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What is gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which the abuser tries to control the victim by making them question reality. The main goal of gaslighting is to make the victim doubt themselves. Types of gaslighting include countering (making someone question their memory); withholding (refusing to listen or pretending to not understand); forgetting (pretending to forget); trivializing (making someone’s feelings seem irrational or unimportant); diverting (changing the topic or blocking). Examples of gaslighting include having a partner who puts you down and then says that you are being too sensitive or one who lies about what they did to you.

How does gaslighting affect me?

Gaslighting is manipulation and a form of abuse, in which the abuser causes the victim to question and doubt their reality. This causes the gaslighted person to distrust themselves and believe something is their fault and even believe they have a mental illness. Signs of being gaslighted include over apologizing, feeling like you do everything wrong, or feeling as if you carry a lot of blame. Gaslighting can cause someone to develop anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and even trauma.

How can I combat gaslighting?

Gaslighting can be really damaging and hard to realize that it’s happening. However, there are many ways to combat it. First, make sure what you’re experiencing is gaslighting, and then confront the behavior. While you are confronting the behavior, make sure to remain confident as you communicate these occurrences. Finally, maintain your personal boundaries and limit how much access these people have to you. Other things you can do is to focus on your self care (like journaling) or seeing a therapist.

This page is also part of the Roamers Therapy Glossary; a collection of mental-health related definitions that are written by our therapists.

While our offices are currently located at the South Loop neighborhood of Downtown Chicago, Illinois, we also welcome and serve clients for online therapy from anywhere in Illinois and Washington, D.C. Clients from the Chicagoland area may choose in-office or online therapy and usually commute from surrounding areas such as River North, West Loop, Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lake View, Rogers Park, Logan Square, Pilsen, Bridgeport, Little Village, Bronzeville, South Shore, Hyde Park, Back of the Yards, Wicker Park, Bucktown and many more. You can visit our contact page to access detailed information on our office location.