Categories: News and Updates, The Family Lawyer Education Center554 words2.1 min read

Are you experiencing gaslighting in your relationship?

About the Author: Kristdel Bolog

Kristdel practices solely in Family Law has been a Partner at The Family Lawyer since June 2019. Aside from her amazing ability to recite from memory the entire “Ode to Spot” by Commander Data, she has a wealth of knowledge and practical experience from a decade in the field of family law. Kristdel’s passion for the law and a love of helping people through difficult times enables her to put peoples minds at ease, even during complicated or bitter family court proceedings. As our resident “empath” she is The Family Lawyers’ Counsellor and is always there to listen to her colleagues or clients and bring a smile to their faces. Her nickname around the office is “the nerd”, a badge she wears proudly. Kristdel is hardworking, knowledgeable and dedicated to getting great outcomes for her clients. You can contact her at kbolog@thefamilylawyer.com.au or on 03 8657 3751.
DATE

February 27, 2020

CATEGORIES
SHARE

Do you often start questioning what’s really true – or even your own sanity – within your relationship? If so, your partner may be using what mental health professionals call “gaslighting.”

The term “gaslighting” comes from the 1938 stage play Gas Light, in which a husband attempts to drive his wife crazy by dimming the lights (which were powered by gas) in their home, and then he denies that the light changed when his wife points it out.

It is a very effective form of emotional abuse which causes you to question your own feelings, instincts, and sanity, which gives the abusive partner a lot of power. Once an abusive partner has broken down your ability to trust your own perceptions, you are more likely to stay in the abusive relationship.

Different Gaslighting Techniques Of An Abusive Partner

There are several different gaslighting techniques that an abusive partner might use:

Forgetting/Denial

The abusive partner pretends to have forgotten what actually occurred or denies things like promises made. For example: “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” or “You’re just making stuff up.”

Countering

The abusive partner questions your memory of events, even when you remember them accurately. For example: “You’re wrong, you never remember things correctly.”

Withholding

The abusive partner pretends not to understand or refuses to listen. For example: “I don’t want to hear this again.”

Blocking/Diverting

The abusive partner changes the subject and/or questions your thoughts. For example: “Is that another crazy idea you got from [friend/family member]?”

Trivializing

The abusive partner makes your needs or feelings seem unimportant. For example: “You’re going to get angry over a little thing like that?” or “You’re too sensitive.”

Gaslighting typically happens very gradually in a relationship; in fact, the abusive partner’s actions may seem harmless at first. Over time, however, these abusive patterns continue and you can become confused, anxious, isolated, and depressed, and even lose all sense of what is actually happening. You may even start relying on the abusive partner more and more to define reality, which creates a very difficult situation to escape.

In order to overcome this type of abuse, it’s important to start recognising the signs and eventually learn to trust yourself again. According to author and psychoanalyst Robin Stern, Ph.D., the signs of being a victim of gaslighting include:

  • You constantly second-guess yourself.
  • You ask yourself, “Am I too sensitive?” multiple times a day.
  • You often feel confused and even crazy.
  • You’re always apologizing to your partner.
  • You can’t understand why, with so many apparently good things in your life, you aren’t happier.
  • You frequently make excuses for your partner’s behaviour to friends and family.
  • You find yourself withholding information from friends and family so you don’t have to explain or make excuses.
  • You know something is terribly wrong, but you can never quite express what it is, even to yourself.
  • You start lying to avoid the put downs and reality twists.
  • You have trouble making simple decisions.
  • You have the sense that you used to be a very different person – more confident, more fun-loving, more relaxed.
  • You feel hopeless and joyless.
  • You feel as though you can’t do anything right.
  • You wonder if you are a “good enough” partner.

How can we help?

If you need legal advice or support, our experienced and compassionate family lawyers can assist you, whatever stage you may be at. Talk to us today for a FREE 15-minute family law consultation by calling 03 8657 3751 or via email at enquiries@thefamilylawyer.com.au we look forward to helping you achieve a better outcome.

BOOK YOUR FREE CASE ASSESSMENT

Related articles