Daily Star Sunday - - FRONT PAGE -

mak­ing oth­ers be­lieve in that in­san­ity.

It en­ables the gaslighter to take com­plete con­trol of their vic­tim, be­cause noone will be­lieve them when they ask for help.

Ten key signs, de­tailed right, have been iden­ti­fied by women’s or­gan­i­sa­tions so po­ten­tial vic­tims can spot the dan­gers posed by gaslighters.

The chief ex­ec­u­tive of Women’s Aid, Katie Ghose, said the tac­tic can be so sub­tle the vic­tim may not be aware of it.

She said: “From our work with sur­vivors, we know per­pe­tra­tors of do­mes­tic abuse will use ev­ery tac­tic avail­able to them to try to ex­ert power and con­trol over sur­vivors.

“Gaslight­ing is one tac­tic of co­er­cive and con­trol­ling be­hav­iour that aims to make sur­vivors doubt them­selves, their per­cep­tion of events and even their own san­ity, with dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences.

“Gaslight­ing is a sub­tle form of do­mes­tic abuse that is, by its very na­ture, some­times dif­fi­cult for sur­vivors to recog­nise and build up the con­fi­dence to They tell bla­tant lies, with a straight face. Telling you a huge lie means from then on you’re not sure if any­thing is true, keep­ing you in a con­fused state.

They deny ever say­ing some­thing, even when you have proof. It makes you start ques­tion­ing re­al­ity.

They use what is near and dear to you as am­mu­ni­tion. At­tack­ing some­thing you love the most, such as your chil­dren, shakes your foun­da­tions.

They wear you down over time. A lie here, a lie there, a snide com­ment ev­ery so of­ten, un­til the heat is un­bear­able – so even the bright­est per­son doesn’t re­alise they are be­ing gaslighted un­til they are fully im­mersed.

They throw in pos­i­tive re­in­force­ment to con­fuse you. At one time they cut you down and the next they praise you for some­thing you did. This adds an ad­di­tional sense of un­ease and also keeps you dan­gling on their hook.

They use con­fu­sion to weaken you. Peo­ple like sta­bil­ity and a sense of nor­mal­ity. Keep­ing you con­stantly on edge or con­fused helps to keep you in a weak state.

They project their ac­tions on to you. If they are a cheater, they will ac­cuse you of cheat­ing. This means you are dis­tracted from the gaslighter’s be­hav­iour while you are de­fend­ing your­self.

They form a team to rally against you. Gaslighters are masters of ma­nip­u­la­tion and will re­fer to other peo­ple who agree with their in­ter­pre­ta­tion. Ex­am­ples would be: “Your mum knows you’re like this” or “This per­son knows you’re use­less too.”

They tell you every­one else is a liar.

It helps pro­tect them, should any­one try to sup­port you, but also makes you ques­tion your re­al­ity and keep you con­fused.

They tell you or oth­ers that you are crazy. This is the ul­ti­mate weapon – it means if you try to speak out about the abuse, no-one will be­lieve you. es­cape from.” Women’s Aid works with Refuge to run a helpline to sup­port women strug­gling to get out of a con­trol­ling or abusive re­la­tion­ship.

Ms Ghose said: “Some of the gaslight­ing tech­niques that abusers use to con­trol and ex­ert power over sur­vivors in­clude call­ing into ques­tion her mem­ory of an in­ci­dent, triv­i­al­is­ing her thoughts or feel­ings, ac­cus­ing her of ly­ing or mak­ing things up, deny­ing things like prom­ises that have been made, and mock­ing her for her “mis­con­cep­tions”.

“This form of abuse can be sub­tle, there­fore some of the signs to watch out for in­clude: if you are sec­ond-guess­ing your­self all the time, feel con­fused,

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