Psychology Today explains that gaslighting is a common abuse tactic that takes place in many relationships. It involves intentional lying to a spouse or partner in an attempt to have them question their grasp on reality. It is also employed to help the abuser deflect blame from their damaging actions.
Many victims of gaslighting choose to divorce to preserve their own sanity and mental wellness. However, these destructive behaviors will persist despite your best efforts. Here are a few important steps to take when divorcing a manipulative spouse.
Make note of your spouse’s behavior
One of the most insidious aspects of gaslighting is its effect on your perception. Manipulative partners can whittle down your self-esteem and self-confidence until you are not sure what is right and wrong. This makes it incredibly difficult to identify intentional wrongdoing.
Document what occurred, both in the past and present. Write down your recollections as you remember them, not as your spouse claims they happened. This information can help you legal team build a case, but it can also keep you sane when faced with accusations of lying or misremembering.
Keep divorce plans quiet
If you or your children experience physical abuse, act immediately to ensure your safety. Otherwise, do not disclose your plans to divorce until you are thoroughly organized and prepared. Your spouse will attempt to change your mind or confuse you, especially if they know you plan to see the process through. By waiting, you will have more control over the situation, which means you are less likely to fall for manipulative tactics.
Look for witnesses
It is much harder for gaslighters to refute the testimony of impartial third parties, such as teachers or medical professionals. See if you can enlist these people to speak on your behalf in court. When combined with other evidence, chances are good that your ex-spouse will finally face consequences for their damaging actions.
You are also urged to attend counseling after this experience. It is often hard to restore self-confidence in the wake of an abusive relationship, but a counselor can help sort out complex feelings and emotions.