Divorcing a gaslighter is a complex process but breaking away from the abusive marriage is possible. Gaslighting is one of the most dangerous types of emotional abuse that can ruin relationships.
Because the damage can be subtle but can have a snowball effect, it will take a long time for the other partner to realize what has been happening to them and get to the point of getting a divorce.
In this post, we will guide you on how to handle your gaslighting husband and get out of the difficult situation
Why Is Divorcing a Gaslighter Tough?
When one spouse has been repeatedly gaslighted by the other, they reach a point where they feel anxious, lost, and fearful of separating from the gaslighter.
The abused start to question their own behavior and believe they are the ones causing problems. So, finding the courage to end the relationship becomes tougher. Instead, they start improving themselves.
They experience strong negative thoughts and emotions about themselves and keep falling into the abuser’s traps. Gaslighter can often manipulate them into believing divorce isn’t going to help them and will only make the situation worse.
When the spouse is no longer capable of controlling what’s happening, they start attacking their partner again in multiple ways to trick them into believing that their decision to get a divorce is wrong.
Gaslighters are excellent liars and manipulators, and their goal is to destabilize the partner so they can no longer operate on their own. They shatter their confidence and self-esteem. At times also makes other people around them believe their partner is unable to take care of himself/herself and their children.
– Gaslighting Behaviors
Some common gaslighting behaviors seen among couples are when the gaslighter:
- Denies saying or doing things they said or did
- Ignores your emotions
- Calls you emotional
- Criticizes your behavior
- Isn’t ready to have a proper discussion
- Changes the topic of discussion quickly when questioned about their behavior
- Jokes or ridicules you, your body, emotions or something that is important to you
- Discredits you in front of others
- Questions your memory
What Is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a term very often used on social media to refer to a person ‘manipulating a person psychologically to the point where they doubt their own sanity. The gaslighter is an extremely convincing liar who can not only convince but control the spouse by twisting their sense of reality.
The term Gaslighter originated from the movie ‘Gaslight’ where the character gaslights his wife into believing that she’s imagining the changes that were actually created by the character. The term is used in literature, politics, clinical psychology, and research, and enormously on social media.
How To Defend Yourself Against a Gaslighter
To defend yourself when you are being gaslighted, the first step is to recognize the gaslighting behavior. Once you identify the tactics used by the gaslighter, you should address them. For instance, if the gaslighting partner says that you are being sensitive when you are trying to explain their harsh behavior towards you, become assertive.
Do not alter your stance or doubt yourself when you know that it was your spouse who was abusive or manipulative towards you. Take a firm stance and do not fall for their lies. If you are mentally disturbed by your husband gaslighting divorce might be your last resort.
– Avoid Discussing Your Next Steps
If you haven’t yet filed for a divorce, do not talk about it to the gaslighting partner. Get some help from your therapist on how to deal with gaslighting spouse temporarily. This is because not only will this enrage them but also put you at risk of physical harm. Their manipulation can make you change your decision and they might mentally push you to trust them one last time.
The gaslighter knows how to take away your ability to make a sound decision, you cannot risk losing your courage again, once you are all set to initiate the divorce. There have also been instances when gaslighters started selling their property or valuables or made finances tougher for their partners before divorce to prove they shouldn’t separate because the abused partner needs them.
There are several stages of divorcing a narcissist and it is necessary to stay strong at each stage until you get a divorce.
If the gaslighter finds out about your plans and you feel you and your family are in immediate danger, you shouldn’t wait. Contact the authorities right away and report your partner’s behavior.
– Find an Attorney Experienced in Dealing With Similar Cases
There are family law attorneys who are well versed in dealing with cases where the emotional abuser puts on a façade to prove that the abused partner was the one responsible for their marriage falling apart.
In such situations, the gaslighter can also trick the court and lawyers into believing that the other partner has mental health problems and is incapable of taking care of their children so they shouldn’t get child custody.
To find the right family law attorney, do proper research by reading online reviews. Contact friends or family members who went through a problematic divorce or abusive relationship for lawyer recommendations.
But make sure that the gaslighter does not find out. If you are still living together, after using your shared computer, delete the browser’s history. Go out to take calls or avoid calls related to separation and divorce in the presence of your partner.
Only speak about it to your psychotherapist, family, and friends that you trust, and keep it as private as possible. Narcissists and/or gaslighters who are capable of manipulating others, do not give up easily.
Their inner desire to control you and others around them kicks in and they cook up plans to manipulate everyone around them into believing that their partner is the one who is at fault.
– Make a List of Their Abuse Attempts
Making a list of instances when you were mentally or physically abused is important to make sure that you don’t forget them. Try to remember the dates and times when it happened and write it down with as many details as possible. Show this list to your attorney to change the language or words if needed.
Try to think if there is a way you can prove that an incident occurred? Mentioning such incidents in courts will help you convince them that your partner’s behavior has been hurtful.
– Aggressively Seek Restraining Orders
Oftentimes, the partner of a gaslighter is too drained to take the necessary steps that secure herself and her family. When things are not going the gaslighter’s way, because you are divorcing them, they can also resort to physical abuse. They might also show up where you are staying and throw a tantrum, hurting you and your children emotionally.
– Restraining Orders for Divorcing a Gaslighter
Filing for temporary restraining orders will keep away the abusive gaslighting husband, a divorce lawyer can help you get a temporary court order for that.
Do not attend the gaslighting ex husband or wife’s calls or communicate with them at all. Shut down all sources of communication.
If you have trouble ignoring them, seek help from a therapist or a loved one.
Your attorney might be able to seek orders against your partner for saying such things about you to the kids. By giving the husband gaslighting examples in court, they can convince the court, that you and your children need protection.
You can also limit interactions with the abusive ex by agreeing to use websites such as family wizard for child support and other matters. This way your conversations will be recorded and monitored so they’ll avoid emotionally blackmailing you.
– Ask Friends and Family To Be Your Witnesses
Gaslighting spouses are exceptional liars and in some cases even convince everyone in the courtroom. Or get away by making them believe that it was all unintentional gaslighting husband or wife can come up with several such excuses.
So, if you are wondering how to prove gaslighting in court, get help from people who have witnessed their gaslighting behavior. If the gaslighting has been going on for a while, your family and friends must have also noticed such events. Ask them to become your witnesses in court. Share such incidents with your lawyer and therapist.
If your friends or family members have seen your spouse being abusive towards you, ask them to be your witness in court. Share this information with your divorce attorney and therapist.
Evidence and witnesses can be very helpful to prove gaslighting turning the tables on your partner. Especially if the gaslighter has convinced everyone that you are not mentally sound to remember events, your witnesses can be of great help to prove the abusive partner wrong in court.
Some important tips discussed in this article for divorcing a gaslighter are:
- Keep your plans to yourself and people you can trust such as loved ones, your psychotherapist, and your lawyer.
- Find the most experienced and strong attorney that has represented people like you in court before.
- List the instances when you were abused and let your attorney know.
- Do not hesitate to seek restraining orders against your partner.
- Call the police immediately if you or your children are in danger.
Breaking free from abusive marriages can be tough. The process will be exhausting and you might even want to give up, remember that nothing is more important than your emotional health and your children’s.