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4. Gaslighting and Coercive Control


Gaslighting and coercive control are both types of bullying. It is important to understand the meaning of these terms so that you can recognise it when it occurs. To coincide with Anti-Bullying Week 2021, this blog will highlight how bullies use gaslighting and coercive control to manipulate and abuse others.

What is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting manipulation is used by abusive individuals to control another person. In simple terms, it is a form of psychological abuse where an individual makes someone question their sanity by playing tricks with their memory and perception of reality. People who experience gaslighting often feel anxious, confused and unable to trust their own judgement. It can be quite insidious and is not easy to spot. The target may question if it is actually occurring at all. An example of gaslighting is where a partner uses abusive behaviour, but then completely denies anything ever happened. This is why there is a link between gaslighting and emotional manipulation. They manage to convince the target that the abuse is all in their head.

What is Coercive Control?

Coercive control is a pattern of behaviour that is used to frighten, punish or harm the target. These acts include threats, humiliation, intimidation and even assault. Coercive control is a common form of bullying in abusive relationships. It includes jealousy, financial control, possessiveness and isolating an individual from friends and family. It is vital to notice the signs of a controlling person which include:

  • Constant criticism
  • Disrespecting boundaries
  • Always causing drama
  • Blaming everyone else
  • Intimidation
  • Moodiness and sulking

If you find yourself in a situation or relationship where you notice the signs of gaslighting or coercive control, you need to take steps to leave. These types of behaviours are extremely damaging. Make sure you maintain communication with your family and support system. Avail of online support and helplines. Devise a safety plan and practise how you will put it into action if necessary. Nobody should tolerate such abusive behaviour.