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What is “gaslighting” and is it a form of domestic violence?

By March 21, 2017No Comments

By Sharla Stevens

The term “gaslighting” may be a novel term to some, but the actions behind gaslighting have been utilised for some time and is a form of abuse.

Essentially, gaslighting is where the perpetrator makes the victim question their own feelings, memories and their reality. They may deny that they ever abused their partner and claim that the victim’s recollection of the abuse is inaccurate and creates doubt in the mind of the victim. It also allows the perpetrator to turn things around so that the victim feels sorry for questioning the perpetrator in the first place. It is another manipulation technique used by perpetrators of domestic violence.

There are usually three stages to gaslighting:

  1. Disbelief: The victim first starts to notice some strange behaviours in their partner but think it’s likely to be random or isolated incidents.
  2. Defense: The victim starts to call the abuser out on their actions but the perpetrator turns it around and criticises the victim.
  3. Depression: With time, the victim begins to feel depressed due to the doubt created by the perpetrator.

Gale Galligan has created the following comics to illustrate what gaslighting is:


If you need assistance with a domestic violence or other family law matter generally, then please contact Cristina Huesch, or one of our solicitors, Sharla Stevens or Angela Li, on (02) 6223 2400.

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(Please note: Our blogs are not legal advice. For details about how to obtain correct legal advice please arrange a free conference with Alliance Family Law.)


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