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Gaslighting and Divorce in Southern California

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Simply put, gaslighting is when someone attempts to manipulate someone else by having them question their sanity. The abuser may do this through various tactics, including “making them question their own memory, perception, or judgment, often evoking in them cognitive dissonance and other changes including low self-esteem.” (Source)

Why is it called gaslighting?

 “The term originates in the systematic psychological manipulation of a victim by her husband in Patrick Hamilton’s 1938 stage play Gas Light, and the film adaptations released in 1940 and 1944. In the story, the husband attempts to convince his wife and others that she is insane by manipulating small elements of their environment and insisting that she is mistaken, remembering things incorrectly, or delusional when she points out these changes. The play’s title alludes to how the abusive husband slowly dims the gas lights in their home, while pretending nothing has changed, in an effort to make his wife doubt her own perceptions. He further uses the lights in the sealed-off attic to secretly search for jewels belonging to a woman whom he has murdered. He makes loud noises as he searches, including talking to himself. The wife repeatedly asks her husband to confirm her perceptions about the dimming lights, noises and voices, but in defiance of reality, he keeps insisting that the lights are the same and instead it is she who is going insane. He intends on having her assessed and committed to a mental institution, after which he will be able to gain power of attorney over her and search more effectively.” (Source)


Divorce when your spouse is using gaslighting against you

Not surprisingly, gaslighters and their manipulated spouses often end up in a divorce court. Although you will be better off divorced from a gaslighter, the process can be a nightmare!

Here are some things a gaslighter is likely to do in a family court battle:

  1. Lie to the judge
  2. Fake evidence such as fake screenshots
  3. Parental alienation, which is another way of saying they may try to “gaslight” the children to alienate them from you.
  4. Violating your boundaries
  5. Refusing to settle
  6. Try to restart a matter after it has finally been settled

That is very bad news if that is you. But there is hope- with the right legal team and the right strategy, you can defeat gaslighting strategies that can otherwise ruin your life.

Child custody when you or your spouse is a gaslighter

A child custody battle when your spouse is a gaslighter is likely to be much worse than a typical custody battle. Instead of considering what’s best for their children, they may see the children as pawns to get power over you or revenge against you. They are very likely to try parental alienation techniques to try to turn the children against you.

Our Firm Specializes in Southern California Divorces Complicated by Gaslighting and other Psychological Abuse Tactics

Do you have a divorce or family law question?

Call our office today at (949) 363-5551. We specialize in helping clients who have divorce and family law matters complicated by gaslighting, narcissism, bipolar disorder, and other psychological challenges. John A. Bledsoe is Orange County’s premier divorce attorney and a certified family law specialist. Our firm offers a confidential initial case evaluation.  to learn more.

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