Are you a victim of gaslighting?

If you’re not sure, then this article is for you.

If your answer is “No,” then read on to learn what to look out for. And just in case you answered “Yes,” let the below signs provide you a confirmation.

Confirming that you’re indeed a gaslighting victim is important. This is because in most cases, victims are likely to deny it because they don’t know it. When gaslighting works as intended, it becomes difficult for the victim to understand what’s going on.

The term “gaslighting” originated from the 1938 play called Gaslight. In 1940, a film based on the play was produced in London. Then in 1944, the American version of the film was produced.

The story line in both British and American versions was the same. It was about a husband who had a secret to keep and was willing to do anything to keep it. In his willingness to do anything, he manipulated his wife to make her think she was crazy.

As long as his wife believed she was crazy, then she wouldn’t be able to find out the secret. That’s what it was all about.

The gaslighter is always working towards something. He’s usually looking for power and control. This power and control is meant to hide something the gaslighter can’t afford to have exposed.

Gaslighters achieve their goal by attacking you psychologically. They gradually manipulate you so you don’t recognize it. In the end, your self-worth is destroyed and your perception of reality is altered.

This leaves you believing the gaslighter’s every word. And that’s what he wants.

It’s important to understand that any form of manipulation is abuse. Whether it’s mental, emotional or physical manipulation, it’s all abuse. Abuse is also a cycle. The cycle of abuse has great moments and bad ones. It’s usually a trap.

In any setting, romantic relationships, workplace environment or even family, relationships are supposed to be based on love and respect. This allows everyone to be free to express themselves and be who they are.

But in an abusive environment, people are only able to do what someone else wants. They can’t express themselves for fear of punishment.


Gaslighting works like a charm. It rarely fails, unless the victim recognizes it early and runs disconnects from the gaslighter.

Although being informed about this manipulation tactic helps you stay safe, anyone can fall victim.

There are certain signs you can spot on yourself to help you know what is happening to you. If you experience the below signs, then know that you’re a victim.

1. You don’t know whether you’re valued or not.

Gaslighters are master manipulators. They know how to look for a suitable candidate and start working their efforts. They will use many techniques all in an effort to confuse you.

In confusing you, the abuser will have control over you since you start looking to him for direction.

There are two things which the gaslighter does to result in this confusion:

  • Tears you down – a primary manipulation method used by the gaslighter is to tear you down. This will target your mind so that you doubt your own thinking and judgment. Your self-esteem will be destroyed so you don’t believe in yourself any more.

Tearing you down goes ahead to target your identity and self-worth. Once you’re reduced to nothing, you give the control of your life to the gaslighter.

  • Positive reinforcement – since manipulation seeks to control you, a gaslighter will also use positive reinforcement to train you on how to act the way he wants you to. He will do this by telling you good things and even rewarding you when you do what he wants done.

Since you’ve been hurt by his tearing down, rewards and kind words will light you up. Hoping to get more of that instead of the tearing down, you’ll make the effort to continue doing that which pleases him. And that is how you get controlled.

2. You do things to please the gaslighter.

Whenever you’re in any kind of a relationship, whether friendship, work, family or romantic, there are things you do for the other person.

At work, this could mean going the extra mile to get more information about the market you’re researching. It could also take any form of exceeding the expectations of your boss.

In a family setting, it could be helping a sibling with her chores. Or helping your partner with her responsibilities.

Whatever the case, in ideal situations, it’s all done from the perspective of love. But when the other person is a gaslighter, things are different. You don’t do such things out of love but fear. Fear is crippling.

In an attempt to ensure the gaslighter is happy with you, you go out of your way too much. You make big sacrifices with the intention of showing the gaslighter that you’re worthy of him.

This happens because one of the effects of gaslighting is the lack of self-worth.

Since your self-worth is determined by the gaslighter’s words, you seek to please him so as to get affirmation.

3. You are too careful with your words and actions.

You never communicate freely as you would when with your friends. You have to really think about what you’re about to say. If you believe it may anger the gaslighter, you would rather not say it.

Although it’s normal and important to check your thoughts before speaking, in this situation, you think too much about them. And it’s not that you’re trying to communicate effectively. You are trying to ensure you don’t say or do anything wrong.

This is referred to as walking on eggshells. You’re being too careful not to upset the other person. You upsetting them will make them react and their reaction will have a negative effect on you.

Here are three possible reactions if you don’t get your words or actions aligned to a gaslighter’s desires:

  • He becomes angry – anger is a common tactic used to silence and control people. When the gaslighter reacts in anger, he’s likely to say things which will hurt you. Those words uttered in anger are what you really want to avoid.
  • He becomes sad – sadness is also a manipulation tactic for gaslighters. They can use it to blame you for their apparent emotional instability. And when you’re blamed, especially if the manipulation has been ongoing for some time, you might agree with them.

You then become the guilty one. To avoid being the bad person, you do what they want you to do. This way, at least, you won’t be a bad person who makes him sad. It’s a win for him.

  • They express disappointment – this tactic works in a somewhat similar way to the sadness tactic. In this case however, different things can happen. For example, gaslighter could accuse you of disappointing him by your lack of intelligence. Apparently, you spoke or acted foolishly.

An insult on your intelligence is a big attack on your identity. And the gaslighter intends to be the one determining whether you’re intelligent or not.

Once you give him that power, you’ll have to do what he wants so as to earn the badge.

That is control.

4. You feel tense when the person shows up.

Are you diligently working in your office and then suddenly your boss shows up? Or are you watching your favorite comedy and your partner walks in?

What’s your immediate response?

If you become fearful of what they could ask, say or do, then that’s a sign that gaslighting has been going on.

You’re in fear of him even when you have not done anything wrong. Your level of discomfort tells the kind of relationship you have.

If you become tense because he has become part of the environment, then know you are in an abusive relationship.

5. You can’t confidently describe yourself.

A key effect of gaslighting is that you end up losing your identity. This happens gradually and rarely will you notice what’s happening.

As your sense of worth gets eroded, you become unable to define yourself. You’re no longer sure of who you are, what your abilities are and how valuable you are.

If this happens, then it means the person you’re relating or working with has brainwashed you to think you are nothing while he is very valuable.

When your identity is dependent on an abuser’s words, you can only describe yourself in their words.

If they’ve said you’re foolish, that’s what you’re likely to say you are. If they’ve called you useless, you may end up really seeing no use in your life.

An alternative way of describing yourself is letting the gaslighter describe you. You might say that he knows you well.

So, unless the gaslighter is the one describing you, you’re not sure what to say about yourself.

6. You’re confused and keep second-guessing yourself.

You no longer know what to do and you’re afraid of making mistakes. You can’t afford being quarreled and so have to seek advice. You think that seeking advice is a good thing and the gaslighter will appreciate your wisdom.

Although the abuser may at first give you the advice you seek, he will not always do it. He will at first love the idea of you asking him what he wants or prefers. But the second or third time you ask, you might be sent away with an insult.

This is the best time to not only attack your thinking abilities but also cause you confusion. This is how gaslighting victims end up quite literally, losing their minds. They have been under a heavy psychological attack that they no longer understand themselves.

The gaslighter might ask you, “Can’t you think for yourself?” or “Don’t you have a brain of your own to use? Why must you use my brain? You’re the reason I’m always stressed up.”

As such words confirm to you that you did the wrong thing in asking for advice, they also condemn you for making someone else—an innocent person—stressed.

You end up struggling with guilt yet you still aren’t sure what the best thing to do is.

7. You prefer being alone.

Preferring to be alone is not necessarily to unwind and de-stress. This is an attempt to escape the brutal world you live in, either at work or home.

The barrage of attacks targeting your mind is too much and you want to get some peaceful moments.

Staying alone could also be as a result of what you’ve been made to believe. It could be that you’ve been told that other people hate you and the gaslighter is doing you a favor living with you.

If it’s at work, your manager could tell you that other managers know you’re not productive and so can’t accommodate you in their teams.

Once you’re told that this is what others are saying, especially if those people are close to you, then you start doubting their sincerity. You conclude that you can’t trust anyone because they are not genuine friends.

What you may not know is that the manipulator most likely lied to you so as to make you not reach out to people. He knows that when you interact with people, you’re likely to tell them what is happening to you.

That will expose him and he can’t allow it to happen. So he manipulates you to ensure you don’t reach out.

8. Family and friends suspect something is wrong; you deny it.

The people who knew you before you got into the relationship you’re in, have commented that something is wrong.

You have however assured them that all is well. And when they insisted, you told them it’s just the normal stress from work or family responsibilities.

In other words, you denied that there is anything wrong yet you know there is.


You’re defending the gaslighter. And if you are in this phase, then things are really bad.

There are two reasons why you’re defending him.

The first reason is because you can’t afford to say anything that can paint him in bad light. That will make him angry with you and the result will not be good.

The second if because the manipulation has worked on you to the point that you actually believe that the abuser is a good person. He is out to help you become better and that’s why he corrects you.

You’ve come to believe that even though he at corrects you harshly, deep down in his heart, he actually loves you.

9. You work very hard to improve yourself.

There’s always room for improvement. And this is not just for work done but also for human character, skills etc. Therefore, it’s very wise to work on being better.

Also, given the amount of competition in the world, you have to get better in whatever you do. For a promotion at work, you have to improve your abilities. For more profits in your business, you have to upgrade your skills, machinery etc.

So what’s the difference between that good upgrade and the one you’re pursuing?

Well, what’s the motivation?

At work and in your business, you want to make more money. More money means a better lifestyle for you and your family. That is security.

Where there is abuse involved, at work or at home, things are slightly different. You are essentially trying to be a better person in terms of your nature, personality or character.

This is with the hope that your relationship with the other person will improve.

That’s a good thing to do, right?

Yes, it’s a good thing to do. However, do you know that one person cannot improve a relationship without the other person’s involvement?

Now that you know this, is the other person putting in similar efforts?

If you’ve been gaslighted, or are being gaslighted, the answer is “No.” All the work to improve the relationship is being done by you. This is because you are the one who needs to change. In any case, aren’t you the problem?

That’s how the abuser sees it and he has made you see it that way too.

10. You believe nobody loves you except the gaslighter.

This is big sign and it comes at an advanced stage of gaslighting. Remember that the ultimate goal of gaslighting is to make you doubt your reality and have no self-worth.

Since part of the work involved is to make you see the gaslighter as a good person, you’ll end up believing him. Once that happens, you go by whatever he tells you.

He tells you that your friends have said something negative about you—you agree. Since he is telling you this i.e. exposing bad friends, you see him as a true friend.

Then he tells you that you’re so pathetic that he’s doing you a favor by accommodating you. Nobody else can do that.

By the time a gaslighter tells you such words, he has done other evils and is sure it will work. Your self-esteem has been eroded and you have come to believe that you are worthless. Your existence and survival is in his hands.

This is the time where, no matter how badly he treats you, even if he physically abuses you, you somehow believe that he loves you. It may sound weird, but it happens.

Watch the below video and see how sneaky abuse can be. You rarely get to notice it and can even deny it after it becomes evident.

11. You doubt your character.

There is a manipulation tactic used by gaslighters called projection. This is where they accuse you of the very things they are doing.

For example, if the person is a liar, he accuses you of lying. If he’s cheating, he accuses you of cheating. He does this to stop you from accusing him while at the same time preparing grounds for asking you to change.

Once it’s established that you’re a liar, then another accusation comes along. Maybe you’re lazy. This is because you didn’t do what he expected of you last night. It could be the dishes or preparing dinner on time.

Now you have two things to work on. In due time, they can probably increase but the main thing is that they will likely be big accusations.

Having been told these things for some time now, you’ll start seeing the possibility of them being true. You start questioning your own character and look for ways of mending it.

This new perception of yourself can easily be one of the things someone close to you notices. You act differently from how you used to before you got that job or started dating that person.

12. You’re always anxious about the gaslighter’s mood.

Could it be that the gaslighter is just experiencing some mood swings? This can easily be the conclusion where the gaslighter is a woman since women often experience mood swings.

In reality though, whether a man or a woman, gaslighters can manufacture foul mood for the purpose of manipulating you. They will use passive-aggressive behavior to confuse and control you.

If you find that you’re always worried that the boss would be in a foul mood even though it’s Friday, something is wrong.

Watch this video to understand more about passive-aggressive behavior.

13. Your needs and feelings are no longer important.

After relating with a manipulative person for some time, you soon realize that they come first. No matter what is happening in your life, they have to come first.

You may have an emergency at home but your boss doesn’t want to hear about it. He demands that you get to work and finish it on time. In any case, everyone is busy and nobody can do your work for you.

You’re coming back from work and are very tired. You just need a warm bath and some rest before preparing dinner. This rarely happens but your partner doesn’t see how this could be true. To him, you’re just excusing your laziness.

Anytime you have to sacrifice your basic and important needs for someone else, take a closer look.

If the person doesn’t seem bothered that you could be having a real need and is only focused on his needs, then that’s not a caring person.

Look more carefully at his behavior patterns. You might just notice other toxic habits like lying, undermining others, intimidation and the like.

14. You can’t pinpoint the problem.

If you are a victim of gaslighting, you’re probably very confused. You don’t understand what is going on and cannot even say what the problem is. You just know that there is something wrong.

Well, that’s a good start. At least you’re past the denial phase. Gaslighting victims often deny that there is a problem and instead think they are the ones who need to just work some more on the situation.

If you’re fortunate enough to realize that there’s a problem, can you tell what it is?

That might be challenging due to the confusion in your mind and the change in your view of reality.

It’s possible that at some point, you were asked what the problem was or you sought to share your story. But the person you were talking with couldn’t understand you. You couldn’t really explain things in a clear and logical way.

This shows the degree of psychological damage you have experienced. Your mind can’t explain the situation though it’s struggling to get a grip of it.


Gaslighting is a very cruel manipulation tactic. Those using the tactic seek complete control over their victim. They do this by eroding their self-esteem and distorting their perception of reality.

Experiencing gaslighting can make you doubt your thinking, believe in outright lies and even defend the person abusing you psychologically and emotionally.

Always check your behavior towards people you work or live with. If you notice anything similar to the above, start working on protecting yourself from the abuse.

How to Know If You’re a Victim of Gaslighting

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