How to Recognize Gaslighting as an Abusive Behavior

gaslighting, DuPage County divorce lawyerOctober is Domestic Awareness Month, and it is important to note that domestic violence is not limited to physical actions like hitting and kicking. In many cases, emotional abuse or psychological abuse can be just as destructive as physical abuse, and can certainly lead to the breakdown of a marriage. In fact, for many years, repeated mental or emotional cruelty was considered grounds for divorce in Illinois. While all divorces in the state must now be on the no-fault grounds of irreconcilable differences, it is still important to be able to recognize such victimization when it occurs. One type of this emotional abuse is referred to as “gaslighting.”

Does your partner often deny any knowledge of events or conversations that you know took place? On the opposite end, does he or she insist things happened which did not? Does he or she accuse you of misremembering past events? Does your partner ever insist that you said or did something of which you have no relocation? If so, you may be a victim of gaslighting.

What is Gaslighting?

The term gaslighting gained popularity following the release of the 1944 film Gaslight, a movie based on a play about an emotionally abusive husband. In the film, the husband engages in manipulative behavior in order to confuse and create self-doubt in his wife. The husband drives his wife into believing she is losing her mind by dimming the lights and then denying they changed, moving her personal items and insisting she moved them or lost them herself and isolating her from friends and family. Some abusive people use similar techniques to control and manipulate their partners today. Abusers engaging in gaslighting may exhibit the following behaviors:

  • Accusing their partner of being too sensitive, too needy, or unreasonable when he or she tries to express feelings thoughts or emotions;
  • Denying that conversations, plans, promises, or events occurred and that the partner is making these memories up;
  • Twist or change information in order to make their partner confused or seem irrational to themselves or others;
  • Insisting that their partner is “crazy” or “paranoid;”
  • Manipulating circumstances in order to make their partner unable to care for themselves;
  • Controlling their partner’s access to money;
  • Isolating their partner from friends and family members; and
  • Changing the subject or refusing to listen when presented with evidence of such abuse.

The Effects of Gaslighting on Victims Can Be Hard to Overcome

People who have been victims of gaslighting may be constantly doubting themselves, worrying they cannot remember events accurately and feel confused, never good enough, misunderstood, lonely, hopeless, anxious, and depressed. They doubt their own instincts and common sense. Unfortunately, all of these factors often discourage victims of emotional abuse from seeking help or leaving the relationship.

Seek Legal Help

If you have been the victim of a gaslighting spouse, help is available. Contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney to discuss your available options. Call 630-409-8184 for a confidential initial consultation at the Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C., today. We equipped to provide the assistance you need in creating a happier, healthier life.

 

Sources:

http://www.thehotline.org/2014/05/what-is-gaslighting/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/power-in-relationships/200905/are-you-being-gaslighted

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