Domestic Violence Series: What is Gaslighting?
You and your boyfriend are having an argument about a close male friend you have. Your boyfriend insists that your friend has a crush on you and demands that you break off the friendship. This friendship dates back to college and you don’t want to break up such a long friendship. But you love your boyfriend and don’t want to lose him. Finally, you agree to break ties from your friend. It was the most difficult thing you ever had to do. Weeks later, your boyfriend asks how your former friend is. When you tell him that you don’t talk to that friend anymore as requested by him, your boyfriend says, “What? I never told you to do that. You’re crazy!”
Does this sound familiar? If it does, you may be in an emotionally abusive relationship.
What this scenario describes is called gaslighting. The term comes from the stay play “Gas Light.” In the play, the husband tries to make the wife think she’s losing her mind by making little changes to the environments such as steadily dimming the flame on a gas lamp. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse where one partner tries to present false information to his/her significant partner in an effort to give that partner control over that person. This type of domestic abuse can happen progressively and can be so subtle that you may not even know it’s happening. Gradually, the victim will become very confused and may start relying on his/her abusive partner to help define reality.
Think this may be happening in your relationship? Here are a few gaslighting techniques:
- Your partner pretends to not understand or refuses to listen to you
- Your partner questions your memory of events, even if your memory of events is crystal clear
- Your partner changes the subject or questions your opinions
- Your partner makes you feel unimportant
- Your partner pretends to forget events that happened or denies any promises made to you
It can be extremely difficult to break away from gaslighting. You will be doubting your own mind and second-guessing your own thoughts, memories, and actions. You may find yourself making excuses for your partner’s behavior. You could eventually feel frightened to bring up any topic with your significant other for fear that he/she will put you down for being “wrong.” And you may even know that something is definitely wrong, but just not sure what the problem can be.
If you are a victim of gaslighting, your first move is to get out of the relationship and find a good therapist to help you recover from the abuse. Your second step is to contact the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone to discuss what your legal options are. Don’t wait any longer; contact us today.