Gaslighting has become one of those buzzwords that we see popping up on social media along with narcissism on inspirational ‘go girl, you can do better’ meme posts.
But what is it?
The term is taken from the American thriller, Gaslight. Set in the 1940’s; the film depicts a man who slowly manipulates his new wife in to believing she is insane.
Gaslighting isn’t exclusive to romantic relationships, it’s a common technique of dictators and cult leaders to gain more power. Lying, denying and projecting are some of the methods gaslighters use to manipulate and control their victims and anyone is susceptible. It doesn’t matter how confident, successful or empowered you are; gaslighters work so slowly and subtly that you could be forgiven for not noticing it for years.
It’s impossible to protect yourself from gaslighters, unfortunately, everyone is at risk. But what can you do if you start to question your own judgement and sanity? What can you do if you feel manipulated and start to see a pattern of controlling and abusive behaviour?
You’re not going crazy.
Stop second guessing yourself. If you feel like you’re being lied to, chances are you are. Learn to listen to your body and identify the red flags.
If you feel safe enough and you know they said ‘xyz’, you have proof that they said ‘xyz’ but they’re denying they ever said anything at all, it’s critical that you call them out on it according to clinical psychologist, Dr Suro. Never put yourself at risk - if your gaslighter isn’t your friend, boss or a politician and you feel physically threatened, read on.
If you don’t feel safe enough to stand up to the gaslighter but you’re aware that you’re being abused, there are other things you can do to help.
- Talk to a relative or friend.
You don’t have to go in to personal detail but you could perhaps ask them if they have noticed any odd behaviour from the abuser. Bystanders often notice these things before you do and might be relieved that you’ve highlighted it.
- Do your research.
There are many online forums offering support to victims of domestic abuse. It might be worth noting that the internet is a big place and you don’t always know who you’re talking to. Consider setting up a separate profile with an alias to keep your identity safe.
- Call for help.
If you feel that a situation has escalated and that you are in physical danger, you can call 999 and press 55 on your keypad to let the operator know that you are at risk and can’t speak. There are other non emergency helplines that you can call for advice. Information is detailed at the bottom of this blog post.
The Girl Gang HQ Gaslight This! design is one that I will champion until I lose my voice. It was created to raise awareness and money for domestic abuse charities.
The domestic abuse statistics from 2018 can easily be found with a quick Google search but for ease of reference 400,000 women were sexually assaulted; 60,000 women were raped and two women died every week because of domestic violence.
10% of profits from all products in our Gaslight This! collection will be donated directly to Chester Women’s Aid.
Our chosen charity, Chester Women’s aid was set up in 1976 and is run by volunteers for families experiencing domestic abuse unable to access statutory sources of funding. They rely solely on donations. After spending some time with their volunteers in the run up to the Storyhouse Women festival we decided that we’d love to support the cause.
Women’s Aid: 0808 2000 247
Samaritans: 116 123
Victim Support: 0808 1689 111
Childline: 0800 1111