News

Rebecca Christie discusses family law, ‘gas-lighting’ and Love Island in Spear’s

  • July 05, 2018
  • By Rebecca Christie, Associate

Love Island’s ‘gaslighting’: a lawyer’s perspective

Emotional abuse is prevalent among islanders this year, which is also a sad reality most couples face often unknowingly, especially in the lead-up to a breakdown, writes Rebecca Christie

As a family lawyer I could not be more pleased that Love Island is back. The show reveals so much about modern day relationships, particularly breaking up.

Breaking up is hard to do, as they say. The twitter storm created by Georgia and Josh’s ‘uncoupling’ is a testament to this, with fans going into overdrive over their worst relationships. And then we have Adam…

Adam’s relationships with several of the contestants on the show are a case in point. His conduct has been so ‘snakey’[1] that Women’s Aid, a domestic abuse charity, has complained about his behaviour, saying that it was an example of ‘gaslighting’ and ’emotional abuse’.

Of course, Adam never accepted he was at fault when his relationships came to an end. More conveniently it was always the other party who was too ‘insecure’ or too ‘possessive’. It was absolutely nothing to do with his head being turned and him wanting to ‘crack on’[2] with someone else.

Many people are unfamiliar with the term ‘gaslighting’[3], even those who have experienced it. Gas lighting is devious behaviour of the worst kind. It is a form of emotional abuse where one partner denies the other’s perception of reality, to the point where the victim thinks that he or she is going crazy or ‘prangy’[4] as Islanders would say. Yes, ‘he or she’. It is important to appreciate that male victims can also suffer from being ‘gas lit’ and they can suffer twice over, first at the hands of the abuser and then when their friendship groups and support networks don’t accept it because they are male.

Victims of this kind of abuse are often unsure that their partner is abusing them. They remember the good times when their partner was ‘sticking it on[5]’ them and oozing charm. They cannot reconcile it with the 180° transformation in their ex’s behaviour; they are being more than just ‘muggy[6]’, they are now with someone who is cold, calculating and who erodes their self-worth. The victim’s feelings of self-doubt understandably mean that they prevaricate about leaving their partner, which may allow the abuser to manoeuvre themselves into a better position on separation and where the couple is married, on divorce.

Gas lighting is a phenomenon we family lawyers encounter on a sadly frequent basis. Here are some thoughts about what to do if you identify with it in your relationship and are thinking about bringing it to an end.

First and foremost, you should forgive yourself for not seeing this coming, no one in your position would have done.

Secondly, ‘You’ve got a text’ should take on a whole new meaning for you. You should document everything. Photoshop is relatively easy for your ex to use to edit a text, email or social media message you have sent before forwarding it to their lawyer. The way to deal with this is to make sure you have a copy of the original message. Save everything, create a new email to file all the messages you receive from your ex. Keep a diary of the times you feel threatened or even when you have self-doubt about their behaviour. This should include details of who you were with and where you were.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you must find the right solicitor. Not all family lawyers are created equal. Some are good at negotiation, others are aggressive and loud, but it is important to find someone who is well versed in dealing with this type of abuse.

Someone who is emotionally abusive will know how to hit you from all angles and blind side you when you least expect it; the right solicitor will know the road ahead and how to shield you. This is vital as it is likely to be a long road as someone who is emotionally abusive will want to win at all costs. They will try to devise a strategy to keep your separation locked into the legal process and make you question yourself. It is important that when you have moments of doubt you can turn to someone you trust.

You can find a family solicitor via the Resolution website here: https://www.resolution.org.uk

Rebecca Christie is an Associate specialising in Family Law

References

[1] Someone who is being unpleasant behind your back or to your face

[2] The art of developing a romantic relationship

[3] The term derives from the film “Gas Light” (1940) which references the methodical psychological manipulation of the victim by her husband

[5] Flirting

 

This article appeared in Spear’s Magazine on 5 July, 2018 (read the full article here).

Related News

Sep 21, 2022
Olivia Piercy featured in a Q&A in Today’s Family Lawyer on her career path and the areas of family law undergoing transformation
Sep 06, 2022
Constance Tait discusses maintenance and inflation in 2022
Sep 06, 2022
Hunters Law shortlisted at the Family Law Awards 2022
Sep 05, 2022
Olivia Piercy joins Hunters Law as a Partner in the Family Department
Jun 29, 2022
Hunters’ Family Department highlighted in the 2022 edition of the Spear’s Family Law Index
Jun 15, 2022
Philippa Kum and Eri Horrocks outline top tips for co-parents on agreeing arrangements for children in EPrivateClient
Jun 13, 2022
Amy Scollan and Anastassia Dimmek examine what happens to an art collection when couples divorce in Antiques Trade Gazette
Jun 08, 2022
Amy Scollan and Anastassia Dimmek discuss the distribution of artwork during divorce proceedings in EPrivateClient
May 12, 2022
Eri Horrocks examines post-separation assets in Today’s Family Lawyer
May 03, 2022
Polly Atkins reviews guidance on applications for security for costs in Family Law Journal

© Hunters Law LLP 2022 | Privacy NoticeLegal & Regulatory | Cookies Policy | Complaints Procedure.

Hunters Law LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (number 657218)