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What is gaslighting?

Quesda Law > Domestic Violence > What is gaslighting?

When you think of domestic abuse in Florida, you may imagine physical violence. This is one form that abuse may take, and unfortunately, it often does. However, domestic violence is not limited to physical forms of abuse. A family member or significant other may abuse you psychologically and/or emotionally without ever raising a hand against you. One of the most specific and frightening of these nonviolent forms of abuse is gaslighting. 

According to NBC News, the term “gaslight” comes from a movie released in 1944, based on an earlier play, in which a husband wants to have his wife committed to a mental institution so he can steal her inheritance, so he manipulates her to the point where she thinks she is losing her sense of reality. Someone who gaslights you manipulates you into questioning your own perceptions and memories, affecting your well-being by making it difficult to make sound decisions without second-guessing yourself or to focus on negotiating your daily tasks. 

Gaslighting involves a number of recognizable techniques: 

  • Blocking/Diverting: Questioning your thinking or changing the subject
  • Countering: Challenging or questioning your memory of an event
  • Forgetting: Pretending to forget something that actually happened
  • Trivializing: Making your feelings or needs seem unimportant
  • Withholding: Refusing to listen

As with any abusive relationship, it is important to take steps to get away from someone who is gaslighting you. It can be difficult because, in causing you to question your reality, the abuser makes you dependent on him or her in order to control you. It can be easier if you enlist the help of friends and family.

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.

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