domestic violence, Interpersonal Violence, Sexual Assualt, Victim Service Agency

Abuse in Focus: Gaslighting

There are many types of abuse utilized to exert power over an individual in an effort to control them. These patterns can include physical, financial, emotional, and mental; gaslighting is a form of mental and emotional abuse.  


This abusive behavior is one that has been used by family, friends, intimate partners, and in the workplace, and employs multiple tactics to achieve control. Some of these tactics are:

  1. Minimization: This is a downplaying of other abusive behaviors, to trivialize how the victim may feel or think. By the abuser claiming they were only joking, telling the victim they “take things too seriously”, or by calling the victim “overly sensitive”, the abuser can gain more power over their victim.
    i.e., “I am only joking, why are you taking this so seriously? Stop being so sensitive all the time.”
  2. Denial: An abuser may completely deny having said or done something, whether the victim has proof of the behavior or not. This is meant to make a victim question themselves on whether something did actually occur, and may lead the victim to think they are “going crazy”.
    i.e., “You are lying. I never said/did that. Quit making stuff up.”
  3. Discrediting: The abuser tells the victim, or other people, that the victim is crazy, irrational, unstable, or untrustworthy. This can isolate the victim, making it more difficult for them to leave an abusive situation.
  4. Countering: The abusive party repeatedly questions the victim’s memory, telling them they don’t remember things correctly. As with many other gaslighting patterns, this is designed to make the victim second guess themselves, to minimize past behaviors, or to outright deny something occurred.
    i.e., “That is not how that happened. You never remember anything right.”

Some indicators that you may be the victim of gaslighting can include:

  1. Second guessing your perceptions, thoughts, feelings, or memory.
  2. Feeling like you are overly sensitive, confused, or crazy.
  3. Frequently apologizing to your abuser.
  4. Feeling like you can’t do anything right.
  5. Struggling to make decisions.
  6. Having the sensation that something is wrong, or that you used to be a different person (more happy, confident, relaxed).

If you may believe that you or someone you know is a victim of gaslighting, or have further questions regarding this or other abusive behaviors, AVRC staff are available to assist!

415 Colorado Avenue, La Junta, CO 81050
24 Hour Hotline: (719) 384-7764
TTY: (719) 384-1938
After Hours Colorado Relay dial 711 or 1-800-659-2656


Facts provided by the National Domestic Violence Hotline

AVRC is non-discriminatory agency regarding race, religion, color, gender, country of national origin, sexual orientation or economic condition.

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