A relatively new term has seemed to enter the public consciousness, particularly with younger generations: gaslighting. But what does this word mean and how has it become so popular? Simply put, gaslighting is a form of coercive control used to gain power over another individual, often in an abusive manner. It often manifests itself as a distortion of facts, feelings, and reality in an attempt to make the person lose trust and confidence in themselves. This can lead to increased dependence on the person being abusive.
There is a very large spectrum of severity and intent when it comes to gaslighting. It may present itself as harmful physical and verbal abuse in some situations, while in others, it could be a snide comment here and there from a partner. Regardless of the severity, the intent of one gaslighting another is to undermine the other person so they question themselves and what they feel and need.
Now, you may be thinking of some examples in your life where an individual’s comments or actions caused you to feel this way. You’re not alone. When conducting mediation sessions with separating partners, we sometimes uncover forms of gaslighting from both parties. It happens in various forms to all of us along our journey.
Thankfully, there are great resources out there to help identify gaslighting and strategies to deal with it if things are getting difficult. Check out this infographic from Western University’s Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women and Children here to learn more!