Sometimes things just aren’t meant to be.
It was a poignant few days before the bachelorette star Katie Thurston, 30, who recently broke her heart when league-leader Greg Grippo, 28, abruptly retired from the season not long after Thurston met his family.
After their meeting, everything seemed rosy — especially when Grippo told her he “hadn’t been this happy in the longest time” before telling his dad about his father’s death.
Things took a strange turn after Grippo told her he was in love with her and insinuated that he wanted to marry her. Rather than answering his words, Thurston said, “I just like watching you.”
Well, that didn’t go down well with Grippo.
“I wanted to express that I love you [but] I felt like I was telling that to a stranger. I don’t know why,” he told Thurston the next day. The whole time you felt just like Katie to me, and that night here I thought I was expressing my love to my wife-to-be and you didn’t even feel it. You just completely rejected it in my eyes.”
For context, at the start of the season, Thurston made a promise to herself that she wouldn’t tell any of the singles that she loved them until the last episode, which she explained to him. So she chose the alternative language instead.
But that didn’t seem enough.
“I don’t care about the rose,” he later told her, insinuating that he broke up with her. “I just told you you filled a hole in my heart.”
Grippo ended the argument by walking out of the room, leaving Thurston alone on the bathroom floor – crying and confused. The next day, Thurston took to Instagram to send Grippo a clear message.
In her Instagram Stories, Thurston tells re-shared a post explaining the history and definition of “gaslighting”.
So, what exactly is gaslighting?
Gaslighting is defined by: Psychology Today as “an insidious form of manipulation and psychological control.”
Gaslighting victims are “deliberately and systematically” given false information that leads them to question their own reality or lived experiences.
The term was originally coined in the 1938 play gaslight (as well as subsequent 1940 and 1944 film adaptations). In the film, an abusive husband tampered with the lighting to trick his victim (his wife) into thinking she was losing her sight.
He “gaslighted” her by convincing her that she imagined the lights were flickering, causing her to doubt herself. By the end of the film, everyone was questioning her own sanity — including her.
In a nutshell, this is the most basic form of gaslighting, but it’s important to note that it can come in a variety of forms.
For example, if someone in your household takes something off the table that you knew was there 10 minutes ago, and he or she tells you it was never there when you brought it up, that’s a form of gaslight.
Another small example, as explained by Dr. Jack Rozel, the medical director of emergency psychiatry at UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital, is when you bring up a situation that happened in the past and someone says, “That never happened. … Oh, there you go again with your exaggeration.”
Not only is this a form of gaslighting, but whether that person realizes it or not, they also lead you down a path of self-doubt. Over time, this kind of abuse creates a vicious cycle of self-doubt that is hard to get out of without therapy.
“These behaviors are mean and offensive to say the least; at worst, they can be extremely traumatic and harmful,” Rozel tells Yahoo Life. “Two patterns that can be especially worrisome are when the behavior is persistent or escalating and when the behavior is associated with other abusive, coercive, or controlling behaviors.”
It’s also important to note that gaslighting can happen anywhere — at work, in your family, with a stranger, on social media, or even in your own relationship.
“The same ‘reality denial’ strategy is seen in indoctrination, seen among extremists and cults, and has been well described as a ‘brainwashing’ technique used as part of a regime of torture of American prisoners of war in the last century,” Rozel says. .
Typical techniques of a gas lighter
The whole point of gaslighting is that the abuser doesn’t want the victim to realize they’re being brainwashed, which makes it harder to identify. Still, psychologists have long studied the subject and have a general idea of an abuser’s tactics.
Here are some typical forms of gas lighting as explained by the National hotline for domestic violence:
withholding: When the abusive partner pretends not to understand or refuses to listen. For example, “I don’t want to hear this again,” or “You’re trying to confuse me,” or “I don’t have time to listen to this. You don’t feel like it.”
counter: When the abusive partner questions the victim’s memory of events, even if the victim remembers them accurately. For example, “You’re wrong, you never remember things right” or “Are you sure? You tend to have a bad memory” or “I heard you say it! You never remember our conversations well” or worst of all, “It’s all in your head.”
Block/Redirect: When the abusive partner changes the subject and/or questions the victim’s thoughts. For example: “Is that another crazy idea where you come from?” [friend/family member]?” or “You’re imagining things.”
downplay: When the abusive partner makes the victim’s needs or feelings unimportant. For example, “Are you going to get mad at something so small?” or ‘You’re too sensitive! Everyone else thought my joke was funny.”
To forget/deny: When the abusive partner pretends to have forgotten what really happened or denies things, such as promises to the victim. For example, “I don’t know what you’re talking about” or “You’re just making something up.”
The long-term effects of gaslighting
The most unfortunate side effect of gaslighting is the long-term impact it can have on a person long after the abuser is gone from their life.
Because of the deep wounds gaslight can cause — fueled by shame, guilt, humiliation, and isolation, among other emotions — it can take a lot of soul searching (and therapy) to heal. It can even cause a person to have post-traumatic stress disorder and co-dependence problems.
Victims who suffer from gaslighting may:
Constantly doubting yourself
Find it hard to make simple decisions
Do you often feel confused or even crazy
Ask often if they are too sensitive
Becoming withdrawn or unsociable
Always find themselves apologetic for basic things
I can’t understand why they are not happy despite so many good things in their lives
Find themselves withholding information from people so they don’t have to explain or make excuses
Knowing that something is wrong, but can’t express what it is – not even to themselves
Lie to family and friends to avoid making excuses for them
Feeling hopeless, joyless, worthless or incompetent
Feel like they used to be a different person – more confident, fun, more relaxed
Always wonder if they are “good enough”
If you think you are a victim of gaslighting or narcissistic abuse, National hotline for domestic violence is there to support and listen. Call them at 1-800-799-7233 or chat with them online 24/7.
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