Domestic Abuse and Gaslighting

While we are exploring domestic abuse and gaslighting, I urge you to say safe when reading this blog, especially if you believe you are in an abusive relationship…the women’s aid website can help you cover your tracks online

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse – is an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence, in the majority of cases by a partner or ex-partner (Women’s Aid Federation of England 2019)

Both men and women abuse and are abused. Men most frequently abuse women (Jones). Women most frequently abuse children (Miller). The big hurt the little. 

More information about recognising abuse can be found here

But what I want to explore more is gaslighting… 

Abuse, more specifically domestic abuse, can only happen in the mist of secrecy – so behind closed doors, by having affairs/secret relationships or through isolation but what happens when the perpetrator makes you doubt your reality. I honestly wonder, how many people remain in abusive relationships because they are gaslighted into believing they are in the wrong or that someone else externally is to blame. 

What is gaslighting 

Domestic abuse and gaslighting – Psychologists use the term “gaslighting” to refer to a specific type of manipulation where the manipulator is trying to get someone else (or a group of people) to question their own reality, memory or perceptions (DiGiulio 2018). In terms of domestic abuse the manipulator can be seen as the victims partner.

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s fact sheet, the techniques a gaslighter might use to manipulate someone else can include:

Withholding 

(meaning he or she refuses to listen or says they don’t understand). They understand and they are probably confident in what they’re doing – stay alert. 

Countering 

(when the abuser questions the gaslightee’s memory of an event). So, if you think it like this;

‘I have to keep our text messages to refer back to what they have said to prove the truth.’

I remember doing this on a regular basis then ended up recording conversations – it was like referencing for university all over again and it was so exhausting!

Blocking/diverting 

(when the abuser changes the subject or questions the victim’s thinking) When you think of this, explore if you think to yourself

‘why won’t they take into account how they are making me feel?’

Going back to abuse, it is emotional abuse for someone to disregard your feelings or make your feelings feel void; kinda goes part in parcel with this tbh which leads onto… 

Trivializing 

(making the victim’s needs or feelings seem unimportant). This is when they say

‘stop being dramatic, I never said that’

You are allowed to feel how you are feeling and your feelings are valid. Take this time to believe me when I say – you matter. My best friend had to remind me of this when I was being gaslighted/ subject to abuse and ever since its stuck with me – so again… YOU MATTER! (2020 NBC UNIVERSAL)

One thing we need to realise is that abusers are good at lying and making out other people are to blame. A lot of gaslighters are so good at lying, so if you’re sat wondering if what they are saying is true or if they always blame others, you may be a victim of being gaslighted. I think what is worse is when you raise you worry eg a worry their being unfaithful and they tell you you’re being silly but time reveals you were right. 

So how can you help yourself?

As much as I want you to understand domestic abuse and gaslighting, I also want you to be able to help yourself.

  1. Identify the problem – it’s the first step… once something has a name you can address it and work through it. 
  2. Give yourself permission to feel what you feel – like I said above, you matter! You are stronger than you think also!!
  3. Start with making small decisions – don’t engage in an argument if its about power and control – give yourself time; You got this!
  4. Get a second opinion – explore how you’re feeling with friends or family.
  5. Work on self love and gratitudes… download the gratitude toolkit here

Lastly…

I know it feels like everything seems hard and the world seems dark but, you can get through this, you are strong and you matter!!

You got this!!

Rugi x

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