When Princess Love first exposed Ray J for abandoning her and their daughter in Las Vegas following Sunday night’s Soul Train Awards, the general public was skeptical of the soon-to-be mom of two’s claims. She was slammed for publicizing family business and accused of being a drama queen. Some speculated that the perceived outburst was the result of Princess being angry that Ray had to leave to work — likely based on their limited storyline on this season of “Love & Hip Hop Hollywood.” No one actually wanted to believe that Brandy’s brother would be callous and calculating enough to abruptly leave his heavily pregnant wife alone in another state with their toddler — let alone block her from contacting him — while simultaneously promoting this wholesome family-man image on Instagram, so it was easier to blame Princess. And then, Ray opened his mouth and the truth was made evident.
In a minute-long Instagram video, the 38-year-old actor pulled out all stops. He implied that he never left the hotel. He suggested that Princess was in the next room. He apologized for vague reasons. He blamed the devil. He threw around the word “crazy.” And he seemed to switch back and forth between addressing us, the public, and speaking directly to his wife. His tone was disingenuous. His words reeked of emotional manipulation. And, even more troubling, he appeared to be gaslighting his pregnant wife for all the world to see.
Regardless of his actual whereabouts — whether he left Vegas or not — he successfully convinced Princess that he had left, then turned around and tried to convince all of us that none of those things had actually happened and Princess was behaving erratically.
Gaslighting by definition is a form of emotional and psychological manipulation in which a person causes their victim to question their reality and perception in an attempt to plant seeds of uncertainty and gain control in a situation. In its simplest form, the gaslighter will commit a hurtful act against their victim and then resort to downplaying the incident by trying to convince said victim that the transgression never happened or by trying to make them believe that they are overreacting. It is considered to be one of the most harmful forms of emotional abuse because of its snowball effect. Over time, being subject to this form of emotional violence can severely prohibit one’s ability to make sound decisions. In this case, Ray seemed to be trying to salvage his beloved family man image while simultaneously trying to convince us that his pregnant wife was mentally or emotionally unstable.
“It is always dangerous,” Robin Stern, PhD, Associate Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence told NBC News. “The danger of letting go of your reality is pretty extreme.”
What’s even more disturbing is the reason behind the fall-out. Following Ray’s video explanation, Princess came forward with a video of her own, not only revealing that he recently got caught cheating again by way of a secret phone (a conversation for another day), but explaining the source of contention behind their Vegas fight was a disagreement about relocating. Apparently, the Raycon founder was looking to relocate and Princess had firmly stated that she had little interest in raising their children in Sin City.
“He asked me to move to Vegas, ” she explained. “And I’m like, no, I don’t want to move to Vegas. And so he’s like…well can you at least consider it? I’m like, no I don’t want to move to Vegas. I’m not even considering it. This is not the place to have kids, this is not the place to raise your kids, and I just don’t like it here.”
From there, Ray stormed out and did not return until the next day — something Princess said surprised her because it wasn’t really a major argument. Again, a subtle and manipulative attempt to gain control. And what’s most unfortunate is that he is doing so during a time when his wife is the most vulnerable: the third trimester of pregnancy. The desired outcome of all of this would likely have been Princess falling in line and agreeing to move since that’s typically what happens in these instances.
“Many people [in this case the targets of gaslighting] change their perceptions in order to avoid having a conflict,” said Darelene Lancer, marriage and family therapist.
But in this case, Princess still appears to be standing her ground. In fact, she’s considering divorce, so it seems that this attempt at establishing control has backfired.
One thing to note is that gaslighting is not always done intentionally. Not every gaslighter is an evil genius who is trying to mentally break their loved ones, some are just people who have learned to throw their weight around to get what they want. However, whether the manipulation is done consciously or subconsciously, it doesn’t make it any less damaging. Ray may not have malicious intent. In fact, I suspect that a lack of maturity could be at the root of all of this. However, gaslighting is still highly problematic behavior that can only be put to an end when the gaslighter is ready to take full accountability for their actions and manipulation. Hopefully, Ray gets his act together before it’s too late.