My spouse is gaslighting me. What can I do?

Spouses arguing while on a walk in the park accusing of gaslighting

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, there are many indications that gender-based violence has risen in Canada. This isn’t always in the form of physical abuse either. Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse where the abuser or ‘gaslighter’ manipulates their partner and makes them doubt themselves and their grasp on reality.

It may be difficult to recognize at first, but here are a few signs that your partner may be a gaslighter:

  • Your partner frequently blames you for issues out of your control or blames you for their own problems
  • They blame you for being too sensitive, irrational, or crazy
  • They recorrect your recollections (or constantly make you question your own memory of certain events).
  • They block you out and ignore you when issues arise by deflecting and downplaying certain situations.

If you can relate to one or all the above scenarios, your partner may be a gaslighter.

These are a few things to keep in mind or do if you are being gaslighted.

1. Remember, it’s not your job to ‘fix’ your partner

As the victim, it’s never your job to try and change or ‘fix’ your abuser. More importantly, never blame yourself for staying with someone. The first step is recognizing what is happening to you and taking the right steps for you to improve your well-being.

2. Keep evidence or document certain events

Gaslighters are known to try and change your perceptions of reality by cutting into your recollection with a line such as “actually, this is what really happened…” If you’re constantly second-guessing how certain events took place, keep hard evidence by recording information, keeping documents, or writing things down as soon as they happen.

3. Know your truth and don’t block out your feelings

If you are aware and you are confident about how a certain event took place, but your partner is trying to convince you otherwise, stand strong with your truth and again, if necessary, keep a journal or record of how a conversation took place. Also, you can feel however you want to feel. Don’t let your partner justify your feelings for you by calling your irrational, emotional, or crazy.

4. Seek professional help

It’s important to check in with yourself emotionally, especially if you are experiencing any type of abuse from your partner. If you are being gaslighted by your partner, you may want to console your issues with your close friends or family. However, it’s also wise to place your trust in a therapist. Whether that be a therapist for yourself or couples therapy, they can help you navigate your emotions, provide you with an unbiased opinion, and find solutions to help you remedy any issues before they take a stronger hold over you.

5. It’s OK to walk away

This may be very difficult to face, but if you feel lost or hopeless in your relationship and your partner isn’t open to listening to you and making changes in how they are treating you, then you may need to separate from your partner. This is the person you may have committed yourself to, and for many victims of abuse, they worry about what will happen if they leave. But for you to feel better and regain your confidence, you need to leave the toxicity behind – no matter the source. A helpful exercise is to evaluate your life (and just your life, not your partners) if you were to separate or divorce your partner. Down the road, what do you see for yourself? Is it better and happier than where you are now?

At Galbraith Family Law, we’ve seen it all a thousand times over and we understand what you are going through. If you’ve decided that it’s time to leave your partner because they are gaslighting you or abusing you in another way or form, we can help you and provide you with the services you need. The first step in the right direction is to set up a meeting with one of our confidential client care team members who you can call to discuss the issues you’re experiencing. From there we can take a look at your options and discuss whether separation or divorce makes sense in your situation. When you’re ready, give us a call at (705) 999-4438. We’re here for you when you need us and we’re here to listen, not just respond to what’s being said.

Brian Galbraith

Brian Galbraith is the owner and founder of Galbraith Family Law Professional Corporation. Brian is known in the legal community for his commitment to efficiently practicing family law using technology and streamlining the divorce processes.

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