Marital abuse can take on many forms. Along with physical violence and threats, an abuser may also employ a tactic known as gaslighting. This involves lies and other manipulative tactics that make the target of the ill-treatment question his or her grasp on reality. Psychology Today explains more about how gaslighting works so you can determine whether it’s an issue in your marriage.
While many people lie from time to time, gaslighting involves persistent dishonest behavior. The abuser will lie consistently to a victim, which creates a false version of events surrounding their relationship. This is particularly problematic when it comes to past occurrences. For example, your partner might claim that you’re remembering events incorrectly as a means of manipulating you. He or she might also present evidence showing you the error of your ways, which can sometimes seem very convincing.
Of course, many abusers also have the ability to be extremely suave and charming. This is where flattery and praise come into play. Positive reinforcement also serves to throw off your equilibrium and disturb your sense of reality. Confusion is key in this case, as a persistent state of confusion means the victim loses self-confidence and credibility. Gaslighting can also evolve into more sinister abusive behaviors. This includes threats, physical violence, and insults.
Being in denial about your partner and relationship makes it difficult to bounce back from gaslighting and other abuse tactics. However, recovery is possible once you take the right steps. The first step is to manage your reaction to lies and untruths. This deprives the abuser of his or her power and allows you to rebuild your self-esteem. Also, keep in mind that this ill-treatment is no fault of your own. While it is possible for abusers to reform and change their ways, you must do what’s best for you and your sanity, even if that means seeking out a divorce.