Gaslighters are adept at creating a narrative that can lead their spouse to question themselves and their own version of events, sometimes to the point of making them feel like they are losing their grip on reality. If your partner uses practices like this, they are guilty of emotional abuse and the goal is to reduce their partner’s self-esteem and convince others that they are not stable.
If and when a spouse that has been subject to gaslighting finds the courage to consider ending the marriage, the gaslighter will make it their mission to manipulate the divorce process to their own benefit. They may claim in divorce court that their partner’s judgment is so impaired, they are incapable of co-parenting or making financial decisions. Knowing what to do in these situations is important to protect yourself from your spouse.
What is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting is an emotionally abusive strategy that causes someone to question their feelings, thoughts, and sanity. If someone gaslights you, they’ll attempt to make you question reality. The purpose of gaslighting is to convince you that you can’t trust your thoughts or instincts.
A gaslighter may try to convince you that your memories are incorrect, that you overreact to situations, or that something is “all in your head.” They may then try to convince you that their version of events is the truth. This tactic can be used in both personal and professional relationships to gain control and power.
This kind of abuse is often subtle in the beginning. For example, the gaslighter will change small details in stories or memories. Eventually, the person being gaslit begins to discredit their own intuition because these incidents begin so subtly. Over time, the gaslighter will break down the other’s ability to trust themselves. Eventually the gaslighter attempts to gain dominance in the relationship as you might begin to doubt your own memory.
Is Divorce Mediation Right For Me?
Before we delve into the specifics of how divorce mediation can work when divorcing a narcissist, it’s important to understand the basic process. Divorce can be complex and stressful, especially if it involves contentious topics like child custody, alimony, and child support. However, litigation does not have to be the endpoint of the dissolution of a marriage. Many couples choose divorce mediation to cooperatively and amicably resolve their dispute and reach an agreement before the court gets involved. Through mediation services, both parties work with an impartial mediator to create a legally binding agreement based on both parties’ needs and desires. New Jersey divorce & separation mediator Steven B. Menack has decades of experience in making divorce mediation as stress-free as possible for the sake of both the couple and any children involved.
Read our comprehensive guide to divorce mediation and legal separation in New Jersey for more information.
Common Signs of Gaslighting
Someone who’s gaslighting might:
- Insist you said or did things you know you didn’t do
- Deny or scoff at your recollection of events
- Call you “too sensitive” or “crazy” when you express your needs or concerns
- Express doubts to others about your feelings, behavior, and state of mind
- Twisting or retelling events to shift blame to you
- Insist they’re right and refuse to consider facts or your perspective
Can Mediation Work When Divorcing a Gaslighter?
People that have these types of personalities may try to avoid mediation. No matter what their reason, be it conceit, a desire to chastise the other spouse, or some other reasoning, they sometimes don’t view mediation as an appropriate meeting for their needs. Also, some mediators are going to screen spouses in order to bypass high-conflict and disparaging situations.
Having said that, many couples will still decide on mediation, specifically when they’re concerned about the expense of a contested divorce. In these situations, spouses might need to look for mediators with experience in mediation and who are willing to work alongside high-conflict spouses. “Shuttle diplomacy” is a useful technique that requires having the spouses be in separate rooms throughout the mediation. The mediator then shuttles in and out, passing on offers and counteroffers. This keeps the communication and conflict at a minimum, so the spouses can concentrate on their divorce negotiations, instead of each other.
If you plan to terminate your marriage with your abusive, narcissistic, or gaslighting spouse, it’s wise to contact a divorce mediator for assistance. Mediation can work as long as the couple can put aside their differences for their mutual benefit.