Gaslight: getting out of abusive relationships

Have you ever wondered how people get themselves tangled up with a narcissist? Or how they remain in abusive relationships? The short answer is: by mistake.

In the early stages, the narcissist makes dramatic gestures of affection, appearing to admire and champion their victim. Only after a while do suspicions creep in that something is not quite right. When something stir up doubts about their trustworthiness, the narcissist begins 'gaslighting', a psychological process which throws everything into doubt. Normality is increasingly undermined, including the evidence of your own senses. Blatant lies are simply denied. The narcissist will trivialise objections, mock witnesses, distract from previous lies by increasingly outrageous acts, accuse the accuser, divide opposition, take ‘hostages’, eventually banish critical perspective entirely. It’s the playbook for every authoritarian regime. And it’s the pattern of an abusive relationship.

Gradually, family and friends are whittled away as anyone who doesn’t agree with the narcissist gets alienated. The victim feels isolated, forced to reject old social networks, a choice they’ll be pressured to stand by. Escape routes get blocked. A kind of malign 'echo chamber effect’ normalises things inside the relationship bubble. By now, the victim is afraid of the abuser but may not be ready to admit it openly, even though social interactions are under surveillance, money is restricted and loyalty questioned. All this gets disguised as 'love' while a veil of secrecy blankets everything. Unpredictable outbursts of kindness destabilise and defuse criticism. The result is paralysis: the victim is brainwashed and hypnotised indeed.

So, what can you do?

The first thing to accept is that a personality disorder is not going to change. A huge step towards liberating yourself is to finally admit that there is no chance of rescuing or reforming that damaged partner. You need to rescue yourself. Local services can talk you through what to do and how to plan your escape. After you're out of the situation, you can begin to take stock.

Coming out of an abusive relationship will leave you feeling confused and exhausted. There’ll be intense feelings to manage, complicated by low mood, low self-esteem and low self-confidence. But there are support groups available, counsellors and free legal advice. Get back in touch with old friends. Remind yourself how to start taking care of you.

So how might hypnotherapy help?

It can help you heal and progress according to your individual needs. As part of solution-focused, brief therapy, it aims to make a difference in the shortest possible time. For example, it can help make traumatic memories more manageable. You can find relief from anxiety, learn how to calm and soothe yourself, and reconnect to resources and forgotten skills. It's as versatile as the mind itself. As it also involves deep levels of relaxation, it benefits every function in your body.

Hypnotherapy can be an effective help in finding your strength again. Talking to an experienced practitioner can identify steps to improve your sense of competence and calm in everyday life.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Hypnotherapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Hove, East Sussex, BN3
Written by Jayne Raven, D.Hyp.Psych. BA(Hons) Cert.G.O.M. Dip.Hyp.(Paediatrics)
Hove, East Sussex, BN3

Contact Jayne to arrange a consultation. Hypnotherapy can help with anxiety, phobias, trauma, IBS, self-confidence, addictions, weight issues etc.

Twitter @ravenjayne

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