While we’re only in November, I’m ready to join Merriam-Webster in declaring 2023 word of the year: gaslighting. This term has been on the tip of everyone’s tongue, and for good reason. Gaslighting has gained notoriety for its pervasive presence in our lives and the way it shapes our interactions, from personal relationships to politics and beyond. In this blog post, we’re going to dive into the significance of the word “gaslighting” and explore why it’s a term that deserves our attention in the year ahead as well.

Gaslighting isn’t a new concept, but it’s certainly a word that has seen a resurgence in recent years. This term originated from the 1944 film “Gaslight,” where a manipulative husband tries to drive his wife to madness by making her question her reality. In 2023, the concept of gaslighting has transcended its cinematic origins and become a ubiquitous buzzword.

One of the reasons gaslighting is so significant is its impact on personal relationships. Gaslighting often manifests in subtle, manipulative behaviors, such as denial, misdirection, or contradiction, designed to make one doubt their perception of reality. It erodes trust, self-esteem, and emotional well-being. Recognizing gaslighting within personal relationships and in the divorce arena is the first step to addressing and countering this harmful behavior.

Recognizing gaslighting during divorce is crucial. Keep an eye out for these telltale signs:

  1. The “He Said, She Said”: Your ex might suddenly have a convenient case of amnesia when it comes to agreements or statements made during the divorce process.
  2. The Financial Fog: Suspicious financial statements, discrepancies, or an unwillingness to disclose information can be red flags.
  3. The Emotional Rollercoaster: Gaslighting can leave you in a whirlwind of emotions, with self-doubt and anxiety taking center stage.

As a divorce lawyer, my mission is to have your back and help you navigate these tricky waters. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Keep Records: Document everything! Keep a record of all communications, agreements, and financial transactions related to your divorce.
  2. Lawyer Up: Hire an experienced divorce lawyer who understands the emotional turbulence and can fight for your rights.
  3. Bring in the Experts: If there’s financial hocus-pocus going on, don’t hesitate to consult financial experts to uncover hidden assets.
  4. Lean on Support: Friends, family, or a therapist can provide the emotional support you need to stay sane during this rollercoaster ride.

Gaslighting in divorce can make an already challenging situation feel like an emotional minefield. Divorce lawyers can take on a critical role in helping you keep your wits about you and protect your legal rights. By recognizing gaslighting, keeping meticulous records and seeking the right professional support, you can handle your divorce with greater confidence and come out the other side with your sanity and rights intact. Remember, you’re not alone on this wild ride, and having the right legal counsel makes all the difference in achieving a fair and just resolution.


Eliana T. Baer is a partner in the Family Law Practice Group of Fox Rothschild LLP. Eliana focuses her state-wide practice on representing clients on issues relating to divorce, asset distribution, support, custody, domestic violence, premarital agreements and Appellate Practice. She appears in both civil and rabbinical court. You can reach Eliana at (609) 895-3344, or etbaer@foxrothschild.com.