IN a powerful open letter, the ex-girlfriend of Strictly love cheat Seann Walsh accused him of “gaslighting”.
And in one well—aimed blast, Rebecca Humphries has signposted the way out of misery for thousands of people in the same boat.
Rebecca told how her former man said she was crazy to doubt whether he was being faithful — while choosing her birthday to snog his dance partner Katya Jones. She wrote that he “aggressively, and repeatedly, called me a psycho/nuts/mental”.
And then added: “To any woman out there who deep down feels worthless and trapped with a man they love: Believe in yourself and your instincts. It’s more than lying. It’s controlling.”
Rebecca, you are my hero.
Let us be very clear: Gaslighting is abuse. You make a partner doubt their sanity while clawing your way to total control over their lives.
It is subtle at first — what relationship expert Dr Pam Spurr calls “the drip-drip of negativity” — but before long you start to question yourself (rather than them) about everything. You are left a shadow of who you were.
I know because I have been there. I dated a man who criticised everything about me: The way I looked, how close I was to my family, the way I came home late from work. Even my perfume annoyed him.
And he consistently told me I was stupid — but in a cool way so ditzy old me would not notice.
“You are the stupid-est clever person I know,” he would say.
After two years and with little confidence left, I finally started to call him out on his behaviour. When he called me stupid, I bit back. We started arguing all the time. But instead of apologising for upsetting me, he told me I was unstable.
“What happened to the girl I fell in love with?” he asked incredulously. During one row he told me I was too neurotic to have kids. The shocker is that I believed him. But I also realised just how damaging his behaviour was.
I dumped him and was stunned to learn my friends and family had had their doubts about him from the beginning. Why hadn’t I? But that is the thing about gas-lighting: The victim is usually the last to know.
Cast your mind back to Adam Collard and Rosie Williams on Love Island last summer. Rosie’s vulnerability and confusion over love rat Adam was almost too difficult to watch. He smirked as she wept over his flirting with other girls — then had the front to call her “crazy” and “insecure”.
Fans howled with fury online, and domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid called his behaviour “abusive”. Yet Adam implied it was all just an inevitable part of the dating game. To him, Rosie was collateral damage.
And that is the scariest thing about gaslighters. They are controlling narcissists who only care about their own happiness.
Just look at Donald Trump. The US President chose a rally in Mississippi to mock Christine Blasey Ford after her accusations of sexual assault against Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
People like him make their victims feel stupid, call them over-emotional and take advantage of their willingness to please.
I have had countless mates suffer this kind of behaviour. A friend of mine met a guy who was cagey about his private life from the start. When she confronted him, he would just say: “You’re reading too much into it. Don’t be so needy.”
Months later, she found out he had another girlfriend all along when she spotted Instagram snaps of them on holiday. Another of my mates dated a guy who would goad her into arguments.
She told me: “He’d wind me up, make comments he knew would upset me. When, eventually, I’d get angry, he’d immediately retreat and turn it round, saying ‘Why are you always arguing with me?’. I started to believe him, that I was the bad one.” But the power is slowly being wrenched out of these weak lunatics’ hands.
I know one girl whose boyfriend called her a “psycho” for suspecting he was still seeing his ex. She contacted the girl on Facebook. They both realised they had been duped and both dumped him.
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And now thanks to this open letter from Rebecca, hopefully hundreds of women will realise there is a name for what they are going through and that they are not the problem.
Rebecca wrote: “This whole business has served to remind that I am a strong, capable person who is now free; and no victim.” Amen.
Gaslighters, your time is up. Here’s hoping every manipulated woman in Britain reads Rebecca’s clear-eyed post and comes to the same conclusion: I’m not crazy. He’s just an a***hole.