Leonita Ariesti Putri

Leonita Ariesti Putri

Contributor & Fact Checker

Beste Güneysu Şeker

Beste Güneysu Şeker


The accuracy and reliability of this article have been reviewed and fact-checked by Leonita Ariesti Putri, a mental health practitioner and graduate of MSc in Psychoanalytic Development Psychology, and enriched by Beste Güneysu Şeker, a clinical psychologist. Their expertise ensures our commitment to providing trustworthy and useful content.

Welcome, dear reader, to the world of gaslighting—a form of manipulation that can leave even the strongest among us feeling like we’re lost in a fog. In healthy relationships, communication builds trust and strengthens bonds, but it can become a weapon in the hands of abusive people. 


The term has since been widely used to describe similar tactics in various interpersonal relationships, particularly those characterized by manipulation, control, and emotional abuse. This devious tactic is often used by narcissistic gaslighters who crave a sense of power over their partners.


However, fear not; we will shed light on the gaslighting phrases, tactics, and signs, empowering you to break free from its grip and reclaim your truth. As aptly stated by Leonita Ariesti Putri, a mental health practitioner who recently graduated with an MSc in Psychoanalytic Developmental Psychology, “Recognizing gaslighting is not just about understanding manipulation; it’s about reclaiming your truth and embracing your inner strength,”


Let’s take the first step in reclaiming your truth today.


Table of Contents

What is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that occurs when someone or a group of people sow seeds of doubt in an individual or in a targeted group, making them question their memory, perception, or sanity (Bates, 2018). Those who gaslight others do this by adopting common tactics, such as lying, withholding information, or manipulating the facts 


Gaslighting can ultimately make the victim unsure of their thoughts, emotions, and actions. The term “gaslighting” comes from a 1938 play and subsequent film adaptation called “Gas light,” in which a husband tries to convince his wife that she’s going insane by altering their environment and denying that those changes ever occurred.


It happens so often that Beste Güneysu Şeker, our resident expert. remarked that gaslighting is a type of emotional abuse that we’ve heard a lot lately and that everyone thinks they’ve been exposed to at some point.


“We might directly think of romantic relationships when talking about emotional abuse. But it doesn’t only happen there. We can see examples of this psychological manipulation at work, in family, and in friendships. The main purpose of the person who applies gaslighting is to cause the other person to doubt himself/herself over time with the gaslighting techniques he/she applies,” Şeker remarks.


Related: ‘Examples Gaslighting – Protecting Yourself Against Abusive Behavior

researched signs of gaslighting

How Does Gaslighting Work?

While a victim of gaslighting might wonder or even blame themselves for falling prey, it’s vital to note that those who do it employ various tactics so cunningly that their victims question their sense of reality. As mentioned, gaslighting makes people doubt their memories, perception, and sanity.


common gaslighting phrases

For example, they may use specific gaslighting phrases to deny that certain events happened or were said, despite the victim’s recollection of those events or conversations. They may also accuse the victim of being overly sensitive or irrational, causing the victim to question their own emotions and reactions.



Over time, the victim may start to doubt their memories and perception and become increasingly reliant on the gaslighter for a sense of reality.



Recognizing these gaslighting phrases, therefore, can hopefully shield you from falling prey of deeper manipulation and possible detrimental mental effects.

10 Tactics a Gaslighter Might Use

In most cases, the gaslighter abuses you verbally using very common gaslighting phrases. Whether you want to protect yourself from a gaslighter or think you might be a victim of gaslighting, it’s vital to know how this emotional and mental abuse works. Below are some pointers to follow. If you notice any emotional abuse tactic we list below in your relationship, watch out for other signs of gaslighting.


    • They keep the lie they tell. People who practice gaslighting lie very easily because of their manipulative aspects (Şeker, 2023).

    • They never change the story

    • They always object

    • They don’t like to react


When they get a reaction, they make moves to trivialize the victim. For example, they trivialize their feelings and thoughts: They use sentences such as ‘You are very fragile,’ ‘You become sensitive to whatever I say,’ ‘You overreact,’ and ‘You are not a calm person.’


1. Distorting reality

Gaslighters manipulate the victim’s perception of events, often insisting that their reality is accurate while invalidating the victim’s experiences.


2. Negative reactions to normal reactions

Gaslighters may react disproportionately to their partners’ normal emotions or behaviors, making them feel like they are constantly in the wrong.


3. Diversion tactics

Gaslighters divert the conversation away from their own behavior by accusing their partners of unrelated issues or introducing irrelevant topics to confuse and deflect.


4. Denial

The gaslighter will deny that something happened, even if the victim witnessed it or experienced it. They might say things like, “I never said that,” or “You’re making it up.” Denial can make the victim doubt their memories and perception of reality. In the end, they feel confused and unsure of themselves.


5. Blame-shifting

The gaslighter will shift the blame onto the victim for something that they did. They might say things like, “You made me do it,” or “It’s your fault.” Blame-shifting can make the victim feel guilty and responsible for the gaslighter’s behavior, even if they had nothing to do with it.


6. Minimization

The gaslighter will downplay the severity of the situation or make the victim feel like they’re overreacting. They might say things like, “It’s not a big deal,” or “You’re being too sensitive.” This can make the victim doubt their feelings and instincts, making them question whether they’re making a big deal out of nothing.


7. Lying

The gaslighter may lie to the victim to make them doubt their perceptions or memories. Gaslighting narcissists might tell the victim something happened differently than it did or deny that something happened altogether.


8. Discrediting

The gaslighter may try to discredit the victim’s opinions, emotions, or experiences. Such people will inflict emotional abuse on their victim by saying things like, “You don’t know what you’re talking about,” or “You’re being ridiculous.”


9. Distracting

An abusive partner may use distractions to divert the victim’s attention away from the issue. They might change the subject or bring up something unrelated to avoid addressing the problem.


10. Trivializing emotions

Trivializing emotions is a common gaslighting tactic in an abusive relationship. A victim feels like their emotions are unimportant or not valid. They might use gaslighting phrases along the lines of, “Stop being so sensitive” or “You’re overreacting.”


Gaslighters also use common gaslighting phrases to manipulate their victims, such as “You’re crazy,” “You’re imagining things,” or “You’re being too emotional.” These phrases are intended to make the victim doubt their sanity and question whether their emotions and perceptions are valid.


Gaslighting is a harmful form of mental abuse that can affect the victim’s mental health and well-being. That’s why abuse survivor communities provide support and resources to help victims of gaslighting and other forms of emotional abuse. If you think you may be a victim of gaslighting, it’s important to seek help from a therapist or other mental health professional.


Related:Guilt Trip Examples: How to Recognize and Handle Them


The Effects of Gaslighting on Mental Health

Gaslighting is bad behavior that can seriously affect a person’s mental health, especially regarding spiritual abuse. Textbook gaslighting can be difficult to recognize because gaslighters are often skilled at making their abusive behavior seem normal or even loving. In fact, it is found that gaslighters often employ love bombing, an excessive and exaggerated showering of affection (Sarkis, 2018), after an incident of gaslighting, which only further confuses the victim (Klein, Li, & Wood, 2023).

The effects of gaslighting can be devastating, and it’s important to understand how it can impact your mental health. According to Milano et al., survivors may start acting hostile and impulsive and lose touch with reality. Let’s dive into that even more (2018).


Impact of Manipulative Tactics

Gaslighting can be especially harmful when it comes from a “close” toxic person or a manipulative husband, who may use hurtful comments and personal attacks to manipulate and control their partner.


The power differential in the relationship can make it difficult for the victim to speak up or leave the relationship, as the gaslighter may have more power and control over them.


The different forms of gaslighting we mentioned before are designed to make a normal person doubt themselves and can damage their self-esteem and mental health. Over time, the gaslighter may use these manipulation tactics to break down the victim’s sense of self-worth and control.


Researched Effects

Research shows that gaslighting can have a profound impact on mental health. According to a study published in the American Sociological Review, victims of gaslighting may experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They may also struggle with self-doubt, confusion, and a sense of spiritual abuse.


Recognizing the signs of this bad behavior and seeking help from a mental health professional or support group can help victims of this abusive behavior regain their sense of self-worth and control.


How to Protect Yourself From Gaslighting

protection from gaslighting

Here are some strategies that can help you protect yourself from gaslighting, even when dealing with a person who engages in constant criticism and uses gaslighting phrases:


Keep your hands clean

Having clean hands means not engaging in behavior that would give the gaslighter any reason to make a gaslighting remark or criticize you. Don’t retaliate or respond in anger, as this may give them more ammunition to use against you.


Trust your instincts

Trust your gut if something doesn’t feel right. Malignant narcissists may use subtle tactics to manipulate you, and it’s essential to listen to your intuition and not dismiss your feelings.


Stay informed

Learn as much as possible about the subject, its effects, and gaslighting phrases anyone can use. A great way to do this is reading books or watching a film adaptation covering the topic.


Set boundaries

“Mental boundaries are like emotional skin, without which we are prone to be ill and hurt,” affirms Leonita Ariesti Putri. 


This understanding underscores the paramount importance of both limiting your exposure to gaslighters and firmly rejecting any form of physical or psychological abuse. By erecting these protective barriers, you forge a haven for yourself—an enclave impervious to manipulation and deceit. Leonita’s wisdom further resonates in her words, “Boundary setting is a declaration: ‘I know my truth and honor my self-worth against gaslighting’s currents.’” Moreover, she reminds us “Setting boundaries isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s an affirmation of your self-assurance and a powerful defense against gaslighting.”


Seek support

Reach out to friends, family, or a therapist for support. Gaslighting can make you feel isolated and alone, but having a support system can help you feel heard and validated.


Don’t engage in gaslighting

You might hear some crazy gaslighting phrases narcissists use, but it’s important not to engage with them. Responding to malignant narcissists, or their gaslighting remarks, or trying to prove them wrong can only worsen things.


Stay grounded

Keep a journal or meditate to help you stay grounded and focused. This can help you maintain a sense of clarity and balance even when the gaslighter is trying to confuse and disorient you.


Take action

If you feel physically threatened or in danger, seek help immediately. Gaslighting can escalate to physical abuse, and protecting yourself from harm is essential.


By being aware of gaslighting phrases and the tactics used by malignant narcissists, you can protect your mental and physical well-being from this harmful form of abuse.


What Do Narcissists Say During Gaslighting? 

Gaslighting is commonly associated with narcissistic behavior. Here are some phrases narcissists use during gaslighting:


    • “You’re just being dramatic”: Narcissists invalidate their partners’ emotions and experiences, gaslighting them into believing their reactions are exaggerated or unwarranted.

    • “You’re lucky to have me”: Narcissists manipulate their partners’ self-esteem by belittling or making them feel dependent. This tactic reinforces the narcissist’s inflated sense of self-importance and maintains control.

    • “No one else would put up with you”: Narcissists use gaslighting to isolate their partners and make them believe they are undesirable or unworthy of a healthy relationship. This further diminishes the victim’s self-esteem.

Do you think your partner is narcissistic? We’ve assembled some great reads for you to educate yourself on the topic.

Examples of Gaslighting Words 

Gaslighting in relationships is a complex manipulation technique employed by gaslighting partners to control and undermine their victims. Understanding the gaslighting terms and phrases they use is crucial in recognizing and breaking free from their toxic influence. 


Here are some examples of gaslighting words and tactics:


    • “You’re just overreacting”: Gaslighters dismiss their partner’s valid concerns and emotional responses, making them question their own sanity. This manipulation technique aims to invalidate the victim’s feelings and maintain control.

    • “You’re crazy; it never happened”: Gaslighters employ denial to distort the victim’s perception of events. They gaslight their partners by rewiring their memories and making them doubt their own recollections.

    • “You’re too sensitive”: Gaslighters often label their victims as overly sensitive or irrational, deflecting blame and shifting responsibility for their toxic behavior. This tactic aims to diminish the victim’s self-esteem and keep them trapped in the cycle of abuse.

Examples of Gaslighting Phrases

In the treacherous land of gaslighting, words can be twisted like pretzels to suit the manipulator’s agenda. Gaslighting phrases are carefully crafted to undermine confidence and warp your perception of reality. 


Let’s unmask some of these deceptive utterances:


“You’re too sensitive”

Ah, the classic gaslighter’s defense. By belittling your emotions, they attempt to invalidate your feelings, making you question your own sanity. Remember, your emotions are valid, and their attempt to dismiss them reflects their manipulative tactics, not your sensitivity.


“You’re overreacting”

This phrase is like a sneaky ninja strike to your self-esteem. Gaslighters use it to downplay the impact of their hurtful actions, making you question whether your reactions are justified. Trust your gut, for it often holds the truth that the gaslighter seeks to distort.


“I never said that”

Gaslighters are masters of rewriting history. They conveniently deny previous statements or conversations to confuse and destabilize you. Keep a journal or rely on objective evidence to stay grounded in your recollections.


“You’re just imagining things”

When you question their behaviors or notice inconsistencies, gaslighters attempt to make you doubt your observations. Trust your instincts and seek validation from trusted friends or professionals who can help you regain clarity.


“You’re just being paranoid”

Gaslighters often play mind games, planting seeds of doubt and creating a strong sense of paranoia within you. They manipulate your perception and foster cognitive dissonance by dismissing your concerns as baseless. Trust your instincts and seek validation from trusted sources to combat this gaslighting tactic.


“You’re crazy. No one else would put up with you”

Gaslighters aim to isolate you and make you believe you are undesirable or unworthy of healthy personal relationships. They use this gaslighting statement to undermine your self-esteem and make you question your worth. Remember, you deserve love, respect, and understanding. Don’t let their toxic words diminish your self-worth.


“You’re just trying to make me look bad”

Gaslighters are skilled at deflecting blame and turning the tables on their victims. When confronted with their toxic behaviors, they twist the situation to make you feel like the villain, playing on your empathy and guilt. Stay firm in your truth and recognize that their attempts to shift blame are classic gaslighting tactics.


But don’t be fooled, there are more gaslighting phrases they might use!


“That never happened.”
“You’re imagining things.”
“You’re remembering it wrong.”
“You’re the one causing the problem.”
“You’re being hysterical.”
“You’re always making things up.”
“You’re just looking for attention.”
“You’re too emotional.”
“I’m only trying to help you.”
“You’re being irrational.”
“You’re not thinking clearly.”
“You’re too forgetful.”
“You’re too insecure.”
“I’m the only one who cares about you.”
“You’re too unstable.”
“I’m just joking.”
“You’re being too dramatic.”
“You’re always making me out to be the bad guy.”
“You’re being too sensitive about this.”
“You’re too needy.”
“You’re too high-maintenance.”
“You’re not good enough.”
“I’m doing this for your own good.”
“You’re imagining things again.”
“You’re just making this up to get attention.”
“You’re not remembering it correctly.”
“You’re being ridiculous.”
“You’re being a drama queen.”
“You’re being too needy.”
“You’re being too clingy.”
“You’re too jealous.”
“You’re not thinking clearly.”
“You’re being too emotional.”
“You’re just being paranoid.”


Gaslighting phrases are weapons cleverly wielded by manipulators to undermine your reality. However, recognizing them for what they are, you reclaim your power and courageously take that crucial step toward breaking free from their suffocating grip. As  Putri highlighted, ‘The journey from gaslighting victim to empowered survivor begins with reclaiming our self-boundaries and standing tall in our self-worth.’


Armed with this insight, you fortify your inner defenses and initiate a transformative process. Once you decipher these manipulative statements, you inherently cultivate a robust sense of self and craft an unassailable shield against the corrosive impact of gaslighting. The process is your reclamation, your resurgence, and your triumphant evolution.


Suitable Responses to Gaslighting Phrases

Here are some suitable responses to gaslighting phrases:


  • “You’re overreacting.” – “I don’t think I am, but I appreciate your concern.”
  • “That never happened.” – “I remember it clearly, and it did happen.”
  • “You’re crazy.” – “That’s hurtful and not true. Please don’t use that word to describe me.”
  • “You’re too sensitive.” – “I’m allowed to have feelings, and I don’t think I’m being too sensitive.”
  • “You’re imagining things.” – “I do not imagine things. Please don’t make me doubt my own perception.”
  • “I never said that.” – “I’m pretty sure you did say that. Can we talk about it and figure out what happened?”
  • “You’re being paranoid.” – “I don’t think I’m being paranoid, but I appreciate your concern.”
  • “You’re remembering it wrong.” – “I’m pretty sure I remember it correctly. Can we talk about it and try to figure it out?”
  • “You’re the one causing the problem.” – “I don’t think I’m the only one causing the problem. Let’s work together to find a solution.”
  • “You’re being hysterical.” – “Please don’t call me hysterical. It’s not helpful.”
  • “You’re always making things up.” – “I’m not making things up. Please don’t invalidate my experiences.”
  • “You’re just looking for attention.” – “I’m not looking for attention. I’m trying to express how I feel.”
  • “You’re too emotional.” – “I don’t think I’m being too emotional. I’m just expressing my feelings.”
  • “I’m only trying to help you.” – “I appreciate your help, but please listen to me and respect my boundaries.”
  • “You’re being irrational.” – “I don’t think I’m being irrational. I have valid concerns.”


When you engage in these affirming responses, you challenge the gaslighter’s attempts to distort your reality and reinforce your perception and understanding of the truth. “As you reclaim your narrative from the grip of gaslighting, you’re rewriting a story of empowerment.” Says Leonita. This process allows you to regain control over your experiences and assert your right to a reality that aligns with your genuine feelings and perceptions.


How Do Gaslighters Apologize? 

Common in movies and literature is the rhetoric of a survivor confronting his abuser. Years later they are confronted and in that moment show themselves and the abuser that they no longer have to be afraid." In fact, this purification doesn't do much for gaslighters. This fear can never be confronted, only if you set your own limits and make gaslighters accept these limits, you can make them apologize with the confidence of this acceptance. "It is possible for a gaslighter to apologize and realize his/her mistakes, by clearly drawing the boundaries of the person to be manipulated and having these boundaries accepted by the gaslighter. Gaslighter's apology contains more regret than apology."

Gaslighters’ apologies are often insincere and manipulative, serving as another tool to maintain control. Here are some common patterns observed in how gaslighters apologize:


    • Shifting blame: Gaslighters deflect accountability by blaming their partners, making them feel guilty for questioning or confronting the gaslighting behavior.

    • Minimizing their actions: Gaslighters downplay the impact of their toxic behavior, using phrases like “It wasn’t a big deal” or “You’re making a mountain out of a molehill” to dismiss the victim’s concerns.

    • Using diversion tactics: Gaslighters may divert the conversation from their actions and focus on unrelated issues or past events, further confusing and disorienting their partners.


Responding to gaslighting phrases can be difficult, especially if the person using them is a narcissist trying to manipulate and control you. It’s important to stay calm and assertive and to prioritize your own well-being and safety. If you’re physically or emotionally abusive, seek help from a trusted friend, family member, or professional.


As mental health practitioner Leonita says, “When you shine a light on the shadows of doubt, you pave the way for self-empowerment.” Remember, countering gaslighting’s effects isn’t merely about deflecting falsehoods but about shining light on your shadows of doubt. By doing so, you pave the way for self-empowerment, as each instance you assert your reality becomes a stepping stone towards reclaiming your narrative and reinforcing your innate strength.


To read more on the topic, here are some suggestions:



Protecting yourself from gaslighting starts with recognizing the signs and patterns of manipulation. Trust your instincts, seek support from trusted individuals, and establish clear boundaries. Educate yourself about gaslighting tactics and practice self-care. Sometimes, seeking professional help or considering removing yourself from the toxic relationship may be necessary for your well-being.

Gaslighting can occur both intentionally and unintentionally. Some individuals may employ gaslighting tactics consciously to exert control and power over others. However, in some cases, gaslighting behavior may stem from the gaslighter’s own insecurities, cognitive distortions, or unresolved issues.


Regardless of intent, the impact on the victim can be detrimental, and it’s important to address and address the gaslighting dynamics in the relationship.

Confronting a gaslighter about their behavior can be challenging. It’s important to approach the situation cautiously, as gaslighters may respond defensively or escalate their manipulative tactics.


While some individuals may be willing to acknowledge their behavior and work towards change, others may be resistant or unwilling to take responsibility. It’s crucial to prioritize your safety and well-being and seek professional guidance or support when confronting a gaslighter.


Remember, your safety and well-being are paramount. If you feel threatened or unsafe in a gaslighting relationship, removing yourself from that situation may be necessary for your own protection.

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