Domestic abuse isn’t always a clear cut issue. Gaslighting is one tactic many abusers make use of that causes the subject of abuse to question his or her sanity. The goal is to wear down a person until they’re pliable to manipulation, as explained by Psychology Today

For example, gaslighting usually involves blatant lies. Your spouse might tell you something that you know to be patently false and insist the statement is true despite your objections. This serves to throw off your sense of reality, which sets you up for more lies and misinformation. One of the most damaging aspects of gaslighting is its impact on your psyche and self-confidence.

Gaslighters also like to paint their victims of abuse as crazy or otherwise unhinged. By describing a person as crazy, it deprives them of credibility. It also adds to the chorus of voices that claim that you’re not seeing things clearly. This wears a person down over time until they become far more accepting of another person’s version of reality. Keep in mind that even people who are confident and self-aware can easily fall victim of gaslighting. This is especially true when the abuser is a spouse or romantic partner.

Abusers are often quite savvy. Most people will leave after receiving their fill of poor treatment, so abusers make sure to provide positive, reinforcing statements from time to time. These statements paint the abuser in a positive light, which works to confuse you even further. The overarching goal is to make a person question their every thought and action until you can’t help but accept your abuser’s version of events. When abuse goes on for years, this confusion grows even stronger, until you may feel trapped in your situation. Remember, it’s never too late to extricate yourself from the clutches of abuse, especially when you have the right support.