In domestic violence cases, whether in protective order hearings or during a trial, the term “gaslighting” is often used to describe a pattern of behavior in which the defendant’s denial of wrongdoing actually furthers the abuse. In reality, gaslighting IS a form of abuse, and if you do it to your partner, the state gives your partner recourse against you. But in this day and age, if you’re accused of domestic violence, false allegations of “gaslighting” can actually strengthen an unfair case against you. Let’s delve deeper into the subject of gaslighting–what the term means, how it can further a pattern of abuse, and how it could even be used against you in a domestic violence case.
What is Gaslighting?
In California, domestic violence is defined as abuse committed against an intimate partner, cohabitant, or family member. This abuse can take many forms, including physical, emotional, sexual, economic, and psychological abuse. “Gaslighting” is a type of psychological abuse in which the abuser attempts to make the victim doubt their own perceptions, memories, and even sanity in order to keep the victim under their abusive control. The term “gaslight” comes from a British stage play Gas Light, later remade into the famous film Gaslight starring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman, in which a husband uses trickery to convince his wife she is losing her mind.