What is gaslighting, the behaviour Love Island contestant Adam has been accused of?

Love Island contestant Adam Collard has been accused of gaslighting by Women’s Aid [Photo: Rex]

Love Island contestant Adam Collard has been accused of “gaslighting and emotional abuse” by the charity Women’s Aid following his behaviour towards fellow contestant Rosie Williams.

In case you’re not watching (of course you’re watching!), earlier this week Adam was confronted by an upset Rosie, after she was ‘ditched’ for new arrival Zara McDermott.

When Rosie called Adam out for giving her the cold shoulder while he shamelessly flirted with Zara, Adam suggested his supposed change in behaviour was all in Rosie’s head.

“Classic Adam, using excuses, blaming me for his behaviour shall we say,” said Rosie. “He is not content with any girl. He always thinks he has the power and he always thinks he deserves better.”

While a tearful Rosie poured out her heart, Adam appeared to smirk before going on to question her interpretation of the events.

And it was this behaviour that prompted Women’s Aid to issue a statement warning about emotional abuse.

What is gaslighting?

According to the domestic abuse charity gaslighting “is a form of psychological abuse where the perpetrator manipulates their partner, can make victims doubt themselves, their memories and judgement, and it has a devastating impact on their mental health and wellbeing.”

The charity goes on to say that gaslighting “is an insidious form of abuse and is, by its very nature, sometimes difficult for victims to recognise.”

Speaking about Adam’s conduct on Love Island, Katie Ghose, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: “On the latest series of Love Island, there are clear warning signs in Adam’s behaviour. In a relationship, a partner questioning your memory of events, trivialising your thoughts or feelings, and turning things around to blame you can be part of pattern of gaslighting and emotional abuse.”

Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse [Photo: Rex]

Ghose also called on viewers to look out for unhealthy behaviour in relationships and speak out against all forms of domestic abuse, emotional and physical.

“Rosie called out Adam’s unacceptable behaviour on the show. We ask viewers to join her in recognising unhealthy behaviour in relationships and speaking out against all forms of domestic abuse – emotional as well as physical. It is only when we make a stand together against abuse in relationships that we will see attitudes change and an end to domestic abuse.”

Later Ghose joined TV presenters Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield on ‘This Morning’ to discuss the issue further.

While accepting that Love Island is an “artificial environment” Ghose also warned that if Adam’s actions were to happen repeatedly in real life they could be seen as a “form of emotional abuse”.

According to Women’s Aid though gaslighting is already a crime, covered under coercive control law, a lack of awareness about the subject has meant the statistics for conviction are incredibly low.

In 2016, only 57 men and 2 women were convicted for coercive control offences.

Interestingly, the term gaslighting can actually be traced back to a 1938 play, and the subsequent 1944 film adaptation of the play, “Gaslight.”

The film charts the relationship of Paula and Gregory, who manipulates his wife to make her feel as if she has gone mad.

It was a term bandied about during the US presidential election with some accusing Donald Trump of winning the election via gaslighting. 

Anyone experiencing abuse in a relationship are encouraged to call the Freephone 24/7 National Domestic Violence Helpline, run by Women’s Aid in partnership with Refuge, on 0808 2000 247 or visit www.womensaid.org.uk.

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