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This Post; help Overcome Gaslighting; is Part 4 in a 6 Part In-Depth Series, titled How to Get Out, How to Leave an Abusive Spouse. You can read Part 1, [Why She Stays], Part 2 [How to Make Independent Money Fast] or Part 3 [How To Overcome the Broken Family Guilt When Divorce is Best].
“It shouldn’t take you that long to get home from the Gas Station.”
“Well it did. I don’t know what else to tell you.” She shrugs.
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“Whatever, I’ll find out the truth eventually.”
She had timed herself, from the gas station to home. She had physically gone into the gas station to purchase a water bottle for $1.99. She wondered if the physical movement of leaving the vehicle and returning was the culprit of her untimely return.
She didn’t dare say she went into the gas station for a water bottle. It would only cause a new fight about how she didn’t need to spend two dollars on water.
Pay no mind to the fact that he purchased fast food everyday on lunch. Or that a two dollar water bottle shouldn’t cause so much grief. But she couldn’t tell you how many fights she’s had over time it takes to travel in her marital household. It never occurs to her that these aren’t normal fights
Briefly mentioning once that she would need to text her husband that she was leaving her friends house, her friend asked “Why?”
She replied, “Oh you know, just so he knows when to expect me home.” Again, her friend repeated, “Why?“
Her response “I mean because in case something happens to me?”
She questioned the reasoning that had been told to her. Timing her driving distance had little to do with the worry of something happening to her, and more to do with keeping her under control. But she was blind to it.
Like many victims of gaslighting abuse, she questions her ability to make decisions, to recall events, and to function as an adult.
Have you ever watched the movie, The Other Woman? The one with Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann?
Spoiler Alert: It’s about a woman, who is married to a man who has a pathological lying problem.
At the beginning of the movie, Leslie Mann’s character, over breakfast is handed a document by her husband for her signature. In an attempt to breeze through the document she stops herself. Expressing that she is so out of sorts with not having used her brain lately that she needs brain camp. It’s a joke, and in Leslie Mann fashion, she laughs at her own stupidity and her husband chuckles and nods his head in agreement with her.
Later in the movie, while she is confronting him about his behavior and illegal habits. She says she wants a divorce and he tries to gaslight her.
Apologizing, and saying he’s sorry for the affairs and that they can make it work for their future. Once she really drives home that she wants a divorce and took the money that was hers, he gets angry and tries to reiterate that she is stupid and needs brain camp!
While watching, we don’t recognize this as gaslighting. Mainly because of Leslie Mann’s character. In the end, she doesn’t succumb to it.
But so often in abusive relationships, the abuser will draw out the insecurities of the victim and capitalize on them by denying facts
Another example would be your spouse claiming they told you something when you know for certain they didn’t.
Or you asking them Why there is another woman on their phone and them lying and saying it’s just a co-worker. Then berating you for being paranoid and violating their privacy. When in fact they are cheating on you, and your intuition is correct. But now you will question it.
How Can a Victim overcome Gaslighting?
Like I stated in the previous Post in this series, taking off the mask of the abuser by educating yourself is the primary way to stay above the manipulation.
But what if you can’t read the book safely? What if having a book about angry and controlling men will make your angered and controlling man’s behavior worse?
There are a few other ways to help sift through it.
Overcome Gaslighting by Creating a Journal
Journal major life events and arguments surrounding them. Things that were said that stick out in your memory, and how things went. Who went where with who? The name of the person you saw on their phone? The days they came home late from work. Journal it all down. You can even do this in the notes section of your phone.
Keeping a Journal can help you recall things when the manipulation makes them fuzzy.
Unsure if you want to confront him about something that was said? Or worried he may simply deny it or tell you that you are overreacting? Take the Journal to counseling with you, and talk it over with your counselor. Work through the facts and then the reaction and begin to see the abuse for what it is.
The other way to overcome gaslighting is to tell someone else.
I highly suggest a therapist
Not all friends and relatives understand the psychological warfare of Domestic Violence.
If you are already questioning yourself, it’s not helpful when your support system questions you as well. Be sure that the person you reach out to understand gaslighting and
Can you overcome Gaslighting, and stay in the relationship?
I don’t like to say that things are impossible, so I won’t say this here. I can’t find a study done on the subject that gives a real conclusion but I will say that research by Lundy Bancroft himself concludes that abuse effects every victim differently.
How do you measure happiness?
Most women I’ve spoken too, regardless of how difficult it was at the beginning of leaving their abuser have said the happiness they found was worth the trouble.
Staying or leaving, is a difficult decision and I don’t write this series to persuade you to do one or the other. Even if the title makes it seem that way. I write this to empower you, as a woman to make an informed decision and to truly understand the environment you are in. To help you go from victim to survivor.
Need more help, or want more advice? E-mail me here.