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Gaslighting Examples, Effects, and How to Confront the Abuse

Gaslighting Examples, Effects, and How to Confront the Abuse - Northpoint Recovery

Lying and manipulation are hallmarks of abusive relationships. Intentionally misleading someone is highly destructive to their self-esteem. Gaslighting, an example of manipulation, is common in many toxic relationships. Learn from the gaslighting examples in this article and how this knowledge can help you recognize dangerous behavior in your relationships and the consequences. After escaping an emotionally abusive relationship, mental health therapy programs can help you get back on your feet.

What Is Gaslighting?

The term gaslighting comes from the 1944 film “Gaslight,” in which a man tries to make his wife believe she is losing her mind by making small changes in their home and denying that they ever happened. Today, we use the term gaslighting to describe someone who tries to manipulate another person by making them question their reality.

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that undermines the victim’s sense of reality, often leading to profound emotional distress and confusion. The gaslighter employs various tactics, including distortion of facts, manipulation of events, and the fabrication of falsehoods, to erode the victim’s confidence in their perceptions and memory.

By systematically undermining the victim’s trust in their judgment, the gaslighter gains control over their thoughts and actions, fostering a sense of dependency and powerlessness in the victim. Gaslighting can occur in various contexts, including interpersonal relationships, workplace dynamics, and societal structures, and its effects can be long-lasting and detrimental to the victim’s mental and emotional well-being.

Recognizing the signs of gaslighting is essential for empowering individuals to assert their reality and seek support to break free from the cycle of manipulation and abuse. Through education, awareness, and support, victims of gaslighting can reclaim their autonomy and regain control over their lives.

Gaslighting Examples

Gaslighting is a psychological manipulation that causes people to lose their sense of identity, perception, and worth. This causes the victim to question their reality and question their sanity. Here are some common gaslighting examples:

Denial of Reality

The gaslighter denies events or occurrences that have taken place, even when there is clear evidence to the contrary. For example, if the victim confronts the gaslighter about a past conversation, the gaslighter may insist that it never happened.

Contradiction and Lies

Gaslighters may directly contradict the victim’s memories or perceptions of events, even when the victim knows they are telling the truth. They may lie about past events or conversations to confuse the victim and undermine their confidence.

Minimization and Trivialization

Gaslighters downplay the significance of the victim’s feelings, experiences, or concerns, making them feel they are overreacting or being too sensitive. For example, if the victim expresses hurt or frustration over something the gaslighter said or did, the gaslighter may dismiss their feelings as unimportant or irrational.


Gaslighters project their negative traits or behaviors onto the victim, making them feel unreasonable, irrational, or emotionally unstable. For example, if the gaslighter is dishonest or manipulative, they may accuse the victim of being dishonest or manipulative instead.


Gaslighters shift the blame for their actions or behavior onto the victim, making them feel responsible for the problems in the relationship or situation. For example, if the gaslighter becomes angry or aggressive, they may blame the victim for provoking or causing the conflict.


Gaslighters may isolate the victim from friends, family, or other sources of support, making it harder for them to seek validation or confirmation of their experiences. This can further exacerbate confusion and self-doubt, as the victim may question whether their perceptions are accurate without external validation.

Effects of Gaslighting

Gaslighting can have several harmful effects on the victim. Some of the most common effects of gaslighting include:

The severe effects of gaslighting can put a person down a dark path and may even lead them to seek drugs or alcohol to numb their emotions.

Who Is Likely to Inflict Gaslighting Abuse?

Certain personality types tend to be more manipulative than others. People struggling with borderline personality disorder or narcissistic personality disorder are likelier to gaslight those around them.

Gaslighting in Romantic Relationships

Abusive relationships are often characterized by gaslighting behavior. Romantic relationships affected by gaslighting may:

  • Lack communication
  • Be one-sided
  • Have a power dynamic in which one person is controlling

Gaslighting is emotional abuse. Finding resources to help break the cycle of abuse can let victims of gaslighting return to a healthy relationship.

Gaslighting in Work Relationships

Manipulative behavior is not limited to romantic relationships. Gaslighting can also occur in workplace relationships. Some signs that you may be a victim of gaslighting at work include:

  • Your boss denies your accomplishments.
  • You are constantly questioning your performance.
  • You feel like you are always walking on eggshells.
  • Your coworkers exclude you from important projects.

If you are experiencing any of these signs, seeking support from a trusted friend or family member is essential.

The Link Between Gaslighting and Mental Health

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that significantly impacts the victim’s mental health, leading to a range of emotional and psychological issues. Understanding this connection is crucial for recognizing the harm gaslighting inflicts and supporting those affected.

Undermining Self-Esteem and Confidence

Gaslighting erodes an individual’s self-esteem and confidence. The constant invalidation of their feelings, thoughts, and perceptions leads victims to doubt their sanity and judgment. This persistent self-doubt can result in a chronic lack of confidence, making it difficult for victims to trust their own decisions and perceptions, which can severely impact their mental well-being.

Inducing Anxiety and Depression

The relentless nature of gaslighting often induces severe anxiety. Victims may feel constantly on edge, worried about being judged, criticized, or invalidated. This perpetual state of stress can escalate into chronic anxiety disorders. Similarly, the feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness fostered by gaslighting can lead to depression. The emotional abuse and manipulation inherent in gaslighting strip victims of joy and hope, often resulting in depressive symptoms.

Triggering or Exacerbating PTSD

Gaslighting can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The manipulation and psychological abuse associated with gaslighting can be traumatizing, leading to flashbacks, nightmares, and hypervigilance. Victims may relive the manipulative experiences repeatedly, causing significant distress and impairing their ability to function in daily life.

Causing Cognitive Dysfunction

Gaslighting can cause cognitive dysfunction, including memory loss and confusion. The constant questioning of their reality and the invalidation of their experiences can make it difficult for victims to trust their memories. This cognitive dissonance can lead to difficulties in concentration, decision-making, and retaining information, impairing their mental health.

Fueling Self-Blame and Shame

Gaslighters often shift blame onto their victims, making them feel responsible for the problems in the relationship or for the abuse they endure. This manipulation leads to intense feelings of self-blame and shame. Victims may believe that they deserve the abuse or that they are inherently flawed, which can contribute to severe emotional distress and self-loathing.

Isolating Victims from Support Networks

Gaslighters frequently isolate their victims from friends, family, and support networks. This isolation can prevent victims from seeking help or receiving validation from others about their experiences. Without external support, victims may feel alone and trapped in their situation, exacerbating feelings of hopelessness and despair.

Impairing the Ability to Seek Help

The confusion and self-doubt caused by gaslighting can impair a victim’s ability to seek help. Victims may be unsure if their experiences are valid or if they are overreacting. This can make them hesitant to reach out for support. Gaslighters may also actively discourage their victims from seeking help, further entrenching their isolation and mental health issues.

Gaslighting has a profound and detrimental impact on mental health. This can lead to issues such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, cognitive dysfunction, and self-blame. Understanding this connection is vital for providing practical support and helping victims reclaim their sense of self and reality.

Gaslighting and Addiction

The tie between gaslighting and addiction is complex and multifaceted. Gaslighting, a form of psychological manipulation aimed at undermining an individual’s sense of reality, can contribute to the development or exacerbation of addiction in several ways:

Emotional Vulnerability

Gaslighting often targets an individual’s self-esteem, confidence, and emotional well-being. Victims of gaslighting may experience feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and worthlessness, which can, in turn, leave them emotionally vulnerable and susceptible to turning to substances as a way to cope with or escape from their distressing emotions.

Coping Mechanism

Individuals who are gaslighted may turn to drugs or alcohol as a maladaptive coping mechanism to numb their emotional pain, alleviate stress, or temporarily escape from the manipulation and turmoil of their relationships. Substance use may provide a temporary sense of relief or control in the face of a gaslighting-induced emotional crisis.

Control and Power Dynamics

Gaslighting often occurs within relationships characterized by power imbalances, control, and manipulation. Gaslighters may use substance use as a means of further exerting control over their victims, whether by encouraging or discouraging substance use, using substances as a tool for manipulation or coercion, or exploiting their victims’ substance use as a means of gaslighting or invalidating their experiences.

Underlying Trauma and Co-Occurring Disorders

Gaslighting can exacerbate underlying trauma, mental health issues, or co-occurring disorders that may predispose individuals to addiction. Individuals who have experienced gaslighting may use substances as a way to self-medicate or cope with the psychological and emotional consequences of gaslighting-induced trauma or mental health challenges.

Barriers to Recovery

Gaslighting can hinder an individual’s ability to recognize and address their substance use disorder, seek help, or engage in treatment. Gaslighters may undermine their victims’ perceptions, deny the severity of their substance use, or blame them for their addiction, thereby perpetuating feelings of shame, guilt, and self-blame that can act as barriers to recovery.

Overall, gaslighting and addiction often intersect within the context of dysfunctional relationships characterized by manipulation, control, and emotional abuse. Recognizing the role of gaslighting in contributing to addiction is essential for understanding the complex interplay between psychological manipulation and substance use and for addressing the underlying factors that perpetuate both gaslighting and addiction.

Breaking the Gaslighting Cycle

Here are some steps you can take to deal with gaslighting:

  • Identify the gaslighting behavior
  • Recognize that what you are experiencing is not normal
  • Reach out to a trusted friend or family member for support
  • Talk to a qualified mental health professional
  • Consult with an HR representative or an attorney if gaslighting occurs at work.

If you are in an abusive relationship, contact a domestic violence hotline for help. Ending a relationship with someone gaslighting you can be tricky, even seemingly impossible. It’s essential to recognize what’s going on around you. You don’t have to rely on their word.

Heal from the Effects of Gaslighting at Northpoint Recovery in Idaho

If these gaslighting examples resonate with you, or if you or someone you know has broken free from an abusive relationship, Northpoint Recovery can help you recover. Our caring professionals specialize in treating co-occurring disorders, addressing both addiction and mental health issues stemming from gaslighting and emotional abuse. Contact our team today to learn more about the effects of gaslighting, how to confront it, and how to heal from toxic relationships.

At Northpoint Recovery, we offer comprehensive mental health therapy programs tailored to those recovering from abusive relationships. Get in touch to learn how we can help you reclaim your life after escaping gaslighting abuse and address any co-occurring disorders.