Gregg R. Lewis

Trusted Family Law

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Gregg R. Lewis
Trusted Family Law Services In Columbus

What does gaslighting look like in a marriage?

| Nov 4, 2020 | Divorce |

Has a friend ever told you they believed their spouse was trying to gaslight them? When they described their spouse’s behavior, did it feel similar to how your spouse has been acting lately? If so, you need to know what “gaslighting” means and why it is a common reason people get divorced in the Columbus area.

Gaslighting is a form of psychological and emotional abuse. Any persistent manipulation technique that makes the victim question their judgment and ability to understand the world around them can be considered gaslighting.

Origins in a classic movie

Though it seems like a new term, gaslighting comes from the 1944 film “Gaslight,” starring Ingrid Bergman as a woman who marries a man who schemes to convince her that she is going insane. One of his tricks was to make the gaslights in their home brighten and dim in his wife’s presence. When the wife brings it up, he tells her the lights never changed and that she was imagining things. Thus, “gaslighting” has come to be known as this type of abuse.

What does gaslighting look like?

According to an expert interviewed by Yahoo News, in real life, gaslighting tends to follow a cycle:

  • Lies and accusations, such as “I never said that,” “You’re remembering that wrong,” or “I’m sorry you feel that way.”
  • An increasing frequency of the above lies and manipulations, along with increased intensity.
  • The repeated criticism and denials begin to make the victim feel insecure and distrustful of their own feelings.
  • Despite this growing self-doubt, the victim begins to express doubts about the relationship. The abuser then eases off for a while, even praising the victim. The victim stays in the relationship, which has now become codependent.
  • The gaslighter now continuously lies to and manipulates the victim to make them feel completely powerless and unable to leave the relationship.

Abusive spouses gaslight their wives or husbands to maintain control over them. But once a victim retakes control and leaves their spouse, they will need legal help getting a fair and sustainable settlement or court ruling.