Navigating Gaslighting in a Divorce
What is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting is psychological manipulation that makes someone doubt their own sanity by denying reality, trivializing their feelings, and providing false information. This is typically achieved through a series of deceptive tactics, including denying the reality of events, trivializing the other person’s feelings and experiences, and often presenting false information with the intent of causing the victim to question their own judgment and reality.
Understanding Gaslighting in Divorce
Gaslighting in the context of divorce refers to manipulative tactics employed by one spouse to distort the other’s reality and maintain control over the situation. This insidious form of emotional abuse can leave the victim feeling confused, anxious, and unsure of their own judgment. Recognizing the signs of gaslighting is the first step toward mitigating its impact on the divorce process.
Legal and Emotional Strategies for Dealing with a Gaslighter during a Divorce
- Maintain Confidentiality: If you’re contemplating divorce and suspect your spouse is gaslighting you, it’s crucial to keep your plans confidential until you’re prepared to take action. Gaslighters can escalate their behavior if they perceive a threat to their control. Safety should always be a top priority.
- File for Divorce Discreetly: Your attorney can help you create, file, and serve your divorce petition. They can also assist in gathering the documents and evidence you need to avoid your spouse discovering and potentially destroying these items to prevent their use.
- Secure Professional Support: Seek legal counsel from an attorney experienced in handling adversarial spouses with personality disorders. Additionally, consider involving a therapist or counselor who can provide emotional support and coping strategies throughout the divorce process.
- Legal Protection: If you are facing emotional or physical abuse from your spouse, consult your attorney about obtaining restraining orders, including Orders of Protection. These legal measures can ensure your safety during the divorce proceedings. You can also call the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE(7233) or chat with them online.
- Document Gaslighting Incidents: Maintain a meticulous record of all instances of gaslighting and emotional abuse. This documentation should include when the behavior began, specific incidents, and how it has evolved over time. These records can be invaluable when presenting your case in court.
- Gather Witnesses and Evidence: Identify individuals in your life who can corroborate your experiences of gaslighting. Share the records of gaslighting incidents with your attorney and therapist. Witness testimony and evidence can strengthen your case.
- Maintain Emotional Resilience: Recognize that dealing with a gaslighter in a divorce can take a toll on your emotional well-being. Seek support from friends, family, and therapists who can provide a stable and nurturing environment.
- Stay Grounded in Reality: Gaslighters thrive on creating doubt and confusion. Trust your own perceptions and instincts, and resist the urge to second-guess yourself based on their manipulations.
- Seek Professional Help: Consider therapy or counseling with a qualified therapist who specializes in emotional abuse and manipulation. They can help you recognize the signs of gaslighting, provide coping strategies, and support your journey to healing.
Navigating a divorce with a gaslighter is a formidable challenge, but not insurmountable. By combining legal strategies with emotional resilience, you can protect your interests and well-being during this trying time. Recognize the signs of gaslighting, secure professional support, and document incidents to build a strong case. Above all, prioritize your emotional health and seek the help you need to emerge from this ordeal stronger and wiser.
Rideout Law Group is prepared to handle divorce cases that involve gaslighting. Our attorneys can see through the gaslighting tactics to get to the heart of the matter and advocate for you so that your best interests are protected.
Original Articles Credited:
- “5 Legal Tips to Prepare to Divorce a Gaslighter” by Reviewed by Ekua Hagan on August 5, 2020.
- “15 Signs of Gaslighting in Relationships and How to Deal With It” by Rachael Pace, Updated on July 25, 2022.