Gas Lighting : The silent Killer

Rokshana Talukdar:

Think about a newly married couple. When the marriage took place, first few months are normal happy time, everything goes smoothly for the new couple but gradually after few months between husband and wife, one partner (most of the time Husband in our country’s context specially) suddenly become more dominant and  controlling the full A to Z life of the other partner (The victim), pointing fingers to the victim such an extent as if, she needs mental treatment, making her feel mentally sick, describing wrongly in front of other people, belittling her in every way inside and outside of the home even when she is showing concrete evidence, punishing her for her bold but right steps, do not let her socialize with others in community, regularly follow-up the online activities too of the victim so that she fails to develop intimacy with others and get a relief from the frustrating situation, plus no one will get a clue that what is happening in her life, manipulate while taking any decision, even decide when the victim will be able to meet with her own family members and for how long. As the dominant partner continue this kind of behavior for a quite long time, gradually the victim starts to think maybe she is just a good-for-nothing type thing instead of him and maybe truly she is losing her sanity. As this kind of situation is hard to explain to others, this technique is used by most of the people who want to dominate others in a wrong way. This kind of maltreatment has a name and this kind of maltreatment is known as ‘Gas Lighting’. Sometimes, the situation becomes so critical that, this dominant person involves his family members also to get back up support for the whole situation keep under control.

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Yes, I am talking about one type of violence which is known as ‘Gas Lighting’. Everyone needs to understand, point out and need to take active action to stop this kind of maltreatment as domestic violence on females is one of the burning issues in our country. Most of the time, we show our sympathy towards those victims who are physically tortured and harassed by their so-called family members. But mental torture and verbally abuse can also make a person’s life totally jeopardized, though we deny or ignore this most of the time.

A playwriter Patrick Hamilton first introduced the term ‘Gas Lighting’ in his play and it is not hard to found the successful use of this maltreatment in the houses of our country. It’s a kind of secret virus of our society which can destroy the self-confidence and self-esteem of the victim where the oppressor, the gas lighter takes the opportunity of this type of situation to present himself a naïve, good-hearted, jolly person in front of the whole world. But sadly, the reality is different as the very person play the role of the protagonist of the real-life horror movie of his own house.

As ‘Gas Lighting’ leads to severe mental effect and makes the victim traumatized for a quite long time, it is now high time to take few actions which can help us to minimize this type of illogical behavior of the gas lighter.  Firstly, mass awareness needs to create regarding this matter. Secondly, need to ensure that, a victim of gaslighting can get proper and timely help as soon as she reported to the proper authority. Thirdly, instead of ‘victim blaming’, everyone needs to find out the real truth. Fourthly, the government needs to make some law regarding verbal and mental abuse by clearly mentioning the punishment and the victim’s rehabilitation process. Fifthly, a psychologist, a doctor and a law enforcement person should be always there in a Rehabilitation Centre. Sixthly, need to raise voice against gas lighting. Seventhly, a victim needs to take an active step against the gas lighter, if possible then with few shreds of evidence. She needs to keep in mind that, she can survive only if she can bring the ugly face of the gas lighter in front of the society. Eighthly, as a person of the society, we also need to know about the well being of the person who is staying at our next door. Sometimes, neighbors and neighborhood people come in great help as our own blood relative most of the time stay far from us. Ninthly, besides governments different N.G.O.’s need to work with the rehab process of the victims of gas lighting.

It is a matter of regret that, women are not only victimized by ‘Gas Lighting’ at their home only but also in their job stations too. Here, in the work area, boss oppress the female employee in many ways, like,  by not approving leave which is actually rightfully deserved by the employee, keeping extra hour in the workstation and sometimes giving some works which are not suitable for the employee’s position and to demean her. To minimize this kind of harassment of ‘Gas Lighting’ in the workplace here also few steps need to follow:

Firstly, time duration should be mentioned clearly in the appointment letter. Secondly, extra hours should be taken as bonus hour. Thirdly, job responsibility of the employee should be clearly mentioned in the appointment letter. Fourthly, in-house inquiry needs to take place and the gas lighter needs to bear the consequence. Fifthly, labor law related groups which are formed by the labor lawyers need to form more to get help at the right time.

Networking is the biggest asset, whether it is an online network or face to face one. So, whatever problem one is facing now in the professional or personal life regarding ‘Gas Lighting’, it can get a ray of hope by making the society aware and hopefully the active and real good-hearted citizens will take part to demolish it from our society.

The writer is a professional Teacher and Teacher’s Trainer. Her passions include writing, reading, traveling and gardening.





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