When victims challenge the perpetrator they are met with a mixture of calm blank expressions, accusations, confusing word salad, or complete invalidation and dismissal.
- “Why are you lying – you always do/want/say this?”
- “Oh so you were trying to get something out of me were you?”
- “You are just making things up now”
- “You’re just trying to hurt me”
- “How dare you accuse me!”
They can even make you question what is real.
In one extreme case a Gaslighter even tried to repudiate which university his victim went to. Her university friends had to confirm with her that it was true.
”You didn’t actually study there”
Victims of gaslighting will get caught up in a destructive cycle of exhausting arguments trying to find the ‘truth’.
This creates drama and attention for the perpetrator who will ‘feed’ off the emotional intensity of the victim’s reactions as they try to validate their experience.
Within the framework of a reasonable relationship discussion creates understanding, connection and accountability.
Within an emotionally abusive relationship gaslighting is used to manipulate, destabalise and control the other person.
For most abusers it is an enoyable ‘game’ that brings a sense of power to the dynamic.