Have you heard of the term gaslighting? I’ve only recently become aware of the actual word; although I was aware that abusers use the technique frequently to gain control of their partners. Both men and women can use this damaging technique.
The word comes from the stage play Gas Light, in 1938, where the husband gradually turned down the lights and denied it, making the wife feel like she was losing touch with reality and was going crazy.
Gaslighting happens when the abuser repeatedly denies the truth and makes a concerted effort to have the victim doubt their observations and instincts. This makes victims doubt themselves which leads to uncertainty in all elements of their lives. It is a form of emotional abuse.
Examples are: “When did I say that? You must be making that up.” “That never happened.” “What are you talking about? It didn’t happen that way.” “You’re doing this on purpose. You’re trying to start an argument.”
There are several forms of gaslighting. They include:
- Withholding—the abuser decides not to listen or doesn’t discuss his/her feelings.
- Countering—the abuser tells the victim that their memory is warped and the event didn’t happen like that.
- Blocking/Diverting—the abuser changes the conversation and controls the conversation.
- Trivializing—the abuser makes the victim feel their opinions and needs aren’t important.
- Forgetting/Denial—the abuser conveniently forgets conversations or promises made.
It is important to understand this form of abuse in order to recognize and understand the consequences it has on the victim.
In my upcoming book, Drowning, the abuser, Mitch, uses gaslighting successfully on his wife, Rebecca. She starts to doubt herself, her memory, and becomes insecure and vulnerable.
I hope you’ve found this information helpful. Have a great week and remember if we can help just one person, we’ve done our job!