Gaslighting, Manipulation and Divorce

Divorce with a side of Manipulation & Control

collaborative law lies
Controllers, Manipulators, Manipulation and Surviving

Some are manipulated, controlled, harassed, or assaulted in some way and can’t figure out how they got there or how to get out. What is confusing is that the perpetrator tries to make them feel as if they deserved to be treated this way. However, these actions are never right, and they must stop.

What are some of these actions?

They include put downs, outbursts, humiliating remarks, lies, “gaslighting”, rages, assaults, yelling, intimidation, threats, belittling, betrayals, judging and criticizing. The reaction can be a mixture of rage, fear, timidity or confusion. Quite often the person controlling or manipulating is trying to define the victim so his actions are validated. If lies are told about the victim, making her appear in a negative light, the abuser then feels justified in his actions. At this point, he may enjoin others in his betrayal and manipulation by telling them lies about her, and by portraying himself as the victim he is rewarded with their sympathy.

One situation where we see this happen a lot is divorce. There is much to be gained by controlling the spouse you are divorcing and manipulating the situation to your advantage. Perhaps one spouse wants a divorce and begins attacking and criticizing the other to put them in a vulnerable position. Now, he can say, “look, you can’t do anything right, you don’t know what to do.” She is frightened and intimidated and cowers. He tells her how the divorce will work, what “belongs” to him, what he will take and what she can have. Or, he begins the popular “she” statements to make the victim look bad with attorneys, judges, evaluators and anyone else he wants to have on his side. “She can’t do anything.” “She can’t understand numbers” “She harasses me.” “She won’t stop communicating.” “She’s too emotional.” “She can’t cook.” “She can’t drive.” “She’s only after money.”

<>Lack of Preparation
After many years of marriage and taking care of children, many women are not prepared to fight back against the lies and abuse. They become emotional and this is just what the abuser wants. It makes him look calm and in control, and the judge sees an emotionally fragile person in the woman . A victim IS emotional. It is the normal reaction to being abused. But in a divorce a controller will work very hard to convince others he is the normal one. Briefs and declarations will be written with lies and it can be very destructive. The more the manipulator convinces others of his lies, the more justified he feels and the more “alive.”

One perceptive controller can engage an entire family in his “separate reality” and turn them against a family member who becomes the bewildered outcast. Or the neighbors can be “warned” of someone and the person will never know why they have been targeted. What the abusers do not realize is that their own lives will become increasingly horrific and chaotic from their abuse. They are shocked to find themselves in endless battles, litigation and paying enormous attorney fees to disentangle the escalating chaos they have created.

<>What can you do?
There are many things , depending on the situation. It is helpful to find a validator who can help you regain a sense of self to fight back. In conjunction with that, we speak the truth, we do not respond to nonsense as if it were reality, we escape, we help others, we protect our children, we look the abuser in the eye and say, “What are you talking about?” We make sure we are safe. We recognize our boundaries and do not let others cross them. We connect with others, and we wake up to our own strengths. Trauma can expand us and help us grow, it does not have to destroy. And we know that change is a reality, for ourselves and for the controllers. Sometimes, they wake up and see the chaos and the destruction and they stop. But we can’t count on that and we have to save ourselves. If this is being used against you in a divorce, document the lies, the nonsense and the many ways he manipulates. Remain calm and the lies become obvious as the manipulator loses control. Read books and websites on narcissism, verbal abuse, and learn to recognize the signs.

You are not alone, you can define yourself, and you can survive and thrive.

If your controller is physically abusive, do not do any of the above if you sense it will harm you. Physical abusers need to be left. Contact a therapist or someone who can help you make a plan to leave. Being confrontational with a physical abuser is not the best way to take charge of the situation. Take it slow, set aside money, have a support system and be sure you have a safe place to go. Warn the police or a domestic violence shelter if you want others to knw you are afraid and might need help.

Learn what it’s like so you can plan, strategize and survive: Divorcing a Narcissist: Divorce and Lawyers

Ann Bradley


  1. This is like reading a story about ‘me’ and what I’ve been through recently. I’ve lost everything my home, finances, & others perception of me. My 2nd lawyer had even uncovered his involvement in a bank fraud scheme, yet was not allowed to present the evidence due to legal manipulation. He walked away scott free from yrs of delinquent child support and alimony as well. I am beyond devastated yet others (with a few exceptions) do not seem to understand what has happened or what I’m going & have been through.
    He has diligently tried to destroy me in every way possible. He has almost succeeded.

    • You can report the bank fraud as a crime and/or also take him to criminal or civil court for it. Family court is not always prepared for criminal acts. I subpoenaed evidence for my trial from business to prove fraud. It worked.I don’t know how your lawyer allowed back child support to happen. That is illegal and is owed with interest. I think you need better advice or look up the family code for your state and learn your rights. NOLO Press has some good info too. Best to you – we here know what you are going through. As Churchill said: When you are going through hell, keep on going. Best, Ann

    • I think one of the hardest parts is that nobody understands or believes you. You start to think you are crazy. That doesn’t go away easily but it does get better. Find value in yourself by learning how God sees you, not how your ex sees you. God is the only one who can judge us and He says you are beautiful and wonderful.
      Try, try, try to look at a positive future. Get through each step of today first and move on to the next one.Don’t dwell on the past and Don’t fear what is to come, but rather embrace the fact that this is a new day.

      • Quite agree that no one ever remotely believes or understands the abuse because the damage leaves NO Evidence whatsoever. People normally look for physical injury etc, but with the sly nature of pathological narcissism there is no body, no weapon, no crime scene, no witnesses – you’d be inclined to conclude that therefore there is NO CRIME – WRONG – Soul Murder leaves no traces, but the Targetted Individual (TI) has been eviscerated / or gutted like a fish. The horror lives in memory for life and without therapy and most never get to a therapist, or can ill-afford one, their life is all but anihilated, never to know what real perosnal peace is – it is inhuman, but hardly any Law protects the victims.

  2. My ex fought me for child custody. This involves getting letters from people who state they believe a parent should get sole custody. He got that from our babysitter; I don’t know what he told her to get it. However, my attorney told me he could not get sole custody and the judge agreed. We were awarded 50/50 custody and he paid child support. He wrote a letter to his lawyer full of lies about me. Our children went to different babysitters after this because he wanted a woman down the street (who smoked inside her house all day long), because she was cheaper than the childcare I hired. He said he didn’t like the childcare I hired because “one of the teachers was gay”. He got the cabin in the divorce and some of my retirement money. However, I bought myself a nicer condo than either his cabin or his mobile home. I found I had the ability to be happy despite my ex’s abuse. Our children are now grown and have turned out well. They are both feminists and I don’t tell them the kind of abuse they protest was the kind of abuse their father used on me. They would not believe me.

  3. I am a victim of a narcissist psychopath abuse person I was not married to this person and I am going through a dvo as I am texting you. The attorney that was appointed to me was and continues to be no help what so ever. If you are familiar with such abuse Please Help.

    • Don’t stay with an attorney doing nothing. That helps no one.

      Maybe a civil lawsuit? It can be filed on behalf of a person who is injured (emotionally or physically), or whose property is damaged because of another person’s negligence. A civil suit seeks financial compensation from the person that is being accused of causing the harm. If that person (defendant) is found to be guilty, he or she will be responsible for paying for the damages.

      Recoverable compensation might include:

      Medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses related to the damages
      Emotional pain and suffering
      Attorney fees

      Since you weren’t married I’m not sure what kind of attorney you are seeing now or for what purpose but keep looking for help that helps. All else is waste of time and money. Best, Ann

  4. I initially called police to help when my husband drugged me, . It is now three years later and his attorney is using darpa techniques on me. Music 24/7, My mate is eighty two, a holocaust survivor. They are using electronic sabotage, no water boarding yet, but the abuse is critcal. I am seventy eight.

    • There is a petition on Change.org getting laws to protect victims of narcissistic abuse. Please sign & pass it on. I did.

  5. Hi Carla,
    I am not sure where do you live. If you happen to be in Los Angeles, you can contact this program, which I posted here.

    The GENESIS Program offers Field Capable Clinical Services (FCCS) to Older Adults, ages 60 and above. FCCS offers an alternative to traditional mental health services for older adults who may be unable to access services due to impaired mobility, frailty, or other limitations. Older Adults who may be uncomfortable seeking services in a traditional clinic, FCCS may be a welcome alternative.
    Key components:
    Services and support are provided in-home and in the community, for example, senior centers or health care provides offices. Types of services available include the following:
    Individual and Family Counseling
    Medication Services
    Education and Support
    Help in obtaining other needed services not provided by the Department of Mental Health
    Who is eligible to receive these services?
    Older adults, ages 60 and above:
    Who are experiencing a serious and persistent mental illness or
    Who have significant mental health problems that are not as severe or as persistent but whose level of functioning is adversely affected by their mental health problems and are unable to participate in services provided in traditional mental health clinic programs, may be eligible to participate in FCCS.
    Hoarding Resource Guidebook
    Service Availability
    For additional program information, please contact Genesis direct phone line (213) 351-7284 or the ACCESS Line at (800) 854-7771.

  6. Reverse this to a man being gaslighted by his ex-wife and you have my circumstances. It is frightening how I was able to draw parallels between the descriptions above and what is taking place for me and my children.

  7. An important thing to note, the abuse does not have to be physical, but can be emotional. It also can be a situation where the wife is the narcissist, abusing the husband.

  8. Evil knows no gender – there are stereotypes, but statistics reveal that narcissism cuts across genders. The Jzebel Spirit inhabits both genders and is equally distructive. Malevolent Dark triad traits are found in both men and women, but ordinarily because of partriarchal society, men’s dominance has placed them top on the abuse scale. But the narcissist-codependent dance can switch genders from situation to situation. The only trouble is that people are not yet fully talking about this type of abuse and some do not even know what is happening but suffer in silence and/or ignorance. It is quite sad, SOUL MURDER over and over again with no laws in place to protect unsuspecting targets.

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