- What is Gaslighting?
- Why Do People Try to Gaslight Others?
- How You Can Protect Yourself From a Gaslighter?
In a healthy relationship, spouses support and encourage each other. In abusive relationships, the exact opposite is true. The manipulative behavior known as gaslighting is a particularly insidious form of abuse designed to undermine and damage a person’s self-worth and confidence. It’s nothing less than an attack on someone’s sanity. The behavior often starts in small ways, with the abuser planting doubt in the victim’s mind about their memories, actions, and emotions. When the abuse intensifies, the gaslighter may try to isolate the victim to cut them off from the support of family and friends. At its core, gaslighting is a form of lying. It’s a common tactic of narcissists.
The term originated with the play and movie of the same name, “Gaslight.” In this fictional work, a husband is determined to commit his wife to a mental institution so he can steal her money. To convince her she’s losing her mind, he tries to make her believe she’s seeing and hearing things. At one point, when the husband’s actions cause the gas lights in the house to flicker, he tells his wife she’s imagining it.
When gaslighting drives a partner to seek divorce, securing sound legal representation is essential. For a knowledgeable, experienced divorce attorney in New Jersey, contact Graziano Law. We have years of experience with family law, divorce, and child custody cases.
While the plot of the original “Gaslight” movie revolved around a person with malicious intentions, in real life, a gaslighter may simply want to be in control. Abusers often want to gain power to fuel their ego. People with personality disorders like narcissism and antisocial personality disorder are prone to gaslighting, since it feeds their distorted views of themselves and others. Not all cases of gaslighting stem from psychological issues, however. If a person was raised in an environment where gaslighting was an accepted tactic, it may be a learned behavior. Regardless of the root cause, gaslighting is a problematic behavior with many negative consequences. If you’ve decided to divorce a gaslighter, the team at Graziano Law can help you successfully end the marriage so you can begin the recovery process.
Gaslighting surfaces in many ways, including dismissing the victim’s feelings, minimizing dangerous situations, ignoring achievements, withholding information, accusing the victim of doing things they have not done, telling the victim they’re “crazy,” and denying verifiable facts. They may try to cast doubt into the victim’s mind by telling them things like, “You’re just too sensitive,” “You’re remembering that wrong,” or “You’re getting upset over nothing.”
Victims on the receiving end of this behavior may eventually suffer from an erosion of self-esteem, anxiety, confusion, and depression. If you feel that you’ve been subjected to gaslighting, it’s important to seek professional help, and if you’ve decided to move ahead with a divorce, experienced legal representation is critically important. Some steps you can take to protect yourself include:
- Distance yourself as much as possible from the gaslighter. Do not let them know about any plans you have for divorce until you absolutely must.
- Avoid engaging in arguments.
- Get support from family, friends, therapists, and a good attorney.
- Keep documentation of what’s happening, including collecting data that can verify your statements.
- If you are concerned about an escalation of abuse, don’t hesitate to leave.
Graziano Law offers compassionate, experienced legal assistance to help you move on from a relationship that involves gaslighting. When you need a divorce attorney in New Jersey, contact us to schedule a free consultation.