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How to address gaslighting in divorce

You may have finally had enough of your spouse’s verbal and emotional abuse. You are tired of always feeling like you are a problem and the reason your spouse isn’t happy. You’ve finally decided to leave and file for divorce.

Yet you know your spouse won’t react well. In fact, you’re concerned your spouse will gaslight you during your divorce. Gaslighting is one tactic emotional abusers and narcissists use to gain control, to lie and convince you that you are wrong or imagining things. Your spouse’s goal may be to gaslight you enough to erode your self-esteem and self-worth, making you just want to finish your divorce quickly instead of fighting to get the assets you deserve.

You can help avoid letting your spouse gaslight you during your divorce in the following ways:

  1. Don’t tell your spouse you plan to file for divorce until you absolutely have to. Your spouse may try to manipulate you to put off filing for divorce or harm you if he or she knows you want a divorce.
  2. Hire a strong divorce attorney. You want to work with an attorney who understands how to deal with an adversarial spouse or a spouse with personality disorders. You also want someone who is dedicated to advocating for your best interests in the divorce.
  3. Open up to your friends and family about what’s going on, to see what their observations are regarding your spouse’s behavior.
  4. Get support from a trusted counselor or mental health professional. You may need to lean on someone else to help you process your emotions and avoid being gaslighted in your divorce.
  5. Seek a restraining order if you feel your spouse may want to harm you physically because of the divorce.
  6. Ask those who have witnessed your spouse emotionally or verbally abuse you to testify for you in your divorce.
  7. Keep a record of when and how your spouse belittles you or tries to confuse you to show their gaslighting efforts.

Divorcing a verbal and emotional abuser who is gaslighting you isn’t easy. But escaping a toxic relationship ultimately will put you on a path to healing and reestablishing your self-esteem and confidence.


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