Previously shunned from our vocabulary, the term ‘gaslighting’ went viral across social media as viewers debunked the male behaviour towards women on the hit show. According to Psychology Today, gaslighting is ‘a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality’.
Aside from ‘fanny flutters’ and Tommy Fury’s penchant for mayonnaise, two of the major talking points of Love Island 2019 were gaslighting and mental health.
“Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realise how much they’ve been brainwashed. For example, in the movie Gaslight (1944), a man manipulates his wife to the point where she thinks she is losing her mind,” they say.
It all started with Lucie Donlan in last year’s show. She refused to join the girl gang – had the audacity to be friends with the lads and had to be cautioned by her partner Joe, who told her: “I didn’t think you were ‘that’ kind of girl,” he said.
In fact, Women’s Aid considered the gaslighting so serious, they released a statement regarding Joe’s behaviour.
“Controlling behaviour is never acceptable, and with Love Island viewers complaining to Ofcom in record numbers about Joe’s possessive behaviour towards Lucie, more people are becoming aware of this and want to challenge it.
“Abusive relationships often start off with subtle signs of control, so it’s important that it is recognised at an early stage. Love Island viewers are now very vocal in calling out unhealthy behaviour between couples on the show, and this is a positive development,” read the statement.
Then there was Amber, labelled immediately as ‘tough’. Like a moth to a flame, Michael was drawn to her; professing to love her ‘straight talking’ attitude and ‘diva’ behaviour…until he didn’t. Suddenly he was ‘biting his tongue’ and uncomfortable with the fact that Amber’s fieriness was – spoiler alert – fiery. He then brutally dumped her – re-coupling with the comparatively less difficult Joanna. This shock re-coupling was – however – not Michael’s fault at all and he went on to turn the whole ordeal around on Amber.
A similar fate befell Amy – whose frayed nerves were too much for Curtis, so he swiftly called things quits.
Likewise, mental health and aftercare were paramount after two of the shows previous contestants tragically took their own lives and several contestants (including Amy Hart) spoke openly about mental health. The production team work tirelessly to ensure the cast have incredible aftercare and access to therapists during and after the show.
So will this year’s batch of male contestants be mindful of their behaviour towards women and equipped with ways to keep their mental health in check? Now that the cast has been announced, GLAMOUR was keen to find out so grilled the boys direct from the villa in South Africa. Here’s what they had to say about their views on gaslighting, how they’ll aim to treat the female contestants in the villa and all things mental health…
On using fitness to keep on top of mental health
Ollie Williams, 23 from Cornwall, heir to the lanhydrock estate / land owner, has played rugby and was actually due to join the army via Sandhurst before an injury forced him to drop out. He credits his wellness regime with keeping his mental health in check. “I’m in the gym every day, which helps, but I’ve never really struggled with any mental health problems,” he told GLAMOUR. “The welfare so far I’ve been given has been brilliant. They’ve been fantastic.”
On how their previous careers and family values taught them to keep their mental health in check and treat women right
Mike Boateng, 24, from London, worked as a first response officer before entering the villa and is convinced his role has given him a wealth of experience when it comes to relationship therapy. “I haven’t saved anyone’s life but I like to think I’ve saved a lot of relationships,” he said of his career. “You’d be surprised, but we’re basically like marriage counsellors. We go into people’s houses and I tell people how to run their lives, which is weird, because I’ll go in and they’ve been married for 25 years and I will be there like, ‘you shouldn’t be doing that, you should show her more respect, look at the kids’. It’s literally just managing people.” He also maintains that his experience with the police will lead him to become the natural ‘carer’ figure in the villa, saying: “I think it will just happen naturally to be honest, because that’s kind of what I do on a day-to-day-basis. If people need that person to talk to, they come to me and I’ll give them as much back as I can.”
Meanwhile, Ollie credits his parents for instilling a ‘stick and stones’ mentality, explaining: “I’m thick skinned. I grew up with a sticks and stones mentality with my parents. People used to call me names quite a lot, but I’m pretty thick skinned. You can see a horrible message straight away and you just don’t read it. I don’t really comment on it, I just crack on.”
Likewise, Nas has established ‘three key pillars’ in his life, which he says keeps his life on track, mental health in check and attitudes towards women ‘respectful’.
“I’ve always prioritised education, football and my family. Those have always been the three main pillars in my life. Up until now, girls have come second fiddle to that so if I had football training, I would choose that. Or if there was something major with my family, nothing would get in the way of education as that’s the kind of thing that will stay with you forever. Now I’ve got my First, I should concentrate on girls.”
“There’s a side to me that’s very professional, serious, good with advice, very caring and considerate. I feel like I am very empathetic and well-rounded. At the forefront of my mind, my mom will be watching.”
On using meditation in the villa to keep mental health in check
Mike told us: “I meditate, which is something not a lot of people know. I meditate in my spare time, and I’ve got a really close family so I speak to them. They [the police] give us quite a lot of downtime if you are feeling a bit pressured and stuff like that, so I’ve got a lot of mechanisms to deal with my mental health.” He’s even promised he’ll lead group meditations in the villa to help his co-stars.