What Does Gaslighting Mean in Terms of a Relationship?


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Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse that occurs when a person psychologically manipulates another person in a way that causes her to doubt her perception of reality. The victim loses the ability to trust her own judgment of what she experiences, and she may even begin to question her sanity, according to The National Domestic Violence Hotline. An example of this type of abuse is a person telling his victim that something she experienced never happened.

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There are several different gaslighting techniques, states The National Domestic Violence Hotline. Countering is when the partner challenges the victim's accurate account of an experience. Blocking or diverting occurs when the partner tells his victim that she is imagining things. Trivializing is when the abuser tells his partner she is being too sensitive or getting angry over something that doesn't matter. Forgetting or denial involves an abuser feigning ignorance of something or accusing his partner of making things up, and withholding refers to refusing to listen to her.

Gaslighting is usually a gradual process, and the victim's initial response is often disbelief of her partner's behavior, followed by defensiveness and depression, at which point the victim often withdraws from social contact, having lost all trust in her perception of reality, says PsychologyToday.com.

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