The Dangers of Sexual Gaslighting

Gaslighting or gas lighting is one form of toxic manipulation that commonly occurs in sexual relationships. In particular, gaslighting is a dangerous type of emotional abuse. This involves the abuser’s behaviors that make the abused person start questioning his or her personal judgments and own reality. Victims of gaslighting usually start to wonder if they are going crazy or getting paranoid.

Gaslighting – A Quick Definition

Gaslighting is a term that came from the thriller Gaslight released during the 1930s where the protagonist of the story exhibited this kind of behavior. The cheating husband in the movie makes his wife question her sanity through engaging in overt manipulation. 

The husband, for example, put his watch inside his wife’s handbag and convinced her that she pickpocketed it without even knowing she did it. He also tried convincing her that the flickering gas lights in their house were only in her imagination to prevent her from realizing that the lights are changing because he is searching for family jewels in their house.

But, gaslighting is not obvious all the time. There are times when the series of behaviors are more subtle. For instance, a wife suspects that her husband is cheating on her due to the series of observed events. Her husband might try to gaslight her through making suggestions that she is controlling or paranoid in an attempt to divert her from following through evidence of his betrayal.

He might also try to convince her that he was only working late even when he didn’t answer the office phone when his wife called to ask what time he would be home.

Sexual Gaslighting and Its Negative Effects

Sexual gaslighting is all about power. It is about controlling the victim’s sexuality and sexual narrative. The gaslighter’s main goal is to make the victim doubt his or her sexual reality. It is achieved through reshaping the victim’s reality.

Gaslighting in real life typically isn’t about trying to get the victim placed in an institution so that the abuser can look for treasure, as was the case in the film from which the term gaslighting was derived.

Instead, gaslighting is usually related to marital and other relationship unfaithfulness. What is more, it is in the settings of such relationships where gaslighting demeanor is indubitably connected to sexual risk in a number of ways.

This can include engaging in unprotected sex with different partners behind the victim’s back. This way, the victimized partner is at risk of venereal diseases and other repercussions. It also denies the abused partner autonomy and agency to make sensible decisions about their sexuality.

Such behaviors also affect the victim’s capabilities and beliefs about their self-worth. Subsequently, it decreases their personal efficacy around negotiating activities such as condom use.

Little by little, it gets harder for the victim to negotiate their interests in other areas, since they may start to believe they don’t have a strong grip on reality anymore.

It affects the abused partner’s capability to connect with other people and get the needed help and support.

More than the objective of reframing reality, the gaslighter also quickly dismisses their partner’s concerns or feelings and when the gaslighting becomes a conscious behavior, no apologies are given. The gaslighter also limits discussion on the part of their partner.

If the victim talks more, there is a higher chance that they will also talk themselves into a logical pattern and will come to a more precise conclusion apart from the gaslit reality. It is a must for the manipulator to rule over the conversation and put an end to it as quickly as possible.

Last but not the least, the victim takes all the blame. The victim might also take the blame for trying to cause conflicts within the relationship, which will make it seem as if they don’t care about their intimate partner or the relationship as a whole. Thereby, guilt can become a more powerful weapon for manipulation.

These are just some of the many dangers of sexual gaslighting and gaslighting as a whole. It is important for men and women alike to watch out for obvious signs of gaslighting.

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