2020 has been a year of extended grief. Among many other things that have happened this year, we’ve had the COVID-19 outbreak, the lockdowns, the Black Lives Matter protests around the world, the spate of violence against women, the most recent ENDSARS protests and the killings, lootings and intense sadness that followed. For many people, there has been at least one issue—for most, it has been all—that was intensely triggering.
Gaslighting involves undermining someone else’s reality by blatantly denying facts, their environment, or their feelings. In simpler terms, it is when someone knowingly makes you think that you are crazy or that you don’t know what you are doing or talking about when all they want is to control you.
Emotional abuse can be complicated and tough to understand, navigate, and identify. Unlike physically abusive relationships, where there is concrete evidence of violence and distress, emotional abuse is more sophisticated—the warning signs may seem ambiguous, psychological but it is just as damaging.
You are in a good mood, it was a good day at work, there wasn’t much traffic on your way back home and so you decide to surprise your partner and drop by at their house. You stop by the supermarket to buy some wine, hoping to share the bottle and your night with them. You walk into their place and find something you never expected: you find them cheating.
Being in love can be nice, it makes you feel incredible; like anything is possible and only good things can happen. That’s an illusion. And this isn’t me being pessimistic or morbid, but because humans are diverse and react differently to situations, fights will definitely happen, the mildest being arguments. Research has shown that healthy arguments are necessary for relationships, to enable partners to grow and be better together.
Picture a box. A really tiny box. You can make it whatever colour you want. Every relationship has a tiny box just like that. It is a box everyone in a relationship creates unconsciously. It is filled with negative emotions caused by our partners like anger, shame or hurt. It is also filled with negative perceptions of our partners.