Gaslighting and How to Recognize it is Happening
Gaslighting: Family Law Attorney Providing Professional Counsel across the Jersey Shore
Learn more about what gaslighting is and how it may show up in a relationship, even after the relationship is over.
When a relationship ends because it has moved from healthy to toxic, an ex can act in any number of ways. In some cases, they can engage in a form of psychological manipulation known as gaslighting. This subtle form of abuse was named after a mid-19th century movie called Gaslight, in which a husband used mental trickery to convince his wife that she was crazy and could not trust herself in order to cover up his own criminal activity. Someone who is consciously or subconsciously gaslighting another warps their reality, invoking such feelings as self-doubt, shame, and fear. Gaslighting can come in many forms. Read on to learn more about what gaslighting is and how it may show up in a relationship, even after the relationship is over.
Common forms of Gaslighting
- Blame – One of the most common ways an ex attempts to gaslight another is by filling their head with blaming thoughts and scenarios. They may manipulate by taking a piece of information (that is true) and layering upon it subjective stories of shame and blame, hoping that you will absorb all of what they have projected as true, instead of simply the piece of information. Whether or not the stories are based in reality, a gaslighter will infuse the story with lower vibrational feelings such as shame, blame, doubt, and fear in order to trap you within the resonance of that vibrational frequency. Knowing how to control your own feelings is key to discerning what is information that you can learn from, and what is an attempt at emotional manipulation.
- False generosity – Someone who is adept at manipulating the thoughts and feelings of another will generally use their power to control how you feel to make you behave in a certain way. Whether or not you are still in a relationship with a person, they may use your codependent nature or fear of abandonment to draw you in by making you feel special, worthy, or safe. This use of generosity has a manipulative undertone and isn’t for your wellbeing; to the contrary, it is used to make you crave more of what you are receiving: attention and a sense of belonging. Then they will withdraw the generosity, making you feel unstable and perhaps even unworthy. If you start to notice the irregular back-and-forth and speak up about it, the likely response will be one of wounding or passive blame.
This leap into the role of victim that gaslighters do often to instill a sense of shame in their victims. Remember that in order to receive true generosity, you must first seek it in yourself and give yourself the love you crave. Seek the support of a therapist and engage in practices such as yoga, mindfulness meditation, and rest to 528Hz binaural beats to begin to attune to your true nature, which is love, needing no one outside of you to be whole.
- Projection – Don Miguel Ruiz wrote in The Four Agreements that it is important to never take anything personally. This is because one’s thoughts about and reactions to another person is always a representation of their own inner world. For example, someone who is often disloyal may accuse you of being disloyal.
If you are not careful, and your ex is manipulative and persistent in their accusations, you could believe what they say regardless of the truth. This is especially the case when an ex blames you for subjective faults, such as the way you treat them. Their poor experience of the way you treat them does not mean you are at fault for your behavior and ‘should’ change anything. In some cases, gaslighting through projection will even take the form of serious reality-distortion, in which your ex’s insistence that you have acted a certain way or done a certain thing – though it has not actually happened – convinces an emotionally vulnerable person they indeed have committed the alleged ‘offense.’
- Lying – Someone who is versed in gaslighting can make even the most blatant lie seem like a simple misunderstanding. Through complex manipulation all aimed at making you feel like the one who is out of line and making things up in order to break your bond, a gaslighter will often layer a lie into an entire web of them. When confronted for apparently attempting to cover up a misdeed, they may say that they were afraid you would blow the misunderstanding out of proportion, so they covered up a ‘seeming’ error in order to spare you from the pain of your own wild imagination.
Contact an Experienced Brick Family Law Attorney Today
At Bronzino Law Firm, our divorce attorneys are experienced in supporting separating partners in Wall, Sea Girt, Pt Pleasant, Brick, Toms River, and across the Jersey Shore. in all divorce and custody matters.
Our direct approach handles communication with all involved parties and facilitates clear exchange, so our clients can focus on moving on without manipulation or drama from their past.
To speak with our firm today regarding your divorce. Contact us to schedule your free consultation: 732-812-3102 or contact us online or through either our Brick, NJ office, or our Sea Girt, NJ offices.