Domestic abuse continues to be a problem surging not just in Nigeria, but worldwide. How often does it seem as if you hear in the news horrific stories of someone experiencing years of unmentionable physical abuse resulting in unsightly bruises, broken bones, trauma, and worst case scenario; loss of life?
Whenever a new story surfaces about a victim, some may respond in devastation thinking, “How could such a horrible thing happen to that person without anyone ever noticing signs of abuse?” Especially, if the victim is famous, wealthy, well educated, or successful, the public tends to believe that such abuse would never happen to someone living a seemingly privileged or perfect life. But the fact of the matter is that fame, socioeconomic status, educational level, and even gender don’t preclude one from becoming a victim of domestic abuse in a relationship.
It is more so important to recognize that not every abusive relationship will solely be centered upon physical violence. One may never experience any physical abuse through the course of a relationship, but may be held captive to years of ongoing emotional or psychological torment. Sometimes psychological and emotional abuse can be equally as painful and scarring as physical abuse.
Psychological abuse is usually structured around manipulation tactics utilized by the abuser to gain full power and control over the victim. The psychological manipulation and mind games may lead the victim to believe that they have essentially lost touch with reality. There is a term coined “gaslighting,” which is popularly used to describe this psychological bullying. The term came from an old British play named “Gas Light” in which a wife is led to believe she has gone crazy due to the mental manipulation of her husband.
Gas lighting is a mentally destructive tactic that can be seen not only in romantic relationships, but also even in other work or family relationships. Those who fall victim to gaslighting sometimes do not even realise that it is happening to them since it is such an insidious form of abuse and mind control. If you are unsure about whether gaslighting is happening to you, here are some major red flags to watch out for that may be indicative of this form of mental abuse:
You start doubting yourself all of the time.
The gaslighter may distort the way in which events actually occurred and will incessantly repeat certain lies over and over again until the victim is left beyond confused and doubting their own memories.
For example, let’s say you witness your significant other cheating on you with someone else. If the cheater uses gas lighting techniques, they may continue to deny that the cheating occurrence ever happened despite the fact that you saw the event with your own eyes. After hearing the blatant lie enough times, you may start questioning what you actually saw and think that maybe your eyes were just deceiving you.
You feel like you are losing your mind
The mental manipulation from the abuser leads to increasing levels of self-doubt which makes you start to feel as if you are going crazy. If you are being gaslighted, you continuously question your sanity. Your abuser has also likely called you crazy on numerous occasions to try to solidify your belief that you may be out of touch with reality.
You are more apologetic than usual
The gaslighter may project their nefarious behaviors upon you and try to make themselves seem like the victim. You may then find yourself always saying “I’m sorry” unnecessarily and not even understanding why you keep apologizing.
You can’t make decisions on your own anymore
The continuous emotional and mental manipulation from the abuser leads you to doubt your judgement about everything, such that it becomes increasingly difficult to make basic life decisions. You may then start depending on the abuser to make decisions for you. If you are constantly second guessing everything, it may be a sign you are being gaslighted.
You feel extremely isolated and depressed
This form of psychological abuse usually leaves the victim feeling powerless, despondent, and isolated from the world. Victims may begin to have suicidal ideation and act upon thoughts of self harm.
Here is the takeaway: Gaslighting and other types of emotional abuse are dangerous and may begin to lay the foundation for ongoing patterns of abuse in some relationships. If you start to see any signs of gaslighting early on in your relationship, chances are that it will likely only get worse. Moreover, if you are experiencing any form of abuse at all, it is critical to talk to someone that you fully trust and move forward in formulating a safety plan and way out of the toxic and abusive environment
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