The Devastating Effects of Gaslighting in the Family Court

Understanding Abuse, Manipulation, and the Silent Epidemic

Sacha | The Justice Lark


Photo by Tolga Ulkan on Unsplash

Gaslighting, a term derived from the 1944 movie “Gaslight,” has now become a common word in our lexicon, especially when discussing manipulative relationships.

But few areas of society are as affected by this corrosive behavior as the family court, especially in cases involving abuse.

Gaslighting, at its core, is a form of psychological manipulation. Its purpose is to make a person doubt their own memories, perceptions, and even sanity.

By planting seeds of doubt, the gaslighter seeks to gain power and control over their victim.

In the confines of the family court, gaslighting becomes even more insidious.

It’s not just one partner trying to control another; it’s about shaping a narrative for the court to believe, altering perceptions and, in the process, undermining genuine claims of abuse.

Shifting the Blame

One of the most common tactics of the gaslighter in family court is to shift the blame. When allegations of abuse arise, the accused often portrays the accuser as the “real” aggressor.

They might claim that the victim is merely playing the “blame game” to win a favourable judgment or manipulate the situation.

If the victim presents evidence of physical harm, the gaslighter might argue that they were only defending themselves, suggesting that the victim initiated the violence.

The accuser’s past actions, even if irrelevant, might be brought up to discredit their character and paint them in a negative light.

Questioning the Victim’s Sanity

Gaslighters often also insinuate that the victim is mentally unstable, using any emotional response as ‘evidence.’

This tactic seeks to undermine the victim’s credibility, suggesting their memories or claims are products of their “unhinged” mind.

If a victim recalls a specific incident of abuse, the gaslighter might say things like, “You always remember things wrong,” or “You’re just too sensitive.”



Sacha | The Justice Lark

Passionate writer and researcher focused on promoting justice and equity, with emphasis on issues related to gender-based violence, trauma & mental health.