“Gaslighting” is a buzzword. It is the definition of a pattern of behaviour part of all abusive relationships.
The History: It originated from a 1938 play which in 1944 was a film adaptation “Gaslight”.The husband slowly targeted and manipulated his wife into believing she was going mad. The husband technically worked on the “Gas Lights “in an upstairs flat, causing them to dim independently. When the wife approached him about this strange occurrence, he convinced her she was imagining it. This is a very characteristic tactic of gaslighting.
Gaslighting happens in romantic relationships, within the family setups; with parents or siblings and amongst friends and relatives. It is a conscious effort from the abuser to make their targeted Victim feel that they IMAGINED the abuse or to DISORIENTATE them as a form of abuse.
What the abuser does is persistently deny the abuse happened, and it is all in the Victim’s imagination. The abuser also misdirects the whole scenario, and contradictions are what they use. Some examples: “I never said that!”. “Are you crazy;l did not hit you,…l simply touched you “.”You crazily flung yourself and hurt yourself on that wall.” The abuser will use LYING to get away from taking the blame and accepting responsibility for their actions.
What is the primary goal of all this evil drama, the victim asks themselves? The idea is to undermine the victim’s judgement and reduce their self-esteem. The more it occurs, the more the victim feels very insecure and unsure about their decisions. They are reduced to being dependent on the abuser even for the slightest decisions like whether to buy the children a new pair of shoes.
One of the most common gaslighting abuse games is the sanity game. The abuser may start by moving physical things like car keys, your wallet, phone or kitchen money box from the usual place you always place them and suddenly you can not find the item. When you ask for their help as they watch you frantically search for it, they will pretend to help and in a few minutes come up with the lost item, found in a place you could never put them, e.g. the fridge or some other very odd area. They suggest you misplaced it and are suffering from forgetfulness. This game played too often can find you agreeing to see a mental doctor. They will make you believe you are genuinely “crazy”.
In Part, 2:We shall unmask how Gaslighting is dangerous and how it is accompanied by other tactics. Its purpose is to slowly erode the Victim’s confusion about what is forming as the reality in their head.
Charity Wairimu Ngugi -Latz Community Manager@ Kwig .e.V and Team Member Domestic Violence Group @Kwig.e.V