90 seconds on… Gaslighting

Do you tread on eggshells around your partner? Do they limit your contact with friends and family? We look at coercive control, also known as 'gaslighting'.

Graphic illustration of man and woman signfying gaslighting and coercive control

I’ve heard about gaslighting. What is it?

Gaslighting is a process whereby the perpetrator deliberately sets out to undermine and manipulate their partner with the aim of forcing the victim to question his or her self-worth, memory and sanity. It is a form of domestic abuse. Let me give you a very basic example: a gaslighter will deliberately deny they have made a promise – such as agreeing to pay a bill or meeting at a specific time, in a bid to make the other party feel that they have made a mistake, and as the abuse is stepped up, to question their sanity. Coercive control is similar – it involves a pattern of behaviour designed to control, demean and frighten the victim into compliance and submission. Coercive control has been a criminal offence since December 2015.

How do I know if my partner is a gaslighter or coercive controller?

Do you tread on eggshells around your partner? Do they limit your contact with friends and family, and control or monitor your social interaction with others? Are you undermined or criticized, told what you can and can’t do and who you can and can’t see? Do they sulk and switch off from you when they don’t get their own way? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you are being coercively controlled/gaslit. It is an invidious form of abuse which may cause long term damage to your mental health, as well as your esteem, and is as serious as physical abuse.

What can I do to get out of an abusive relationship?

Take advice from a specialist family lawyer about the options available to protect yourself from your abuser and remove them from your life. You should also report the abuse to the police, who may remove the abuser from the home, and speak to your GP, who will be able to refer you to a counsellor and support groups. Our expert family team will be sensitive to your situation and be able to offer the best advice.

This article was written by Jane Katyar

Please note the contents contained in this article are for general guidance only and reflection the position at time of posting. Legal advice should be sought before taking action in relation to specific matters.

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