“Gaslighting generally works by making victims unable to trust their own perceptions and instincts, and they can become afraid to make decisions without help. Very often women’s menstrual cycles will be used to underpin gaslighting tactics: I found to my dismay that Rohan had started keeping a calendar on the wall in the kitchen with the predicted dates of Sada’s periods. ‘I agree with him, I’m unstable and weak,’ Sada wrote in her diary, ‘I think I’m going crazy. He knows when it’s my time of the month. I’m starting to dread it, I feel things getting on top of me and it’s not fair to him or anyone.’
Sada recognised that she was trapped in a toxic cycle with Rohan, where she was conflicted and distressed: she wrote a note to him in her secret diary, saying what she felt she could not say to his face:
Rohan you are so cruel and domineering. You always have to be right, I wish you wouldn’t talk to me like I am stupid. You don’t know what it’s like looking after a baby and how tired I get. You think you know everything and how I should act and how I should do things…I don’t want to upset you and break up our family. I’m trying so hard, I felt we used to be like a team, us against the world, but now I just feel so lonely. It’s over I’m leaving.
She then decided to tell him to his face how she felt:
‘He was so angry, it got really frightening. He said he’d had enough and he was leaving. He packed his bags, there was nothing I could say. I don’t see how our marriage is going to work after this. We are right at the end I think. He walked out, took his bags and he slammed the door. About half an hour after he just came back with a huge bunch of flowers, he was so upset. I could see tears in his eyes. I think it broke his heart.‘”
“Sad felt that Rohan was devastated by her strong stance, and forgot completely how distressed she had been. She felt guilty for ‘breaking him’. Rohan consolidated his transformation in suddenly proposing marriage to Sada. She was euphoric, and hope that things would change dominated her thinking; all thoughts of splitting up were gone. She started to plan the wedding. But there was a price to pay for the proposal, and the loyalty code was used to devastating effect: ‘He said, your mother and your sisters, they just hate me. It’ll spoil the say if they’re there. You know what they’re like, they’ll just say the wrong thing and they’ll just make me feel bad. It’s my day too and they will spoil it.’
It is not unusual for the victim’s family to be denigrated or undermined, so that the controlling person’s perspective and their values appear superior. ‘Rohan doesn’t want mum at the wedding,’ she wrote. ‘I don’t blame him because she doesn’t like him. I don’t want the day spoiled, not after he’s made such an effort. He said we’ll have a second wedding when we’ve got more money. This will just be a quick one, just to show he loves me and we’re a team together.’
Sada told her family in the kindest way that it was to be a very small wedding and there would be no guests; however there would be a second celebration later, which they would be invited to.
Of course this never happened. Rohan’s family attended the wedding, this sent a clear message to Sada’s family that Rohan was in charge, which pleased him greatly. Rohan had now effectively isolated Sada from anyone he had no control or influence over. He was now the single biggest presence in her life.
Rohan needed to assure himself that Sada was obeying his rules, even when he was not there. Sada told of constant texting and calling throughout the day; she said he was always calling to ‘check she was okay.’
Rohan rung again about 11 again checking I was ok, but he started getting all angry about the dishes. He says that he’s working all day and I’m sitting around being lazy. He says that it’s not fair and I should be trying harder to be a good mother and wife.
I saw a great buggy on gumtree. I arranged with the woman to go and pick it up after Rohan gets home. I started to panid, I should have asked him first. I got really worried thinking about what he’d say. I just cancelled the whole thing. I shouldn’t have just decided like that. When I told him about it, he said I should’ve just gone and got it, he wouldn’t have minded! I am so stupid.
Nothing in Sada’s diaries suggested she was doing anything challenging or hurtful, so she should never have had to fear the repercussions of making a decision to buy a second-hand pushchair. These are ordinary everyday behaviours that did not even break the jealousy or loyalty codes. But things had gone much further than that: Sada’s liberties and status had been eroded and he world was now much smaller
By this time Sada was controlling her own behaviour: Rohan did not even need to be there. Just the knowledge that he could be nasty and threatening meant she constantly tried to keep things calm. She wrote:
I feel miserable and upset all the time, I just seem to cry for no reason, and getting up is getting harder. I can’t tell Rohan – he thinks I’m just moaning. I sneaked a half-hour sleep on the sofa today, I hope he doesn’t find out. I saw the doctor and I told her I was scared of Rohan, but I begged her not put that in my records. I couldn’t have him finding out. I shouldn’t really have said anything.
Sada became pregnant again and lost financial and physical power. ‘I don’t like that midwife,’ Rohan would say. ‘She’s trying to tell you what to do. You don’t have to listen to her; she doesn’t know you like I do.’ He had little patience with the difficulties of pregnancy but simultaneously felt the benefits of Sada’s increasing vulnerability. It was all worth it, though, because now he had got a lifelong lever that would maintain his control forever. These were his babies.
Sada gave birth not long before Christmas and was dependent on Rohan to help her buy presents. She was asking, and then begging him, to take her to buy presents, and he kept letting her down. He left it to the very last minute to take her shopping, and then tightly controlled what she was allowed to spend. Sada was very distressed on Christmas Day, when she felt she had so little for her children. She said it nearly broke her:
I had hardly anything for Samar, I cried and cried. Mum and Dad came round on Christmas Day. I honestly didn’t know they were coming. He was so mad about it, he said I knew and I had hidden it from him. He wouldn’t come out of the bedroom, he just stayed there. I didn’t know what to do. I wished they would just go, there was going to be trouble, I just wanted it over with. I left Mum with the kids and I sat with him in the bedroom, just trying to keep things calm.
Rohan was also pressurising Sada to be involved in sexual behaviours she was uncomfortable with. ‘I don’t want to do what he likes…it got so bad I can’t bear him even to touch me now,’ she told her diary. ‘I never really like it before, it feels just wrong, especially after I had my baby. I told him but he pushed me to do it anyway. Now even talking about it feels disgusting.’ Sad describes things getting more menacing:
He was just sitting there on the sofa one day; he had no trousers on and he had a hard-on. He was just sitting there, he never said anything he just sat there like that not saying anything. I didn’t say anything either, I didn’t know what to do. I just hate him so much now…
Finally, Sada decided to just cut ties and leave Rohan, whatever the consequences. She packed all her bags. She piled them in the bedroom and told him of her plan to leave with the children the following morning.
Hours later Sada was dead in the bedroom, surrounded by her packed bags. The paramedics were told by Rohan that it was an accident. The cause of Sada’s death was never definitively established. The police have their suspicions; we worked together to explore the possibility of a prosecution, but gathering evidence was ultimately too difficult.”
I wonder who Rohan has trapped now?
#JaneMoncktonSmith #InControl #Gaslighting #CoerciveControl