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Divorcing a gaslighter: What to know

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2024 | Divorce |

The term “gaslight” is common to hear nowadays. While it originated from the title of a 1938 play, it is a common psychological term to describe manipulating someone into second-guessing themselves, so much so that they feel that they cannot trust their own thoughts.

It is true that the word is thrown around quite often, even in cases where it might not apply. However, it is a serious issue – and it can add significant complications to a divorce.

Does gaslighting have a legal impact?

The short answer is yes. As it can directly impact you, it can indeed impact your divorce, including:

  • The first step: An ex-spouse might try to manipulate you into staying, trying to make you delay that first step of separation.
  • The case: North Carolina does not consider fault in divorce cases. However, proving misconduct might affect the division of assets, child custody arrangements and even alimony.
  • The aftermath: It will take time – and work – for you to regain confidence in yourself and your life. Thankfully, there are many resources available to help you take steps to move forward and heal.

The denials and manipulation can build up into a much larger issue in your life and your divorce. So, what can you do?

What should you do when divorcing a gaslighter?

It can be very difficult to overcome the doubt in yourself and the stress of the situation. However, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and move forward with a divorce. It can help to:

  1. Document everything: Keep a detailed journal of interactions and save text or email conversations with your ex-spouse. Having physical documentation of such conversations can prevent any uncertainty and provide proof of a spouse’s manipulation and misbehavior. This is one of the most important steps to take when you begin a divorce from someone who engages in emotional abuse.
  2. Seek legal guidance: An attorney can help you navigate the legal process of divorce, but they can also help you assert your rights and protect your best interests. They can play a key role in supporting you through this difficult situation.
  3. Find the people you can trust: Perhaps your ex-spouse tried to isolate you from your friends or family. It will be helpful to reconnect with your network of loved ones. They can support you and help you work through any doubts or mind tricks your ex-spouse may attempt.

The added emotional stress from gaslighting can make divorce even more difficult. Know that you do indeed have the power to end that emotional abuse and move on.