When someone you love deeply treats you as if you were nothing, it’s nearly impossible not to feel like you are truly nothing.
The term Gaslighting comes from the 1944 movie Gaslight, starring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman, in which a ‘loving husband’ tries to convince his wife, and others, that she is going mad. Of course she’s not – he’s manipulating her through lies and deceit to get something he wants.
Sadly – very sadly – it’s a technique many men use when ending (or sometimes within) a relationship.
Truth and lies become fluid. If you are the victim of this behaviour, you will probably find yourself questioning your own sanity. And even when your husband is caught out in a lie, he may continue to argue it’s not something he would ever say or do. And because you love him you’ll want to believe him.
So how can you protect yourself against being gaslit?
Firstly, listen to your gut. If you sense there’s a disconnect between what you’re being told and what you feel, there probably is.
Take some time to think back on your relationship. Are you aware this has ever happened before? If he’s ever done it once before – even on something minor – he has the capacity to do it again.
Try and protect yourself from being taken in again either before, during or after the divorce. This might involve writing down things he says or does that don’t sound correct to you – and perhaps even e-mailing them to a friend. If/when he denies he ever said or did them, you have the proof that you are not mad.
And if he does still try, or manage, to gaslight you… do NOT be hard on yourself. You are NOT gullible. You are a good, trusting and trustworthy person – qualities you do not want to lose.