Gaslighting and Emotional Abuse
This image says so much. Love really shouldn’t hurt. Gaslighting and Emotional Abuse are not loving behaviours.
Sadly, I see many clients who find it hard to accept their relationship is toxic and their partner’s behaviour is emotional abusive.
I guess it’s hard to believe that the person you love and claims loves you, would be abusive towards to you. Surely, they are just showing their love and attention, and just want the best for you. That’s the reason they worry who you spend time with. They feel those friends aren’t the best company for you. Or that someone might make a pass at you, and they love you so much they can’t bear to lose you.
They worry if you are late home, because they are concerned you may have had an accident. They couldn’t bear for anything to happen to you.
They explain they take care of the finances as they don’t want you to worry about it, and anyway you reason they have a much better head for finances.
When they criticise the way you look or what you wear you want to please them, so you comply as they only have your best interest at heart. And anyway you hope they will stop if you do what they say – but they don’t. In fact, it often gets worse. They fly into a temper, which they turn around and blame you for. Its your fault, because you provoked them. It can even lead to threats of violence towards you, or a loved one. They constantly put you down, often in front of others, saying you are stupid, that what you say is rubbish.
Or they threaten to end their lives if you ever consider leaving them.
When you speak up for yourself you are told you are imagining it, they were only joking and why can’t you take a joke.
THIS BEHAVIOUR IS EMOTIONAL ABUSE AND IS NOT ACCEPTABLE
They often lie, playing with your head, so that you feel you imagined it. They turn it back on you, behaving hurt accusing you of being distrustful, oversensitive and hurtful. They even so as far as saying you have a mental health issue. This kind of abuse is often referred to a Gaslighting. So named after the 1940’s film and play – Gaslight. It describes the form of psychological abuse in which the victim is gradually manipulated into doubting his or her own sanity.
But they say they love you
There are times when they are loving, saying they are sorry and will change their ways, and so this leads to even more self-doubt. You want to believe them, and so you forgive them. For a while things calm down and you really believe them and that it was just a blip. But the behaviour returns unless the abuser seeks help.
If you have concerns about whether this is happening in your relationship talk to someone about it. A trusted friend, a counsellor or one of the many websites that are out there.
It can be extremely hard to take those first steps towards leaving that person if they aren’t prepared to acknowledge their behaviour. This can be for many reasons. You believe they love you deep down, or you’re fearful of what they will do if you try to leave. Or perhaps you are scared that you won’t find anyone else. (which is often what you are told by them) But trust me when I say that this kind of behaviour can erode your self-confidence, making you feel worthless and frightened to do almost anything,
How do I know? Well partly from working with the many clients I have worked with – both men and women. And I also know from personal experience. I was in an emotionally abusive relationship for several years. I experienced a lot of the behaviour I have talked about above. I finally got out of the relationship, but it left me emotionally broken for quite some time.