In stage one, the victim is not overly attached to the abuser and is generally I disbelief. They fight constantly, but each partner knows the relationship could end any moment. The victim essentially feels free and knows that this reality is not theirs. There is a feeling of entrapment, yet each person knows it doesn’t have to be permanent.
||Stage two occurs when stage one begins consuming the victim’s life. The victim is functional on a basic level, but almost every thought is penetrated by the abuse. The victim is generally defensive and capable of fighting. The arguments between the two involved become repetitive, time consuming, and energy draining. The victim is not permanently trapped, but they are on the path to stage three if actions are not taken to prevent the abuse.
||Stage three is when the gaslighting has become a permanent part of the relationship. The abuser has effectively subjected its victim to gaslighting, and everything goes their way. The victim is so depressed and scared that they will take whatever punishment the abuser has in mind without arguing (Stern, 2007). This is the most dangerous stage as the victim’s fate lies in the hands of the abuser. The abuser is so powerful that the victim feels trapped and may even commit suicide to escape. In stage three, intervention is essential in stopping the abusive behaviors.