Gaslighting and Emotionally Abusive Relationships
Domestic violence does not always involve physical harm like punching and slapping. Emotional and psychological abuse can often be just as harmful. An abuse victim may be psychologically manipulated in such a way that he or she fears leaving the abusive situation or even blames himself or herself for the abuse. Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that some abusive people use to manipulate and control their victims.
Controlling a Victim Through Deceit
The term “gaslighting” refers to a 1944 movie starring Ingrid Bergman called Gaslight. The film centers on a manipulative husband’s attempts to undermine his wife by making her question her sanity. One of the tactics used by the husband to make his wife think she is going crazy is dimming and brightening the gaslights. The term has since become a catch-all term for psychological manipulation used to maintain control or power over a victim.
Examples of Gaslighting in a Toxic Relationship
Gaslighting can take many forms. An individual may use the tactic to avoid being caught in a lie or to make the victim question his or her version of a past event. A person who is using gaslighting to manipulate you may:
- Consistently accuse you of misremembering conversations and events
- Deny actions or remarks that you are sure actually occurred
- Pretend to forget things that you told him or her
- Disregard your feelings
- Tell you that you are “crazy” or overacting
- Prevent you from seeing friends and family
- Discourage you from seeking healthcare services or psychological counseling
Gaslighting is Sometimes a Sign of Abuse
Gaslighting is often a sign of an abusive relationship. If you have been the victim of abuse and the perpetrator is a former or current romantic partner, household member, or family member, you are not alone. Domestic violence affects the lives of millions of Americans. In Illinois, there are legal protections that can help you avoid further abuse. An Emergency Order of Protection (EOP) is available without the abuser’s knowledge. The order may require the abusive person to stay a certain distance away from you and your children, temporarily move out of your shared home, surrender firearms, and cease contacting you.
Contact a Kane County Family Lawyer
If you are the victim of threats, control, manipulation, harassment, intimidation, or abuse at the hands of a spouse or family member, you do not have to tolerate this treatment. For help getting an order of protection, divorcing an abusive spouse, or other family law needs, contact a St. Charles family law attorney at Shaw Family Law, P.C. Call us at 630-584-5550 for a free, confidential consultation.