The phrase “domestic abuse” often summons thoughts of physical violence or loud verbal mistreatment. But domestic abuse can actually take on many different forms. One of the more subtle methods employed by abusers is called “gaslighting.” This term has its origins from a stage play called “Gas Light,” in which a husband attempts to drive his wife insane by dimming their home’s gas-powered lights and denying they had changed when his wife calls it to his attention.
Clearly, gaslighting is a subtle and passive-aggressive type of abuse. But if you are constantly subject to such treatment your confidence and emotional well-being can be easily undermined. The following are some gaslighting techniques:
- Trivializing. Your partner downplays or belittles your concerns and implies that your feelings or needs are not important. This can be done by saying such things as “get over it,” or “quit being so sensitive,” when you try to explain that something is bothering you.
- Countering. Your partner challenges your recollection of events and counters your assertions by saying things like “No, that’s not what happened,” when you know you remember things accurately.
- Forgetting or denying. Your partner denies ever making promises or statements by saying such things as “You’re just making that up,” or “What are you talking about?”
- Withholding. Your partner refuses to engage in conversation about important matters and responds to your concerns by saying things like “Will you give it rest?” or “Stop playing head games.”
Gaslighting is used by an abuser for the same reason that he or she may resort to physical violence; to assert complete control over the abused partner. And if your emotional well-being is being harmed by someone who should be supportive and loving, you may want to seriously assess the condition of your relationship.
You don’t have to spend your life being ground down by your spouse. You can confide in a family law attorney who can explain your options, including divorce, which can allow you to break free and improve your situation immensely.