wrong.
Though he and his daughter were not as close as they had been, they still had a good relationship. He still defended his ex wifes behaviour from time to time. He helped his daughter through university, assisting her with her essays and other work.
His daughters behaviour changed by the time she was in her mid twenties. She became more and more demanding, more sullen and controlling. She had a new boyfriend, a fairly quiet man a few years older than herself.
He had tried to move on with his life too. He had a new place to live, had a partner, and was starting to feel some security for the first time in a very long time.
His daughter announced that she was getting married. He was very happy for her. He was looking forward to walking her down the aisle and giving her away. He had a few long chats with his daughter, one of which led her to stating she was jealous of her husband to be as he was more succesful than she. She said she did not understand it. She was the talented one and her fiance only won awards etc because he was Asian and came from a wealthy family. She sent her father a story she had written in which she awoke from a dream and looked her fiance as he slept. She said she didn't know who he was or why she was with him. Her father asked whether this was also true in reality and whether she was sure she wanted to get married if she had such doubts and animosity towards her future husband. She got defensive and changed the subject.
Later that year his daughter announced that they were getting married in a small ceremony whilst abroad and that no family were invited. She said not to get upset by it because she didn't really believe in marriage and that they were only doing it because her fiancés student visa had expired and he needed a British passport.
Considering she had aborted their baby before they were married he was somehow not shocked. He was very disappointed though.
Some time later his daughter came to stay for a few weeks. She was due to have medical tests and possibly treatment. She arrived alone at first, with over £2000 in cash in her purse given to her by her new mother in law "to tide her over a few weeks"..
There were tensions over her controlling behaviour. The TV, if on had to be turned down. The milk had to be a certain type as did all her meals. She was demanding and manipulative in her behaviour. She used guilt as a tool in order to get her own way. If her father ventured an opinion over anything she would silence him and tell him he knew nothing. She would belittle him and his "failure of a life".
He went to fetch his now son in law from the airport, a round trip of about 8 hours. He receieved no thanks. He drove them on an even longer trip to a hospital appointment, again with no thanks. When they were at home he spent most of his time alone, in his bedroom. He felt like a prisoner in his own home. Again..
One morning he had agreed to drive his daughter to a Drs appointment. The day began with her asking for coffee in bed for her and her husband. He had awoken with a severe migraine, something that was a common occurrence. He agreed to fulfil his promise but an argument started.
He had had enough. He bit back. He told his daughter a few home truths during their drive to the Doctors; he told her she was dishonest and spoilt. She accused him of being a control freak and of making hers and her mothers life a misery.
She stated that once her business was attended to, she and her husband were leaving and that they would never come back. He told her that if that was how she felt she could go straight away and not wait. Both she and her husband had been storing items at his home. He said they were safe and that they could arrange for them to be collected at a later date.
The daughter and her passport husband left. She announced to the world that she had been thrown out with nowhere to go. She telephoned her mother, who lived about 6 hours away and asked to be rescued. Of course she still had the £2000 in her possession and could have stayed at a 5 star hotel and travelled first class to her mothers home is she had wanted to..
Over the proceeding week or so a series of angry and accusatory messages arrived in his inbox and his telephone almost glowed with the hatred he had spewed at him. He tried to defend himself, to make his daughter see the error of her ways. Fed by her mothers own twisted ways the daughter became more and more hateful.
She of course knew one very important thing. Her father could expose her doubts and jealousies about her now husband and he also knew that they had only married in order to get him a passport. An event that led to his daughter becoming very flush with cash.
She wrote to family members, to family friends, along with her mother, telling everyone and anyone who would listen how dreadful a life he had given them. Perhaps her husband paid her mother off (too?). He was vilified and ridiculed. He was painted abusive and controlling.
Despite all this he tried to reconcile with his daughter. Several times offering family counselling or suchlike in an attempt to get to the heart of their problems.
What he didn't understand was that his daughter had about as much heart and compassion as her mother. They had become equally manipulative and controlling. He actually came to feel sorry for his son in law.
Months passed. He felt deserted, a failure as a father. He could see little pleasure in life. His daughter had asked for a period of no contact, he had agreed. He sent bithday and Christmas wishes to which she would respond "thanks xx" or suchlike. He recieved nothing from her.
On her 28th birthday he sent a birthday message via his ex wife, his daughter had decided she didn't want to hear from him because he had publicly called her out for comparing herself to Meghan Markle a few months before.
The ex wife had wheedled her way to becoming a go between. Perhaps only she knows what the original messages read and what they became related as. Things came to a head when the exwife apparently passed on the message "she doesn't want to hear from you and doesn't care if you live or die!".
He wrote to his daughter asking if this was true. A couple of hours later he answered a knock to his door to be greeted by police who had been called because he was apparently suicidal. He assured them that he was not! At first he thought his ex wife had called the police. He was later to learn the truth.
The next day he received a phonecall from the Met police. His daughter had made a complaint that he was harrasing her and spreading hate speech about her etc. She had convinced the police that she was the victim. He was to be issued with a control order of some kind.
His world fell apart. He was both heart broken and angry. He suspected his ex wife might have been behind some of this and contacted his local police force because he had been forced to make a complaint about his ex wife the year before. He learnt that the "suicide" call had been made to the Met Police, his daughters local police force, not his ex wifes.
He started to realise that he was being manipulated, and maybe even worse that the police were being manipulated too.
When he realised what his wife was doing (about 8 years ago), to him he had wanted to go to the police. His daughter begged him not to do so. Seems she was not so reticent when manipulating the police force to her own ends.
In this case there is an abundance of documentation, photography and film that showed the daughter was happy with her father until a few years after he had been thrown out. Emails, messages etc for over a decade show her supporting her father, frequently turning to him for advice and support and asking for help with her University essays etc.
Whilst there were some displays of anger towards her father, mostly for not paying for things she wanted etc, her anger was chiefly aimed at her mother and her mothers mother (her Nana whom she describes at one point as the "most evil person in the world".
The daughters husband even commented that for the six years he had knowh her she had never had a bad word to say about her father or how he raised her. Her father admits he is far from perfect, but then who is.
This all changed after she had privately admitted her doubts and concerns over her future husband to her father.
There is a history of the daughter threatening to get the police involved in what are clearly family matters. e.g
Whilst with a different partner she threatened to call the police on her father and his mother because she had been caught out lying and when confronted whilst doing her homework she threatened them both.
She has threatened to call the police because she thought her father was suicidal once before.
The end result of this is that the daughter made a complaint against her father to the police. He was issued with a anti harrassment order. The policeman involved was shown fake evidence. The officer did not know the history of abuse against the father, the man now being accused of harrassment. An appeal is in place and the matter is now also being dealt with at a higher level.
The exwife has now been issued with a cease and desist letter.
The daughter is living her life and doing what she pleases to whom she pleases, all the time believing herself to having silenced her father.
Justice and the truth will win. The police have already admitted some mistakes.
At one time during the past year his daughter said to him that if he admitted full responsibilty for the arguement and that he took full blame for all that was wrong in her life, she would become friends with him agaiin.
There is an abundance of evidence in favour of the father, and as much negative evidence against the mother and daughter.
The daughter has a career as a pseudo journalist, and has even hijacked her fathers lifelong interest in the esoteric in order to try and further her own career.
As a point of interest.. When she was asked how her father had abused her all she could come up with was that she was forced to apologise for being naughty as a child. One instance was after she had been shoplifting. Her claim was the emotional abuse of being made to take responsibility for her own faults and misdeeds.
The daughter has dug herself such a hole of lies that she now has no option but to believe and enforce her own untruths. To admit she was wrong, that she was the one being manipulative and divisive would be far too noble an act for her. What is quite sad is that if she were to come clean, ask forgiveness and seek to rebuild what was once a very close father/daughter relationship, her father would say yes. He still loves her, worries about her, wants her to be happy and have a succesful career. He does not want that if it is built on her lies. He also refuses to simply sit back and allow her false version of events to be what he is remembered for.
More on this case will follow.
Reminder :- Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which a person seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, gaslighting involves attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim's beliefs.