Gaslighting and Domestic Violence Attorneys Passaic County NJ
So how do you know if you are the victim of domestic violence in the form of gaslighting?
Domestic violence takes many forms. Its overt and subtle forms are a prevalent reality in New Jersey, accounting for 64,000 police reports in 2016, the most recent year for which the New Jersey State Police has collected data. While domestic violence’s primary association is physical and sexual abuse, there are more subversive forms of violence that have an equally damaging impact on the victim. One such example of domestic violence is called gaslighting. Gaslighting is the mental and emotional manipulation of a partner, which is used to convince them that they are mentally unstable or crazy to gain control in the relationship. When one partner gaslights another, the abuser uses subversive tactics to strip all credibility from the other partner – resulting in the victim doubting their own credibility – at which point, the manipulator can bend the mental, emotional, and even physical will of the victim as they please. The term “gaslighting” comes from a 1944 psychological thriller in which a husband convinced his wife she was crazy to hide the fact that he was involved in illicit dealings.
So how do you know if you are the victim of domestic violence in the form of gaslighting? There are specific signs that can point you in the direction of awareness that you’re a victim of manipulation.
Blame is one of the telltale signs of gaslighting. While many couples exchange blame from time to time, the key element of blame related to gaslighting is the abusive partner’s use of the tactic to distract from their own abusive behavior. Blaming and shaming a partner traps you in feelings of unworthiness that limit your capacity or courage to step out of the cycle of abuse. When an abuser focuses on your shortcomings, you have less mental and emotional energy to clearly see the situation. You will begin to believe that you truly are the reason for the poor feelings in the relationship.
While it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish truth from fiction, lying is a significant aspect of an abusive relationship, and gaslighting in particular. The particularly dangerous aspect of a partner engaging in gaslighting is that the lies will be consistent. Consistent lies can work their way into the fabric of your belief systems almost as easily as facts. Therefore, if you aren’t vigilant about fact-checking your partner when they make a claim that doesn’t sit well intuitively, a lie may have worked its way into your beliefs about yourself, your partner, or the situation before it occurs to you that they were in the wrong. At that point, it may be difficult to escape. Even if you’re deep into a story before you recognize it’s time to get help, there are ways you can receive support during this time. Having the witness of a third party can help to deactivate your partner’s power of persuasion over you. This could come in the form of an acquaintance, or ideally, it could be the support of a couple’s counselor. A couple’s counselor can at once check any falsehoods and bring them to light and also help you determine whether the relationship has a healthy foundation on which to build.
Playing the Loving Victim
One of the most tenacious ways a domestic abuser engages in gaslighting is appearing to be the innocent victim. They may periodically seem loving, blaming you for not treating them well enough or loving them enough. They may teeter between showering you with affection and completely withholding their care. Usually, when they withhold their care, they will blame you for a behavior that they themselves have engaged in, making you question what is up and what is down when they are playing the victim. For example, if they have cheated on you, they may come to you ‘distraught’ because they claim they believe you have been cheating on them. When you tell them that is not the case, they may go into a monologue about how you mistreat them and don’t show them the kind of love they always try to give to you. In this case, you find yourself attempting to convince them of your love while they get away with cheating and wrap you around their finger.
Gaslighting is a subtle manipulation that can have devastating psychological and emotional effects. Seeking a third party’s support to regain clarity is an essential step forward for your health and bright future.
Contact A Little Falls, NJ Domestic Violence Related Issues Lawyer Today.
To schedule a confidential consultation with our firm today regarding your claim of partner violence, please contact our family law attorneys online, or through our Little Falls office today at 973-233-4396. We are here to help you create an agreement that is fair and takes your concerns into account.