What to do when he messes with your mind

I know a man who once drove a good, smart and perfectly sane woman to the brink of insanity. How did he do this? He was living a duplicitous life and whenever his wife saw signs of his other life with his other woman he would create some type of alternate reality that made the wife feel like she was the one who was in the wrong for questioning his supposed deep love for her.

This mental abuse went on for a very long time. The wife lost her sense of reality because what was real and what was fake were twisted and contorted. Thankfully, she eventually escaped from her abuser and is today a much better person for being away from such a devil.

Have you ever met someone who could manipulate a reality and make it become something altogether different? My abusive mother did this to me for years during my childhood. The only way for me to survive was to develop a very real sense of true reality and to trust my own judgement regardless of what others chose to trust.

20130525stellaEven governments twist reality. There are leaders who are experts at compelling people to believe something altogether different from what they know to be reality. Perhaps that is why the people are so predisposed to forget what treachery was done to them just a month before.

This act of manipulating the minds and memories of people is called Gaslighting. The term derives from the 1938 stage play Gas Light (known as Angel Street in the United States), according to Wikipedia. It describes the plot as being about a husband, who attempts to convince his wife and others that she is insane by manipulating small elements of their environment, and subsequently insisting that she is mistaken or misremembering when she points out these changes. The title stems from the dimming of the house’s gaslights, which happens when the husband is using the gaslights in the attic while searching there for hidden treasure. The wife notices the dimming lights, but the husband insists she is imagining.

The entry also says the term “gaslighting” has been used since at least the 1970s to describe efforts to manipulate someone’s sense of reality. In short, gaslighting is a type of intimidation or psychological abuse where one person makes another doubt his or her own memory and perception. For example, it is persuading someone to believe something that is untrue to be true and then dancing in, over and around it until confusion sets in.

According to Wikipedia, “Psychologist Martha Stout states that sociopaths frequently use gaslighting tactics. Sociopaths consistently transgress social mores, break laws, and exploit others, but are also typically charming and convincing liars who consistently deny wrongdoing. Thus, some who have been victimized by sociopaths may doubt their perceptions.” Others report that some physically abusive spouses may gaslight their partners, even flatly denying that they have been violent.

This is what my mother did to me. I have also seen it done to many women who are being abused. Gaslighting can take the shape of the victim being told they are stupid, or that no one else will want them, or that they are being too sensitive or overreacting. Likewise, gaslighting is used to describe a dynamic observed in some cases of marital infidelity.

The gaslighting behaviors of a cheater can provide a recipe for nervous breakdown for some women and suicide in some of the worst situations—which is what almost happened to the woman I spoke of. By the time she left that devil, she was a walking skeleton. She couldn’t keep down any food and had a difficult time getting a firm grasp of her reality. If she had stayed, I have no doubt she would have died from the man’s gaslighting antics.

So how does a woman protect herself from a gaslighter? According to ignitepoint.com, here are some actions you will want to take to avoid being victimized by gaslighting:

1) Keep your eyes and ears open wide when in the presence of gaslightering control freaks. Pay attention to details.

2) Cultivate an unwavering belief in your intuition. And when it speaks to you, listen with utmost respect.

3) Understand what the gaslighter’s true motive is in his/her exchange with you. It’s usually about simply getting you to see what you know to be true as to be untrue, or vice-versa.

4) Do not let the gaslighter think you bought his/her story, as this only gives permission for more psychological abuse of gaslighting.

5) As always, recognize, understand and trust the mental manipulations and distortions of reality are not about you.

6) Lastly, and most significantly, know you do not have to “win” to be centered and find peace.

A successful closure to a bout of gaslighting does not require that you convince the controlling person to accept your perspective. Because I was exposed to this type of abuse at a young age, I learned how to spot it quickly and take the necessary precautions to protect myself. My advice is this, Sisters, if you are in a relationship where your partner makes you feel like you are going crazy or has eroded your sense of reality and made you doubt your own judgment, get out as fast as you can.

Don’t let any devil—be it a lover, parent or friend—push you to the brink of insanity. Get a firm grip on reality and hold on as tight as you can.

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