THE GASLIGHTERS19

‘I was just con­vinced it was silly’

Daily Star Sunday - - FRONT PAGE -

find your­self apol­o­gis­ing to your part­ner, you are hav­ing trou­ble mak­ing sim­ple de­ci­sions and find your­self with­hold­ing in­for­ma­tion from friends and fam­ily so you don’t have to ex­plain or make ex­cuses for your part­ner.”

Seann Walsh has since spo­ken out on Strictly: It Takes Two and de­nied his four-year girl­friend Re­becca’s claims. He said: “It’s im­por­tant for me to say the peo­ple who know me the most and that love me, they know I am not the per­son I am be­ing por­trayed as.”

It is pos­si­ble that a man does not even re­alise he is gaslight­ing his part­ner.

Psy­chol­o­gist Stephanie Sarkis said: “Even when a per­son is prac­tis­ing gaslight­ing be­hav­iour without be­ing con­sciously aware of it, they may get a ‘pay-off’ when their vic­tim be­comes more de­pen­dent on them.

“Even if a gaslighter is not aware of their ma­nip­u­la­tive be­hav­iour, that does not make it ac­cept­able. It is still patho­log­i­cal and it is still their re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“Some re­alise they are do­ing it. It is a strat­egy they have stud­ied. Oth­ers gaslight in or­der to feel some sense of con­trol in their own lives.”

If you are wor­ried you could be a vic­tim visit wom­en­said.org.uk or call the Freep­hone 24/7 Na­tional Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Helpline, run by Women’s Aid with Refuge, on 0808 2000 247. SHARON now re­alises her ex-hus­band cov­ered up his cheat­ing us­ing gaslight­ing.

The 40-year-old was so moved by Re­becca Humphries’ state­ment, she mes­saged her on­line to show sup­port.

Sharon said: “I thought ‘good on her, I wish I’d done that’.

“When my story all came out, my mum said you should’ve told us. But at the time I was just con­vinced I was be­ing silly.

“I know now it is the clas­sic gaslight thing. The neg­a­tive, then the pos­i­tive. Ex­actly the same as what Re­becca said about Seann.

“It was, ‘I love you, I want a fam­ily, I want kids with you’. Then the next day’s, ‘You’re crazy’.”

Sharon met her ex in 2001, when she was 23. The re­la­tion­ship pro­gressed quickly and she moved in af­ter a few months.

In De­cem­ber 2010 they got en­gaged. But within months she learned he had been mes­sag­ing an­other woman.

Sharon said: “It was mes­sages like, ‘I saw you to­day, I want to give you a hug’. Noth­ing too over the top, but for me that was enough. I thought, ‘This shouldn’t be hap­pen­ing’. But he told me he had no feel­ings for her – it was just mes­sages – so I for­gave him.”

They mar­ried in 2012 but Sharon still felt some­thing was wrong.

Her man be­gan go­ing out without her, and dress­ing dif­fer­ently. When she asked about it he told her it was in her head.

She said: “I kept say­ing, ‘What are you up to? There’s some­thing not right’, but it was, ‘No, you’re crazy’.”

They split when Sharon caught him send­ing mes­sages to an­other woman, talk­ing about their fu­ture to­gether.

She said: “Six years down the line I can say, if you think you’re in a re­la­tion­ship like this, go with your gut. You know you’re not stupid – be­lieve in your­self.”

■ DE­NIAL: Seann Walsh with dance part­ner Katya Jones

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