Reality, Denied: GASLIGHTING

“I NEVER SAID THAT!” 

(my psychopathic ex)

The entire “relationship” with my psychopathic ex was one long episode of gaslighting, as they are for all of us.

“Gaslighting” is a term commonly used to describe behavior that is inherently manipulative. At its core, gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse that makes you doubt your own perceptions of reality. The term gaslighting is inspired by the film “Gas Light,” where a husband purposely and systematically manipulates his wife in order to make her feel crazy.

Many of us failed to spot someone was playing this insidious mind game with us, and until we fully understand it, there is a risk that it could happen again.

“Gaslighting has come to be applied to attempts by certain kinds of personalities, especially psychopaths — who are among the personalities most adept at sophisticated tactics of manipulation — to create so much doubt in the minds of their targets of exploitation that the victim no longer trusts their own judgment about things and buys into the assertions of the manipulator, thus coming under their power and control.”

(George Simon, PhD, Gaslighting as a Manipulation Tactic: What It Is, Who Does It, And Why)

Using the tactic of gaslighting, the manipulator denies, and therefore invalidates, reality. Invalidating reality distorts or undermines your perceptions of your world and can even lead you to question your own sanity.

When gaslighting, a manipulator will say things like:

“I don’t know where you got that idea.”

“It’s all in your head.”

“You’ve always had a bad memory!”

“That never happened. Are you crazy?”

“You must be trying to confuse me.”

“Are you calling me a liar?”

“You’re imagining things.”

“I never said that!”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

This kind of deception seems like it would be obvious, but it usually begins very gradually and increases in frequency and severity over time. It leads to anxiety, depression and confusion. Victims eventually question their ‘version’ of reality. When they no longer trust their own perceptions, they rely on the manipulator to define reality and can no longer function independently. Having been rendered helpless and lacking in any self-esteem, the manipulator is able to exercise total domination and get whatever it is they want, whether it is a feeling of superiority, financial control or sexual benefits.

“When they’re confronted, they don’t just deny, deny, deny — they deny adamantly. Such a tactic can be even more effective if they couple it with other tactics like feigning righteous indignation — when the manipulator acts as though they are justifiably offended that their victim would even suspect them of some dastardly behavior or intention and thereby besmirch their character. The script is simple: when you get confronted on something you know will expose you for the unsavory character you are, act offended and hurt, appear resolute, and question the sanity of your accuser. The script is not only simple, it’s also generally effective.”

George Simon, PhD, Gaslighting Revisited: A Closer Look at This Manipulation Tactic

Examples of gaslighting:

The manipulator…

Claims that you are mistaken in your belief that he wanted a committed, long-term relationship, even though everything he did and said created that belief.

Says something in an angry tone of voice, but when you become upset the manipulator denies having used an angry tone.

Deliberately upsets you, and then mocks you or puts you down for “overreacting.”

Purposely withholds certain details, and later tries convincing you that they did indeed tell you the missing details.

Moves items from one place to another and then denies having done so.

Asserts something untrue with enough conviction and intensity that you believe it.

Convinces you that you have shortcomings that you really don’t have

Exaggerates your shortcomings in an attempt to damage your self-confidence

Gets angry because you don’t believe their lies

Tries to shame you for not trusting them.

You might be a victim of gaslighting if you apologize often, have trouble making decisions, have changed significantly over the course of the relationship, feel you’re in a constant state of bewilderment, or have become reclusive and withdrawn.

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“It’s about making them doubt the accuracy and rationality of their perceptions as a way to manipulate them. There are lots of clever ways to do that, as skilled manipulators know all too well. One such way can be leading a person to believe that the relationship you want with them or actually have with them is of a particular character — such as an intimate, exclusive relationship with long term intentions — so that you can abuse or exploit them (e.g., get them to have sex with you) and then acting like the person had no rational reason to think they were anything but a casual encounter in the first place.”

George Simon, PhD, A New Form of Gaslighting?

Signs of gaslighting, from the National Domestic violence Hotline website:

  • You constantly second-guess yourself.
  • You ask yourself, “Am I too sensitive?” multiple times a day.
  • You often feel confused and even crazy.
  • You’re always apologizing to your partner.
  • You can’t understand why, with so many apparently good things in your life, you aren’t happier.
  • You frequently make excuses for your partner’s behavior to friends and family.
  • You find yourself withholding information from friends and family so you don’t have to explain or make excuses.
  • You know something is terribly wrong, but you can never quite express what it is, even to yourself.
  • You start lying to avoid the put downs and reality twists.
  • You have trouble making simple decisions.
  • You have the sense that you used to be a very different person – more confident, more fun-loving, more relaxed.
  • You feel hopeless and joyless.
  • You feel as though you can’t do anything right.
  • You wonder if you are a “good enough” partner.

Gaslighting is a big part of many of the techniques of manipulation, most of which include the element of denying a victim’s reality.

♥ After experiencing gaslighting, it’s normal to feel debilitated at first. However, you are only temporarily weakened. You will come back stronger than before, having learned painful but valuable lessons along the way.

Comments are closed.

 

“Excellent! A must read for anyone that is lost in a relationship. I would like to thank the author for an eye opening experience! This book has clarified more for me than I have ever understood in my entire life time… It is straight forward the author tells you exactly what you need to hear. To the author, again thank you for opening my eyes.”

“Psych RN Rates phenomenal read. In metropolitan practice seeing lots of psychopathology for two plus decades. But I needed this refresher for MY life! Clear, concise, to the point and on target. Everything one needs to identify the behavior in a concrete way and hopefully extricate oneself from toxic relationships, not limited to intimate ones. Fellow readers, if you identify with this book, do seek emotional and/or spiritual counseling and do not allow yourself to be victimized. Bravo to the author.”

“This book told me in a very concise format what I haven’t learned from two years of very expensive psychoanalysis AND a Master’s degree in Counseling. I’m not crazy! My intuition was not wrong… It was such a relief to see the feelings that the victim experiences laid out so clearly along with the characteristic behaviors of the psychopath. I just bought the book today and have already read it twice. I think I finally have the courage to end my emotionally abusive relationship. Anyone involved in a psychopathic relationship will immediately recognize it for what it is.”

“Great book!! Incredibly informative!! This is a great book. It help me realize what was happening in my relationship. It gave me the strength to move on and leave. I am so grateful I found this book.”

“If you’re wondering . . . ‘Gee, should I read this book?’ The answer is YES. It should be required for every human adult’s relationship toolkit.”

30 COVERT EMOTIONAL MANIPULATION TACTICS

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64 thoughts on “Reality, Denied: GASLIGHTING”

  1. Trish

    I went through all this and so glad it’s over. When the name calling and blaming me for every thing he did wrong and the put Downs I started abusjng back It got ugly I knew something was wrong but I knew it was him not me. He was fighting for power and control but since he didn’t have control of his own life I was t giving him any control I was the one who had the money and paid the bills and be wanted to handle that and I would tell him the few times I
    Let him he screwed up so it was all about him wanting to control and finally after 4 years he leer without saying goodbye just vanished and that hurt till I figured out he was a psychopath and all the lnowledge I got is what made me understand but I was mad at him for the

    1. Adelyn Birch

      My psychopathic ex never made me think I was crazy–he made me think HE was! I never said that! Oh yes you did! NO I DIDN’T! YES YOU DID! NO I DIDN’T! Good grief, what a bunch of crazymaking nonsense. I’m glad it’s over too, Trish.

    2. Sherri

      My husband and I have been separated since last October. He was my daughters step-father for 15 years (but in our lives for over 16), calling them “his daughters”. It’s been nearly a year of separation and he hasn’t ONCE asked how the girls are. Or our two little dogs he use to call “his boys”. Now he has cats with his latest girlfriend. It’s as if we NEVER existed! HOW DOES A PERSON DO THAT?
      He gets angry if I try to express my pain. Bending down over me he yells to “STOP CRYING, STOP IT RIGHT NOW”! He has ZERO empathy for other human beings. Unless he’s pretending to have a soul to get one of his victims in bed.

      1. Adelyn Birch

        My psychopathic ex pretended to LOVE my dog. One of the last things he said to me was, “I only pretended to like your dog!” Pretty sad for an adult. He only pretended to like me, too. Very sad he never asked about your daughters, Sherri. Yep, no empathy… no nothing.

      2. Hoodwinked

        I can relate absolutely to what you are saying. I have been separated for 3 months. My ex left me with no empathy or care, it was calculated process when he left. Like you when I cried he told me off like a little girl, he blamed me that he had to leave, the reason being he said “You just had to search”……uncovering the manipulative coercive person he is. He will now not speak to me at all, even when it concerns the children…..this I feel is him keeping his coercive control. This makes me so so angry and upset, and even though he is not here…he is still ‘rubbing’ me out!!

        1. Adelyn Birch

          Every one of them blames us, after putting us through hell! It’s their last hurrah—unless you have to continue dealing with them because of the children. Many of them walk away and never look back; they’re completely unconcerned about any of it. But in your case, his silence may very well be coercive control. Here’s the BEST article I’ve ever read about the silent treatment. It explains so well what it is, and how it feels: The Silent (but Deadly) Treatment by Steve Becker LCSW

          1. Hoodwinked

            Thank you for this article, it will help me to process and move forward….yes the coercive control continues……walked away with not a glance backwards!! :)

            1. Adelyn Birch

              So glad it helped, Hoodwinked.

        2. Brightie

          I understand you completely, Hoodwinked. That’s the way they are, and once they see there is no way to get to you, they do it over the children. This must get to you, and he knows it. That is why you must be strong and don’t let him show it gets to you. Use your smile, that’s what irritates them, to see you happy. Give him that smile every time in front of the kids and let your children see you happy when they leave the home. I suppose they don’t stay there too long and in that short period of time nothing bad can happen to them. ( Otherwise he will have problems with the authorities and he will earn bad reputation which is really important for him to keep). So, don’t worry, the kids will grow up and know the truth and decide for themselves what kind of relationship they want with their father. My ex doesn’t tell me what he does with our son either, I don’t know where he takes him for those 2 hours, or if he gives him food or water. My son was only 1.5 year old when he started to see him like that and he didn’t speak or could communicate what he does there. So for as long as he’s happy when he comes back and nothing bad happens, we’re fine. However, it takes superhuman kind of control not to have an outburst, to keep myself calm and happy when we meet in front of the doorstep. But that’s the thing that works for now. Maybe it will help you as well… :) Good luck!

          1. Adelyn Birch

            I imagine it would take superhuman control, Brightie. Thanks for offering your help to Hoodwinked!

            1. Hoodwinked

              Yes thank you Brightie, unfortunately my children are older and one has just gone to university. I have had all the responsibility of preparing everything, buying everything and sorting out everything since there. He nicely just turns up now and again and takes him for a meal. I hope your situation becomes easier too……superhuman control is needed I think by all of us undergoing this horrendous situation….I saw a quote yesterday that resonated….”when undergoing trauma, you can bounce higher that you ever have before” :)

  2. Phillip

    Just being in the presence of someone who lives in a whirlwind of egotistical projections is enough by itself to gaslight you.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      That’s so true!

  3. Sherri

    My sociopath husbands favorite line is “I’M NOT GOING TO MAKE SOMETHING UP JUST TO MAKE YOU HAPPY!!!”… (Yes it’s in all caps on purpose because he would be yelling it at me.) As if discovering ANOTHER lie makes me feel “happy”…. They are sick, horrible, awful people to their core. They prey on good honest caring people to fill their empty heartless souls. The problem is that it’s never full! There is never enough pain and manipulation to fill them up. And when you are so broken you don’t care if the sun comes up, they say “you don’t smile at me enough anymore”, because your pain doesn’t matter. Only what they aren’t getting FROM you. I will never be the same person I was before he tortured me into such a deep dark depression.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      That’s true. After they’ve crushed you, they get bored and leave. The only thing that matters to them is themselves. But they’re bored with themselves, too, which isn’t surprising. In fact, they are boring. Behind the mask, there is nothing. Don’t let an empty, heartless soul defeat you. That would be a real shame.

      1. Sherri

        I’m so sorry for what you have gone through.

    2. Totallybel

      That is so true Sherri, evil beings that look human, walk amongst us and share our beds. Nobody could understand unless they experienced one, or believed other victims unbelievable truths. You survived, you are a wonderful woman ( he would spend no time with you otherwise) he chose you for all your positive characteristics, and attempted to dismantle you in a deliberate bid to destroy you, bit by bit. But you survived, please do everything in your power, use the help and support when necessary, you are not alone, we are all interconnected, do whatever needs to be done for that glimmer, to become a glow and eventually a flame that will burn within you to fire your passions and pleasures to a far greater extent than before psycho. Enjoy that sunrise, enjoy that sunset, don’t let him destroy you by proxy, love you, love your life and as Brightie says, smile, they so hate that, and at times that’s the only reason I smiled, but eventually after many set backs your smile returns spontaneously as you watch the sun rise that morning. All good luck on your journey xxx

      1. Adelyn Birch

        Hi Totallybel. I hope you’re doing well.

  4. Bewildered

    Gaslighting is particularly effective when a third party is “in on” the manipulator’s game – wittingly or not. My ex-husband used a mutual friend, who I later learned was an accomplice and not someone we met together, to aver his “truths”, which made it doubly difficult to trust my own perceptions and judgment. He even used my children (from another marriage, now teens) to provide a trusted source of denial of certain things, by virtue of never having those things occur when they were at our house, ever. And those “things”, by this point, were truly unbelievable and singularly improbable, such that any would – & most did – think I really was crazy. I nearly lost my family, my career, & even my life over this mess, and fully a year after I escaped this torture, I struggle daily to maintain my sense of self. I hope in reading this that even one other person, somehow, some way, is saved.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      That’s terrible. It would be far worse if others were in on it, and I’m sorry that happened to you.

      1. Bewildered

        Thank you. You may know this yourself, but having even one person say that, & not “are you sure?” or some other questioning comment, can make a world of difference! Through your books and your blog, you really are helping others. Thank YOU!

        1. Adelyn Birch

          I’m glad to hear it, and happy I could help xx

  5. Lorna

    Today is my first anniversary of the legal divorce from this nightmare. Thank you!

    1. Adelyn Birch

      You’re welcome! One year of freedom is a real milestone, Lorna. It’s sad that it happened, but good that you’re free of it.

    2. Brightie

      Congratulations, Lorna! Have a nice day, week, month, and many happy years! :)

  6. Anna

    My ex husband was the expert of Gaslighting. He moved things around the house, a chair, a vase, etc… I had no doubt it was him and called him on it. He finally admitted and when asked why did he do it, he said he wanted input in the decoration of the room!! He doubled his Gas lighting and trebled it… over time. I had confided in my GP and he was pretty much aware of the ex. I had an ally and never once doubted my mind. The last time was really maddening though as he used to pretend to leave the house and would creep up the stairs so I could hear the stairs creeking and when I went to see if anyone was there, there would be no one. He did this over and over again… I vowed I will catch him and one day when he pretended to leave the house, I sat crouched at the top of the stairs waiting to see what will happen. Sure enough, he came ever so slowly, climbed the first couple of steps, went down then up again, in slow motion and when they creeked, I popped up. He had such a shock. He looked up like in a daze and slowly turned around and got back down. From that day, I hated him. We never talked about it. But he knew I knew. One day, he got up in the morning and came around my side of the bed. I could see him through my eyelids. He pretended he was cleaning up and took a tissue off my bedside table and picked up my diamond ring (which I bought) and threw it in the trash. I said nothing but whilst he was in the shower, I got up and picked it up never mentioning anything to him. He knew I was watching him… So many things … It was constant. My daughter (not his daughter) would put a washing on, then later find that the machine had been turned off. Of course it was him! So childish! It was a constant dilemma. His first partner is now a lunatic. He spent 17 years playing tricks on her that she is psychologically and physically damaged. He makes fun of her. He belongs in a mad house together with Hannibal Lechter. Pretty much the type BUT… you look at him, and women fall in love instantly! He is a coward, a liar, a thief, a manipulator, an imposter… and so much more!!

    1. Adelyn Birch

      He wanted input in decorating the room?! You’re right, he’s the one that should be in a madhouse. Nice work on the stairs! The things he did were like the gaslighting from the movie. Good thing you had an ally and never doubted yourself!

    2. Brightie

      I can’t believe I’m reading this! How preposterous! The nerve… You’re better off without him!

  7. Anna

    Thank you Adeline for this topic. Many victims (and psychologists) have no idea what this is all about. This is so dangerous to ones mental health. It is important to highlight it so others know what it entails. Thank you again.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      It is dangerous. And really, our entire relationships with them were one long episode of gaslighting.

    2. Totallybel

      The abuse they perpetrate is insidious Anna, how could anyone believe it? How could anyone believe that the person they fell in love with and care/d for was seeking to destroy them? And how can you articulate that to a mental health professional?Never mind to a family court? These characters only ‘plan’ is to thwart the plans of human beings in whatever way necessary. They either directly murder, cause accidents, drive you ‘mad’ as yours did to their poor ex, cause suicide, addictions to alcohol, prescription drugs. And from what I read how DNA is affected by environmental they are causing problems at our fundamental level for life. Dangerous just isn’t a word big enough to describe them. I’m so glad you are away from him xxx

      1. Adelyn Birch

        It is insidious! And mental health professionals should be up on this. Some are, but not enough. They can’t help someone who’s been victimized if they don’t understand what happened to them. I have heard from some people here that they had knowledgeable therapists, though. A few even recognized the problem first, and told them their partner was psychopathic. My own therapist didn’t “believe” in them; it’s as if I’d told her my ex was Santa Claus.

  8. lola

    He said after cheating: “Your understanding of where we were we at in the relationship was different from what I understood.” He also used to say:”I never said that, you misunderstood, or its not what you think.” He pushed me to not trust my intuition, to the point that I hired a PI to confirm all of my suspicions. What the PI uncovered was far worse than what I thought I knew. All the lies….

    1. Adelyn Birch

      Good move hiring the PI, Lola. “Your understanding of where we were we at in the relationship was different from what I understood.” That’s classic. I heard that one, too. In fact, he said my understanding of the relationship itself was wrong. Gee, I wonder how that happened…

  9. The first time I ever confronted mu husband I was told I had no right to ask. Then he told me that I had physically attacked him even though I knew deep down that I didn’t, he convinced me that I had. I apologized and begged for forgiveness. The next day, in a calm voice, he told me that he could have “taken me out” the only thing that stopped him was his career as a police officer. When it finally dawned on me what he meant, I was horrified. A week later he was saying I was being emotionally and physically abusive to him. (That was the night he left me). When I said that he had threatened my life, he yelled, “where in the h*** did you hear that?”. He then walked out. He said that he left because he was afraid I would file domestic violence against him and ruin his career. He also told people that I was crazy.
    It has been 3 years now, and I have never been happier. I can breathe! I am free! It took a long time to get here. I can now stand up for myself. I still have to have contact with him because of my daughter, but only email or text. I still here his voice in them.
    Your posts and books have helped me so much through these years. Thank you! Your insight helped me understand what I went through was not my fault and saved my life. I am truely grateful.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      Where the hell did you hear that?! Something that memorable is not something you would come to question from such a lame denial. My psychopathic ex insisted he told me he was married. Um, no—that’s not something that would just slip my mind! Deny, deny, deny… no matter how ludicrous! We know what they said, and they know it, and they know we know it, but still they think they can just deny it. It’s so absurd.

  10. lavender

    I wish it were not assumed that it is always the man who is the narcissist. My son has been in the grip of his girlfriend for years.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      Where was it assumed that it’s always the man? Take a look at the article again–no where does it say “he,” does it? I guess your wish has been granted! If you’re referring to my or the reader’s personal experiences, there’s nothing we can do about that. This website isn’t even about narcissists, let alone male narcissists. Saying something doesn’t make it true, Lavender, does it? In fact, that’s what the article is about… Hmmm…

  11. unhappy me

    that is my husband down to a tee the horrible mocking blaming shouting yelling swearing manipaliation coerscion

    1. Adelyn Birch

      I hope you’ll find your way out, Unhappy.

  12. resilient one

    One of mine was particularly adamant at this. He tried to make me believe that I’m not trustworthy by constantly being jealous at first. Then he tried to make me believe that his own friends are trying to kill him. Then he was convinced that I’m one of them, his main evidence being that I left a “secret message” on his mirror that I never wrote, of course. At that time I was questioning his sanity, but now, a few years later, since he’s all miraculously “better”, I’m starting to think it was all part of his manipulation game, which he used on me so generously, since he knew I had nowhere else to go at that point, so I literally could not escape. This summer he tried to be my “friend” again, and I said no.
    As I was writing this, a daily reminder to myself went off on my phone: “I will not be blamed for something I’m not responsible for.” Very very appropriate and always timely.
    Thank you, Adelyn, for helping me see things in the new light.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      He sounds paranoid. I’m glad you said no to being “friends.” What a great idea to send yourself a reminder! And what a good one. I’m so glad I could help, Resilient One!

      “I will not be blamed for something I’m not responsible for.”

  13. vanessa

    I didn’t know all that stuff that he would pull was called ‘gaslighting’ for many years..saying lies deliberately to upset me, get me mad or crying and sit there and laugh at me! I could go on and on; but it was DELIBERATE and it was meant to hurt.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      It’s hard to believe, isn’t it, that someone could laugh about making another person cry. Says a lot about them, nothing good. Sorry you had to deal with that, Vanessa.

  14. vanessa

    I think gaslighting has been pulled in MY family too; some years ago, my sister picked me up (following a wedding, where I stayed at a motel) to go shopping at a woman’s dress shoppe..By the time she DID pick me up, it was too late for the early bargains..so she suggested we go visit her daughter in another town..on the way, I noticed a box of cleaning supplies in her back seat..we were going to clean her daughter’s apartment, for a temporary guest! Not a social call at all! I was NOT happy, that she pulled this sneaker on me..

    1. Adelyn Birch

      Your sister reminds me of my own! Whenever I’d visit her apartment in NYC, we couldn’t go anywhere until I helped her clean the entire place from top to bottom!

    2. vanessa

      That episode with my niece’s apartment cleaning, hasnt happened again..(i still want to ask my sister about our NOT shopping at Kohl’s, which turned into a cleaning job)..I remembered another episode..I stayed overnight at mom’s following a family wedding..so the next morning we’re having breakfast..my brother and wife drove in, with a pickup and horse trailer..I asked “what was going on?”..mom sheepishly said ” I volunteered you to help us clean up the reception hall” since you were already here…so that’s 2 times I’ve been ‘suckered’ by family!!! Why I cant be asked directly, if I want to help, is beyond me.

      1. Adelyn Birch

        Some people have trouble being straightforward about what they want, so they resort to manipulation. Others just manipulate because they’re manipulators. Even if they fall into the first group, it’s maddening.

  15. Amy

    My N mother ranted and raved about her ex husband (my father) to me for decades and then claimed she had never told me anything.
    She would also provoke me with the worst offences and when I took the bait, pretend that this proved that I was “crazy”. What a loving mommy indeed…

    1. Adelyn Birch

      I’m sorry you didn’t have a loving mother, Amy. I hope you’ve found the support you need to help you deal with it. xo

  16. Amanda

    so why do the police legal services do nothing because there conned to the vendettas are horrendous he nearly killed my daughter 2 granddaughter of 2&3 yrs old by a gas leak refused topay I GOT NO MONEY HE SAID i sold he watch i bought him everything else gone & got his £20,000 court costs through fear lost my home up for sale in 2007 for 1/4 million now 8 yrs on all i have is an IVA on my garage i thought i sold 8 yrs ago with my house he sold it from under me found by solicitors researxh stripped £70,000 from my account on my sale for a timeline still trapped today in a refuge solicitors legal services bugged up draft statement into court relief barrister in a TRAPPING CASE were the support out there ??????

    1. Adelyn Birch

      I’m sorry to hear you’ve had all this trouble, Amanda. I hope things will get better for you soon xx

  17. elena s

    Please I need Help My son and my granddaughter is been very ugly abuse that I haven’t see in my whole life I don’t have any words o more how to describe this (evil) behavior against my family Wife is very bad person if she is I always talk to myself if this person is a human I am the mother and I am dying out this stress and I don’t know how to help my son he is blind and he doesn’t aloud me to enter to his life he is cruel with me and all of this abusive relationship is damaging my son work and life she use substances alcohol and marihuana is horrible life and my family living this ugly life Help me please

    1. Adelyn Birch

      Hi, Elena. I’m terribly sorry your son and granddaughter are involved with this abusive person. I’ve heard from many parents like you, who were desperate to do something about it. I wish I had an answer for you! Unfortunately, as far as I know there’s not much you can do. It’s not something under your control. Your son is the only one who can do something about it, but like the others I’ve heard from, he’s blind to what’s going on, and he has cut off communication with you. Unless the granddaughter is being physically abused, I don’t know what action, if any, you can take. You might consider speaking to a psychotherapist who’s knowledgable about these matters—it’s obviously taking a toll on you. I wish you and your family all the best, Elena. I hope your son will see the truth soon and get out of there.

  18. Sweetescape

    I find it astonishing and truly gobsmacking how much of this goes on behind closed doors. I send a hug to each and every one of you affected by their poison. I never knew what was happening when I was immersed in it. It took me a year after leaving to discover what happened to me. It’s pitiful. They are the slime of the earth.
    The damage. Once you know exactly what train crashed into your life, it is unequivocal. I’ve never known pain like it. I cannot wait to start my life again, at the moment I’m in no mans land while he has moved on in classic fashion to start all over again. He’s a monster. He has no soul.
    Both of which he once said to me!!! Shame on me for being so blind.
    At least I took my blindfold off eventually.
    Thank you Adelyn and to all avenues that are open to us to help the devastation eventually seem less……well devastating!!
    x

    1. Adelyn Birch

      Thanks for the hugs, Sweetscape. Consider yourself (((hugged))) in return!

  19. Alice

    Once more, an excellent and valuable post; written so well that it makes the dynamics behin the emotional abuse perfectly comprehensible!

    Thankyou for much, Adelyn! xx

    I think I will translate this into German language and show my kids so they can learn how to recognise these sorts of tactics in everyday life (school, relationships), and in the greater context (such as politics).

    Speaking of politics: isn’t it horrific to watch how politicians all over the world such as in the U.S. (Trump et al) and Russia (especially Russia! But also Turkey and even Hungary) are using these manipulation techniques to brainwash, control and objectify people and systems? It seems like most “leaders” have a Cluster B personality disorder these days… how can it be?

    And normal people in Syria, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey to name but a few are victimised and anihilated on so many levels… it is truly sad, and the only response I find is sticking to humanity, hope, fair-play and reality in my own small world, my personal life.

    We the people have to stay human in times of narcissism and psychopathy, which also means seeing each and every human being as an individual, not just ‘one of those refugees or migrants’, for example. Hust as we are much more than just ‘one of these women/play-things’ to the narcissist!

    1. Adelyn Birch

      You’re welcome, Alice. I’m so glad to hear you’re going to translate it for your kids! I hope it helps them.

      Dealing with it by “sticking to humanity, hope, fair-play and reality in my own small world, my personal life” is a very good idea. If the majority did that, imagine what could happen!

      One of the biggest ways politicians manipulate the masses is by creating or increasing people’s fear, and then saying they are the only one who can keep you safe. You can read more about it in my post, “Fear and Manipulation: Perfect Together.”

      Trump “literally screamed that our nation was in “crisis” and “terrorism in our cities” was “threaten[ing] our very way of life.” And then Trump boasted that he “alone” is the one who can keep you and your family safe from the threats that lurk, promising that he was, “going to defeat the barbarians of ISIS and we’re going to defeat them fast.” I hate to rain on Trump’s party with a reality check, but I have one question that I believe many Americans would like an answer to: What in Trump’s background would even suggest that he has any understanding of how to deal with the threats facing our nation, especially the so-called Islamic State, Al Qaeda and other extremist groups that are thrown his way?… ” Trump Can Scare You, but He Can’t Keep You and Your Family Safe

      1. Alice

        Dear Adelyn,
        Thanks for your interesting reply, I agree and will definitely check out that other post you wrote, as well as the links you provided.

        1. Adelyn Birch

          You’re welcome, Alice!

  20. Alena

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and it wasn’t until this morning that I sat down and decided to read this post. Having survived a terrible marriage that ended in domestic violence and ending another marriage due to emotional abuse, I decided to go into therapy to try and figure out what I was doing wrong. Only to realize I’m not doing anything wrong. I keep picking men who dominate me and belittle my every effort for their own enjoyment.

    I’m in couples therapy with my current relationship because I want it to work and we are learning how to work through the issues created by previous relationships.

    This article made me tear up at the realization as to how far they went with the manipulation and control. What got me, was the “often used phrases,” spot on!

    Thank you for painting such a clear picture for my confused brain to understand.

  21. Marie

    Wow. Thank you so much for this piece on gaslighting. And for this blog and to everyone who shares their stories.

    I recently heard from the “ex best friend” of my perpetrator. The best friend has parted company with my P, because, he says, watching how I was treated was the last straw. So I asked some questions.

    I was able to ask about the very first time my P turned on me–the first time he started to devalue me, using gaslighting (why are you acting this way? can’t you see I’m working? I’m very busy. You are codependent. Etc). I asked if there had been another woman during that time–and he confirmed for me that there was. In fact, almost every time my P had treated me badly, and feigned “illness” as a reason not to be in touch, it was because he was busy with another woman. The gaslighting always coincided with another source of supply. I was able to confirm it. This means that the gaslighting started five months after our relationship started.

    I also learned that he eventually dumped this woman to return to me.

    I felt many things learning this. I felt…elated he had chosen me. Me! He chose me! Then I told myself that I was allowing past behavior and childhood training to feel happy that I had been cheated on and rechosen, and that being put in this position in the first place was not healthy.

    Then I wanted to call my P. I called a friend instead, who explained that to have been gaslighted for over a year, was abuse, and that I could not reconnect with my abuser.

    Then I sat there and thought: the very fist instance of trouble in our relationship happened when he looked for a new supply. A new woman. And kept me in the dark about it. And lied. It was not because I am emotionally unstable. It was because I knew I was being lied to–on some level–and I responded accordingly. Then he came back, and things were wonderful and I trusted him again…until the next devaluing.

    I guess I’m writing this comment to let people know…if you are being gaslighted, it is because something is wrong. Your intuition knows. In a real relationship, a person will listen to you and talk to you, and will not resort to name calling and blaming you with some kind of mental illness diagnosis. If you feel sick…pay attention. You are feeling sick for a reason.

    Thank you so much, Adelyn, for highlighting the many parts of this sick relationship type, as you have.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      “In a real relationship, a person will listen to you and talk to you.” That’s so true, Marie! In fact, in a real relationship, chances are you would never have these kind of concerns to begin with (that doesn’t mean ‘no concerns,’ but not the type we had with psychopaths and narcissists). When you’re in a relationship with someone who’s in it, too, and who loves you, it’s pretty darn easy. You don’t wonder where they are right now, how they really feel about you, what diagnosis they might have… and you aren’t consumed with anxiety.

      The very moment I start to wonder what someone’s diagnosis is, that’s my cue to exit. I couldn’t care less what it is. What I care about is having meaningful relationships where I’m valued, appreciated, respected, and loved, NOT whether someone is psychopathic, neurotic, autistic, narcissistic, borderline, paranoid, etc… Psychopaths are not the only ones who will make life miserable!

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