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When Gaslighting Abuse Happens in What You Think Is a Healthy Relationship

Sometimes in romantic relationships, people don’t mean to be abusive to one another. It doesn’t always start that way. However, perhaps because of the trauma they’ve endured and the scars they’ve acquired, abuse happens. Let’s look at an example of a couple fighting about infidelity.

Partner A: “You aren’t who I thought you were. I can’t believe you think I’m cheating on you. Why don’t you trust me?”

Partner B: “I do trust you! It’s just that this number is calling you all the time, and they sent you a text that said ‘I love you, babe.’ What’s going on?”

Partner A: “It was a wrong number! You’re overreacting. It’s always about you. You don’t understand how much this hurts me. It’s like you don’t love me. Our relationship is nothing if you can’t even believe me.”

Partner B: “If it was a wrong number, why does it keep happening? Why did you text back? I’ve seen it come up a lot…I love you. It doesn’t make sense.”

Partner A: “I don’t know. It’s probably a stalker! You’re making it up. It’s like I don’t know you anymore. I can’t take this for much longer. You’re lucky that I stay with you. You’re completely insane. Do you trust me or not?”

Partner B: “Fine…I trust you. I’m sorry. I love you.”

Partner A: “I love you, too, babe. Don’t bring it up again. I’m sick of being accused of something I’m not doing. You’re going to destroy our relationship.”

Was Partner A cheating?

What’s happening in this disagreement between two people in a romantic relationship? Both partners are suspicious of each other and Partner B has reason to believe that Partner A isn’t being faithful to them. There’s no way to know if Partner B was (in fact) cheating on Partner A unless they decided to disclose that information. Relationships are built on trust, and if Partner A doesn’t trust Partner B, then the relationship doesn’t seem healthy. What else is going on here? Partner A is deliberately trying to make Partner B question their perception of reality, their self-esteem, and potentially their sanity. Partner A tells their partner that they are overreacting, they’re too sensitive and is trying to guilt trip their lover for not trusting them. Partner A is using a manipulation tactic called “gaslighting abuse.”

What is Gaslighting Abuse?    

Gaslighting is a severe form of emotional and psychological abuse. It is a pattern of manipulation that makes a person question their sanity. It can exist in any relationship; not just a romantic one. Gaslighting can occur in a romantic relationship, a friendship, in the workplace, from parents or other family members, and so on.

You can’t see the scars of emotional abuse

One of the most disturbing parts of emotional and mental abuse is that you can’t see the scars. Gaslighting is severe and the psychological effects of this abuse can be severe. Even if you left the situation long ago, the impact of the abuse could last long term if it is not addressed. Abuse is wrong. No one deserves to hurt. If you are the victim of gaslighting or believe that you might be, it is essential to seek help from a mental health professional. A licensed counselor or therapist can help you work through your feelings and experiences. Whether you’re working with an online therapist or someone in your local area, it’s essential to open up about how this is impacting you. Having someone to talk to makes a world of difference, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Getting help

It’s hard to ask for help when you’re sure you’re crazy. Your partner has convinced you that your sense of reality is false. Deep down, you know the truth. If something in your relationship doesn’t feel right, trust your instinct. You can reach out for help. First talk to your friends and family. Let them know what’s going on. Next, seek help from a mental health professional. Gaslighting abuse is pervasive. You need to talk to a therapist or counselor. Whether you are seeing a counselor in your local area or an online therapist, getting help for gaslighting abuse is crucial. You need to regain your sense of self, and an online counselor can help you find who you lost. You deserve to be well, and there’s hope after being in an abusive relationship, whether you can see it or not.

Getty photo by Weedezign

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