By Sybil Cummin, MA, LPC, ACS
When thinking about domestic violence, the physical forms of violence seem to be what folks think about and hold as the most vicious form of abuse. It is true that physical and sexual abuse cause a significant amount of harm and trauma to its survivors. But let’s look at one of the actions that allow someone to maintain a level of power and control that can lead to physical abuse...gaslighting.
What is gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a specific type of manipulation done from one person to another where the manipulator succeeds in having the target question their own reality, memory, or perceptions (Wikipedia and Oxford Languages Dictionary). This can be done in many different ways by an abusive partner, from minimizing the abusive experience:
“Oh my God. You are over-exaggerating. That didn’t really hurt.”
To telling you how you do or do not feel:
“You're not actually sad, you are just trying to get attention.”
To challenging your perceptions of a situation:
“Wow! That’s not how I remember it at all. Did you take your meds this morning?”
Sybil Cummin, MA, LPC, ACS, is a Licensed Professional Counselor who specializes in working with victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse.