In this blog, we explore what gaslighting is, how it works, 3 signs you’re being gaslighted, and the importance of leaving such a relationship and setting healthy boundaries. Though very difficult, it’s also empowering and necessary for self-preservation. Hear Jackie’s story and how she was gaslighted by her husband to see if you can relate.  If you want support in healing from the trauma of gaslighting and divorce, register below for The Heal Your Heart Retreat.

3 Signs of Gaslighting in Your Relationship

The Shockwave


“What just happened to me?” Jackie shook her head in exasperation. She felt so hurt and confused because she and her husband, Ken, had just spent a perfectly lovely Sunday afternoon together, walking at the park. The weather was beautiful. There was no humidity. The picnic lunch was an organic chicken salad with walnuts and a side of basil couscous she’d made the day before.
Jackie had been in the middle of taking a bite of her sandwich and made an innocent comment about a co-worker, Jake, who was going to Colorado on vacation, and because Jackie always wanted to visit there, she mentioned it.

The Assault

Instantly, Ken looked at her venemously, “Jake! Why are you bringing that A**hole up?! I know you’ve always had a crush on him.  Why don’t you take your disgusting chicken salad and shove it up your fat A**! If you want to have an affair with Jake, go for it. I’d be better off without your aging, wrinkly saggy self! There are plenty of women who would want me and would appreciate all that I do for you to make your life easy!”
Ken proceeded to get up, grabbed the blanket out from underneath her, knocking the food over into the grass, Merlot spilling on her white shorts.  She watched him get in their car and storm away.  She couldn’t believe how quickly he’d turned from this sweet, charming man into a monster with claws drawn and words as sharp as a razor.

The Heartbreak

Her heart sank. Her self-esteem plummeted, “What did I do?! Am I really such a loser?! What the F***?  What just happened to me?” She didn’t even have her cell phone as it was in the car in her purse. She was a few miles from home. What was she supposed to do now? She gathered the food, wine glasses, plates, napkins, into the blanket he’d left, tears running down her cheeks, and began to walk home…utterly…defeated.
When she arrived home 2 hours later, the door was locked. She banged on it for 15 minutes until he let her in. She was enraged, “What the F***is your problem, Ken!  You have issues! You need mental help.  I can’t do this anymore. Living with you is like being on a constant roller coaster. I never know who I’m going to get for the day. Will it be nice, caring Ken or supreme narcissist Ken?!”

The Big Defense–It’s All Your Fault


Ken immediately got defensive, “Oh don’t make such a big deal out of this!  You’re lucky that I didn’t slap you or make a scene in public.  You’re way too sensitive.  You make it seem like I’m the bad guy here. In reality, you’ve had a crush on Jake and I’ve listened to you fawn over him for years.  I’m sick of it!  Besides, it did you good to have to walk 6 miles to lose some of that flab around your waist and butt. You’ll thank me tomorrow. Don’t think for one minute that this is MY fault. You brought this on yourself.  Jake or any other man would never want you.  You’re used up and old. Now go away. I’m watching my show,” and he dismissively flitted her away with his hand.

The Numbing

Jackie was speechless.  She retreated to their bedroom, locked the door, and cried for hours. In her heart, she knew she had to leave him, that he was sick. But this inner critic told her, “Maybe he’s right. Maybe I am used up and no one would want me.” After her tears subsided, she reached for some chocolate chip cookies and ice cream, feeling weak in her resolve to eat better.

What Is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse that manipulates someone into doubting their own sanity. It can be used as a way to control and dominate someone in a relationship, or it can be used as a way to weaken someone’s mental state before attacking them. It is a very effective form of abuse because it causes the victim to question their own thoughts, memories, and perceptions, just like Jackie did. This makes them more vulnerable to further abuse and less likely to leave the relationship.


Gaslighting often leads to divorce, because the victim becomes so convinced that they are crazy that they eventually give up trying to make the relationship work. They may also feel like they are not good enough for anyone else and that no one else would want them. This can lead to depression and self-esteem issues

How Does Gaslighting Work?

Gaslighting is an insidious form of abuse that can be hard to detect, although it was blatant in Jackie’s case. It’s a type of emotional abuse that slowly erodes one’s self-esteem and sanity. The abuser makes one question thier reality, sanity, worth and memory. They do this by denying their abusive behavior, lying about what happened, or discrediting one’s memories and perceptions. The victim becomes so uncertain of themselves that they can no longer effectively function in the relationship. They  lose all trust in themselves.

3 Signs of Gaslighting


  1. Your partner constantly denies doing something that you know they did. They tell you that you’re crazy for thinking they did something, or that you’re imagining things.
  2. Your partner tries to control what you do or who you talk to. They may start calling all your friends and family members and asking questions about you, or try to isolate you from them.
  3. Your partner constantly puts down your accomplishments or belittles your opinions.

The Effects of Gaslighting


Gaslighting, a form of emotional abuse, can have long-term effects. It is often used by abusers to control their partners, making them doubt their own sanity and perceptions. Gaslighting can lead to depression, anxiety, divorce, or even worse, suicide.
Have you ever been bullied or felt very manipulated? Perhaps deep in your heart you intuitively knew that something you were being told was a lie and that you needed to take a stand for yourself or someone else because it was the right thing to do….but because you didn’t trust your own instincts (there was just enough self doubt), you remained quiet. Can you relate?
I believe we’ve all ignored this inner voice at times, and we usually regret it. Over time, if we ignore ourselves enough, we begin to shut down and feel numb, thinking, “What’s the use? Why should I bother?  Nothing will change anyway.” It’s this beaten down, submissive feeling of powerlessness and hopelessness that makes a woman believe she doesn’t deserve better.

Leaving an Abusive Marriage to a Gaslighter

Leaving an abusive marriage can be one of the most difficult things a person can do. The abuser will manipulate someone into thinking they are crazy or making up the abuse. This leaves them feeling isolated and alone. The fear of not being believed can keep them trapped in the abusive relationship.

The first step in leaving an abusive marriage is to seek help.  When there has been trauma, women need to feel safe and supported as they slowly climb out of the depths of the situation.  There are many resources available to help victims of domestic violence. Friends, family, and professionals can all be sources of support. It is important to have a plan for leaving and to have as much support as possible.
The woman leaving needs to remember that it’s not her fault that she is in the abusive relationship. She didn’t consciously choose this path.  Oftentimes, the woman is an empath, highly sensitive, who tries to keep everyone happy and play the peacekeeper.  Her intentions are good, but the gaslighter personality is attracted to her like a moth to a flame because she enjoys giving and they enjoy taking.

How to Set Boundaries After Leaving an Abusive Marriage

Leaving an abusive marriage can be one of the hardest things you will ever do, but it is also one of the most empowering. Deciding to leave is the first and foremost boundary. You and your kids, if you have them, deserve to get a new life in which you feel respected, loved and protected.

3 Signs of Gaslighting in Your Relationship

How to Set Boundaries After Leaving a Gaslighting Relationship

Leaving an abusive marriage can be one of the hardest things you will ever do, but it is also one of the most empowering. Deciding to leave is the first and foremost boundary. You and your kids, if you have them, deserve to get a new life in which you feel respected, loved and protected.

Don’t blame yourself for where you’re at, AND take action to leave.  Once you are in a safe environment, surrounded by people who have your back, it will feel like you have an invisible, protective, shield around you. THEN the second biggest boundary is to go to work on healing your heart from the trauma of divorce and gaslighting so you can see yourself through a new lens.  Delve into why you haven’t felt very worthy of being treated well and then begin to rewire your thinking, replacing unhealthy beliefs with empowering ones.



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Much Love, 

Angie Monko,
Holistic Divorce/Loss Coach for Women