Category Archives: Articles

Evan Rachel Wood Talks ‘Phoenix Rising,’ Alleged Abuser Marilyn Manson: ‘I Don’t Believe That He Will Stop Until He Is Stopped’

The first part of the two-part documentary mini-series directed by Amy Berg debuts on HBO Max on Tuesday night.

Billboard/March 15, 2022

By Gil Kaufman

Evan Rachel Wood appeared on The Daily Show on Monday night (March 14) to talk about the 16-year journey she took to confronting her alleged abuser and the reason she hopes her new two-part documentary, Phoenix Rising, could help other people who feel trapped in a cycle of abuse come forward and speak their truth.

“I don’t believe that he will stop until he is stopped,” she said of Marilyn Manson, her former fiancé, who she claims in the film methodically groomed her when she 18 and isolated her before allegedly subjecting the Westworld star to ritualistic abuse. “And sometimes the greatest act of love is stopping that person from hurting themselves or hurting anybody else.”

The nearly three-hour mini-series, directed and produced by acclaimed Oscar-nominated filmmaker Amy Berg (best known for her Catholic church sex abuse film Deliver Us From Evil and the sex abuse in Hollywood doc An Open Secret), premieres on HBO Max tonight (March 15). The first part chronicles Wood’s rise in Hollywood as a 13-year-old star-in-the-making and her chance meeting with Manson (born Brian Warner) at a party when she was 18. In the film she describes how that evening turned into a years-long relationship and engagement with the decades-older rocker that she claims included vicious sexual, physical and emotional abuse, including alleged anti-Semitic taunts and threats against the actress, who is Jewish; Manson has repeatedly denied the allegations and earlier this month sued Wood for defamation over the accusations, which the suit claimed is part of an “organized attack.”

Wood explained why she thinks it took 16 years for her to open up about her alleged abuse at the hands of Manson, who has also been accused of similar acts by a number of other women, which he has also denied. “You’re running, you’re trying to forget it happened, and then, of course, it catches up with you and I couldn’t run from it,” Wood said, explaining that she threw herself into therapy after years of vowing to “take it to my grave” over her fears about making her experience public. “I was that afraid of retaliation, I just did not feel safe and I felt very alone. I thought I was the only one.”

The latter sentiment is one she’s said is common among survivors of abuse, another reason she decided to share her story. After testifying in front of Congress for the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights in 2018, Wood said she thought she had said all there was to say, though at the time she did not publicly reveal her alleged abuser. But when people began emerging online with similar stories, with “very specific details,” she said she recognized as things you could not know unless you’d stood toe-to-toe with your abuser, she knew she had to break her silence.

“I knew it was real, and that’s when it changed,” she told Noah, adding that the film also tackles Manson’s own self-reported history of childhood trauma because, “I do believe in accountability and healing and reform and I think there is a time and a space for that.” Without going to the root of violence in the home, Wood said, we cannot see that “violence begets violence.”

“There are people who can stop the cycle and there are people, like Brian,” she said, naming Manson for the first and only time using his birth name more than half-way into the interview. “That don’t want help. And he’s had every opportunity. He’s had so many people try. And he has refused it every time.”

Wood also noted that the statute of limitations on sexual abuse was one-to-three years when she started advocating for the Phoenix Act in California — though she said it often takes 7-10 years to “process, understand and heal” from trauma — a time frame she described as “nothing” to a survivor still trying to come to terms with the physical, mental and emotional impact of abuse.

She pointed out that she spent a total of four years with “him” (presumably Manson), someone she called expert at “brainwashing” and isolation, comparing that time to being in a cult. “When you’re in it, you can’t see the forest through the trees, up is down, down is up. It’s you two against the world and it is a secret that nobody will ever be able to understand,” she said. “And you gotta to break free of that illusion, and it takes time.”

Former Playmate says Hugh Hefner’s mansion had ‘cult-like’ atmosphere: ‘He believed he owned these women’

Miki Garcia was a Playmate and head of promotions from 1973 to 1982

Independent, UK/January 25, 2022

By Clémence Michallon

A former Playmate has denounced the “cult-like atmosphere” she says Hugh Hefner cultivated around him.

Miki Garcia was a Playmate and head of promotions from 1973 to 1982. She’s one of the participants in Secrets of Playboy, a new documentary about Hefner and Playboy set to start airing on A&E.

The documentary series features several former members of Hefner’s entourage, reflecting and sharing their accounts of the culture they say Hefner created at the Playboy mansion starting in the Seventies.

“It was cult-like,” Garcia says at one point. “The women had been groomed and led to believe they were part of this family. And he really did believe he owned these women.”

She adds: “We had Playmates that overdosed. There were Playmates that committed suicide.”

Garcia says she thought about writing a book, because she thought “maybe all of this stuff would go away” if she did.

“Hefner even sent someone to buy me off,” she says. “When you get someone that powerful to be that fearful, anything could happen. Anything. I had a bodyguard. I was that afraid.”

Through a mix of interviews and archival footage, Secrets of Playboy , a 10-hour documentary series, will explore “how the Playboy machine was a powerful force that, at its worst, manipulated women in a toxic environment, silencing their voices, pitting them against one another, and opening the door to sexual predators”, according to A&E.

Ahead of the documentary’s release, the PLBY Group, the company behind the magazine and its related properties, issued an open letter seeking to separate the current Playboy magazine from Hefner, who died in 2017 aged 91.

“We want to reach out to you in light of the forthcoming A&E docuseries that we understand will recount allegations of abhorrent actions by Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and others,” the statement reads in part.

“First and foremost, we want to say: we trust and validate women and their stories, and we strongly support the individuals who have come forward to share their experiences. As a brand with sex positivity at its core, we believe safety, security and accountability are paramount, and anything less is inexcusable.”

It adds: “As you know, the Hefner family is no longer associated with Playboy, and today’s Playboy is not Hugh Hefner’s Playboy.”

“Please join us in doing the most important thing we can do right now — listen,” the statement goes on. “It is critically important that we listen as these women share their stories and that we continue to fight harassment and discrimination in all its forms, support healing and education, redefine tired and sexist definitions of beauty and advocate for inclusivity across gender, sexuality, race, age, ability, and zip codes.”

Secrets of Playboy started airing with a two-hour premiere on A&E on Monday (24 January) at 9pm ET/PT. The programme will also be available on demand and to stream on aetv.com and on the A&E app. New episodes will keep airing on Mondays until the finale on 21 March.

52 Ways to Identify a Covert Narcissist

52 Ways to Identify a Covert Narcissist

How to take a closer look.

Psychology Today/July 7, 2020

By Julie Hall, reviewed by Kaja Perina

Key Points:

  • The covert narcissist fails to develop emotional empathy, self-awareness, or a stable sense of identity and self-esteem in childhood.
  • Covert narcissists avoid the spotlight and prefer passive-aggressive means of controlling others due to their fear being exposed and humiliated.
  • Tactics of a covert narcissist might include belittling, triangulation, and avoiding direct responsibility.

The flamboyance of overt narcissists can make them pretty easy to identify, but what about the covert narcissist in your life?

Recognizing covert personality traits requires looking beyond obvious appearances, past common assumptions and expectations. For this reason, covert narcissism is more difficult to spot, and it can take years to recognize it in someone you think you know well. But the good news is that once you become aware of the patterns and signs of covert narcissism, you aren’t likely to miss them again.

Covert Narcissism Checklist

The more covert form of pathological narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is not expressed the same way in every individual, but there are typical patterns that are very common. If you see many or most of these attitudes and behaviors in a person you know, you’re probably dealing with someone who suffers—and makes others suffer—with covert narcissism.Is passive-aggressiveCriticizes and judges from the sidelines

1. Is passive-aggressive
2. Criticizes and judges from the sidelines
3. Is condescending and superior
4. Is threatened by honesty and directness
5. Swings between idealizing and devaluing him-/herself and others
6. Denies and dismisses others’ feelings
7. Cultivates a public image sharply different from his/her private behavior
8. Identifies as a victim
9. Is cynical and sarcastic
10. Makes unreasonable demands
11. Turns your problems into his/her dramas
12. Belittles and blames
13. Exploits and/or attacks others’ vulnerability
14. Is reactive to questioning or criticism
15. Plays on sympathies
16. Fakes or exaggerates illness/injury for attention
17. Withholds and stonewalls
18. Gaslights
19. Avoids introspection and lacks self-awareness
20. Uses platitudes in place of genuine insight
21. Denies own anger
22. Focuses on unfairness
23. Is envious and vengeful
24. Prefers to remain behind the scenes
25. Gossips
26. Triangulates
27. Holds a grudge
28. Needs reassurance
29. Is inattentive or annoyed when others talk
30. Has double standards
31. Hates to lose
32. Fixates on others’ problems and misfortunes
33. Flatters and fawns to win favor
34. Displays rage and contempt in private
35. Resists decision-making
36. Does not sincerely apologize
37. Avoids direct responsibility
38. Has an exaggerated sense of entitlement
39 Is impressed by the overt narcissist’s appearance of confidence
40. Lacks emotional empathy
41. Focuses on appearance over substance
42. Rushes to (false) intimacy
43. Is anxious and hypervigilant
44. Displays false humility and humblebrags
45. Is prone to paranoia and conspiracy theories
46. Crosses normative boundaries and codes of conduct
47. Pokes, prods, and pries
48. Feels special through association
49. Feels above the rules
50. Uses guilt and shame to control and punish
51. Expects caretaking
52. Conducts smear campaigns

The Overt Versus the Covert Narcissist

Like the overt narcissist, the covert narcissist fails to develop emotional empathy, self-awareness, or a stable sense of identity and self-esteem in childhood. Both feel defective and cope with underlying insecurity and shame by repressing those feelings and adopting a grandiose persona, a delusion of superiority and entitlement that they constantly assert at the expense of those around them.

Although covert narcissists avoid the spotlight and prefer passive-aggressive means of controlling others, this is not necessarily because they are introverted as is often stated. Rather, they lack the brash confidence of overt narcissists and fear being exposed and humiliated if they draw public attention to themselves. Often this is because they have been conditioned not to compete with a domineering overt narcissist parent.

Recognizing the covert narcissist in your life is the first step to overcoming your self-defeating cycles of confusion, guilt, anger, self-blame, and emotional and physical trauma.

9 Ways Many Narcissists Behave Like Cult Leaders

How to recognize narcissists’ manipulative and cult-like tactics.

Psychology Today/March 17, 2021

By Dan Neuharth Ph.D., MFT

Key Points:

  • Individuals high in narcissism, like cult leaders, often inflate their own sense of importance and behave in ways that are destructive to others.
  • Similarities between narcissists and cult leaders include a tendency to lie and turn others against each other for their own ends, along with little tolerance for dissent.
  • To escape the negative influence of a narcissist, be mindful of what you share with them and set firm boundaries about how you will and won’t be treated.

The strategies many narcissists instinctively use to get their way in personal relationships can be strikingly similar to the coercive tactics used by destructive cult leaders to indoctrinate and control followers.

If you have a spouse, family member, friend, or boss who is narcissistic, ask yourself whether any of the following nine characteristics of destructive cults and cult leaders sound familiar.

1. Cult leaders act larger than life.

They claim to be innately good, possessing special wisdom, answerable to no one, with no one above them.

2. Cult members are expected to subjugate their own needs for the “good” of the leader or cause.

Members are told that what the cult wants them to do is for their own good, even if it is self-destructive.

3. An “us versus them” attitude prevails.

Outsiders are viewed as dangerous or as potential enemies. This turns members’ focus outward, distracting from problems within the cult. Viewing others as enemies can be used to justify extreme actions because of the “dangers” that outsiders pose.

4. Feelings are devalued, minimized, or manipulated.

Shame, guilt, coercion, and fear appeals keep members in line. Members are taught to discount their own intuition and healthy instincts in favor of the leader or cult’s teachings. Over time, members can lose touch with their healthy habits and innate values.

5. Questioning and dissent are not tolerated.

Having doubts about the leader or cult is considered shameful or sinful. Members are told that doubting or dissenting indicates that there is something wrong or bad with the member.

6. The ends justify the means.

The “rightness” of the leader and cult justifies behavior that violates most people’s standards for ethics and honesty. In the zealotry of the cult, anything goes.

7. Closeness to the cult and leader is rewarded, while independence is punished.

Temporary ostracism is used to punish behavior that doesn’t conform to group rules. Members fear being estranged from the group and losing the promised protection and benefits offered by the leader and group.

8. Lies are repeated so often they seem true.

The cult leader cannot be wrong and never needs to apologize.

9. Communication is coercive or deceptive.

Things are not always what they seem. This fosters confusion, leaving members vulnerable. When confused, members seek solace in the aura of certainty the leader seems to possess.

If you notice similarities between such cult-like techniques and your relationship with a narcissistic person, keep in mind:

  • Cults and narcissists use powerful forms of manipulation, but there is nothing magical about what they do. Understanding their methods can allow you to avoid being taken in.
  • If someone is narcissistic, be mindful of sharing personal information with that person, as it may be used against you.
  • In any adult relationship, you have the right to confront, prevent, or remove yourself from manipulation or coercive control at any time. You do not need to give a reason, and you do not need the other person’s permission.
  • In any adult relationship, you have the right to ask questions, make your own decisions, and honor your values and goals.
  • Nobody has the right to tell you what to think or how to feel.

Landmark coercive control sentence a warning to all abusers – charity

Irish Examiner/January 22, 2021

By Liz Dunphy and Brion Hoban

A landmark sentencing, in a case tried under relatively new domestic abuse legislation, is “a shot across the bows to all abusers,” a leading domestic abuse charity has said.

Daniel Kane, 52, was convicted of coercively controlling and repeatedly assaulting his former partner during a domestic reign of terror in which he sliced her skin with a pizza cutter, fractured multiple bones, attacked her after surgery, burned her foot and stamped on her head.

Kane was sentenced to 12-and-a-half years in prison, with two years suspended.

He is the first person to be convicted of coercive control by a jury following a trial.

The successive attacks and demeaning verbal and psychological abuse “sucked the life and soul of confidence” out of his victim and shattered her sense of self-worth.

She became “meek and submissive” and said in her victim impact statement that she “might be dead or in a vegetative state” if doctors and gardaí had not intervened to get her away from Kane.

But Kane’s sentence tells abusers “very clearly that they can no longer control, stalk, assault, isolate or degrade a woman with impunity,” Mary McDermott, CEO of domestic abuse charity, Safe Ireland, said.

“What was once secret and privatised, is now public. In Ireland, the coercion and assault of any human being is a crime.

“Living in a ‘lockdown time’ we are gaining ever greater understandings of these household traumas and imprisonment.

Women’s Aid, a frontline organisation that supported the victim in this case, also welcomed the sentencing.

Sarah Benson, chief executive of Women’s Aid said:

“It is a pattern of multiple manipulative behaviours used by one party to wear down, isolate and completely control another.

“Today’s sentencing sends out a strong signal to domestic abusers. Coercive control is a serious crime and it will be treated as such by the gardaí and the courts.”

Coercive control, gaslighting and love bombing – pupils urged to identify toxic relationships during lockdown

January 19, 2021

By Louise McEvoy

Lockdown provides the perfect opportunity for young people to re-evaluate their relationships and take potentially life-changing steps to cut toxic ties with people.

This is according to Stevenage mum Marilyn Hawes, the founder of Freedom of Abuse, who is dedicated to protecting children from abuse in all its forms, through outreach work which includes visiting schools to give talks.

Marilyn is encouraging teenagers to use the space and distance from their friends, girlfriends or boyfriends during lockdown to think carefully about whether those relationships are healthy or not.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Marilyn trialled a course at two Stevenage secondary schools – Nobel and Marriotts – called Beauty or the Beast, which compared toxic relationships with healthy ones.

She said: “There is so much emphasis in schools about healthy relationships, but young people need to understand a toxic relationship so they can make an informed decision. They don’t understand coercive control, gaslighting or love bombing, for instance.”

Coercive control is an act – or a pattern of acts – of assault, threats, humiliation or intimidation that is used to harm, punish or frighten. Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse where a person makes someone question their sanity, perception of reality, or memories. Love bombing is the practice of showering a person with excessive affection and attention in order to gain control or significantly influence their behaviour.

Marilyn said: “It need not be a romantic relationship – some friendships can be toxic. It’s not about gender or sexuality.
“Our evaluations showed young people felt their PSHE – personal, social, health and economic – education was too focused on healthy relationships. If a youngster is living in a domestic abuse situation, the toxicity becomes normal and is the most repeated abuse later in life. Contrary to this, if a child lives in a happy, balanced home environment, how can they compare a toxic one?

“Following the course, we received many disclosures of teens experiencing issues, and also those who were alerted and made aware of peers they could support.

“We also explain that anyone who is a domestic abuser needs help. Fundamentally, there are deep-seated issues, many of which will go back to their own childhood trauma.”

Steve Morley, assistant headteacher and head of safeguarding at Nobel, said a number of parents, as well as students, made disclosures about domestic abuse as a result of Marilyn’s course.

Lesley Tether, assistant headteacher and head of safeguarding at Marriotts, added: “We have worked closely with Marilyn to educate our students regarding important safeguarding issues. With Years 10 to 13, Marilyn has covered controlling relationships, dating violence and, importantly, the red flags to be aware of. We had a number of disclosures following these talks, and the course has helped open the discussion to an otherwise taboo subject. Marilyn also has extensive knowledge on grooming, the dark web and criminal exploitation. In the current climate these talks are essential to any school.”

Marilyn said: “What is concerning is young people’s lack of knowledge regarding coercive control. It is easy to confuse possessiveness and jealousy with caring and being protective. During lockdown is a great opportunity – giving personal space – to review who is in your life and whether they should be.

“Are you with someone who makes you feel you are wrong? Someone who easily sulks and keeps it up for days? Someone possessive and jealous?

“Leaving it in the hope things will settle down gives a message you are OK with it, and in reality things will just become worse, so you feel trapped. Discuss it with the person and watch their reaction. If they refuse to hear what you are saying then just walk away – amputate them from your life rather than let them drag you down.”

A Glossary of Narcissistic Slang Terms

A basic guide to gaslighting, love bombing, hoovering, and flying monkeys.

Psychology Today/September 2, 2019

By Elinor Greenberg, Ph.D.

When I first entered the online conversation about narcissistic personality disorder, I discovered that a number of slang terms were being used to describe narcissistic behaviors that I had never encountered in academic writing. Eventually, I deciphered their meanings.

Some of these terms are actually quite clever and capture important aspects of the experience of loving someone with narcissistic personality disorder—such as gaslighting, hoovering, and flying monkeys. However, many of these terms are being misused in much the same way that uninformed people casually label people as narcissists without any real understanding of what mental health professionals mean by that diagnosis.

So, in the interests of clarity, I have started to assemble a glossary in which I define the most frequently encountered narcissistic slang terms in ways that are consistent with both my professional knowledge of narcissistic personality disorder and also with how these terms are currently being used in blogs and online articles by non-mental health professionals. I also try, where possible, to provide the source for these terms because knowing the original context often clarifies the meaning.

Note: In this article, I am using the terms “narcissist” and “narcissistic” as shorthand ways to describe someone who qualifies for a diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder.

Gaslighting

Source: This term comes from a 1938 play called “Gaslight” and the two later 1940’s movie remakes of the play. The play and the movies are set during the late 19th century when gas lights were used for indoor lighting. The basic plot concerns a husband Gregory who is trying to convince his new wife Paula that she is going insane so he can have her committed and get her power of attorney.  Unbeknownst to Paula, Gregory is also covertly searching their house for the valuable jewels that he believes are hidden there.

Gregory is a master manipulator and he heartlessly does whatever he can to make Paula doubt herself.  He searches the attic causing the gas lights in the rest of the house to dim, but when Paula comments on the dimming lights, Gregory denies that it is happening and tells her that she is imagining things.  He takes things, like Paula’s brooch, and then tries to convince Paula that she is losing things and that her memory is not to be trusted. Similarly, when she says that she has heard footsteps the attic, instead of Gregory admitting that he has been up there, he claims that these, like the gaslights and the missing brooch, are all figments of Paula’s disordered imagination and proof that she is going crazy.

NPD Meaning: Narcissistic gaslighting occurs when people with narcissistic personality disorder refuse to admit that they are wrong or have done something bad to their mate. Even when they are caught in the act, they will often try to convince the other person that he or she is paranoid and is imagining the whole thing.

Example—Betty and the Texts

Betty has long suspected that her husband Dan might be having an affair, but she had no real proof. He had started staying late at work and a few times had come home drunk with his clothing rumpled. One day when Dan was in the shower, she glanced at his phone and saw a series of sexy text messages from some woman.

Betty confronted Dan with the texts and asked him point-blank who this woman was and told him about her suspicions that he is having an affair.  Instead of telling his wife the truth, Dan gaslights her and says: “You must be crazy. Why are you so paranoid all of a sudden? I have no idea who that woman is who texted me. She must have the wrong number.”

Dan refuses to admit that he is seeing another woman and keeps telling Betty that she is paranoid.  He continues denying everything even when Betty tells him that two of her friends saw him out to dinner with a sexy blond in a short red dress. This is a classic example of narcissistic gaslighting.

Flying Monkeys

Source: This term comes from the children’s book The Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum and the very popular 1939 movie based on it.  The movie starred Judy Garland as Dorothy, the young heroine of the story. Dorothy and her little dog Toto are swept up by a tornado in Kansas and end up in the magical land of Oz. Dorothy’s house lands on the Wicked Witch of the East killing her. Her sister, the Wicked Witch of the West, blames Dorothy for her sister’s death and seeks revenge. The Wicked Witch has a very scary troop of flying monkeys who do her bidding. She sends them after Dorothy.

NPD Meaning: Flying monkeys are the slang term for any group of people that the narcissist enlists as allies to persecute someone that the narcissist hates.  To gain their support, the narcissist makes up lies that portray the other person as evil and the narcissist as the real victim.

Example—Jon and the Lies

Jon’s wife Lisa has the exhibitionist form of narcissistic personality disorder. She is a very dramatic person and loves to be the center of attention.  When she is angry with Jon, she makes up stories about how he secretly abuses her. She then calls all their friends to complain about the alleged abuse. Lisa cries on the phone and is very convincing.  Many of the people she speaks with believe her. They reason: “ Who really knows what goes on behind closed doors in a marriage?”

Jon has no idea what Lisa is saying about him behind his back until he runs into some of their mutual friends and they are barely civil to him. The rumors get worse, stoked by exaggerated stories about Jon’s supposed nasty temper. Lisa’s group of flying monkeys now feel entitled to insult Jon whenever they see him. Jon tries to defend himself, but Lisa’s flying monkeys discount everything he says. He finds himself increasingly isolated as the rumors spread and he is portrayed as an abusive husband.

Going “Gray Rock”

Source: The term gray rock appears to have been first used by a blogger Skyler in her article “The Gray Rock Method of Dealing with Psychopaths.”  Unfortunately, Skyler misuses the term psychopath to describe anyone that she sees as dramatic, unpleasant, attention-seeking, and malevolent.  She includes narcissists in this group.

NPD Meaning: If you are involved with a narcissist whom you cannot avoid, many people advise going gray rock.  This means that your manner during your interactions with the narcissist is as boring, unemotional, and neutral as you can manage.  Essentially, you become as uninteresting as a gray rock.

Example: Anna and her Abusive Ex Richard

Anna divorced her narcissistic husband Richard after he started to verbally and physically abuse her.  If it were just her, she might not have left, because she idealized Richard and they had a passionate and very satisfying sex life.  But after their son Jake was born, Anna watched him with the baby and became afraid that one day Richard would lose his temper and hurt Jake. Richard was awarded some visitation rights as part of the divorce agreement.

Every time Richard came to pick up Jake, he tried to start a fight with Anna.  He hated the idea that he could no longer control her. Getting her upset and making her cry felt like good revenge, and he knew exactly what to say to provoke her.

Anna turned to her best friend Christine for advice.  Christine had gone through something similar in her divorce.  Christine said that Anna was giving Richard too much satisfaction by reacting to his jibes and attempts to upset her.  She needed to go gray rock.  From now on, whenever she was in Richard’s presence, she should say as little as possible, ignore his insults, and be neutral, unemotional, and boring.  She would literally bore him into leaving her alone.

Love Bombing

Source: According to Wikipedia.org, the term love bombing was coined by members of Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church of the United States in the 1970s.  New members of the group were showered with displays of warmth and attention.  The church members say that love bombing was intended to be an expression of genuine friendship and concern.  Critics of the practice saw it as a form of psychological manipulation used by cults in order to solidify the new member’s devotion to the group.

NPD Meaning: The term love bombing is now used to describe narcissists’ over-the-top courtship tactics when they are chasing someone that they are trying to seduce or make fall in love with them. It is wildly romantic behavior that includes constant praise, promises of undying love, thoughtful little gifts, late-night texts, and anything and everything that the narcissist thinks will secure the love of the person he or she has chosen.  This intense positive attention is often accompanied by pressure for a quick commitment.  Unfortunately, once the narcissist actually secures the person’s love, the love-bombing generally stops and is eventually replaced by devaluation or indifference.

Example—Patrick and Chad

Patrick, an exhibitionist narcissist, met Chad at a friend’s party. He invited Chad to join him for brunch the next day.  Chad turned him down with some vague excuse that made it obvious that he was not really interested in pursuing a relationship with Patrick.

Instead of giving up, Patrick started love-bombing Chad.  He started sending Chad little late-night texts saying how much he had enjoyed Chad’s company at the party and how special Chad was. When Chad sent him a brief polite text back, Patrick redoubled his efforts. His texts became increasingly flirty and sexual.  He also started forwarding Chad emails about topics that he thought would interest him. Finally, after a couple of weeks of texting, Chad agreed to meet Patrick for a drink.

Over drinks, Patrick showered Chad with attention and asked to be given a chance to prove that they would make a great couple.  Chad was not won over and decided to avoid Patrick in the future.  When Patrick realized that Chad was backing off, he increased his love bombing.

He knew Chad loved the theater, but that his budget did not allow him to go very often.  Patrick splurged and bought great seats to a show that he knew Chad wanted to see.  Patrick then called Chad and said: “I know you are not really interested in me, but we both love the theater and I was just given two great tickets to that show you mentioned.  How about if we just go as friends?  No expectations.” (Notice the lies).

This continued.  Patrick showered Chad with praise and presents and made lots of promises about their future together: “I can’t wait to take you to the beach house I rent every summer.  I know you will love it there.”

Eventually, Chad weakened and started spending more and more time with Patrick.  Chad reasoned, “Maybe I should really give this relationship a chance.  Nobody has ever treated me this well or wanted me this much.” Unfortunately, once Patrick realized that he had hooked Chad, he started to lose interest in him.  For Patrick, love was about the chase, not the person.

Hoovering

Source: The term hoovering is derived from the name of the Hoover vacuum cleaner.  In Ireland and the UK, “to hoover” became synonymous with using a vacuum cleaner to suck up dirt.

NPD Meaning:  The term hoovering has now been extended to refer to a narcissist’s attempts to suck a discarded mate back into a relationship by saying and doing things that the ex would find irresistible.

Example: William and Betty

When narcissistic William first met Betty, he saw her as the special woman that he had been looking for his entire adult life.  Betty was beautiful, educated, and from a higher social class than William.  When their relationship started, he treated her like a queen.  William moved fast, asked Betty to give up her job, marry him, and move with him to another state where she knew no one.

After they had lived together for a while, William got bored and lost interest in Betty.  There was no more talk of marriage.  William started devaluing her and picking fights.  After one particularly vicious fight in which he blamed Betty’s supposed selfishness for the death of their relationship, William packed his things, moved out, and left Betty heartbroken in a strange town with a new expensive apartment that she could not afford to keep.

Betty was stunned, deeply depressed, and had no idea what had happened to their once wonderful relationship. She cried on and off for a year, tried to contact William to get closure, but he never answered her texts, phone calls or emails.  Eventually, Betty asked her family for help and went into therapy.

A year goes by.

All of a sudden Betty gets a sweet text on her birthday from William, “Thinking of you.  Hope you are having a lovely day.”  Betty is stunned to hear from him but decides that her best course of action is to ignore him completely.

William is determined to hoover Betty back into a relationship with him.  In addition to sending her cute flirty texts every day, he has a beautiful bouquet of her favorite flowers delivered to her house. When Betty still refuses to speak to him, William’s next move is a classic hoover technique:  he sends her a letter apologizing for all he has put her through.

I love you madly. I know you must hate me.  I deserve every bad thing that you think about me.  I was crazy to treat you the way I did.  I realize now that I made the biggest mistake of my life when I let you go. (Notice how he just re-characterized his running out on her as “letting her go”).  You are the only woman that I have ever loved.  Please give me one more chance to prove that I have changed.  I will do anything you ask to prove how much I love you.  You won’t regret it. I promise.

Narcissistic Supplies

Source: According to Wikipedia.org, the term narcissistic supply is a concept that was introduced in 1938 by the psychoanalyst Otto Fenichel to describe the various ways that we use other people to prop up our self-esteem.

NPD Meaning: The term narcissistic supplies, or supply for short, describes anything and anyone that narcissists use to regulate their self-esteem.  The purpose of narcissistic supplies is to enhance the narcissist’s sense of being special.

Example: Edward the Philanthropist

Edward is what I call a “pro-social” exhibitionist narcissist. Edward is extremely wealthy and chooses to use his wealth to support his public image as someone who cares deeply about other people.  This is particularly ironic because Edward totally lacks emotional empathy. There is a huge difference between the face Edward shows the public and how he behaves towards those close to him. He is known for publicly humiliating anyone he dislikes.  At home, he is a tyrant and his wife and children fear him, as do the people who work for him.

Edward’s main source of narcissistic supplies is to give millions of dollars to high profile charitable causes that display his name and face.  He endowed a pediatric wing of a local hospital that is now named after him and he also supports a local library.  His favorite charity is public television.  He loves knowing that every time someone watches one of the television shows that he sponsors, his name and face are  prominently displayed on the screen in recognition of the money that he has given the show.

Narcissistic Word Salad

Source: The term word salad or its more formal name schizophasia refers to a form of disorganized and unintelligible speech that is characteristic of some forms of severe mental illness. Seemingly random phrases or words are linked together.  The term word salad is often associated with the psychotic disorder called schizophrenia.

NPD Meaning: The term narcissistic word salad is essentially a misuse of an important psychological term.  Instead of referring to an involuntary verbal sign of a severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia, it is being used as a slang term for a type of narcissistic speech that is purposefully confusing.  Listeners find narcissistic word salad extremely frustrating because the narcissist is using circular reasoning, outright lies, denial, or mischaracterizations of past events to avoid being wrong or having to take responsibility for something.

The Narcissistic Family System—The Golden Child & The Scapegoat
In families led by a powerful parent with a narcissistic personality disorder, the children in the family are sometimes assigned specific roles and are treated quite differently from each other. This is because people with narcissistic personality disorder lack whole object relations and cannot see their children realistically as having a blend of both good and bad traits. One child may become the recipient of the narcissistic parent’s all-good projections and is seen as perfect, while one or more of the other children may be seen as all-bad. In some families, these roles are reassigned according to whomever is the parent’s favorite that day.  This sometimes fosters competition among the children to please the parent and be seen as the good one.

The Golden Child: This is the term for the narcissistic parent’s favorite child. This child is idealized as perfect and special. The parent projects all the positive qualities of this golden child and brags about his or her wonderful accomplishments to anyone who will listen.

The Scapegoat: This child is the object of all the narcissistic parent’s negative projections. He or she is devalued and treated as an insignificant loser who is blamed for everything that goes wrong, including things that are clearly other people’s fault.

Example—Perry the Scapegoat

In Perry’s family, his brother David is the anointed golden child, while he is the perpetual scapegoat. When David hurt his hand while maliciously breaking one of Perry’s favorite toys, their narcissistic mother blamed Perry. “See what you did! It is your fault that your brother hurt his hand. What did you do to him?”

Punchline: A number of slang terms—gaslighting, golden child, flying monkeys, and so on—have been coined to describe people, coping mechanisms, and situations that relate to narcissistic personality disorder. Some of these terms have caught on and are now being used as catchy shorthand ways to describe narcissistic issues. However, many of the people using these terms are not very clear about what they actually mean.  In order to bring some clarity to the situation, I am suggesting that we start defining these terms, provide clear examples of what we mean by them, and not make the mistake of throwing them around with careless abandon.

Sleep Deprivation Can Be a Weapon in the Hands of an Abusive Partner

Unlike other types of physical abuse, sleep deprivation doesn’t leave a mark.

Vice/July 9, 2019

By Kimberly Lawson

Alice’s former husband often woke her up by slamming his hand down on the bed. He would keep her awake “until the wee hours of the morning,” she recalled. Sometimes, it didn’t matter who went to bed first; he would still find reasons to wake her in the middle of the night. “It could be because I was snoring. It could be because he [had woken up] and I was asleep and if he couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t sleep. [Or] he’d had a dream and I’d done something in his dream and therefore he was really upset with me.”

Nights were terrifying, she said, though she often felt it was safer to go to sleep after her husband. “It became a really big deal for me,” she said. “If I was to fall asleep before he did, that’s usually when something would get out of hand.”

It’s been 10 years since Alice left her husband, but she remembers those experiences like they happened yesterday. To process her experience and help others understand the complexity of domestic violence, Alice (whose last name we’ve withheld to protect her children’s privacy) started a personal blog. One of her most viewed posts was the one published in 2012 detailing how her partner intentionally deprived her of sleep.

Victims of domestic violence often have trouble sleeping. But when a person intentionally weaponizes sleep deprivation—including not allowing their partner to go to bed, interrupting their sleep or punishing them for sleeping—experts say it becomes a form of physical abuse and torture, one that often goes unnoticed to the outside world. “I don’t know that anybody really would have told me it was abuse [back then],” Alice said. “I had a very good therapist at that time who pointed out that that wasn’t okay, but we didn’t spend a lot of time on it either.”

Everyone needs sleep; it is a basic biological function that is critical for our health. And it’s only now that we’re realizing how powerful, and devastating, sleep deprivation can be.

A 2007 exploratory study in the journal Violence Against Women offered a glimpse into how sleep loss leaves survivors feeling vulnerable to violence. Researchers interviewed 17 women whose sleep was disturbed by an abusive partner; all reported adjusting their sleeping patterns to minimize the daily threat of violence they faced. Some said they were afraid to sleep “too deeply” and others said they avoided sleep altogether when their partner was home.

“You would pretend to be asleep, then you would have to pretend to wake up. Either way it would be better to be awake, trying to figure out what he wanted or what he was going to do next,” one woman said.

As the study’s authors write, these narratives “bring into sharp relief the connection between sleep deprivation and the establishment of a regime of power and control by one person over another—the hallmark of domestic violence.”

In a follow-up study, researchers determined: “Sleep deprivation was clearly a direct strategy of abuse used by perpetrators. It also indirectly undermined the mental and physical resilience of women.”

Unlike other types of physical abuse, sleep deprivation doesn’t leave a mark. “Unfortunately, I think the only thing that society recognizes as abuse is a black eye,” said Heather Frederick, a spokesperson for the National Domestic Violence Hotline. “A lot of people who are experiencing sleep deprivation as a part of abuse understand this isn’t healthy, it’s not sustainable…but they may not make the connection that it’s about their partner trying to control them or trying to strong-arm them or have power over them.”

At her organization, Frederick said sleep deprivation is classified as a form of physical abuse, though it easily falls under emotional abuse as well. Similar to stopping someone from taking medication they need, interrupting someone’s sleep has a significant impact on their bodies and minds.

Victims of sleep deprivation often experience drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, and eventually disorientation, hallucinations, and paranoia. Chronic sleep loss can lead to serious health problems, including risk of high blood pressure, depression, and heart attack.

According to data gathered by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, four in 10 women and four in 10 men have experienced at least one form of coercive control (which includes any behavior a person uses to dominate their significant other) in their lifetime. One example where sleep is a vehicle for manipulation, Frederick said, occurs in the context of a long-distance relationship: A partner may require the other person to videochat with them to prove that they’re home alone or ask them to leave their phone on their pillow all night to listen to them sleep.

In Alice’s case, her partner even justified the sleep deprivation with one of the messages in the sermon given during their wedding, which had to do with married couples never letting the sun go down on their anger. “He used that against me for a long time,” she said, referring to her former husband. If she begged for sleep, he accused her of loving sleep more than she loved him.

In these scenarios, abusers usually aren’t trying to reach any kind of compromise, Frederick explained. “Their goal is to wear their victim out so that they cave in and give in to whatever it is the abusive partner is wanting to happen or whatever they’re looking for.”

As recently as 2014, the United Nations’ committee against torture called on the United States to end its practice of using sleep deprivation on detainees, calling it “a form of ill-treatment.”

In 2016, Tania Tetlow, then a law professor at Tulane University and now president of Loyola University New Orleans, made a compelling argument for states to pass laws “banning torture by private actors” as well, primarily as a better way to address domestic violence. She included sleep deprivation among the techniques that should be outlawed.

Imposing sleep deprivation on someone isn’t a crime in and of itself, Tetlow said in an interview, but that’s why the analogy of torture and domestic violence works. Domestic violence generally is a pattern crime, similar to stalking. “Any one act in isolation will not seem that egregious. It is the context of the pattern of behaviors and the intent of those behaviors and their cumulative impact that really makes it terrible.”

Tetlow acknowledged that sleep deprivation is one of those abusive tactics that may not seem like that big of a deal on its own. But it is an effective way to render somebody unable to function and make good judgments. “The biggest risk of lethality with domestic violence is not measured by the level of violence; it’s about the level of control,” she said. “That is a bigger indicator of the chance that someone will murder their victim.”

As an example, Tetlow pointed to one 2010 case in Louisiana: Jennifer Muse, 31, was shot and killed by her 78-year-old husband. Two days earlier, he’d been acquitted of domestic violence battery, a charge stemming from a fight in the middle of the night when she was upset that he woke her. According to Muse’s testimony, he did so often.

Repositioning domestic violence in the law as torture—a legal argument that’s yet to gain any traction—would send both abusers and the people they hurt a powerful message, Tetlow said: “Describing domestic violence as torture focuses the criminal justice system and the public on the defendant’s clear premeditation and culpability. We see batterers as merely angry, whereas we acknowledge torturers as cruel.”

For Alice, the survivor who left her partner over a decade ago, the long-term pain caused by the abuse continues to disrupt her life. She still has trouble going to bed at times. “I do feel like I’ve come a long way. I’m in a much different spot than I was then, but I still have my triggers. I still have things that can upset me quite a bit.”

50 Shades Of Gaslighting: Disturbing Signs An Abuser Is Twisting Your Reality

Thought Catalog/September 29, 2019

By Shahida Arabi

Gaslighting, explained.

How do you convince someone that something they know to be true isn’t? In psychology, what is known as the “illusory truth effect” is a phenomenon in which a listener comes to believe something primarily because it has been repeated so often. When an abuser continually tells you that you are oversensitive or that what you are experiencing is in no way abuse, you begin believing it, even if you know deep down it isn’t true.

In other words, a lie that is repeated long enough eventually can be seen as the truth. Researchers Hasher, Goldstein and Toppino (1997) discovered that when a statement (even when it is false and readers know it to be false) is repeated multiple times, it was more likely to be rated as true simply due to the effects of repetition. This is because when we’re assessing a claim, we rely on either the credibility of the source from which the claim is derived or familiarity with that claim. Surprisingly, familiarity often trumps credibility or rationality when assessing the perceived validity of a statement (Begg, Anas, and Farinacci, 1992; Geraci, L., & Rajaram, 2016).

The illusory truth effect can cause us to become susceptible to the effects of another dangerous form of reality erosion known as gaslighting. Deliberate manipulators who gaslight with the intention of eroding your reality and rewriting history tend to use the “illusory truth effect” to their advantage. They will repeat falsehoods so often that they become ingrained in the victim’s mind as unshakeable truths.

When this is done repeatedly to override what was truly experienced, it can leave an immense dent in the fabric of someone’s perceptions and ability to trust themselves. When used chronically to control a victim, it becomes a damaging aspect of psychological abuse, placing the survivor at risk for depression, anxiety, PTSD, suicidal ideation and even what is called by some therapists as “Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome” (Van der Kolk, 2016; Walker, 2013; WolfFord-Clevinger, 2017; Staik, 2017).

What is Gaslighting?

The term “gaslighting” first originated in Patrick Hamilton’s 1938 play, Gas Light, in which a manipulative husband drives his wife to the brink of insanity by causing her to question her own reality. It was also popularized in the 1944 film adaptation, Gaslight, a psychological thriller about a man named Gregory Anton (played by Charles Boyer) who murders a famous opera singer and later marries her niece, Paula (played by Ingrid Bergman) to gain access to the rest of her family jewels.

Gregory erodes his new wife’s sense of reality by making her believe that her aunt’s house is haunted in the hope that she will be institutionalized. He does everything from rearranging items in the house, flickering gas lights on and off to making noises in the attic so she feels as if she’s becoming unhinged. He isolates her so that she is unable to seek support for the terror she is experiencing. The real kicker? After manufacturing these crazymaking scenarios, he then convinces her that these events are all a figment of her imagination.

Gaslighting has become a well-known term in the abuse survivor community, particularly for the survivors of malignant narcissists. Unlike more vulnerable narcissists who may possess more of a capacity for remorse, malignant narcissists truly believe in their superiority, are grandiose and lie on the higher end of the narcissistic spectrum. They have antisocial traits, demonstrate paranoia, bear an excessive sense of entitlement, show a callous lack of empathy and display an egregious liking for interpersonal exploitation.

Gaslighting provides malignant narcissists with a portal to erase the reality of their victims without a trace. It is a method that enables them to commit covert psychological murder with clean hands.

Is Gaslighting Intentional?

One might wonder: is all gaslighting intentional? After all, we’ve all had experiences where we’ve inadvertently invalidated someone’s experience without meaning to. Perhaps we lacked enough information about the matter. Maybe we were defensive about being right. Or, we just didn’t agree with their “interpretation” of events. What Dr. Sherman calls “everyday gaslighting” may occur due to human error – but that does not negate the danger of gaslighting when it is used to emotionally terrorize someone.

In the context of an abusive relationship, gaslighting is used to deliberately undercut the victim’s reality and make him or her more malleable to mistreatment. As Dr. Sarkis writes in her article, “Are Gaslighters Aware of What They Do?” not all gaslighters engage in it intentionally, but those who are cult leaders, dictators and malignant narcissists most certainly do so with an agenda in mind.

As she writes, “The goal is to make the victim or victims question their own reality and depend on the gaslighter…In the case of a person who has a personality disorder such as antisocial personality disorder, they are born with an insatiable need to control others.”

Gaslighting allows perpetrators to evade accountability for their actions, to deflect responsibility and exercise their control over their partners with alarming ease.

“Narcissists are like Teflon; nothing sticks. They don’t take responsibility. For anything. They are master deflectors and try to avoid the blame when cheating, stealing and everything in between. They make up complex excuses and can rationalize anything. When they are finally called out, they are quick to claim they are being persecuted, though they may be apologetic for a minute. When someone never takes responsibility for anything – words, actions, feelings – it is a challenging, if not impossible way to maintain a relationship,” Dr. Durvasula, Should I Stay or Should I Go? Surviving a Relationship With a Narcissist.

Beliefs, after all, are immensely powerful. They have the power to create division, build or destroy nations, end or start wars. To mold the beliefs of an unsuspecting target to suit your own agendas is to essentially control their behavior and even potentially change their life-course trajectory. If narcissistic Calvin decides he wants to wreak havoc over his girlfriend Brianna’s reality, all he has to do is to convince her that she cannot trust herself or her instincts – especially about the abuse she is experiencing.

How Does Gaslighting Unfold?

As Dr. Robin Stern notes in her book, The Gaslight Effect:

“The Gaslight Effect results from a relationship between two people: a gaslighter, who needs to be right in order to preserve his own sense of self, and his sense of having power in the world; and a gaslightee, who allows the gaslighter to define {his or} her sense of reality because she idealizes him and seeks his approval.”

It is in the victim seeking validation and approval from the gaslighter that the danger begins to unfold. Gaslighting is essentially psychological warfare, causing a victim to habitually question himself or herself. It is employed as a power play to regain control over the victim’s psyche, sense of stability and sense of self.

By playing puppeteer to the survivor’s perceptions, the manipulator is able to pull the strings in every context where his or her target feels powerless, confused, disoriented and on edge, perpetually walking on eggshells to keep the peace.

What Gaslighting Looks Like: An Example

Imagine this scenario: Diana and Robert* have been dating for several months. Diana thinks she’s met the “one” – Robert is generous, kind, supportive and funny. They become enamored with each other quickly and move in together shortly after their one-year anniversary. As soon as Diana signs the lease on their new apartment, however, it is evident that there is some trouble in paradise. Robert’s usual warmth and affection begins to wane. After several months, Diana notices that he has more become inexplicably cold and withdrawn.  He lashes out more often, creates nonsensical arguments (in which he uses Diana as a scapegoat for every issue) and criticizes her on a daily basis. It’s almost as if he’s undergone a personality transplant from the once charming and down to earth man she thought she knew.

He has also stopped paying his half of the rent, claiming that he has been struggling financially ever since the move. Though Diana remembers him enthusiastically choosing the neighborhood where they currently live, he now complains it is far too “expensive” for his taste and accuses her of being too extravagant. She notices he has more than enough funds to spend on drinking with his friends or gambling late into the night, but grudgingly agrees to pay his half until he gets back on his feet.

Diana recognizes that Robert is not only taking her for granted, but taking advantage of her. When she finally confronts him one night as he stumbles into the apartment at an obscenely late hour, his response is rageful and defensive. He accuses her of not trusting him. He calls her horrible names. He threatens to leave and never come back. He refuses to speak to her at all about his behavior and ends up going to a “friend’s” place, leaving Diana in tears and filled with anxiety about his whereabouts.

In the midst of her despair, she begins to wonder if she’s been too hard on him. She calls him multiple times, begging for him to come back and apologizing profusely for the things she’s accused him of. He does come back, but the cycle only continues. After only a few blissful days of “making up,” where Robert “graciously” forgives Diana for her “overreactions,” Robert begins disappearing during the nights and reappearing with a suspiciously unkempt appearance. He also receives mysterious phone calls at odd hours, which he takes privately in the bathroom with the door locked.

Each time Diana tries to raise questions about where he has been and whether he’s been seeing other women behind her back, he pushes back, accusing her of being “crazy,” “needy” and “paranoid.” Despite her attempts to uncover the truth, she starts to wonder if she really is being paranoid. Maybe it really is her fault that he is distancing himself. Maybe he just needs time to “unwind.”

She begins avoiding confrontation with Robert altogether and instead tries her best to please him instead – doubling her efforts to show him more affection and understanding. Her hope is that, once he realizes what a great partner she is, he will stop his shady behavior and go back to being the man he presented himself to be in the beginning. Unfortunately, as most victims ensnared in the vicious cycle of emotional abuse know, this is rarely the case. This is just the beginning.

(Note: This example was created using the accounts of multiple survivors from surveys on narcissistic abuse; the characters are fictional and only used for the purpose of illustration. Although in this particular scenario the gaslighter is male and the victim is female, gaslighting is not exclusive to any gender and can happen to anyone.)

Why Does Gaslighting Work So Well?

Diana and Robert’s story illustrate a classic example of the cycle of narcissistic abuse – one in which idealization is followed by devaluation and the honeymoon phase dissipates into the unmasking of a covert predator. Robert is able to gaslight Diana into believing she is the problem – all while she financially supports him and doubles her efforts to be a more loving partner. Meanwhile, he engages in infidelity, verbally berates her and subjects her to bouts of narcissistic rage, without any consequences or accountability. This isn’t at all the healthy, loving relationship Diana signed up for, but the powerful effect of gaslighting is that Robert’s version of reality (Diana is crazy, he is the one putting up with it) replaces the truth.

Do you see what’s wrong with this picture? Gaslighting lets the perpetrator off the hook while the victim is left picking up the pieces and then some.

Why do survivors believe in gaslighters?

Executed effectively and done chronically, gaslighting causes self-doubt and cognitive dissonance – a state of turmoil stirred by inconsistent attitudes and beliefs. Survivors of emotional predators sense that something is amiss, but when they attempt to address it, they are often blindsided by their abuser’s complete dismissal and invalidation of their reality.

Diana “knew” something was wrong and felt like she was being taken advantage of when Robert stopped paying his half of the rent and began coming home at odd hours, but after being on the receiving end of his gaslighting and verbal abuse, she rationalized that her behavior must have caused the conflict. She did not want to lose out on her emotional investment in what appeared to be a great relationship in the beginning. As a result, she instead invested more – unfortunately, risking the loss of her own sense of self.

Gaslighting, after all, begins insidiously in stages; in the first stage, survivors still have a grasp of their perceptions even if they might not understand what is happening. Like a frog in slowly boiling water, they become accustomed to the insidious warping of their reality, until they no longer recognize their reality or even themselves. Initially, like Diana, they may attempt to reiterate their perspective and express disbelief at the gaslighter’s claims.

As gaslighting continues, however, it wears down the victim. Diana eventually tries to “win” Robert back because she feels unable to self-validate after his constant verbal attacks and rageful responses. This is not uncommon for victims of chronic gaslighting, especially when a repetition or reinforcement of false claims is involved. According to Lynn Hasher, a psychologist at the University of Toronto, “Repetition makes things seem more plausible…and the effect is likely more powerful when people are tired or distracted by other information.”

Chronic gaslighting eventually leads to pure exhaustion – victims develop a sense of learned helplessness as they are met with the intense consistency of denial, rage, projection or accusations from the gaslighter.

Exhaustion from abuse and retaliation for asserting oneself creates a mental fog of epic proportions, one in which a survivor can easily drown in even the most ridiculous excuses as long as they carry a grain of truth.

The survivor of a conniving gaslighter becomes submerged in confusion about what actually occurred and whether anything truly occurred at all. So instead of questioning the gaslighter, they attempt to prevent further psychological assault by feeding their own self-doubt and uncertainty surrounding the abuse that is occurring. Dr. George Simon, who specializes in the character disordered, writes:

“Gaslighting victims question their judgment. They can even come to question their very sanity. Crafty covert-aggressors know how to make you doubt. In your gut you feel they’re trying to play you. But they can have you feeling like you’re a fool for thinking so. They can even have you questioning what’s real and what isn’t,” – Dr. George Simon, Gaslighting Victims Question Their Sanity.

To summarize: why does gaslighting work? There are more than a few reasons:

  • Gaslighting exploits any existing self-doubt about one’s capabilities as well as any past traumas that may cause the victim to feel too “damaged” to see reality clearly.
  • Gaslighting exhausts a victim’s internal resources so they are unable to self-validate and eventually give into a sense of learned helplessness.
  • Gaslighting depletes individuals of a stable sense of self-worth and certainty about how they interpret the world.
  • Gaslighting manufactures insecurities and fears that never existed, causing the victim to focus on his/her perceived flaws rather than the abuser’s transgressions.
  • Gaslighting causes the survivor to investigate whether he or she has done something wrong, instead of looking at the perpetrator’s behavior as the cause of concern.
  • Gaslighting sets up survivors to fail no matter what they do; abusers will demonstrate disapproval regardless of how hard the survivor tries to please the abuser. Whether victims stay silent and compliant or aggressive and assertive, they will be punished. By moving the goalposts, the perpetrator is able to shift their expectations and their claims at the drop of a hat.
  • Gaslighting diverts from, denies, rationalizes and minimizes horrific acts of psychological and physical violence.
  • Gaslighting creates a dangerous form of retaliation for victims speaking out, because each time they do, they are met with a psychological or even physical assault that causes them to feel increasingly diminished.

Survivors often take on the responsibility for reducing the cognitive dissonance that arises when what they know to be true is threatened by gaslighting of an abuser. They do so by essentially “gaslighting” themselves into believing in what their manipulators are telling them, rather than trusting their own inner voice. They may even socially withdraw and become overly defensive about protecting the gaslighter due to their need for validation from the relationship. The gaslighter “trains” and conditions them into seeking their approval, and they fear losing that approval because it symbolizes the loss of the relationship itself.

Smoke and Mirrors: How Gaslighting Works to Erode the Victim’s Reality and Sense of Self

While the definition of gaslighting may appear clear-cut, the reality of how it is used in abusive relationships is complex and multifaceted. There are many ways in which malignant narcissists gaslight their victims, and when done chronically, gaslighting becomes an effective tool to manage down the victim’s expectations for decency, honesty and transparency over time.

After all, if someone cannot trust their own perceptions, it becomes that much easier to hand over the reins to the person who is shaping their reality in the first place. It becomes that much more difficult to confront the gaslighter without the fear of being shamed and silenced. Here are some ways in which gaslighting can show up in toxic relationships:

1. Denial and dismissal.

Perhaps the most popular form of gaslighting occurs in the art of the blatant denial. A cheating wife refuses to admit that she had an affair, even when concrete evidence (such as explicit photos) surface. A malignant parent denies ever abusing their children despite the fact that they still have the scars (whether emotional or physical) and memories to prove it.

A predator with a history of committing sexual assault simply says it did not happen, despite many victims coming forward. By dismissing the evidence and holding steadfast to the “alternative facts,” the abuser is able to instill a sense of doubt – however tiny – and by planting that seed, they create a burgeoning ambivalence in their victims, law enforcement, society as a whole – that perhaps it really didn’t happen, or at least, it didn’t happen in the way the victim reported it did.

Much like reasonable doubt can sway a jury, continually denying a victim’s experiences can lead the victim to search for evidence that confirms the abuser’s reality rather than their own. At most, it provides a counternarrative to the truth that enablers of the abuser can hold onto, and at worst, it creates so much distortion that the abuser is rarely held accountable for his or her actions.

Unfortunately, this form of gaslighting also preys on a sense of hope just as it does uncertainty. Victims may have their own reasons for believing in the abuser, but they are also trauma bonded to their perpetrators through the intense experiences of abuse in an effort to survive. As a result, victims of a trauma bond often protect their abusers and work even harder to depict their relationship as a happy, stable one.

As trauma and addiction expert Dr. Patrick Carnes (2015) writes in his book, The Betrayal Bond:

“Exploitive relationships create betrayal bonds. These occur when a victim bonds with someone who is destructive to him or her. Thus the hostage becomes the champion of the hostage taker, the incest victim covers for the parent, and the exploited employee fails to expose the wrongdoing of the boss…{this} is a mind-numbing, highly addictive attachment to the people who have hurt you. You may even try to explain and help them understand what they are doing – convert them into non-abusers. You may even blame yourself, your defects, your failed efforts…these attachments cause you to distrust your own judgment, distort your own realities and place you at even greater risk. The great irony? You are bracing yourself against further hurt. The result? A guarantee of more hurt.”

As Carnes notes, the emotional investment we have built in our relationship with the gaslighter is what keeps us hoping for a return on our investment. Yet the more we invest, the more we inevitably risk.

An adult child of an abusive parent does not want to face the reality that their parent may have never loved them; a doting husband may prefer to believe that any evidence of his wife cheating was misconstrued; a sexual predator’s victims may wish to not move forward with legal charges because they hope they can move forward with their lives.

Denial – however simple it may seem – can be an effective strategy for an abuser to use precisely because it also works with a victim’s natural desire to avoid conflict, protect themselves from the trauma of the truth and maintain the false comfort of the abuser’s false mask.

2. Shaming and Emotional Invalidation.

When abusers are unable to convince you that your truth is a false reality, or when they feel they need to add an extra dose of emotional anesthesia to keep you quiet and compliant about their transgressions, they’ll add in subtle shaming or emotional invalidation. This is when, not only are your claims dismissed and denied, the fact that you brought them up in the first place make you somehow defective, abnormal or incompetent.

“I can’t believe you would think that of me. You have serious trust issues, to even search through my phone like that,” the cheating wife might say, displacing the onus of her own infidelity onto her husband and diverting from the fact that her shady behavior caused trust issues in the first place.

“Why are you bringing up the past? You really can’t let go of things, can you? I am so angry you’re bringing this up,” cries the abusive parent hysterically, bringing the focus to her emotions rather than her child’s plight. This effectively silences and shames the child for speaking up in the first place, discounting the impact of their traumatic childhood.

The sexual predator? He or she is able to shift the focus back to the victim’s behavior instead – asking, why did he flirt with me? Or why did she come back to my place, if she didn’t want to have sex?

Shaming is powerful because it taps into the deepest core wounds of childhood. To be shamed is to ‘regress’ back into the first time you were reprimanded, belittled, made to feel small. It reminds you when you were once voiceless – and it repeats the destructive cycle by regurgitating old belief systems of unworthiness. When we feel unworthy, we are less likely to speak out or counter injustice in empowering ways by advocating for ourselves – which is why we tend to rationalize, minimize and deny gaslighting behavior and blame ourselves.

3. Pathologizing the Victim.

Malignant narcissists take it one step further when it comes to their victims; they engage in concrete actions that pathologize and discredit their partners. They play the smirking “doctors” in their intimate relationships, diagnosing their victims like “unruly patients,” all while downplaying their own pathological behavior. While they can also do this through a smear campaign, the most covert predators tend to use more underhanded methods to come out on top.

A victim whose credibility is weakened serves as ammunition for an abuser, because the abuser is able to evade accountability for his or her actions by claiming that the victim is unhinged, unstable, and pursuing some form of vendetta against the abuser.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline estimates that around 89% of their callers have experienced some form of mental health coercion and that 43% had experienced a substance abuse coercion from an abuser. According to them:

“Most survivors who reported their abusive partners had actively contributed to mental health difficulties or their use of substances also said their partners threatened to use the difficulties or substance use against them with important authorities, such as legal or child custody professionals, to prevent them from obtaining custody or other things that they wanted or needed.” – The National Center on Domestic Violence and the Domestic Violence Hotline

The most covert gaslighters manufacture scenarios that drive their victims over the edge while erasing any trace of their involvement. They exploit existing vulnerabilities in the victims, such as past traumas, addictions and mental health issues. They create chaos so that the victim reacts and they are able to use the reactions of their victims against them (sometimes even going so far as to videotaping their reactions while failing to provide the context of their abusive behavior).

“Narcissists magnify the gaslighting effect when they accuse their victims of requiring professional help, medication or a psychiatric evaluation when their victims begin to call out the abuse. They may even coerce their victims to take drugs or push them over the edge when their victims are feeling suicidal from the impact of the long-term psychological terrorism they have endured. This is all done with the dual purpose of gaslighting the victim into thinking he or she is the crazy one – and of gaslighting society into thinking that they, the abuser, is actually the victim instead,” – Shahida Arabi, POWER: Surviving and Thriving After Narcissistic Abuse.

They use the vulnerabilities their victims disclosed to them early in the relationship against them to retraumatize them and shame them into feeling that no one would believe them if they spoke out. They accuse their victims of being “bitter” and “obsessed” with them, when in fact, they are the ones stalking their victims. Not unlike the set-up in movies like Gaslight, the victim finds himself or herself being told that they are “crazy,” “losing it,” “imagining things,” or “delusional” even after they endure blow after blow.

Similarly, as victims of psychological violence get closer to the precipice of truth, the man (or woman) behind the curtain creates a great deal of noise to divert their victims from ever seeing what is beneath the surface of their façade and grandiose claims of authenticity. The noise malignant narcissists create instead refocuses on attacking the credibility of the victim rather than addressing their own crimes.

This includes: (1) telling the victim to seek “help” for calling out their behavior, convincing the victim to obtain medication to help manage their “symptoms” (because getting close to the truth, apparently, requires extensive care) (2) encouraging the victim to abuse substances (in an effort to control them, as well as to make them a less credible ‘witness’ to their crimes) and (3) using their trauma history against them to make them believe that they have no case for accusing them of abuse.

An expert gaslighter will point to the fact that you were violated in the past, which must be why you’re acting out your trauma onto them in the present.

An expert gaslighter can even drive his or her victim to suicide.

Gaslighting in Conversations

What does gaslighting look like in day to day conversations? It usually involves some form of the following:

Malignant repetition of falsehoods. As noted previously, repeating a lie frequently enough can become a way to reinforce and cement it as truth. Whether these lies are seemingly innocuous or potentially damaging, they can overwrite existing perceptions.

“You flirted with that guy. I saw you.”

“I am such a nice guy/girl. I treat you so well.”

“I told you, I was at work. You need to stop with these baseless accusations.”

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

Minimizing the impact or severity of the abuse. This is when the gaslighter has committed a serious offense against you and instead of acknowledging it, minimizes the impact the abuse had on you or the gravity of the abuse. Tell-tale signs someone is minimizing verbal, emotional or even physical abuse may sound something like:

“That wasn’t even abusive. You’re making a mountain out of a molehill.”

“I didn’t hurt you that badly. You’re just being a crybaby. There’s barely a scar.”

“I didn’t raise my voice. You’re just misinterpreting things.”

“So what if I cursed? Are you a child? Do I have to censor myself?”

Projection and generalization – The gaslighter diverts the claim back to the victim, claiming that he or she is the one who “always” creates trouble, when in fact, it is the gaslighter who is perpetually creating chaos and refusing to validate the victim’s claims. The gaslighter then generalizes all of the victim’s claims and assertions as ridiculous or characterizes them as attempts to create conflict, as if conflict did not already exist in the first place. Common examples include:

“You’re just so sensitive.”

“You take everything so seriously!”

“You’re always causing trouble.”

“You just love drama.”

Withholding information and stonewalling – The abuser is unwilling to engage in the conversation at all and often shuts down the conversation any time a claim is made against him or her about their behavior. This might look like:

“I am done discussing this.”

“I am not going to argue with you, this is pointless.”

“This conversation is not going anywhere.”

“That doesn’t even warrant a response.”

“The fact that you’re accusing me of that says a lot more about you than it does me.”

Questioning their memory, emotional stability and/or competence – The abuser avoids accusations and conversations by questioning the victim’s memory or ability to comprehend the situation in an unbiased way.

They may say things like, “I don’t remember that. Are you sure you’re remembering that correctly?” even if the event just happened a few moments ago. They may call into question a victim’s awareness, or, if they’ve engaged in substance abuse coercion with the victim, may use that against them to ensure that no one would believe them by asking things like, “Have you been drinking again?” or “Are you off your meds?”

Other common phrases include:

“You really have some issues.”

“You need to learn how to trust people.”

“God, you’re crazy.”

“You need to calm down and think about this.”

“You’re blowing everything out of proportion, as usual.”

Bringing in a third party/the triangulation maneuver. Triangulation is the act of bringing in another person into the dynamic of a toxic interaction. While we usually talk about triangulation in the context of manufacturing love triangles, when it is used in gaslighting, it can manifest quite differently.

Triangulation (in the context of gaslighting) can be used to confirm the abuser’s version of reality and shame you into believing that you truly are alone in your beliefs and perceptions. It fuels a victim’s sense of alienation when another person (or a group of people – such as the narcissist’s harem) agrees with his or her distortions.

Malignant narcissists are prone to recruiting what the survivor community refers to as “flying monkeys” to agree with their perspective. They may bring these people in physically to confirm their point of view (“Hey Sandra, what do you think? Isn’t Laura being paranoid?”), or even mention them in passing (“Even Sandra agreed with me that you’re being a bit paranoid, Laura”).

For example, in the movie Gaslight (1944), the conniving husband is able to bring in his maids one by one to confirm that a small painting (which he deliberately misplaced) was not in fact, moved by them. This enables him to pretend that his wife has moved the portrait, though she has no recollection of doing so. These third-party “witnesses” or enablers convince her that she must be truly going insane, if she doesn’t at all remember doing what he accuses her of doing.

Diversions from the topic to assassinate the victim’s character or challenge the validity of the relationship. The gaslighter diverts the focus from his or her behavior onto the perceived character traits of the victim or the stability of the relationship.

They may say things like, “We just don’t get along,” or “We’re just too different. We’re not right for one another,” drawing attention to the relationship as a whole instead of the specific issue at hand. In a normal relationship where incompatibility is an issue, the idea that two people are simply “too different” may be true, but in the context of an abusive relationship, these are gaslighting phrases meant to divert you from the reality of the horrific abuse and onto the milder myth of incompatibility.

The truth is, no one is “compatible” with an abuser, and in a gaslighting power dynamic such as this, the problem is not the fact that you two don’t “get along.” It’s the fact that one partner is abusing his or her power to distort your reality.

Healing from Gaslighting

Healing from gaslighting can take time and support. It requires distance and space from the abuser in order to reconnect to your reality and get grounded in what you actually felt and experienced. Here are some tips on how to get started:

Make ‘redirecting’ anchoring statements when you find yourself romanticizing your abuser or dismissing an abusive incident. The good news is, repetition can go the other way: we can repeat the truth until we finally believe in it, and ourselves again. Creating “anchoring statements” that help redirect you to the reality of the abuse are especially helpful when you find yourself doubting what you experienced and minimizing what you felt.

Keep a list of general statements or a record of incidents of abuse that you can refer to in times of self-doubt. These can include documentation of the abuse (journal entries, text messages, voicemails, photographs, videotapes) or affirmations that remind you of what you experienced and why it wasn’t acceptable. This will help ground you back into your own reality and rewire your thinking so that you are no longer focused on the falsehoods fed to you by the abuser.

Seek self-validation and let go of your need to gain validation from the abuser. Abusive people are far too invested in their own agendas to ever validate your reality or confirm incidents of abuse. That is why it is important to establish No Contact or Low Contact (a minimum amount of contact in cases of co-parenting) with the abuser so you can get the necessary distance from your abuser to regroup and reemerge from the warped world created by this toxic person.

Consult trusted outsiders to do some much needed ‘reality testing.’ In the movie Gaslight, it is only when an inspector confirms that the gas lights are indeed flickering to the gaslighted wife, Paula, that she realizes that she was right all along. Find a mental health professional who is trauma-informed, knowledgeable about malignant narcissism and understands the dynamics of covert violence. Describe what you felt, heard and witnessed exactly how you experienced it rather than telling the story through your abuser’s narrative. Regaining your voice in a setting where you can be validated and listened to is essential to the healing journey. Some survivors may also benefit from telling their stories to other survivors, who know what it is like to be gaslighted and can resonate with their experiences.

Write your story and bring it into the context of longer-term behavioral patterns. Journaling can be an excellent way to track your progress and narrate your reality. Keep a journal of incidents that occurred and how they made you feel. Separate the reality of your experiences from the claims of your abuser. For example, a journal entry may look like the following:

“Tom called me a really terrible name today, even though I had asked him multiple times to stop calling me that. It made me feel so degraded and small when he did it again without any apologies. When I called him out, he insisted I was being hypersensitive. But the reality is, I’ve asked him many times to stop and he’s disrespected my wishes. He continues to violate me and disregards my feelings. It seems my feelings don’t matter to him at all.”

This narrates the experience without ‘giving in’ to the gaslighting attempts of the abuser. It reframes the experience to recall the victim’s feelings during the interactions and to address what rights were violated. It also includes mention of a pattern of behavior – ‘Tom,’ as the victim notes, has a habit of disrespecting her wishes even though she has addressed the fact that name-calling makes her uncomfortable. The victim of gaslighting is then able to draw a conclusion based on a pattern of behavior that she sees reoccurring, rather than dismissing it as an isolated incident.  This helps her to relieve some of the self-blame and cognitive dissonance as she reaffirms her reality and begins to trust herself again.

A Note About Gaslighting on a Societal Level

Gaslighting can also take place in contexts outside of intimate relationships. It can occur in the workplace, in family units, in schools, in politics, in cults and in society as a whole. Society often gaslights women, for example, by depicting them as “overemotional,” “unhinged” or “crazy” when they dare to be anything less than demure and submissive or when they ‘dare’ to be enraged about the way they’re being treated.

Society also routinely gaslights survivors of abuse or assault by interrogating them about their behavior and minimizing the impact of what they experienced. Politicians, lawmakers and court systems can dismiss the impact of emotional abuse by allowing it to fall under the convenient umbrella of “nonviolence” while setting the perpetrators free to commit more crimes that will never be prosecuted under a court of law.

Those who benefit from an enormous amount of privilege can condemn those more marginalized when they speak out about social injustices like racism, sexism and ableism because it threatens their positions of power and control. They may call those who fight for justice “divisive” or “hateful” simply because they’re calling out bigotry, prejudice or unjust laws. Institutions may “gaslight” disadvantaged populations any time they wish to maintain that power by shifting the focus onto the behavior of marginalized people rather than examining what they can do to better support these populations.

There are many ways and contexts where we experience gaslighting and it is not just restricted to an abusive relationship. It is up to us as individuals and as a larger society to tackle gaslighting when we see it. Whether it is done with malicious intent or unwitting naiveté, gaslighting bears dangerous consequences when it goes unchallenged. Gaslighting has the power to shape and rewrite our reality. It’s about time we take back the narrative and hold fast to the truth – unapologetically owning our stories as we do so.

Shahida Arabi is the author of Power: Surviving and Thriving After Narcissistic Abuse.

To learn more about gaslighting and covert emotional abuse, be sure to also check out:

In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing With Manipulative People by Dr. George Simon

The Gaslight Effect: How to Spot the Hidden Manipulation Others Use to Control Your Life by Dr. Robin Stern

The Sociopath Next Door by Dr. Martha Stout

Psychopath Free by Jackson MacKenzie

Should I Stay or Should I Go?: Surviving a Relationship With a Narcissist by Dr. Ramani Durvasula

Works Cited

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Carnes, P. (2015). Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships. Health Communications, Incorporated.
Dreyfuss, E. (2017, June 03). Want to Make a Lie Seem True? Say It Again. And Again. And Again. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
Durvasula, R. (2015). Should I Stay or Should I Go? Surviving a Relationship With a Narcissist. New York: Post Hill press.
Geraci, L., & Rajaram, S. (2006). The illusory truth effect: The distinctiveness effect in explicit and implicit memory. Distinctiveness and Memory, 210-234.
Hasher, L., Goldstein, D., & Toppino, T. (1977). Frequency and the conference of referential validity. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 16(1), 107-112. doi:10.1016/s0022-5371(77)80012-1
Leve, A. (2016, March 16). How to survive gaslighting: When manipulation erases your reality. Retrieved here November 5, 2017.
Sarkis, S. (2017, January 30). Are gaslighters aware of what they do? Retrieved here November 7, 2017.
Simon, G. (2017, August 26). Gaslighting Victims Question Their Sanity. Retrieved here November 5, 2017.
Staik, A. (2017). Narcissistic Abuse and the Symptoms of Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 26, 2018.
Stern, R. (2007). The gaslight effect: How to spot and survive the hidden manipulations other people use to control your life. Morgan Road Books.
Van der Kolk, B. (2015). The body keeps the score: Brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma. NY, NY: Penguin Books.
Walker, P. (2013). Complex PTSD: From surviving to thriving: A guide and map for recovering from childhood trauma. Lafayette, CA: Azure Coyote.
Warshaw, C., Lyon, E., Bland, P. J., Phillips, H., & Hooper, M. (2014). Mental Health and Substance Use Coercion Surveys. Report from the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health and the National Domestic Violence Hotline. National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma and Mental Health. Retrieved here November 5, 2017.
Wolford-Clevenger, C., & Smith, P. N. (2017). The conditional indirect effects of suicide attempt history and psychiatric symptoms on the association between intimate partner violence and suicide ideation. Personality and Individual Differences, 106, 46-51. Retrieved here.

Victims’ rights toughened by Domestic Violence Act

Law Society Gazette, Ireland/February 26, 2019

The Domestic Violence Act 2018 was commenced in January. It amends and consolidates the law on domestic violence and is one of the most significant family law statutes introduced in the past 20 years.

Great credit is due to members of the Law Society’s Child and Family Law Committee who, for the past 20 years, have been advocating for reform of the domestic violence laws.

In particular, Joan O’Mahony, Noeline Blackwell and Cormac Ó Culáin, due to their submissions and work on this act, have made an immense contribution to this legislation.

More prescriptive

In determining applications under this act, the court must have regard to all the factors or circumstances that it considers may have a bearing on the application, including, where relevant, a non-exhaustive list of 17 factors or circumstances, which are set out in section 5(2) of the act.

The court must give reasons for its decision to grant or refuse an application or, if applicable, give reasons for its decision to make the specified order subject to exceptions or conditions, and to vary any exceptions or conditions (section 17).

Where the court forms the opinion that there are reasonable grounds to make the appropriate order, the language of the act states that the court ‘shall’ make the appropriate order, whereas, in the 1996 act, the court ‘may’ make the order.

The Courts Service is now obliged to provide each applicant with information on, and contact details for, support services for victims of domestic violence (section 28).

In (criminal) proceedings relating to a breach of an order under the act, the judge ‘shall’ exclude from the court during those proceedings all persons, except officers of the court, persons directly concerned with those proceedings, bona fide representatives of the press, and such other persons (if any) as the judge may in his or her discretion permit to remain (section 34).

In the same proceedings, a new offence in relation to publication of information about the parties to enable their identification is created by section 36 of the act, and the penalties are set out in section 37.

Emergency barring orders

The court can make an emergency barring order to direct a respondent to either leave a place or to prevent them from entering a place where the applicant or a dependant resides.

The granting of an emergency barring order may prohibit the respondent using or threatening the use of violence against, molesting or putting in fear, attending at, or in the vicinity of, or watching or besetting a place where the applicant or a dependent person resides, and following or communicating (including electronically) with the applicant or a dependent person.

A person may apply for an emergency barring order where:

a)   The applicant is not the spouse or civil partner of the respondent and has lived in an intimate and committed relationship with the respondent prior to the application (note: no mandatory minimum period of residence is required), or

b)  The applicant is the parent of an adult respondent, and

c)   The applicant has no legal or beneficial interest in the dwelling, or an interest that is less than the legal and beneficial interest of the respondent, and

d)  There are reasonable grounds to believe that there is an immediate risk of significant harm to the applicant or a dependant.

An emergency barring order may be made ex parte and will remain in force for a period not exceeding eight working days (whether ex parte or on notice).

Where an emergency barring order has been made against a respondent, no further emergency barring order shall be made against the respondent on application by, or on behalf of, the same applicant unless a period of at least one month has elapsed since the expiration of the last day of the period specified in the first-mentioned order, unless the court is satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances that justify the making of a further order.

Changes to orders

Safety orders – the requirement for a couple to be living together in an intimate relationship has been removed (and, consequently, a protection order). Now, under the 2018 act, the parties simply have to have been in an intimate relationship at the time of the application, with no reference to living together – section 6(1)(a)(iii).

Barring orders – the requirement for a couple to have been living together six out of the previous nine months in an intimate relationship has been removed as one of the prerequisites to an application for a barring order (and, consequently, an interim barring order).

Now the parties must have simply lived together in an intimate relationship prior to the application, with no reference to a minimum time period – section 7(1)(c).

There is now additional relief prohibiting following or communicating with the applicant or dependant. In addition to the usual reliefs granted for barring, safety, interim barring, and protection orders (and the new emergency barring order), the court can now, as part of these orders, prohibit the respondent from “following or communicating (including by electronic means) with the applicant or the dependent person”.

Any information sworn as part of an application for an interim barring order must now state whether the property from which it is sought to bar the respondent on an interim basis is also a place of business of the respondent, or includes or abuts a place of business of the respondent.

The formalities in relation to providing a note of evidence, and the information or affidavit sworn in ex parte applications for interim barring orders, now apply in an equivalent manner as applicable to ex parte applications for protection orders – section 10(9).

Voice of the child

The court may seek the views of children where a safety or barring order is sought on behalf of a child. The court may appoint an expert to assist it in ascertaining the views of the child (section 27).

Special sitting of the District Court

A member of the Garda Síochána not below the rank of sergeant may request the Courts Service to arrange (a) a special sitting of the District Court to facilitate the making and determination of an application for an interim barring order, an emergency barring order, or a protection order, and (b) an application for a safety order or a barring order where necessary to facilitate the making of interim barring orders, emergency barring orders, or protection orders (see section 24).

Coercive control

Section 39 defines the new criminal offence of coercive control as knowingly and persistently engaging in behaviour that is controlling or coercive, that has a serious effect on a spouse or a person who is, or was, in an intimate relationship with the alleged offender, and that a reasonable person would consider likely to have a serious effect on a relevant person.

The penalty on summary conviction is a Class A fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or both, while the maximum tariff on conviction on indictment is a fine or imprisonment for up to five years, or both.

Other changes

  • An offence of forced marriage (section 38).
  • A protection against cross-examination conducted in person by the applicant or respondent of the other party or a dependant (section 16).
  • The court can direct that an order be served personally by a member of An Garda Síochána (section 18).
  • Applicants for domestic violence orders and those alleging breach of orders may give evidence by live television link, both in civil cases and in criminal cases, for breaches of orders with the leave of the court. Those under 18 may give evidence in this manner unless the court sees good reason to the contrary (section 25).
  • The applicant can be accompanied to court by a person of his or her choosing to provide support during a civil hearing (section 26).
  • The court can recommend, when making an order under the act, that the respondent engage with services, such as programmes aimed at perpetrators of domestic violence, addiction or counselling services. The court may also consider, when hearing the application in question, the engagement of the respondent with any such programme or service, and may also consider the applicant’s view of the effect of such engagement on the respondent (section 29).
  • Where a violent or sexual offence is committed by a person against his or her spouse, civil partner or person with whom he or she is in an intimate relationship, that fact shall be an aggravating factor at sentencing (section 40).
  • Marriage exemptions permitting those under 18 to marry have been repealed (section 45(1)).
  • Transitional and continuation arrangements have been put in place to ensure a smooth transition.

The changes in the act will, first of all, strengthen the rights for victims of domestic violence and will, secondly, assist in enabling Ireland to ratify the Council of Europe convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the Istanbul Convention).