Gaslighting and Divorce – Recognizing the Signs

Gaslighting and Divorce – Recognizing the SignsIt can be difficult being married to a narcissist. It can be even more difficult to divorce one. If you are married to a person with a personality disorder and are about to get divorced, it is important to plan ahead and be prepared for how they may react during the process. Because many people with narcissism tend to be manipulative, going in with a plan may help you avoid unnecessary stress and drama. Most importantly, however, being prepared can help you avoid gaslighting, which is a common strategy among narcissists.

What is gaslighting?

In plain terms, gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse. Says Psychology Today, “Gaslighting is an insidious form of manipulation and psychological control. Victims of gaslighting are deliberately and systematically fed false information that leads them to question what they know to be true, often about themselves. They may end up doubting their memory, their perception, and even their sanity.”

Often, people who gaslight others (especially in relationships) have narcissistic personality disorder.

What are the signs of gaslighting?

If you recognize any of these signs or emotions, you may be a victim of gaslighting:

  • Doubting your feelings
  • Questioning your judgement and perception
  • Feeling vulnerable and insecure
  • Feeling alone or powerless
  • Wondering if you are stupid or even insane
  • Feeling disappointed in yourself
  • Feeling confused about your partner’s behavior
  • Worried you are too sensitive
  • Feeling a sense of impending doom, or on edge
  • Spending a lot of time apologizing
  • Feeling inadequate
  • Assuming everyone is disappointed in you
  • Struggling to make decisions

Gaslighting can lead to a victim developing anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. If you feel you are being gaslit, you might consider therapy or counseling. However, if you are in immediate physical danger, contact 911 or the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence. You can also get a protective order against your partner if necessary.

How do I prepare to divorce a gaslighter?

When divorcing someone emotionally abusive, it is crucial to be prepared for anything. The more you plan in advance, the better. This gives the gaslighter less time to manipulate the situation to go their way. Following are some tips that can help make the divorce process a little smoother when dealing with a difficult or abusive partner:

  • Ensure you have an experienced family law attorney who will be around from the start and through post-divorce, in case your ex does not comply with your divorce agreement.
  • Limit your contact as much as possible; even cut it off completely if you can. This prevents your ex from manipulating and abusing you, and you can communicate through your respective attorneys. If you have to see your ex due to child custody concerns, bring a trusted friend or relative with you for support and safety.
  • Document everything. Insist all communication between you and your ex is done in writing. This provides both a paper trail and evidence of their abusive and aggressive behavior. If they miss any appointments, support payments, or other responsibilities, you should document that as well.
  • Ask for help. Whether this is in the form of counseling or asking friends and family to make witness statements for you, ensure you reach out for support. Recovering from gaslighting can be a long and difficult process and you do not have to do it alone.

At McCabe Russell, P.A., our divorce attorneys are here to fight for your best interests. We defend your rights throughout the divorce process and ensure you feel safe and taken care of. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys by calling 443-812-1435 or reaching out to us through our contact form today. We maintain offices in Bethesda, Fulton, Columbia, and Rockville.