Gaslighting is a type of psychological manipulation where one party attempts to make the other party question reality or their perception of things. The classic example of gaslighting involves the party who is gaslighting claiming that certain events never happened when they really did. However, that’s just one type of gaslighting. Because we don’t hear about all the different types of gaslighting, it may be difficult for some to realize that they’ve been gaslighted.
There are Types Now?
When we think of gaslighting, we can sometimes think of it in an overly simplistic way.
Simply put, gaslighting happens when a person attempts to manipulate another person into doubting their feelings or questioning their memory. For example, if your partner is gaslighting you, they may tell you that the events you’re describing never happened. Or they may say that you’re being overly sensitive, or too emotional. They may claim you have a bad memory, and that you often forget things. These types of manipulative behaviors make victims question their own sanity. Victims also may stay in abusive relationships, thinking that they’re the problem, not their partner.
Trivializing is a form of gaslighting that occurs when another person minimizes your concerns or feelings. Often victims of this form of gaslighting are manipulated into believing that they are overreacting to their partner’s abusive behavior. An abusive partner may trivialize their behavior, insisting that it’s normal, or that everyone else does it. An abusive partner may trivialize their partner’s feelings as well, insisting that they are irrational, or overly dramatic. Your feelings are valid, no matter what they are. Everyone can be overly sensitive or overly dramatic sometimes, and it’s impossible for a human being to maintain complete control over how they’re feeling all the time. But even though you can’t control your feelings, you can always control how you express them. Therefore, your partner should never minimize your feelings, or minimize their bad behavior. A person’s feelings are always valid, but a person’s expression of their feelings is sometimes inappropriate, especially when accompanied by violence.
Countering is a type of gaslighting that occurs when a person questions your memory, or makes up new details, or denies that the event happened in the first place. There’s a difference between two parties not agreeing about what exactly was said and when it was said, and countering. Countering often includes personal attacks such as claims that the victim of abuse struggles to remember events correctly. Or the abusive partner may suggest that the events the victim is describing didn’t happen at all. Or the abusive partner may trivialize the events that did happen: “I didn’t push you; I accidentally bumped into you!” It’s possible that two people don’t agree on the minute details of an event, but to claim that something didn’t happen at all, or that there are events that did happen (when you don’t even have the slightest idea what they’re talking about), that may be a problem.
Diversion occurs when an abusive partner calls their partner’s credibility into question.
A person who’s abusing their significant other may claim that their significant other has been brainwashed by their friends or family. “I’m not abusive! Your crazy friends have just brainwashed you into believing that!” Or, they may suggest that you’re the one who’s crazy, “You can’t remember correctly because you were going through a depressive episode,” or “That’s just your mental illness talking, not you.” If you’re attempting to have a calm discussion about something that’s bothering you, and your significant other is suggesting that you’re brainwashed or crazy, that may be a red flag.
Much like countering, denial occurs when a person claims that the event never happened to begin with. The difference is that countering often includes suggestions that the victim has a bad memory, or for some reason cannot accurately recall the events. Instead of claiming that the victim is misremembering, or cannot remember, the perpetrator flat out denies that the event ever happened to begin with. People do not normally come up with random events, then truly believe that the event occurred. If you’re sure something happened, and your significant other is claiming that it never happened, that may be a problem.
When You’re Ready to Leave
If you’re struggling with an abusive partner, and you’re ready to leave, it’s a good idea to at least consult with an attorney. When you’re leaving an abusive marriage, having a person who can advocate for your rights and your best interests may help protect your rights. At CoilLaw, our experienced attorneys are dedicated to fighting for their clients rights.