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1 J A P  May 29, 2014 9:35:57am

After I married I moved far away from where I had been living. Only one friend from the time before I was married came to visit me. A few days after his visit we spoke on the phone. He asked me if I’d ever seen the Movie Gas Light because my marriage reminded him of that movie. This was long before “gaslighting” became a common verb. At the time I hadn’t seen it, but then I rented it some time about a year or two after I left my husband. I was in shock because the similarities were uncanny, even to the point of asking if I felt “well enough” to go out. My ex-husband, I should mention, was never physically abusive and it took me a long time to figure out that there was a problem. I just knew that I had once been a very independent, confident person and had become, in the space of a couple of years, a very timid person and I couldn’t quite figure out why. It’s still hard to explain to people what happened during that time.

From the webpage:

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 behavior 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.

I’ve highlighted all the ones that apply to how I felt after I’d been married for a few years. Although the gaslighting behavior is very manipulative, at the same time I’m not entirely sure how aware he was himself of what he was doing wrong. I suspect the people who engage in gaslighting don’t see themselves as being emotionally abusive and only think that they’re trying to get their way, which makes the issue very difficult to address. Interestingly, my ex always refused couples counseling, which I suggested multiple times. He also didn’t want me to go for therapy alone.

2 otoc  May 29, 2014 3:15:15pm

So it has a name, thanks. I’m glad the National Domestic Violence Hotline used the term partner in their write up of the original piece where the author continually used the “him” in her description of examples. As much as I can acknowledge how men can be dicks, abuse is not just a problem with men.


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