Stopping Gaslighting in Divorce Mediation

Gaslighting – a term you may be familiar with but may not even realize is happening to you. When it comes to divorce, gaslighting is a common occurrence, particularly if it is something that also occurred during the marriage. But, when you work with a divorce mediator, gaslighting is something that is simply unacceptable and, if working with a qualified and experienced mediator, is something that will be shut down quickly to encourage fair and respectful communication.

Still not sure what gaslighting is? The Encyclopedia Britannica has a helpful description of this sophisticated form of emotional abuse, “Gaslighting, an elaborate and insidious technique of deception and psychological manipulation, usually practiced by a single deceiver, or “gaslighter,” on a single victim over an extended period. Its effect is to gradually undermine the victim’s confidence in his own ability to distinguish truth from falsehood, right from wrong, or reality from appearance, thereby rendering him pathologically dependent on the gaslighter in his thinking or feelings. As part of the process, the victim’s self-esteem is severely damaged, and he becomes additionally dependent on the gaslighter for emotional support and validation.”

Whether a gaslighter fully recognizes what they are doing as gaslighting or not, the emotional abuse and mental distress are real for the victim. It is common in relationships and perhaps the easiest and most common trend with gaslighting in relationships is lying about cheating. The cheater convinces the spouse that they are being ’emotional,’ ‘crazy,’ ‘paranoid’ etc. until the spouse no longer trusts their own instincts, even in the face of damning evidence. A lack of self-trust erodes self-esteem and confidence so shutting this down as soon as possible is the responsibility of a good divorce mediator. Work with a trustworthy mediator who will always strive to facilitate fair and safe communication for everyone involved.

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