The Truth Behind Gaslighting
Published on August 25, 2020 by Autumn Rise Foundation, Inc. in ARF Blog Submissions
A gaslighter denies the other person's point of view and attempts to convince them what they believe or feel is not true.
I became aware of the truth behind gaslighting when escaping an emotionally abusive relationship. Psychological abuse, often called emotional abuse, is any intentional conduct that seriously impairs another person’s psychological integrity through coercion or threats (2). This psychologically abusive relationship was hard for me to identify then label as such because it wasn’t what I expected. I believed psychological abuse was being called degrading names by your partner or yelled phrases such as “you are nothing without me” and so on. What about when the phrases take the form of “But, I love you — and if you really loved me you would stay with me while I battle my demons”. The issue was this phrase followed an argument that was initiated by my partner projecting their issues onto me. It was in phrases like this that I learned the truth behind gaslighting.
By definition, gaslighting means to cause (a person) to doubt his or her sanity through the use of psychological manipulation (1). A gaslighter denies the other person’s point of view and attempts to convince them what they believe or feel is not true. Often, this is done for personal gain, although it may also simply be a way of having control over another person (3). I encourage you to stop and reflect on a time you may have fallen victim to gaslighting or when you may have done this to your partner, a family member, a mentee, etc.
In my personal experience, while in that relationship I knew something wasn’t right. It wasn’t until years later that I learned to identify the signs of gaslighting that could potentially turn into psychological abuse. Signs of gaslighting include no longer feeling like yourself, often wondering if you’re being too sensitive, apologizing often, and finding it increasingly hard to make decisions (4). You may recognize when friends have transitioned into a psychologically abusive relationship if noticing an individual is being verbally or mentally mistreated as well as signs of being emotionally upset or agitated (5).
The truth is, this type of abuse might seem normal at first. Gaslighting can appear in everyday situations but often occur with people you hold a close relationship with. Personally, I believe psychological abuse can be one of the most detrimental because it can be hard to identify when it is happening to you. Do not suffer in silence. If you are going through this speak to a therapist or seek other helpful resources in your community. Lastly, mention psychological abuse when speaking about forms of abuse and teaching children about relationships.
Written By: Anqesha L. Murray, Founder/CEO
Autumn Rise Foundation, Inc.
1. “Gaslight.” Dictionary.com, Dictionary.com, www.dictionary.com/browse/gaslight?s=t.
2. “Psychological Violence.” European Institute for Gender Equality,
3. Day One. “Understanding Gaslighting.” Day One, Day One, 9 Apr. 2020,
4. Morris, Susan York. “Gaslighting: Signs and Tips for Seeking Help.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 23 Mar. 2017, www.healthline.com/health/gaslighting.
5. “Types and Signs of Abuse.” DSHS,