Gaslighting: How To Protect Yourself


In the previous post, Gaslighting: How To Recognize Your Spouse’s Manipulative Behavior, you learned how to spot the gaslighting techniques abusive spouses use to make you feel like you’re going crazy. In this post, you’ll learn practical steps you can take to protect yourself from losing your grasp on reality.

Record actual events. Gaslighters are fast-talkers and can convince you that what is actually true is false. Because they’re master manipulators, they can have you doubting reasonable suspicion or even legitimate evidence of their shenanigans.

One way to defend yourself against gaslighting is to focus on what they do, not what they say. You may find it helpful to write down or take photos of what you’ve observed so you can refer to your records when the gaslighter tries to convince you that you’re imagining things.

State your position — but don’t argue. You will never win an argument with a master manipulator, so don’t waste your energy trying. Instead, state your position clearly so the gaslighter knows you’re not fooled. For instance: “I know you’re having an affair because I took pictures of the explicit texts I read on your phone,” or, “This bank statement shows that there were four cash withdrawals this month and I did not make them.” Don’t waver when the gaslighter puts a spin on the truth.

Remain calm. Gaslighters want to see you upset because this makes them feel that they have the upper hand. Don’t react to their put-downs and projections. You have the right to set boundaries, speak your truth, and demand respect. So the next time your gaslighting spouse accuses you of being “paranoid” or “overly sensitive,” don’t act out in anger or defensiveness. Use coping skills to stay calm and remove yourself from the situation if need be.

Seek outside support. Getting feedback about your perceptions will help keep you from feeling crazy. Talk to a trusted friend, relative, or therapist about the gaslighting. Ask them their interpretation of what you’re experiencing. When objective people tell you your feelings and observations are valid, you’ll have an easier time holding on to your own reality the next time your gaslighter tries to hoodwink you.

Look for patterns, not isolated incidents. A gaslighter keeps you off balance with intermittent niceness: occasional affection, “I love you’s,” gifts, acting adoringly in public. They then point to these instances as proof of their love for you. Don’t be fooled! Keep reality in check by expanding your focus to overall patterns: emotional abuse, lying, cheating, and other forms of bad behavior. A healthy person who truly loves you would never also abuse you.

The artful use of the word “nevertheless.” Gaslighters are adept at steering conversations in another direction to deflect your concerns. The word “nevertheless” will help you reframe the conversation around the real issue: “nevertheless, you ordered another credit card without my knowing,” or, “nevertheless, I found a lipstick that does not belong to me in your car.”

A final note: keep careful records of events, as well as copies of important documents (financial statements, property deeds, tax returns). Being prepared will help you in the event of divorce from a gaslighter.

Learn More: 

5 ways to protect yourself after divorcing a narcissist

How to get a narcissist to reveal themselves

Don’t let gaslighting affect your divorce. We can help you learn your right and protect yourself. Safeguard your future and get in touch to schedule your initial consultation with a trusted family law attorney. Call us at 888-888-0919 or click the button below. 

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