Divorce often brings a swirl of emotions and complex interactions. In some cases, one spouse might resort to manipulative tactics, such as gaslighting, to gain an upper hand. Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation where a person seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual, making them question their own memory, perception or sanity.
Gaslighting can take various forms. Here are some common signs:
Denial of past events
If your spouse consistently denies events that you clearly remember, it might be a form of gaslighting. The goal is to make you doubt your own memory and perception of reality.
Diverting the blame
A gaslighting spouse often deflects responsibility for their actions. They might blame you for the things they have done wrong, manipulating you into feeling guilty and second-guessing yourself.
Discrediting your feelings
Gaslighters frequently dismiss the feelings of their victims. If your spouse belittles your emotions or makes you feel like your feelings are irrational, they could be gaslighting you.
How to move forward
Recognizing gaslighting in a divorce is the first step toward dealing with it. Remember that gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse, and it is important to take steps to protect yourself. Reach out to supportive friends and family members and share your experiences with them. Maintaining a network of support can help you validate your feelings and experiences.
Keeping a journal of interactions with your spouse can also be helpful. Document instances that make you feel uncomfortable or doubtful about your perception. It provides a personal record that you can refer to when you start questioning your memory due to gaslighting. Consider seeking professional help. Counselors and therapists trained in dealing with emotional abuse can provide tools and strategies to cope with gaslighting.
Navigating a divorce is challenging enough without the added stress of emotional manipulation. By recognizing the signs of gaslighting and taking steps to protect your mental health, you can weather the storm of divorce and come out stronger on the other side.