Many people will have an instance or a long-standing campaign in which they manipulate another to gain something in return. This may occur in our childhood years when we feel upset, as well as throughout adulthood, such as during separation and divorce. While most people may feel bad when they manipulate others for their own personal gain, there are some who experience pleasure and control from such acts. It may be that many of these individuals lack empathy, feel and believe they deserve the prize over others, and when confronted by their victims engage in blame shifting whereby they become the innocent knight in shining armor.
Partners of the manipulated person can often begin to feel victimized and question their sanity. They can feel trapped within their home or relationship, develop anxiety and depressive symptoms, and feel physically sick. Individuals who have been gaslighted, even in short intervals, often develop symptoms consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder. These symptoms can include developing a hypervigilant stance against threats, anticipating worse case scenarios, experiencing shame and anger over past gaslighting events, and difficulty problem solving and decision making without enlisting the help of the gaslighter.
Some specific things you can look for in your situation include:
Individuals who gaslight thrive on keeping the environment chaotic. They are inconsistent and need to keep everyone guessing. This causes the victim to lose clarity and question their overall reality. But there is one question that you can ask yourself immediately to help with clarity. Has your environment always been like this or has it only occurred since you met this individual?
There are some specific things you can do if you find yourself in this situation.
Remember, the goal of the gaslighter is to keep you unbalanced so that you question your reality. When you reach out to others, you are breaking the hold this individual has on you. You are breaking the silence.