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Of Emotional Abuse And Gaslighting (Part 2)

GAONE MONAU
This article is a worthy continuance of the former.

In the preceding article we gave an example of the movie Gaslight in order to elucidate on gaslighting. More real life  illustrations of gaslighting will be depicted in this worthy continuance. It is noteworthy to highlight that the illustrations here have been extracted verbatim from Dr Robert Stern’s book on the GasLight effect. The samples in this article have referred to men as gaslighters and women as gaslightees as research shows that most females in comparison to males are prone to being gaslighted.

1. Katie is a friendly, upbeat person who walks down the street with a smile for everyone. Her job as a sales rep means that she’s often talking to new people, which she loves. An attractive woman in her late 20s, she went through a long period of dating before she finally settled on her current boyfriend, Brian.

 Brian can be sweet, protective, and considerate, but he’s also an anxious, fearful guy who treats every new person with suspicion. When

the two of them go on a walk together; Katie is outgoing and talkative, easily falling into conversation with the man who stops to ask directions

or the woman whose dog cuts across their path. Brian, though, is full of criticism. Can’t she see how people are laughing at her? She thinks they like these casual conversations, but they’re actually rolling their eyes and wondering why she’s so chatty. And that man who asked them for directions? He was only trying to seduce her—she should have seen how he leered at her the moment her back was turned. Besides, behaving in such a manner is highly disrespectful to him, her boyfriend. How does she think it makes him feel to see her making eyes at every guy she passes?

 At first, Katie laughs off her boyfriend’s complaints. She’s been like this all her life, she tells him, and she enjoys being friendly. But after weeks of relentless criticism, she starts to doubt herself.

Maybe people are laughing and leering at her. Maybe she is being flirtatious and rubbing her boyfriend’s nose in it—what a terrible way to treat the man who loves her!

 Eventually, when Katie walks down the street, she can’t decide how to behave. She doesn’t want to give up her warm and friendly approach to the world—but now,

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whenever she smiles at a stranger, she can’t help imagining what Brian would think.

2.Liz is a  top-level executive in a major advertising firm. A stylish woman in her late forties with a solid, 20-year marriage and no children, she’s worked hard to get where she is, pouring all her extra energy into her career. Now she seems to be on the verge of reaching her goal, in line to take over the company’s New York office.

Then, at the last minute, someone else is brought in to take the job.

Liz swallows her pride and offers to give him all the help she can. At first, the new boss seems charming and appreciative. But soon Liz starts

to notice that she’s being left out of important decisions and not invited to major meetings. She hears rumours that clients are being told she doesn’t want to work with them anymore and has recommended that they speak to her new boss instead. When she complains to her colleagues, they look at her in bewilderment. “But he always praises you to the skies,” they insist. “Why would he say such nice things if he was

out to get you?” Finally, Liz confronts her boss, who has a plausible explanation for every incident.

“Look,” he says kindly at the end of the meeting. “I think you’re being way too sensitive about all this—maybe even a little paranoid. Would you like a few days off to destress?”

Liz feels completely disabled. She knows she’s being sabotaged—but why is she the only one who thinks so?

Katie, Liz, and Mitchell have one thing in common: they’re all suffering from the Gaslight Effect. The Gaslight Effect results from a relationship between two people: a gaslighter, who needs to be right in order to preserve his own sense of self and his sense of having power in the world; and a gaslightee, who allows the gaslighter to define her sense of reality because she idealises him and seeks his approval.

 The next article will be a building brick on this one.

*Gaone Monau is a practicing attorney and motivational speaker. For bookings on gender based violence awareness seminars, motivational talks or consultations on relationships, confidence building, stress management and self-discovery contact +26774542732 or gpmonau@gmail.com.  Her facebook page is Be Motivated with Gaone



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