Daily gaslighting can leave you emotionally, mentally, and physically drained. It starts subtly and eventually sucks you into a mess you struggle to escape.
Every day, you’re stuck defending your sanity, daydreaming of a life outside this constant manipulation.
If you’re in the thick of it, you’re not alone.
Many men and women experience gaslighting by a partner, friend, or family member.
Although it takes patience, education, and courage to expose your manipulator, it’s not impossible. There is freedom on the other side.
Let’s talk about gaslighting and how you can expose your gaslighter while standing your ground.
- What Is Gaslighting?
- What Does Gaslighting Look Like?
- Should You Confront a Gaslighter?
- 11 Tips For Exposing Your Gaslighter:
- 1. Write Things Down and Collect Proof:
- 2. Stand Firm In Your Truth:
- 3. Keep The Conversation Focused:
- 4. Talk About What’s Going On With Friends and Family:
- 5. Don’t Try To Play Their Game:
- 6. Use a Calm Tone:
- 7. Establish Boundaries:
- 8. Talk To a Therapist:
- 9. Confront Your Gaslighter:
- 10. Be Ready For Love Bombing:
- 11. Plan An Exit Strategy:
- How To Break The Cycle of Gaslighting:
What Is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a form of manipulation used by narcissists and non-narcissists alike. The main goal of gaslighting is to sow seeds of doubt into a victim’s mind, making them question their reality.
Gaslighting happens when an abuser repeatedly lies or denies something both parties know to be true to deflect blame onto the victim or make them unable to trust their perception of events.
Over time, victims start to rely more on their abuser as they can no longer trust their own memories for proof.
And it’s becoming increasingly common form of psychological manipulation.
Unlike traditional “lying” which can be done for various reasons, gaslighting is meant to cause a victim confusion and internal distress.
What Does Gaslighting Look Like?
Gaslighting can take many forms, but the objective is always the same – control.
The first step to breaking free of your manipulator is understanding what gaslighting looks like in a relationship.
Here are a few examples of gaslighting:
- “That never happened” – Blatantly disregarding your memory of an event to make you question your reality
- “You’re crazy, and I’m not the only person who thinks so” – This type of gaslighting solidifies to a victim that their stories won’t be heard by others if they ever choose to speak out.
- “I’m sorry if you think I hurt your feelings” – This form of gaslighting directly deflects blame back onto the victim and takes the spotlight off of the abuser.
- “Do you honestly think I would lie about that?” – If a manipulator is accused of lying or twisting details, they often pull this tactic. This way, a victim’s understanding of trust is distorted.
- “You’re not making any sense” In this form of gaslighting, an abuser is shifting the blame back onto the victim by insinuating they don’t know what they’re talking about.
- “I hope you trust me enough to know I would never hurt you” Again, this method is used to make a victim question their perception of trust and blame them forever questioning their abuser.
- “You’re too sensitive” A gaslighter may lie, deceive, and poke at a victim until they become enraged. At this point, the manipulator often sits back, satisfied at the level of emotions they were able to stir up. This is when they resort to demeaning comments such as this.
If your partner ever attempts to undermine your perception of events or memory and instead shifts the blame onto you – you’re likely being gaslighted.
Should You Confront a Gaslighter?
Trying to reason with a gaslighter, arguing with a gaslighter, or even being around a gaslighter is frustrating.
However, confronting them may be the worst move of all.
While you can certainly choose to confront a gaslighter, the bigger question is, should you?
Likely, they’ll only crank their emotional manipulation up a notch (or three).
Gaslighters are professionals at making you doubt yourself, especially when they feel like they’re losing their grip on you. They may become aggressive, angry, or even violent.
When it comes to a gaslighter, the best (and hardest) response is ending the relationship. But that’s often what’s needed.
The following tips will help you do it.
11 Tips For Exposing Your Gaslighter:
I get it; simply cutting off your abuser and walking away is not easy (or simple).
Our internal voice demands justice, and we all desire closure when we’ve been hurt by someone we love.
Exposing your gaslighter may be the only way you can move on. If you choose to expose your manipulator, keep these tips in mind, so you’re fully equipped for whatever they throw your way.
1. Write Things Down and Collect Proof:
Before you work up the courage to expose your manipulator, start collecting evidence in the days, weeks, or even months before.
Their entire tactic of manipulation is to make you question reality, so write down exactly what happened and when.
If any conversation with your abuser feels off, take a record of it and analyze it later.
Break it down in an easy-to-understand manner so your abuser can’t try to backtrack their way out. Doing this helps you secure your own reasoning, too.
2. Stand Firm In Your Truth:
The entire goal of gaslighting is to make a victim doubt themselves, so standing firm in the face of that is one of the boldest acts you can take.
Standing firm in your truth means believing in yourself, your memory, your feelings, and your instincts. Not only will this counteract the manipulation, but it will also help you restore trust back to your inner self.
Try saying affirming things such as:
- “I know what I saw.”
- “Don’t tell me how to feel.”
- “Don’t tell me what I’m thinking.”
- “My feelings are real.”
- “I deserve to be validated.”
- “I trust myself.”
3. Keep The Conversation Focused:
Gaslighters love to deflect and twist the conversation so it flows in a way that’s beneficial for them.
Be fully confident of your purpose when interacting with them. If there’s anything you want to resolve or accomplish, be sure to outline that beforehand.
A gaslighter will blatantly lie, shift blame, and minimize how you feel to get out of being exposed. If the conversation begins to turn, be sure to snap it back into focus.
Be prepared and willing to exit the conversation if they choose to veer off the rails more than once.
For example, if you’re planning to expose your abuser for lying and they, in turn, attempt to shift the blame by bringing up a fault of yours from the past, they’re doing so deliberately.
Don’t fall for it. Simply say, “We aren’t here to discuss this.”
If they can’t stay on topic, end the conversation and leave. Hold firm in the boundaries you set in your conversations with them. If they can’t respect them, you’re done talking.
4. Talk About What’s Going On With Friends and Family:
It’s common for victims to isolate themselves from their loved ones when in an abusive relationship.
Usually, it’s to keep the peace with their manipulator. Gaslighters want you to feel alone and isolated to maintain power over you. This is often referred to as a trauma-bonded relationship.
One of the bravest first steps you can take is to speak out to your loved ones about what’s happening.
Exposing your gaslighter to your friends and family can help you prepare for when the time to leave comes. Your support network can help you post-breakup when you’re at your most vulnerable.
5. Don’t Try To Play Their Game:
When people get over on us, it’s common to want to beat them at their own game. Resist that urge.
While attempting to outsmart your manipulator may seem like a good idea at the time, there is a high probability it maks things worse.
Gaslighters thrive off of reactions from their victims. You might try to play their game but fail to realize these people make the rules.
Think about it: they’ve likely spent years refining their manipulation skills. It’s not a game can you win, nor should you truly want to. They will have their fun and do whatever they can to make you feel crazy and unreasonable.
The best behavior when interacting with a gaslighter is to disengage.
You can show up fully prepared with screenshots, videos, and all the evidence you’ve collected, and your gaslighter will still find a way to belittle, minimize, and deflect.
While it may be difficult, choosing not to engage with these behaviors allows you to leave with your sense of sanity intact.
6. Use a Calm Tone:
Remain calm and focused so they can’t use your emotions against you. No matter how hard it may be, remain in a neutral state as it diffuses their power over the conversation.
Don’t get defensive if they attempt to turn the situation around on you.
They want to get into an emotionally charged argument. Avoid yelling or screaming at all costs.
That’s what they want you to do. When you explode, it makes it easier for your abuser to paint you as the problem.
In addition, stay away from pointing fingers or getting into unwinnable debates, as your gaslighter will use this as a way to escalate the situation.
7. Establish Boundaries:
Creating boundaries with your abuser is crucial for your overall well-being. Establish lines that your gaslighter cannot cross without consequences. Be sure to verbalize these boundaries, so you’re not leaving them up for interpretation.
It’s important to set boundaries not only with your manipulator but with yourself.
Stick to your boundaries when they are crossed. If you allow your abuser to walk all over them without repercussion or false threats, they’ll never take you seriously.
For example, if you’re exposing your gaslighter and they continue to call you crazy, establish a boundary where you will leave the conversation if they do so again.
Setting boundaries allows you to take back control.
Keep in mind, they will test you. Whatever you say you’re gonna do, do it. Even if they mock or chide your for it, or try to make you feel unreasonable, stick to your guns.
Walk away and have somebody you can talk to afterwards.
8. Talk To a Therapist:
Therapy is extremely beneficial for healing, and your therapist can also serve as an unbiased support system.
Red flags and gaslighting techniques can be difficult to spot when you’re in the middle of an abusive relationship.
Seeking a third party can help clarify what you’re dealing with.
Once your therapist can identify these manipulative techniques, they can work alongside you to develop strategies that enable you to confidently handle the situation.
You don’t have to figure this out on your own.
9. Confront Your Gaslighter:
Unless you’re certain without a shadow of a doubt that you want (and are able) to leave your gaslighter, don’t confront them.
It takes emotional willpower to effectively stand up to someone who knows how to manipulate you. If you attempt to confront your gaslighter without being fully prepared, things might get significantly worse.
Do the prepwork mentioned in the previous steps first.
Sure, confrontation can be therapeutic if you feel like you’re emotionally ready to walk away, hold firm on your boundaries, and stand strong in your truth. But if you aren’t ready to take that step, hold off and keep working on being ready.
10. Be Ready For Love Bombing:
Love bombing is likely how you ended up with this person in the first place.
Think back to the beginning of your relationship. It probably looked quite different than it does now. This is because love bombing is a classic technique used by manipulators to suck their victims in and keep them hooked.
Love bombing is described as grand gestures of love and affection such as gifts, praise, or false promises.
When relationships start, gaslighters use this to gain the trust of their victims. As time passes and the abuse becomes clear, love bombing keeps people stuck in a toxic cycle.
Your gaslighter will be loving and sweet for a week or two and then fall back into manipulative, gaslighting behavior, pushing you to your limits, until you’re ready to leave, which starts the cycle all over again.
Once you expose your gaslighter, don’t let them use love bombing to keep you from leaving. Mentally prepare. Their affection isn’t real; they just don’t want to lose control over you.
Walk away as planned and turn to your support network.
11. Plan An Exit Strategy:
Once you decide to expose your gaslighter, there’s no turning back. Make a plan for leaving the relationship, so you’re not attempting to recover on your own.
Walking away from a manipulator will be hard. You may feel free and happy one day while feeling grief and shame the next. All these feelings are normal as you begin healing from their abuse.
Leaving the relationship is the best decision you can make for yourself now and in the future.
How To Break The Cycle of Gaslighting:
Breaking free from a gaslighter is possible as long as you know what to do and how to prepare.
The first step in breaking the cycle of gaslighting is to educate yourself on what this cycle looks like. If your partner repeatedly attempts to lie, invalidate your experiences or emotions, deflect, or belittle your memory, you might be dealing with a gaslighter.
Recognizing the cycle of love bombing, fake apologies, and false promises after an argument can open your eyes to what’s happening. Once you see it, you won’t be able to unsee it.
Now that you’ve recognized these manipulative tactics, reach out to loved ones and let them know what support you’ll need in the coming weeks or months. Lean on your friends and family during this time.
Most importantly, don’t forget to take care of yourself.
If you’ve been dealing with a manipulator for a while, you might have lost yourself in the middle. Focus on healing by practicing self-care, mindfulness, and exercise.
Healing takes time, so be patient with yourself. It’s not going to happen overnight, but it will happen.