Survivors of domestic violence & abuse often talk about the threats, intimidation and constant mind games as psychological abuse.

Threats to harm you, themselves, children or pets, are very common. Threats to take the children away or kidnap the children, blaming you for the abuse "You made me do it because...", erratic and unpredictable behaviour, are all part of psychological abuse.

Psychological abuse can be very obvious, or it can be very subtle like gaslighting. Gaslighting is where you are made to think that what you saw, or remember, or heard, was wrong. The word 'gaslighting' comes from an extraordinary 1940s film, Gaslight, where the abusive husband (played by Charles Boyer) made his wife (played by Ingrid Bergman) think she was going mad - and she finally did as a result of the abuse.

A more recent example of gaslighting from a popular soap opera was the Radio 4 Archers domestic abuse storyline, where as part of the abuse and coercive control Rob made Helen feel she was going mad. This storyline, excellently and sensitively portrayed, with advisors Women's Aid, was responsible for an upsurge in women coming forward to seek help, across the country.

Psychological abuse is sometimes harder to recover from than, say, physical abuse. The effects of psychological abuse can go very deep leading to, amongst other things, low self-esteem, lack of confidence, fear and lack of trust. At JWA we offer up to two years' free counselling to our clients, to help them in rebuilding their lives and their sense of self.