Twitter users have accused comedian Seann Walsh for gaslighting his now ex-girlfriend after calling her a “psycho” and “mental".
Announcing the end of her five-year relationship with the Strictly Come Dancing star, actor Rebecca Humphries shared an open letter on Twitter after pictures emerged of Walsh kissing his married on-screen partner, Katya Jones.
In the tweet, Humphries revealed that the kiss took place on her birthday on 3 October, as she sat home alone while Walsh went for an “innocent drink” with Jones.
Upset with his behaviour, the actor revealed that she told her then-boyfriend his actions were leading her to believe that something inappropriate was going on.
But, instead of comforting her or admitting his mistakes, Walsh branded the actor a “psycho".
“He aggressively, and repeatedly, called me a psycho/nuts/mental,” Humphries wrote.
“As he has done countless times throughout our relationship when I’ve questioned his inappropriate, hurtful behaviour."
The tweet has since received more than 52,000 likes and 3,000 comments; many of which have criticised Walsh of gaslighting.
“For those of you confused by the term 'Gaslighting', here is an example of a shameful attempt at it,” one person wrote.
Another added: “He made her out to be crazy, when she was actually correct. Gaslighting is mental abuse, manipulative behaviour needs to be exposed – for Rebecca’s sanity & other women in the same situation.”
A third said: “The disturbing bit isn’t the (brazen) cheating. It’s the hints at a history of gaslighting/coercive control. Calling his gf a psycho on her birthday for accurately identifying that they were cheating = s***ty.”
So, what exactly is gaslighting?
Mainly used as a power tactic, gaslighting is a form of manipulation in which victims are targeted in way that makes them doubt themselves and even their own sanity.
The term originated from the 1938 play, and 1944 film adaptation, Gaslight, in which the protagonist’s husband slowly manipulated her into believing she’s going mad.
In terms of relationships, romantic or otherwise, gaslighting could involve the abuser pretending to misunderstand their victim, or questioning how they remember events.
They then dismiss the victim's valid worries as “crazy” or “sensitive” until the person is confused and vulnerable. The goal here is to make the victim undermine their own judgement, reduce their self-esteem and make them dependent on the abuser for longer.
Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of domestic violence charity Refuge previously told The Independent: “It is the kind of mental torment used so successfully by torturers and terrorists who know that they can keep their prisoners compliant by frightening them and disorientating them with rapidly changing moods and situations.
“The more a person is filled with doubt, the easier it is to control them. Emotional abuse is an attack on your personality rather than your body, and it can be just as harmful as physical abuse,” she added.
In response to Humphries' statement, a number of women also shared their experiences with gaslighting on social media.
“Been there. I was 'psycho' and 'nuts' too. All the while the wool was pulled well over my eyes,” one person explained.
Another added: “Well done! So brave to walk away. I married a cheat, only for him to do it to me again three months after we said ‘i do’. I quickly said goodbye and started again. Six years later, I’m still single – but never been happier.”
If you think you may be experiencing domestic violence visit refuge.org.uk for support and information or call the 24-Hour Freephone National Domestic Violence Helpline, run by Refuge and Women’s Aid, on 0808 2000 247
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