Sanctuary for the Abused
Wednesday, November 24, 2021
(from Games Abusers Play at Cosmicwalk)
This term comes from a 40's movie called "Gaslight" about a man who plays mind games with his wife to convince her that she is losing her mind. It's a really simple game but an extremely effective way to gain mental control over someone because it causes them to question their own judgment and sense of reality.
Perhaps you suddenly start misplacing and losing things far more frequently than you ever have before. You are absolutely certain that you put the keys on the cupboard, but they're not there. It throws you off balance because you always put them on the cupboard and can't understand why you would have put them somewhere else. After much anxious searching, you finally find them in the most unlikely place. - Even now you have no recall of putting them there, perhaps you don't even remember entering this room after coming home.
This can happen to us sometimes, but gaslighting is when we did not misplace the keys in the first place. They were moved and we were made to believe that we had misplaced them.
Another example is that you start getting things wrong. You're supposed to meet darling bully at your favourite restaurant for dinner. You plan it well to make sure that you arrive exactly at 7pm as agreed. Now this can go a number of ways:
He is standing waiting and in a foul mood because you are so late, insisting that he told you to be there at 6:30. You are absolutely convinced that he said 7.There are many variations on the theme and they can sometimes get quite elaborate, with various details built in to make it more certain that you were the one who misunderstood. The added detail adds plausibility to his version and makes it seem more likely that you are the one who got it wrong.
He is not there and you wait and wait. He finally arrives at 7:30, insisting that this is the time he told you to meet him. As with the prior situation, you are convinced he said 7.
He is not there and you wait and wait. Finally you get a call asking you where you are. He insists that he had told you to meet him at the other restaurant. You are convinced he said this one.
Gaslighting is a game that can be played in a number of different ways and the key factor is that you begin to question yourself and feel as if you are losing your mind.
The initiator can do this to you for one of two reasons: because they find it entertaining to watch somebody getting distressed or because they are deliberately trying to make you and other people doubt yourself - and ultimately your sanity - as a strategic move.
The desired end result could be anything from simply having power over you to a deliberate preparation for a child custody battle.