Gaslighting: How Abusers Use Psychological Manipulation to Manipulate Their Spouses 

 Posted on September 16, 2022 in Family Law

DuPage County Domestic Violence LawyerAbusive marriages are more common than many people realize. Unfortunately, many domestic violence victims suffer in silence, hoping that their abusive husbands or wives will change their ways. Victims may also stay in abusive marriages because the abuser has convinced the victim that the abuse is somehow his or her fault. Gaslighting, or using psychological manipulation to make a person question his or her perception of reality, is one tactic abusers use to control victims.

If you want to divorce a manipulative, controlling, or abusive spouse, it is important to prepare yourself, understand the tactics used by abusers, and gather a support system who can help you.

What Does Gaslighting Look Like?

The term "gaslighting" refers to a 1944 movie called Gaslight in which an abusive husband tries to convince his wife that she is going mad. Gaslighting can take many forms, but it often involves an abuser trying to convince his or her victim that he or she is crazy, delusional, or paranoid. For example, an abusive husband might tell his wife that she is imagining things when she sees him flirting with other women. He might say that she is overreacting when she expresses jealousy or anger about his behavior.

Other Types of Mental and Emotional Abuse

Abusive spouses may also isolate the victim from his or her friends and family in order to better control the victim. The abuser may tell the victim that his or her friends and family are "toxic" and that the victim should not spend time with them. The abuser may also try to convince the victim that he or she is the only one who understands or loves the victim.

Emotional, mental, and psychological abuse may also involve:

  • Invalidating the victim's thoughts and feelings

  • Constantly criticizing the victim

  • Stalking the victim or consistently violating his or her privacy

  • Controlling the victim's access to financial resources

  • Purposefully embarrassing the victim

  • Threatening and intimidating the victim

Divorcing a Manipulative or Abusive Spouse

If you are divorcing someone who uses the abusive tactics listed above, your divorce case is likely to be complicated and challenging. You will need to be prepared for the divorce process and take steps to protect yourself both emotionally and physically. You should also consider hiring a lawyer who is experienced in handling cases involving domestic violence.

If your spouse's behavior escalates to a point that you are worried for your safety or the safety of your children, consider getting an order of protection. This is a court order that prohibits your spouse from coming near you or your home. If he or she violates the order, he or she is subject to immediate arrest.

Contact a Naperville Domestic Violence Attorney

Our DuPage County divorce lawyers can help you petition the court for an order of protection and represent you throughout your divorce. Call J. Aldrich Law, P.C. at 630-953-3000 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.



Share this post:

Recent Blog Posts



address1700 Park St., Suite 203F, Naperville, IL 60563
hoursEvenings and Weekends by Appointment