Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Gaslighting - thank you Mumsnet(7 Posts)
Without reading copious posts on Mumsnet I would never have heard of gas lighting and therefore, would never have been able for the first time in 26 years to finally tell my STBXH to 'fuck off, I know what you are doing' . It felt amazing.
Background : I left my verbally abusive husband about 6 months ago & moved into my own place with one of my DC. We are very happy.
The straw that broke the camels back was an 2 hour conversation (I have a recording) when he called me a cunt,whore,useless mother over 200 times.
Previous to this he threw some of my possessions into our road on a saturday morning and then ran over them with his van, my DC had to call the police as he was running up and down with a rope threatening to kill himself. He refused to let me leave so the police removed me. A friend had to forcibly open his mouth because he had swallowed pills. He would sit up until 2am running a carving knife up & down his leg & arm. After the first few threats to commit suicide I didn't take them seriously as they were always after I told him (again) I was leaving. The next day he was full of remorse and crying as "I'm only doing this because I love you so much".
He threatened me with cling film - the one time I have been truly scared.
He shredded my passport, threw my house keys into a hedge so I couldn't lock the house & therefore leave the house. He leaves me short of money & if we need to eat we 'can always go to his house for dinner'. I have become clever & sell stuff to raise money even if its £5 it's dinner on the table for my DC.
I am close to his 70 year old Aunt & she knows everything that has happened. I have tried to be fair - I'm not perfect & have always stuck to the facts.
Yesterday he went to see her & started ranting within minutes - 'do you know what that despicable woman has done ? She's left me & I have nothing. She has left me, I hate my life. She has split the family (1 DC has chosen to live with him as doesn't want his Dad to be on his own). All she has to do is try harder. She loved me before she can love me again."
Aunt was very calm & told him he needs to take a step back and re-build his life.
Fast forward to last night - the conversation NEVER took place, " I would NEVER say that to anyone. Why would Aunt try to drive a wedge between us ? She has lost the plot and is fabricating the whole story"
For the first time the light came on - this is what he has been doing for years and years. I just thought it was 'normal' behaviour. To turn round & tell him to 'fuck off you are a lier' felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulder.
It was followed this morning by the usual text - I'm so sorry I don't know what was wrong with me, I love you like no-one ever will. First time ever I ignored. Then 'I think I've been bitten by a false widow spider" - Attention, Control & Manipulation. Ignore.
Sorry for the rambling post but really to say thanks for all the invaluable posts many people take the time to write.
Good on you for getting out and for seeing through his tactics .
I'd never heard of gaslighting until I left my ea exp ..i was involved with women's aid. I read so much trying to find out what was it about me that made him treat me like that. I just wanted answers and reading about gaslighting was like a lightbulb moment for me! Like omg that's what it was! I wasn't crazy like he told me I was, I wasn't over sensitive, I was entitled to my own feelings, I wasn't misremembering things.
It was never about me.
Yes - thank you mumsnet. I wish I had found this wonderful resource over a decade ago when I split from my EA exdw after conclusively exposing her long term affair which was hidden under a layer of world class gaslighting. Once exposed, it was The Script. I almost fell for that but a keylogger and a cracked email password led me to the conclusive, heartbreaking truth. When I said I was leaving, the suicide threats, the lies, manipulation and the accusations sent me into depression and I'm normally a very cheery person.
Fast forward to now, happily remarried for many years to a lovely woman, but I realise I still carry the scars. Reading mumsnet and seeing the stories like this is helping me realise what I went through was not a one off and was not my fault. The insecurities embedded in those 4 years of hell are deeply rooted but by reading these stories I'm normalising it and finding a way to understand. Surprisingly the improved understanding also has helped me establish a better relationship with my exdw (we have a child).
I'll admit I was young and the relationship was relatively short, but I fell victim to gaslighting. I had no idea until I went on a holiday for a couple of weeks and felt blissfully free and peaceful for a change.
Looking back this is what happened, and does any of it ring true for others?
Being warned about his ex girlfriend, how she'd probably beat me up if she saw me. I saw her once working in a HMV and she was tiny, looking like a scared rabbit. She knew who I was but barely glanced at me before scurrying off. Rather confusing. In hindsight, I think he might have warned his ex about me, about how I'd beat her up if I saw her etc...
Being told 'it's not me, it's you, and ALL MY FRIENDS THINK SO TOO'. If I ever asked them, they would indeed stand up for my boyfriend but it never occurred to me that perhaps he had told a story which wasn't quite the truth.
He had a friend and they'd wind each other up, cracking terrible jokes and being rude to strangers. They often exchanged racist jokes or remarks. At a nightclub I got chatting to someone I thought was a friend of his and mentioned his racist jokes and how I wish he'd stop. He must have said something to my boyfriend because when it was time to go home, my boyfriend got in a taxi and shut the door on me without saying a word, leaving me with no money and a three mile walk home in the dark on my own. As I neared his home I saw him walking towards me crying his eyes out. He couldn't speak. I found myself comforting HIM as we got back home. I made to lie on the bed with him for a cuddle and he sobbed into my chest for a long time. When he was done the first words he said were:
'I miss my ex'
So not only had he switched the situation so that I'd have to relax my anger and comfort him, but he wasn't crying over his behaviour like I'd thought he was. He completely glossed over what happened in town like it'd never occurred.
Constant cross conversations online with other people, a lot of cutting and pasting of previous messages, edited to look worse than it was, a lot of breaking trust...
Shove 'em all in a box and let them fuck each other up instead. I'm so angry at that period of my life where I couldn't see what was happening and I was completely suckered in. I'd thought I was a smart person who wouldn't put up with shit behaviour but he got me good.
I would say the only good thing to come of one gaslighting relationship is that you get experience and find it a little easier to spot in the next person should you be so unlucky.
My current ex displays one trait and I call him up on it every time. He always says that he's told me something important and I just wasn't listening. He also says 'weeks' and 'months' when he means 'days' and 'weeks'. I put my foot down now and insist that I haven't forgotten or misheard something, he has either confused who he told or simply imagined that he'd told me. It leads to an argument of course, but I left him two years ago so I can just slam my door in his face or turn around in the street and walk the other way.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.