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How to protect yourself when divorcing a gaslighter

On Behalf of | Oct 14, 2022 | Divorce |

You may have reached your breaking point after being married for years to a narcissist. This type of relationship can take a serious toll on a person’s mental health. After deciding to file for divorce in a Pennsylvania court, however, things might get worse before they get better, especially if your partner is a gaslighter, which most narcissists are.

It is important to have a clear understanding of what gaslighting is, so that you can recognize the signs if your soon-to-be ex exhibits this behavior as you navigate the divorce process. You might want to read about gaslighter behaviors online or speak with someone who is knowledgeable on the topic, such as a counselor or a legal advocate who has provided support to others whose divorces involved a gaslighting spouse.

Your ex might be a gaslighter if you notice these behaviors

The following list includes numerous examples of gaslighting behavior, which can exacerbate the stressfulness of a divorce:

  • Deflecting blame
  • Turning your own words against you
  • Comments or behavior that make you question your own sanity
  • Refusing to accept accountability

Such issues can make achieving a fair settlement quite challenging, which is why you need to know how to respond to gaslighting behavior in a divorce.

Do not tell your ex your plans

Because gaslighters are experts at using people’s own words against them, telling your ex too much about your plans in a divorce could backfire. Instead, consider telling only what you are obligated to tell, such as full disclosure regarding assets and liabilities, while leaving personal details of your overall plans out of the equation.

It is important to build a strong network of support around you (and your children, if you have any) when you are planning to divorce a gaslighter. Such support might include a trusted friend and confidant. You can also rely on relatives, counselors and legal advocates. Make sure they are aware of your situation and can intervene as needed.

Keep organized records regarding details of your divorce

One of the most common tricks gaslighters use to try to confuse and dismay their victims is to change the facts of a past experience and accuse the victim of remembering the incident incorrectly. During your divorce, you can protect yourself from this gaslighting behavior by keeping thorough records about everything that transpires during proceedings.

For instance, if you agree to a certain term for child custody or property division, then your ex later claims that you agreed to something else, be able to pull out your records to show exactly what you agreed to, including a date and time. You might also want to always have a neutral witness present during negotiations, in order to confirm or deny what was stated.

Recovery can be long and arduous

If your ex is a gaslighter, chances are you have been emotionally abused during marriage. Such cases can be so severe as to cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Don’t hesitate to reach out for emotional support. You might have good days and bad days, which is to be an expectation.

Taking one day at a time and taking comfort in knowing that you do not have to go it alone might be the key to achieving a fair settlement when you divorce a gaslighter.