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Gaslighting : ignore or confront?

(132 Posts)
jadeddazedandconfused Fri 07-Feb-14 15:39:51

Hi, I have just come to the realisation that I'm being gaslighting. I have split from husband but still sharing a home.
Over the years I have found lots of 'missing' things in odd places or even in the bin. Mostly it is small items of mine and the children, sometimes there are cost implications other times it's just annoying and slightly distressing because he always denied it or blamed our small children even when he's hidden things so high the children couldn't have done it.
Sometimes it's been important documents.

Recently when I asked him for something that had disappeared and I'd searched everywhere he produced it and said I'd not looked properly (I had) and he said 'if I was going to take o
Today I remembered how when he was bullied at school he took revenge by stealing from their bags & coats in the cloakroom. I believe The hiding /throwing away stuff is part of that old pattern but it makes me feel unsafe, not 100% sure how to tackle it.

Hundreds of times I have asked him not to touch /move/dispose of my /the children's things but when met with blatant denial it's hard to know how to deal with it. I can't lock everything away being don't know what he will choose next.

I have thought about getting a box and just saying anytime you're not sure what to do with something just put it in here for me to sort out but I feel trying to do things on the sly that won't help
I thought I could mention the bullying story he told me but I'm expecting him just to laugh it off as usual and tell me how ridiculous I am but at least he'd know I'm on to him.

NotSuchASmugMarriedNow Fri 07-Feb-14 15:42:19

Gaslighting is truly horrible to suffer from sad - he won't stop doing it though.

Can you move out into your own place soon? Meanwhile, keep any important documents with a friend.

strongandlong Fri 07-Feb-14 15:46:50

There probably isn't much you can do to actually change his behaviour. I would confront him just so that he knows you're on to him, and to give yourself the assurance that you've done what you can.

Agree with notsuch that you need to protect anything vital.

And then move (or get him out) ASAP.

Sorry you're going through this sad

jadeddazedandconfused Fri 07-Feb-14 15:47:15

Woops posted too soon! He said 'if I was going to take your things I'd hide them much better than that' after he'd miraculously found my missing item 'on the floor'.

Our housing situation isn't going to be resolved for at at another couple of months, I'm loathe to leave with the children don't want to lose any rights (shared ownership property) but I feel horrible living with such a slippery character.
I feel bad that my children have such an emotionally stunted father and so guilty for everything.

he said he's quite happy with the way things are indefinitely and he can't afford to support me over and above the legal child maintenance figures despite earning 3 x my salary.
He went out last night so I used the ipad in bed I went to get it this morning and he'd removed it from my room while I was breakfasting a hidden it under his pillow! Why not just ask me?

Petty stuff perhaps but I can't stand it. He turns the heating off when I've just put it on (I have a stinky cold and an autoimmune disease so just want to feel comfortable)
He turns my music off or down and changes the TV channels every time I leave the room. Sorry but I hate him at the moment and it'd not a healthy way to feel or to live with two wee ones.

jadeddazedandconfused Fri 07-Feb-14 15:48:30

Thanks guys. I have copies of all important docs at work, and I will speak to a friend tonight. It's horrible and he's so plausible he's had me doubting my sanity for six years!

Joysmum Fri 07-Feb-14 15:49:16

I'd call him on it next time it happens. Remind him of the story and tell him you'd hoped he would have grown out if it by now. Smile sweetly whilst doing so and being ever so understanding. Showing annoyance will just reinforce that he has power if your emotions and that's the whole point if him doing it. By faking it and not showing weakness, it takes his power away.

...unless you'd be concerned for your own safety and worried he'd escalate his behaviour?

NotSuchASmugMarriedNow Fri 07-Feb-14 15:54:09

yes, like Joysmum, i'd also be worried that he'd escalate his behaviour, especially as he knows he is losing his power over you.

Whose ipad was it?

Be prepared to car keys and all sorts to go missing soon.

This is exactly what my ex twunt used to do.

He even put happy 40th birthday banners up for me when I had my 41st birthday. Deliberately. Urgh, be glad your leaving him. Your head will be so much clearer when your not living with him.

NotSuchASmugMarriedNow Fri 07-Feb-14 15:56:05

If he earns 3 x your salary then even the minimal legal child maintenance should help you a lot. Together with your salary, child tax credits and child benefit and housing benefit and council tax reduction.

Don't worry about money you'll manage.

strongandlong Fri 07-Feb-14 15:56:54

It sounds horrible. At least you now understand what's going on. Please remind yourself that it's his problem and not yours. You don't have anything to feel guilty about.

Could you put a lock on your room?

NotSuchASmugMarriedNow Fri 07-Feb-14 15:57:14

Have you discussed housing and child residence with him yet? How far along in the divorce process are you?

wontletmesignin Fri 07-Feb-14 15:59:40

Oh it is an awful thing to go through. I understand the being met with complete denial.
My ex threw out sentimental things and the dcs toys. He would also throw out socks? Just id hunt for the other. Then tell me to throw them all out and he would buy new ones...but never would.

The strangest behaviour i have ever come across.

I honestly dont see any point trying to confront, simply because of the denial. He may alsostart what mine did and completely.deny conversations we had literally just had in order to make me question my sanity. I did!

I would just watch...and log everything in your head while you do your level best to get out asap

wontletmesignin Fri 07-Feb-14 16:02:25

Getting a box and telling him to put items hes unsure of into it, wont work.

I tried. His excuse was "i forgot all about it, im tidying up. Next time i wont bother"
They always find a way to turn it on to you

Want2BSelfemployed Fri 07-Feb-14 16:28:20

he is taking things that are your time call the police. Its stealing! Can you get a nanny cam and catch him then call the police and then see if he does it again after a warning!

jadeddazedandconfused Fri 07-Feb-14 18:10:56

Hi all thanks for the replies and advice. I am busy with children, dinner, bed etc but I have read a will absorb later.
We split in November after I finally got some answers to doubts I've had for years. There is another thread, too much to go into now.
We're not far in the housing process partly because of issues with the landlord, contracts etc and other because he is happy staying as things are, as things stand at the moment he is getting the better part of the deal whilst I'm getting stressed around him.

The ipad is his but he bought it for us all to use and it's always been that if he's out or on nights I just use it, he went out last night and he knew I was using it when he left, as I had a stinking cold I couldn't face getting out and of bed to put it in his room before I went to sleep. It seems petty writing it and tbh I can manage without the ipad, I managed fine before they were invented, it's just the weirdness, I was in the house, he could have asked for it back not just snuck in to my room and then hidden it!

I really don't want to get in a tit for tat situation and it's unbearable having all this repressed rage in me with no outlet!

BuzzardBird Fri 07-Feb-14 18:14:03

I thought nanny cam too Want and/or threaten with Police.

jadeddazedandconfused Fri 07-Feb-14 18:20:07

Trouble is re nanny cam the things he moves/hides/takes are often of no monetary value. I have already involved the police in another issue, I don't want to look vindictive and be accused of madness and wasting police time. I have been ill with anxiety and depression as well as my multiple physical problems.

NanaNina Fri 07-Feb-14 19:59:30

I clicked on this thread because I have heard gaslighting mentioned before and wondered what it was and am still not sure. Can someone explain please?

TeenyW123 Fri 07-Feb-14 20:19:53

Gaslighting is a form of mental abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making a victim doubt his or her own memory, perception and sanity.[1] Instances may range simply from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.

Cut and pasted from Wikipaedia.


wyrdyBird Fri 07-Feb-14 20:27:44

The first time I encountered gaslighting, I didn't have a word for it. But I thought the man doing it needed a doctor.

It is bizarre, and cruel behaviour. It's not petty at all.

I would not play into his hands by telling him you are onto him, or go at it obliquely with a special box. Keep your power. Try to be unemotional and assertive, as you might with a problematic flatmate: 'I'd like the heating on now, please.' 'Oh. You didn't move it....I see.'

You might not receive a useful response, but at least you won't be giving him the 'fun' of seeing you upset and doubting yourself.

If you feel at all unsafe though, stick with being bland and non threatening. Focus on freeing yourself as soon as you can.

Want2BSelfemployed Fri 07-Feb-14 21:28:23

In my experience of gaslighting flaming inverno I confronted legally and nipped it in the bud. It was the only way after 4 years of this behaviour. This is about gaining control for your ex, it is up to you if you continue to let this behaviour carry on! Your ex will get worse otherwise.

jadeddazedandconfused Fri 07-Feb-14 23:19:41

* ant2BSelfemployed* thanks for your message, what did you do to confront and nip it in the bud?

jadeddazedandconfused Fri 07-Feb-14 23:23:59

wyrdyBird thanks for your suggestions, that's kind of how I've been dealing with it thus far, it just seems like he's gently increasing the pressure. I feel mad even saying it just because it's mainly small things.
He is a prolific liar of the little white variety with a few humdingers thrown in for good measure!
I really appreciate having this board to sound things out.

Want2BSelfemployed Fri 07-Feb-14 23:27:47

Can I say sorry it sounds so simple it isnt! Took me 4 years as it can wear you down and make you doubt yourself. This will only get worse as he tries to gain more control. As their confidence grows with gaslighting the more daring the acts become, possibly you have noticed this already.
You can confront him but you will be branded crazy! So evidence and hard action was only way for me.
I am glad you now know what is happening here. It is like playing human chess and very very tiring! Hope your ex is gone soon but then the gaslighting can still carry on. Make sure you change locks, check computer is not hacked and all passwords changed when he eventually goes. Dont use same ipad computer etc

Want2BSelfemployed Fri 07-Feb-14 23:42:47

My advice jaded would be firstly to keep a diary on his behaviours ie dates/times/what he does or take. This might show a pattern for you to second guess when it will happen (human chess). My phone would ring as I turned key in door. I dont know to this day did ex stalk or did he use other method? When I changed my numbers The attacks on my home started he got lazy after 2 years and wittnesses spotted him in car round corner etc. But cameras from police was my last option and this stopped attacks but stalking continued for 2 more years. I have evidence of stalking but as no more attacks never took it further.
Thankfully now the behaviours and stalking have stopped for nearly a year.

The more they gaslight the poor entrenched the behaviour becomes but also gets worse/daring/dangerous. It needs sharp stopping. But safely of course.

horsetowater Fri 07-Feb-14 23:58:04

If you say he did it to the boys who bullied him at school then I would say you need to be careful because he might be in his mind separating you from who you are and seeing you as the bully.

I would say this is quite dangerous and I would advise you to speak to an experienced specialist. Much as we can help you here, a one to one conversation with someone will give them more of a picture of what exactly is going on. I definitely would agree that you need to write down what he does (safely) as it will help you when contact arrangements need to be made.

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