Matthew Wai

May is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and it is held annually to raise community awareness of the social and personal impacts of domestic and family violence and the support available to those affected. For this reason, Sydney Observer has aimed to shed light on one of the red flags that people should look out for in potentially dangerous relationships, whether it be romantic or platonic.

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation towards a partner, whether in a romantic relationship, or among friends or family members. Gaslighting can occur with the slightest of issues involving elements of deception, false accusations and exaggerations, ultimately done in order for the perpetrator to gain control of the individual that they are gaslighting. It is a term that has caught the world by storm in 2021, so Sydney Observer thought it best to unpack exactly what is gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a term that transpired in the 1938 play Gas Light, written by Patrick Hamilton. Gas Light revolves around the story where a husband would allegedly vary the brightness of the gas lamp at home, in turn creating a misconception for his wife by consistently lying and denying the change in light conditions. Through this manipulation, the wife’s mental health worsened, as she was convinced that her mind was seeing things inaccurately therefore ‘needing’ to rely on her husband. By falsifying the truth, the husband intended to make his wife doubt her own perceptions and judgement, a truly disturbing storyline. Although the play gained tremendous success since its release and was adapted into two different movies, the act of gaslighting is unfortunately not only cinematic but also quite common.

There are various types of gaslighting, and it can be difficult to detect such red flags among our daily conversations. lists the following as points to consider:

1. Confusing: Are you being told you’re crazy? Is your partner twisting things around to make it seem you’re being irrational or unreasonable?

2. Self-Doubt: Are you second guessing yourself?

3. Isolating: Are your thoughts and feelings being trivialised?

4. Avoidance & Denial: ‘You must have dreamt that! I don’t know what you’re talking about.’

5. Walking on Eggshells: Are you constantly apologising because you’re made to feel as if you were wrong, even if you weren’t?

6. Diversion: ‘You’re imagining things.’

It is always ideal to be well-informed, and to be on the lookout for signs of gaslighting early on – remember help is always available on

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