The Narcissists Ultimate Weapon – Gaslighting

gaslighting and childrenToday, I feel rather sad and it is difficult to write when I feel sad. Yesterday, I watched my seventeen year old get into the car with my narcissist ex-husband to go live with him. Everything about this truly breaks my heart. There is a new pain I feel that is so deep it is hard to even describe. Sending her to live with her dad is really not what I think is best for her.

However, she is seventeen and if she stays she will continue to be resentful and have her fantasy picture of what it would be like to live with him. Visiting him every other weekend versus living with him full time is very different. My ex-husband exhibits all the behaviors of a classic narcissist. Also, his ultimate weapon has always been gaslighting. He has done everything he can over the years to convince me that I am the crazy one here. Sometimes I do feel like I am the crazy one, but thankfully I have twenty years of documentation and a wonderful support network of friends and family to confirm it is not me.

Gaslighting – manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.

Turning Children Against Other Parent

The worst was when my daughter came home in July, from her summer visitation at her dad’s house, and began telling me that it is me who won’t leave her father alone. She literally believes the story in reverse where I am the person who is harassing her father for all these years. Over the years, he has told her twisted versions of the truth and some outright lies. In 2012, he told her that he always took care of her while I was just on my computer all the time (Abuse and Coparenting – Rising Above the Games).

So, he has managed to turn our daughter against me and she believes he is telling the truth. In the article Abusers and Leveraging the Children, they say that abusers will use anyone to do their bidding, including turning the children against the mother (or father). She was determined living with him would be better and was extremely angry and hateful for the past three months.

This hurts me that my child would see me as the abuser in this situation. Doesn’t she know me better than that? I thought I did a better job at raising her in this difficult situation. When your ex-husband turns your child against you, it leaves you wondering if you failed as a parent. Wondering if you failed to teach your children right from wrong. Feeling like you must have failed in your parenting. Perhaps the biggest problem isn’t me, but that I am coparenting with a person who is not doing the right thing. Just maybe being countered at every step helped shape this outcome in an unfortunate way?

Lawsuit for Custody

In July, we were served papers where my ex-husband was asking for custody of our seventeen year old. This absolutely made my stomach sick. We had to hire an attorney and answer their suit. His attorney also set it to go directly to court when our 2008 modification clearly states mediation must happen first. So, we had to answer his request and reschedule mediation.

On Thursday, my husband and I attended the mediation and we decided to let her go live with her dad. He asked for the custody arrangements to flip and he become primary conservator and they would negotiate the child support. My attorney asked for and we received the following:

  • Nobody is primary, it will be joint custody
  • My ex-husband has to take and pass a drug test or everything revert to the previous orders
  • Weekly therapy for our daughter until the therapist determines it is no longer necessary
  • Our daughter has to take and pass three drug tests for three months before she can get a drivers license
  • Nobody buys a car for her until she is 18 (due to getting caught smoking pot in June)
  • Our daughter needs to take a psychological evaluation
  • No child support
  • Attorney fees, we asked for all, but we got $1,500

As we discussed with our attorney and mediator. At seventeen, it didn’t make sense to fight for her at this point because we would just have an angry teenager who is absolutely convinced she wants to live with her father. She is practically an adult. Even if we had her stay, she would want to leave as soon as she turned eighteen. We did the best we could to put some safe guards around her and had to let her go.

Rose Colored Glasses

Right now, our daughter sees her father through rose colored glasses. Over the years, they have let her do whatever she wants and bought her a lot of things. She constantly came home with expensive gifts like pandora bracelet, expensive clothes, and has been promised a car. They often ‘joke’ about our unfair or extreme rules. Plus, she has been hanging out with friends who have too much freedom in their households and can confirm how we are too strict. We are definitely not overly strict, but when comparing a permissive household to our house, it probably does seem extreme in our daughter’s eyes.

The Mask Will Come Off

Perhaps living with her father 24/7 will allow the mask to come off. Just maybe, she will eventually believe the ‘truth’ she has been told may not actually be the whole truth. I have not shared with her all the details of our relationship because she does not need to know. Although, maybe this is wrong. You do not want to involve children in adult business, but maybe this just further perpetuates the false narrative the abuser tells children?

My father was very much like my ex-husband and spent years trying to make me hate my mother. The difference is I didn’t see my father as often as my daughter visits her father. Plus, my father was a bit more direct than my ex-husband’s subtle manipulation. My father would outright say my mother was satan. My ex-husband is much more convert and manipulative.

My mother and I did have a lot of problems when I was a teenager and I am not sure how much my father’s comments played into that or not. Eventually, I became aware that my mother was not the problem. To this day, my father still says hateful things about my mother and our relationship is very much estranged because of it.

Truth Will Prevail

I have to believe that eventually the truth will prevail in this situation. What I don’t know is how long it will take before my daughter realizes that I am not the abuser here.

My uncle, my father’s brother, did turn all three of his children against their mother. They wouldn’t have anything to do with their mother for years. It was a case of true parental alienation. Now, that they are all adults and married, they realized that their mother may not have been perfect, but it was mostly their father that was the problem. My cousin said she won’t even stay at her father’s house when they visit him and would rather stay at her in-laws house.

Ending the Cycle of Abuse

This has been an incredibly difficult journey. I see this story from so many levels; as a child of abuse, as a victim of domestic abuse, as a parent of a child being emotionally abused. This is so sad and I truly hope my daughter can see the light, get healthy and maybe this cycle of abuse will end with my generation. I do not know what the future will bring or what our relationship will be like in the future.

23 thoughts on “The Narcissists Ultimate Weapon – Gaslighting

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  1. Holy smokes! This is horribly rough stuff. I’m so sorry all this has happened to you. I have a story like this, too, and it nearly killed me. I thought I wouldn’t survive, but I have. Like yours, my daughter is living w/ my narcissist husband. I don’t want her to be hurt by him, but I think she’ll see the truth. I’ve decided that the best thing I can do is rise from the ashes and be the best, healthiest, and funnest person I can be for her so she sees me for who I am and not what he turned me into. No more sick distortions! I know that I became a miserable person to be around because of him, but I don’t have to be that way anymore. With my daughter elsewhere, I can concentrate on myself and my recovery. It’s working and the time that I have w/ my daughter is very good quality now. Maybe this is a strategy that could work for you. It feels so good to peel away the layers of abuse and oppression. I feel proud to be at this point and hope you can get here, too. Best of luck to you, sister!


  2. My son and daughter did this when she 15 and 16 turn there back on me for two years and my daughter turn 18 then she start coming to my home. Her sister they turn back on because it best then not have any contact. This went on two years and both my 2 oldest came and live back with me and there sister for 1 years, then son move back to dad for a year and he phone me up said he want come back live back with me and he did and not look back. His dad turn back on him and from going near him my son if that he want it i dont see him and see him for he is my son 21 now. But my daughter went back to this year and living with him she still see us but now need see it for herself, she 20 my other 4 girls dont see him. But they see though him well one see him now again. All does slag me off this upset her but she see him the man he is. I no hurt so bad but your child will see in the end.


  3. This sounds exactly like my life . With the exception that 2 years ago in November he ripped her shirt off of her and choked her to the floor because she was mouthy.She wouldn’t report him though my fiance and I picked her up that night, I wasnt there so i couldnt press charges either. All I could do is make a report but without her admittance it would look as if I was the lier. There wasn’t anything I could do, even according to the attorneys I talked to.Back in January her step mom put a $500 prom dress on lay way. I was making plans for her prom . That dress landed her a changed phone number and having her dad call me to blaspheme me as the sorry mom who won’t help. She has not talked to me til this day. It’s been hell raising an angel of a soul with a souless narcissist fool. She has become hard and calloused since she has been there and believes that I don’t love her , just as she was told when she was a toddler who couldn’t tell me who said that I didnt love her. My child is the love of my life and I have fought for her well since I conceived her which included leaving her father , but her father is the reason I don’t have anymore children. I would have never done this to her, nor would I want another child see this. I refuse to talk to him or her step mom who has been sucked in to his fear who is also totally dependent on him.


  4. Even 17 years after the divorce, it is still a problematic relationship. He focused all his attention on my oldest son and less on the youngest so his mind games were not as effective the 2nd time around. Neither went to live with him because of his erratic behavior and the fantasy life he tries to portray. After being raised by narcissistic parents and then marrying one, I hope the dysfunction ends now. God bless you and your family.


  5. My daughters went to live with their dad when they were 4 & 6 years old. He got everything in the divorce, the house, the kids, and the car and of course limiting my visitation but collecting child support. The brain washing ,,,, OMG it has been something else. The oldest one stopped talking to me when she was 12 years old. She had her friend call the police on me when she did not get her way. She did not want to spend 5 weeks in the summer with me or her grandma. I made arrangements for her dad to come and get her the next day. We signed paperwork in front of a bank official that there would be no forced visitation with this daughter. The youngest one would still talk and have visitation with me until 2012. I moved to help take care of my parents and that was the end of visitation. I was not invited to any graduations. The youngest one started college last year and had a fit that I sent her a birthday card (grandma did too, same card). She was mad that I did not get the school address from her , that I was able to get it from the school.What little communication we had up until that point vanished. She now is not talking to her dad, her sister (who always got away with everything, no cleaning for her) and the step mom(not a very liked person), and sometimes not even her grandma who is go between when something has to be dealt with. Its an awful situation, but there is nothing I can do about it. I feel for you, it hurts to know the kids might get hurt, and be turned against you. I am still waiting to find out what I really did wrong to my youngest daughter so I can at least try and apologize.


  6. I know this was a difficult decision but as a domestic violence and sexual assault advocate of 30 years, I think you made the right decision. Take the high ground and let her form her own opinions of her father. When she starts seeing the patterns and the inconsistencies she will see the truth. I am glad you have support and people who love you to help you through this.


  7. I feel for you and hope my future doesn’t end up in this way. Get her as MUCH education as you can! Books like ‘from charm to harm’ and ‘psychopath free’. get a friend to give them to her or someone that’s completely unrelated to you. This way, she’ll have the red flag education and she’ll be able to see the signs quicker. She’ll come back to you, we choose all these lessons before we come to earth. Let’s hope she gets educated through her fathers behaviour and doesn’t herself choose to get into relationships with Narcs!!!


  8. Hello Friend,
    I can relate so well to your story. My child was 14 when we left for safety reasons. My ex is not his father, but when we left I got all the blame for leaving. My own son was against me, believing that his step-father was not what I portrayed him to be. With time, my son saw the real narcissist that his stepfather was/is. Over the years I have learned to forgive my ex mainly because of the way he was raised but I would never return to the abuse. I just want to encourage you that truth eventually gets revealed. I am praying for your daughter’s safety and that she will see the truth very soon. Blessings.


  9. Have courage. Things will change for the better eventually, unless your daughter is NPD as well. My eldest daughter ended up with her highly afflicted NPD father until she was 18, due to his gaslighting up a storm when we divorced. It was horribly painful for me, but as she matured and had children of her own, she began to see his behavior as pathetic and she started the hard work of sorting out the damage. We became close and for years, I’ve spent far more quality time with her than her father ever could. I regret I could not save her from constant exposure to NPD (and never should have had a child with this man), but she was daddy’s girl at the time and I was terrified of him.


  10. Oh my gosh!! This is so my story. Lat year my 14 year old daughter went to live with her dad. I finally let her because she might have gotten into more trouble because of how angry she was. He always bought her whatever she wanted and let her do whatever she wanted to. He made her all kinds of promises and even said that he was dying so she would need to get to know him better if she wanted to remember him.

    In the last year, she has learned that he was lying to her, and none of that is true. He picks out what she can wear now, after letting her pick out her own clothes previously. He is extremely controlling her and she has to act and be a certain way when he is around. He has told her if she comes back here, he will no longer know she exists. It’s bad. Plus, he doesn’t spend time with her except in public when he wants to show off how well he is raising his daughter and what a bad job I have done.

    I spend time with her on my visitation periods. We talk about what she likes and what she wants to do with her life. We talk about her future and she makes goals. We watch her tv shows and talk about them. We bake together and we send each other uplifting quotes. I went to a therapist to get a game plan on how to handle all this. (He took her to a therapist the day before our appointment so that my therapist can’t see my daughter since she was already signed up with a therapist, which she no longer sees.) At first I gave her space to adjust, but now I’ve made a choice between being angry at him and the situation or doing what was best for her. It has been tough, but spending that quality time with her has actually strengthened our relationship and she is able and willing to tell me the things she wouldn’t dare tell him. I pray for her (and him) daily and sometimes hourly. Sometimes that’s all I was able to do.

    My wish for you is that you are able to have this kind of relationship with your daughter. When she learns that things aren’t as they seem, she will nee you even more than she did before. It can still work. I will be praying for you. Best wishes.


  11. Before my daughter’s father went to prison for felony domestic violence against me, and even for a short time during his incarceration, he tried very hard to turn my daughter against me. It’s been over four years since either of us have seen or spoken with him. In the beginning I truly struggled with the choice I made to completely cut him out of my daughters life. As time goes on and healing happens – not to mention reading numerous stories like yours – I know I did the right thing. I did what was best for both of us. I’m thankful I had the guts to include my daughter in my protective order. He can’t see or speak to her until her 18th birthday, and me until my 85th 😉 Stay strong.


  12. I feel heartsick after reading your story. Know you have done the best you can in loving your daughter and allowing her to take her own path. She will learn what she will and you can take solace in your honest and true care for her. I pray you find peace in this. I pray she understands what you have given her in this freedom to grow. Be well.


  13. I am so sorry this is happening to you. I thought that the nightmare was over when I left my ex, but it continues. I’d like to encourage you to reclaim your life again as you did when you left your ex-husband. Claim joy and blessings in abundance which you absolutely deserve. I have two children who are in their teens. I kept the details of what happened between their dad and me for a long time because they were too young. But, when they reached their teens, they had to be told the truth. Until this day I tell them that I am so thankful they have a father that loves them do much. That has nothing to do with what’s going with the ex and me. So, I give them the truth because while your ex is trying to take away the most important people in your life, the truth will prevail and will protect them from his deadly games.


  14. Thank you, thank you for sharing this! In January, I went though this with my daughter(17) and my son (16) the August prior. I always felt so alone, like the only one. Hearing you, and the others that commented before me, have been through similar too is very encouraging. Not that I like to see others struggle, because I don’t and this is horrible, but because we are not alone. Light will always overcome darkness. I believe our kids will see the truth in the end, just as you did. In the meantime, and I’m sure you agree, I will miss them like crazy and pray for them every day.


  15. I could have written this…explains my relationship with my boys, I miss them terribly. Waiting, worrying and letting them live their lives is the worst. Educating and helping others gets me through the wait.


  16. In my opinion, it is very important to tell the children what is going on. I did so with my two boys. I gave them scenarios, which outlined from beginning to end what happened. I was honest with them. What this allowed to happen for them is to see exactly those same scenarios played out when I wasn’t involved. In other words, he used the exact “game plays” with them as he did me. They could see it, even at 9/12 years old. They are now two years older and their “dad” is in prison for fraud. He continues to financially abuse us, as he has complete control of finances, despite the court ordering him to pay certain sums of money to me. The court has yet to hold him accountable. We are in yr 5 of divorce court issues, but were divorced in 2014. I feel it is imperative you share with your children the circumstances of their parents “play book,” because they will always use it to control everyone in their world. How else will they ever know what is unacceptable behavior, if who they live with is using so much manipulation. They will learn the behavior and it’s so abusive. She will not have the tools to understand what is going on to “get it” if she doesn’t know what to look for. It took me years to figure it out. Bottom line, you don’t have to teach your children to “hate” their other parent, but it’s imperative to teach them wrong behavior. Like I tell my two, you can still love him, without loving what he does and how he treats people. It’s about boundaries. I don’t know if clinically I have done the “right” thing, but I think truth is always the best policy..


  17. A couple of years ago my 7 year old came back from my narc ex’s house and said “Daddy said you did XYZ. Is that true?” (Of course XYZ was all the crazy stalking & threats my ex had actually done to me). I looked at my son with a you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me face and just said 1/2 laughing “no”. He nodded slowly and said “Yeah, I didn’t think so”. I was such a proud momma! At SEVEN he could see through the lies! and he still does 🙂


  18. I live with the fear of this happening daily, he seems to be able to convince the world all 4 of his ex wives were the crazy ones not him. He is so irrational, deceptive, mean, vindictive and hateful it is hard to comprehend! Threatens me both emotionally and indirect physically weekly on a court ordered site yet police can do nothing until he actually hurts me or my kids again. Unless you have the money for an attorney on staff for you to bombard with all the contempt and threats the decree is a waste of $25k spent trying to cover all areas a Narcissist can go to. Worthless efforts. When I tell my testimony people shudder and he is a teacher at a middle school. This just feels like it will never end and to hear this God has to intervene, laws need to change, society needs to understand the difference between domestic coparenting dispute and a narcissistic abusive inability to coparent!
    Praying your daughter sees soon and returns to a healthier home with you.


  19. This is my worst fear! My daughter is a little over 2 now. Her narcissistic father and I split over a year ago. We have final trial for custody set in March. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Prayer goes a long way. God may not remove our trials but he can give us the strength to see them through. I’m sure your daughter will see the truth


  20. This sounds so much like my story. My heart breaks for you. My ex narc and his current wife have turned my daughter against me. I will be lucky if I ever see her again. Both my ex narc and his wife have mental issues and both have narcissistic tendencies. I don’t stand a chance.


  21. I’m a survivor of verbal abuse. And I too was sexually abused as a child. I was in a 26 year marriage but the relationship was 31 years. It lasted most of my life. The last 10 to 15 was all of the stuff you described. I lived in a personal hell. I recently found that my ex is a narcissist. And it’s alot of what lead to my marriage that ended. I too felt I was living with a gaslighted he’s has no idea on what he’s done to himself and then because of the lies and untrusted nature he has now in my eyes . I’ll never be able to be around him for long or even spend more than just a few min with him. He changed how I feel about him so much. I hate it but it is how it must be. For I felt my life was in danger while the end of our marriage fell apart. I fought for us for so long, and I had nothing left to give to the fight. I was tired of fighting for us and choose to fight to be free from the abusive hell I was living.. if ppl only unstood how this changes you from your soul to how you look at everyday situations. We all just need to lighten up and just be nice to each other. The meanness and cruelty has to many have been hurt from physical to verbal abuse. And there is no need for it. Please all just stop and think before you speak so you find spread venom from your lips to someones ears you claim to love. When it’s done in a abusive way ITS NOT LOVE!!!!!!!!!


  22. This is precisely what happened to me as well!!! My ex narc husband turned his children and his ex-wife against me with outrageous pathological lies throughout our 14 yr marriage (I was the step Mom), and I didn’t stand a chance at building a relationship with any of them, so I did my best to stay out of the way. However, I was assaulted many times throughout the marriage, suffered many TBI’s and neurological injuries, didn’t it report it for many years in a misguided attempt to protect his kids from the truth about their father. After the final assault on me as well as two of our animals, I finally had to get police intervention in order to save my life. He was recently indicted by the State of NJ, in a plea bargain pled guilty and received sentence of only 6 mos probation. And is free to assault his next victim….which is highly probable. Just horrible. No remorse, no conscience whatsoever.


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