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  • Writer's pictureTricia Mazza, LPC

Recognizing Gaslighting: Understanding the Signs

Gaslighting, a term that has gained prominence in discussions about psychological manipulation, refers to a form of emotional abuse where the abuser seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a person, making them question their reality, memory, or perceptions. This tactic can be particularly insidious because it's often subtle and builds up over time, making it difficult for victims to recognize they're being manipulated.

What is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a manipulative technique used by individuals to gain power over someone by distorting their sense of reality. It can occur in various relationships, including romantic partnerships, among family members, or even in the workplace.Understanding the signs of gaslighting will be empowering and become an important tool as you navigate relationships.

Signs of Gaslighting

  1. Denying Facts: The abuser outright denies factual information, even when there's proof. Example: You present an email to clarify a misunderstanding, but the gaslighter insists it never existed.

  2. Twisting Information: They might take something you said and distort it to use against you. Example: You express concern about their behavior, and they accuse you of being overly sensitive or paranoid.

  3. Shifting Blame: The gaslighter avoids accountability by blaming you for their actions. Example: They might cheat in a relationship but claim it happened because you weren't attentive.

  4. Trivializing Your Feelings: Your emotions are belittled or dismissed as irrational or overreactions. Example: You're upset about something hurtful they did, but they say you're just overreacting and it's 'not a big deal.'

  5. Using Confusion: They might say or do things and later deny it, making you question your memory or sanity. Example: They make a promise and later deny ever making it, suggesting you misunderstood.

How to Respond to Gaslighting

  • Trust Your Instincts: If something feels off, trust your gut. Your emotions and memories are valid.

  • Seek Support: Talk to friends, family, or a professional who can provide an outside perspective and validate your experiences.

  • Set Boundaries: Clearly communicate your boundaries to the gaslighter. If they're not respected, consider distancing yourself from the relationship.

  • Document Interactions: Keeping a record can help you keep track of reality and provide evidence of the gaslighter's behavior.


Identifying gaslighting is the first step towards addressing and escaping this form of emotional abuse. By understanding the signs and examples outlined above, individuals can better protect themselves from manipulation and seek the support necessary for healing. If you're experiencing gaslighting, remember you're not alone, and help is available. Cohesive Counseling is here to support you through your journey to reclaim your reality and strength. To start your journey, book with us here.

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