‘Gaslighting’ The Silent Form Of Emotional Abuse

by Rafia Altaf

Mental health professionals recognise ‘Gaslighting’ as a serious form of emotional abuse that exists within relationships.

The term ‘Gaslighting’ is derived from a stage play called ‘Gas Light’ in which the husband deliberately dims the light and then goes on to convince his wife that the light has not been dimmed. The husband attempts to confuse and puzzle his wife to the extent that she begins to question her own perception and sanity. This enables him to gain power and mastery over his wife.

Many victims are not aware that their abuser is subjecting them to ‘Gaslighting’. Professionals have described many forms of ‘Gaslighting’ for instance the abuser may refuse to listen to the victim causing them to feel unimportant and insignificant. In other circumstances the abuser may trivialize the victim by not acknowledging their feelings and undermining their needs. The abuser may make promises to the victim yet upon breaking the promise convince the victim that they are not blameworthy.

This form of manipulation although subtle can have devastating affects on the victim causing them to suffer from depression, frustration and low self-esteem.

Domestic Abuse is not always visible, and in Family Law we recognise this.

The new definition of Domestic violence and Abuse now states:

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional.

In Family Law cases where children are involved, if there are concerns of Domestic Abuse between the parties, the Family Courts handle the case differently to cases where Domestic Abuse has not been raised as an issue.

If you require more information on this topic please contact us at Greens Solicitors Ltd and we will be happy to assist you.