There’s lighting up cigarettes. There’s gas that lights our furnaces. Then there are gaslighters, and they aren’t the people who smoke cigarettes or those who light the furnace pilots. So then, what is a gaslighter?

Gaslighting – A Form of Abuse

A gaslighter is a person who psychologically abuses another, using statements such as “You’re overreacting – it wasn’t that bad,” and “That never happened – you’re imagining things.” Such phrases make a person second-guess herself, creating doubt in her mind, and, later, make her feel like she’s going crazy. Gaslighting is a form of manipulation, and it can happen to anyone, women or men. It’s part of the power and control in domestic abuse situations.

According to marriage and family therapist Janie McMahan, “Gaslighting makes [survivors] doubt themselves and not see the real issue, which is that they’re being abused.”

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Such abuse comes in many forms, from physical and economic to emotional and psychological. Gaslighting is a form of abuse. According to a Psychology Today article, it’s a tactic used by dictators, narcissists, cult leaders, and relationship abusers. The method “is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realize how much they’ve been brainwashed.”

The term comes from an eerie play and movie dating back to the 1930s and 1940s.

Signs You’re Involved with a Gaslighter and/or Abuser

There are many ways to help you know if you’re involved with a gaslighter. Some of those are:

  1. Your partner often calls you crazy.
  2. Your partner reminds you of your shortcomings.
  3. You feel like you’re walking on eggshells in your relationship.
  4. You feel insecure.
  5. You question your self-worth.
  6. You say “I’m sorry” a lot.

Read more about the signs of being in a relationship with a gaslighter, and ideas on what to do if you are, here:

Signs of an abuser in a domestic violence/intimate partner violence situation include:

  1. Extreme jealousy and possessiveness
  2. Bad temper
  3. Controlling
  4. Isolation
  5. Unpredictability
  6. Cruelty to animals and/or children

Forced sex can also be a part of an abusive relationship, and should you become pregnant, your partner may coerce you into having an abortion. All of this is illegal: domestic violence, sexual coercion, and forced abortion. Help is available for you should you be trapped in any type of abusive or manipulative relationship. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline for anonymous, confidential 24/7 help: 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE). You can also contact the Self Help Center in Casper at 307-235-2814.

Abuse Statistics

Domestic violence in Wyoming is NOT uncommon. In 2014, nearly 2,600 incidents were reported to law enforcement; many others went unreported. Although this number may seem low, keep in mind the entire population of our state is less than 500,000.

Nationally, nearly 20 people a minute are physically abused by their intimate partner, adding up to nearly 10 million men and women each year. One in four women and one in seven men have been victims of severe physical violence by a partner, and on a typical day, more than 20,000 calls are received by hotlines in the U.S. Women between the ages of 18 and 24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner.

Help is Available

If you are being abused, whether by a gaslighter or other type of abuser, you don’t have to remain silent. Reach out for help. If you’ve been sexually assaulted by your partner and suspect you are pregnant, contact True Care for a free appointment. We are here for you as are other organizations in our community. Find your voice and stand your ground – no one should be treated in a violent, disrespectful, or demeaning manner!