As a practising lawyer in Pakistan, the phenomenon of gaslighting has become an everyday observation. But, unfortunately, we are often oblivious to our oblivion. Gaslighting is a form of psychological or emotional abuse. It is a series of manipulative strategies designed to gain control of another person. It is done by blatantly and repeatedly lying or challenging the reality of the victim. Gaslighters make their victims question themselves in a way that causes curiosity or suspicion. It is done through a persistent denial by the manipulator, which invalidates reality. Invalidation distorts or undermines the victim’s perception of the world and can even lead them to question their sanity. First of all, it is not coming from a place of love, goodwill, constructive feedback, or to help you. Gaslighters sense vulnerabilities in a person. They specifically target people who are grieving a loss or who feel inadequate or isolated. Such secret manipulation tactics make someone believe, act, or think something they otherwise would not have. It is happening without their knowledge. It also implies that whatever a person is manipulated into is not in their self-interest. Manipulation tactics contribute to the gaslighting effect, which is a consequence of emotional immaturity and power imbalances. Yes, gaslighting is a manipulation tactic. By nature of what manipulation is, it has to be exercised as a part of every manipulation attempt performed. You obviously cannot manipulate while being honest and forthcoming. Hence, don’t confuse manipulation with a healthy argument, persuasion principles, and the likes. It is safe to say that gaslighting exposes the longstanding historical and socio-cultural association of feminine traits with irrationality. This, unfortunately, has historically perpetuated gender inequality across various levels. It has inadvertently shaped our social realities at a collective level dictating our social interactions. Gaslight does not come from a place of love, goodwill, constructive feedback, or to help you. It is imperative to be mystified the hidden ways in which gaslighting alters the victim’s sense of reality. Thus, it amplifies the power and secures domination by associating competitors with the “feminised irrationality.” This explains why politicians in Pakistan mock their opponents with feminine remarks, assuming it is an insult, highlighting their gender-biased political discourses. This political is climate heavily influenced by gender biases while operating with gaslighting techniques also has a trickle-down effect. I have routinely encountered similar dynamics, which I would refer to as “domestic gaslighting.” We very well know that our legal systems conceptualise domestic and intimate violence well-understood in physical, verbal, and financial form. In my professional experience, I have come across numerous gaslighting stories narrated by women. What concerns me is that the relationship is power-unequal and takes place in a steeply hierarchical setting furthering its off-the-radar position. The invisibility of this form of abuse makes it especially damaging; cutting victims off from legal institutions’ structural protections. This raises the question of whether legal systems are “safe” for victims of gaslighting? I will give an example of a hypothetical case of Shazia. She’s a 30-year-old woman fighting a legal matter of child custody. Her husband alleged she was “crazy.” She was incapable of providing a legitimate counter-argument. This jeopardised her chance of acquiring legal custody of her child. Throughout the litigation, these acquisitions affected Shazia’s desire to stand up for herself as she began questioning her “mental state.” It reminded her of a frame of her character constructed as mentally unstable, which her husband had often reinforced during private arguments. Her husband relentlessly attacked her sanity during divorce and child custody proceedings; even producing her mental health records without her consent. He kept insisting that he could not trust her with children. These manipulative efforts robbed Shazia of her strength so that she could not identify what was real anymore. Unfortunately, Shazia’s case highlights how such gaslighting strategies influence a woman’s existing social vulnerabilities; reinforcing her supposed failings as a mother. This later became her husbands’ weapons to make her seem “unreliable.” Legal patterns and systems fail to address (at times, even reinforce) psychological abuse that falls along patriarchal and cultural constituencies. Although not a straightforward undertaking, we must continue recognising this challenge as lawyers. While domestic violence has been the focus of debate lately, the role of organised and structural factors in promoting gaslighting and gender disparities in seeking justice has become more relevant to legal settings. Women in Law: Women lawyers should promote gender and power neutrality by adapting buffer mechanisms while planning and conducting legal work, attending board meetings, or Bar room chats. There will be instances where we need to move one step forward from adapting buffer mechanisms to a more direct intervening approach, especially when witnessing such incidents. A meaningful step by women lawyers must be as active change agents. Women Lawyers Association coming together systematically and collaboratively by being each others’ voice are a much-needed ray of hope. They should continue to call out the phenomena of gaslighting, as and whenever they see it. The writer is an Associate Partner at a law firm in Islamabad.