Gaslighting is a term that has gained traction in recent months (read: Teen Vogue’s poignant article on the subject). But the tactic has been around, plaguing its victims, for much, much longer.

Psychology Today says, “Gaslighting is a manipulation tactic used to gain power” by making the victim question their reality. It’s a form of slow brainwashing done by narcissists, as well as dictators or cult leaders, who often fall into this category themselves. Yikes!

As scary as the thought of someone brainwashing an entire nation is, gaslighting on a personal scale is also very real and can be just as scary for the victim. Gaslighting has even been dubbed a form of emotional abuse. There are several techniques a person can use when gaslighting someone. Some red flags:

The person is telling obvious lies. The reason? To make you unsure of yourself, what you know to be true, and question who you really trust. By lying to you, the person creates confusion and uncertainty in order to more easily manipulate you.

Denial. The perpetrator may try to convince you they never said or did something they blatantly said or did. This is just another way the person can get you to buy into a false, carefully calculated idea of what is going on around you.

Projection. If you are being told you are the one who possesses their flaws, this is called projection. For example, they’ve been known to cheat, but they then accuse you of cheating. They’re projecting their faults onto you to distract you from their own bad behavior.

They tell you you’re the crazy one. They might as well be trying to convince you the sky is green. If they are dismissive and say things like, “No one will believe you” when they act abusive or controlling, that’s a sure warning sign.

Now that we know how to spot it, how do we protect ourselves and our vinas from falling victim to gaslighting?

Trust your gut. Has your intuition ever failed you? Don’t let go of that strength – listen to it, and believe it.

Maintain your perception of reality. The sky isn’t green; you know it’s blue, so don’t back down. If you know something to be true, hold onto it.

Cultivate a strong support system. Don’t let the gaslighter isolate you from your friends and family. Surround yourself with people who are honest with you, who build you up, and who support you through life.

If you think you’re being victimized through this tactic of manipulation, don’t doubt yourself or what you know to be real. If you have any tips to share with our readers on how to stay strong and identify gaslighting before it can affect you or someone you love, please share in the comments!

This post was originally published on the VINAzine <3