although gaslighting is a broad, umbrella term for the kind of behaviours that cause the desired effect in the victim - questioning their own sense of reality, sense of self, understanding of events, memory, rationality, sanity etc - there are also distinct types of behaviours within this catch-all heading.
the abuser aims to manipulate a situation in order to cover up something that they’ve done. this can involve convincing you that you’re wrong about something that shows them in a bad light or could potentially have negative consequences for them.
for example, you could notice something that doesn’t seem to add up - this could be notifications on their phone that seem unusual/suggestive, a change in their behaviour/plans/schedule, seeing purchases on their bank statements that don’t seem familiar etc. when you casually mention it to them, their reaction is completely out of proportion to the situation - which causes you to suspect something more. the more you pay attention, the more evidence seems to point towards them hiding something. instead of them rationally explaining, discussing things with you, or putting your mind at ease, they simply deny everything and work to convince you that you are, in fact, just paranoid/jealous/irrational/insane/insecure etc.
there is no shame, apology, or embarrassment from the abuser. they simply convince you that you’re at fault for suspecting anything.
they aim to change something about you, in order to make you closer to their ideal. although this may seem like a common thing in many relationships - and isn’t necessarily always unhealthy - in gaslighting situations, the abuser will go about achieving this by convincing their victim that this personal preference is, in fact, a major flaw and that they are not good enough the way they are.
whereas in a healthy relationship, a partner may say, for example, ‘i think you’d look really good with a fringe!’, an abuser may convince their partner to make extreme changes like getting cosmetic surgery or losing a lot of weight. they may also offer to pay for this, which is a common power-play for narcissists - especially those in financial positions of power. if their victim refuses, or rejects their offer, they may become angry and threatening. abusers may also resort to guilt-tripping tactics - downplaying the seriousness of their request and suggesting that ‘if you loved me you’d…’.
chipping away at a person’s self-esteem for long enough can see the victim give in to their abusers demands - either because they’re afraid of the consequences, or because they’ve finally been convinced that their abuser was right all along.
often, abusive partners want to be the most important - or, indeed, only - person in your life. this is usually because it becomes much easier to control and influence someone when they don’t have a separate support network who can steer them in the right direction.
in order to do this, an abuser must find a way to distance their victim from the other people in their life. this can take many forms. more often than not, the abuser will convince their victim to distance themselves from their own friends/family - rather than convincing the friends/family, because this involves potentially exposing themselves as manipulative, untrustworthy, or abusive. by gaslighting the victim, they are able to keep their controlling behaviour hidden and more powerful. in order to isolate the victim, an abuser may employ a number of approaches. they may convince you that your relationship with your family is weird/you’re too close/you’re immature for wanting to spend time with them (very often, the abuser will have a poor relationship with their own family). they may also convince you that your friends don’t really like you, are spending time together without you, or are using you. over time, this can wear you down to the point that you eventually believe them, and distance yourself from the only people who would be able to offer protection from your abuser.
the control aspect of gaslighting is also heavily focused on warping your relationship with yourself. it is an abuser’s aim for you to end up in a place where you cannot trust your own judgement, decisions, or perspective. eventually, you find yourself unable to make any decisions without them. by convincing you that your own mind can’t be trusted, that the only person with your best interests at hearts is him, an abuser leaves you entirely at their mercy.
there are many different behaviours involved in these above behaviours - but that’s for another day.