Gaslight - Domestic Abuse Quilt Series #8

Gaslight, finished size 16'' by 16''


Gaslighting is defined by Miriam Webster - " to attempt to make (someone) believe that he or she is going insane (as by subjecting that person to a series of experiences that have no rational explanation)" and by the Oxford dictionary - "Manipulate (someone) by psychological means into doubting their own sanity."

Abuse is about power and control and gaslighting is an abuser's way of gaining control over their victim's memories and sanity. The abuser controls what the victim thinks by giving an alternative "truth" that the victim eventually believes.

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An abuser can gaslight a victim by questioning their memory of an event (saying something didn't happen that actually did, lying about key facts or details, etc.) or by creating conditions that cause the victim to believe their memory is unstable (cancelling a doctors appointment the victim made, hiding important objects like keys or phones, rearranging a living space or adjusting lighting, etc.). 

The gaslighting techniques are used to try to make the victim doubt their own thoughts, memories and actions. Soon the victim is scared to bring up any topic at all for fear they are "wrong" about it or don't remember the situation correctly.

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Gaslighting can even beget more gaslighting: an abuser might hide an object or cancel an appointment without the victim's knowledge and then "help" the victim find the misplaced object or sort out the situation while berating them for their poor memory or inability to care for themselves.

From the National Domestic Violence Hotline:  "Gaslighting typically happens very gradually in a relationship; in fact, the abusive partner’s actions may seem harmless at first. Over time, however, these abusive patterns continue and a victim can become confused, anxious, isolated, and depressed, and they can lose all sense of what is actually happening. Then they start relying on the abusive partner more and more to define reality, which creates a very difficult situation to escape."

Domestic Violence knows knows no boundaries when it comes to race/gender/sexuality/age/socioeconomic status/geographic location/culture.  

Remember, it affects ten million in the US every year.  If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, please know that the folks at the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1 800 799 SAFE or are ready to listen and support you, as well as refer you to a local program or organization. If you observe someone being abused, you can also call the hotline.  A good samaritan call can save a life!




All of the quilts in the Domestic Abuse series so far can be viewed here.


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