“Gaslighting” Named Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s 2022 Word Of The Year

Have you ever tried to discuss something that bothered you with someone else, only to have them deny what you experienced ever occurred? Has your romantic partner repeatedly reneged on promises, only to deny ever making them in the first place? Does someone you love behave in a way that is so frustrating that it makes you question your own memory and perception? If so, you may have experienced gaslighting. While the phrase wasn’t originally intended to describe gaslighting, it can be somewhat of an “I know it when I see it” phenomenon. Now the term has grown in popularity to the point that it not only has been added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary but has been named its Word of the Year. Gaslighting is emotionally abusive behavior, and many of our clients come to us seeking a divorce because they are sick of being on the receiving end. If you’re looking for a free phone consultation with an experienced Arizona family law lawyer, call our firm at 480-448-9800.

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Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines gaslighting as psychological manipulation of a person usually over an extended period of time that causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories and typically leads to confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem, the uncertainty of one’s emotional or mental stability, and a dependency on the perpetrator.

Gaslighting is often part of the cycle of narcissistic abuse. Narcissists love to feel important, so manipulating someone and making that person dependent on them is like killing two birds with one stone. A narcissistic or abusive spouse may also pressure their target to self-isolate from friends and family. This takes away an outside perspective that may point out issues in the relationship and how the gaslighter treats the victim. It also reduces the number of people who might offer the victim help in leaving the relationship, including providing a place to stay.

Someone who believes they might be caught in the narcissistic cycle of abuse should also be familiar with the term “love bombing.” In toxic relationships, there may often be times when things seem to reach a boiling point. It could be due to a victim becoming fed up with gaslighting behaviors, or other issues within the relationship. Either way, a huge fight may finally appear to be the final straw, and one member of the couple is finally done with the relationship. Here, a narcissist may “love bomb” their target in order to win them back. This could be sweet messages, flowers sent to the office, lavish gifts- maybe even showing up outside their window with a boombox. If the target relents and takes the narcissist back, this grandiose affection won’t continue for long. Once the narcissist feels sure that the victim is staying, they will be right back to the old behaviors that caused the argument in the first place.

Arizona Divorce Process

If it’s come time for you to divorce a gaslighting spouse, it’s best to understand how the process works in Arizona before filing. It’s also key to know who is who when it comes to divorce legal documents. The spouse who files the divorce petition is called the petitioner, while the other spouse is referred to as the respondent. The divorce process starts when the petitioner files the petition of dissolution of marriage with the court and has the respondent served by either a sheriff or a registered process server.

The respondent will have 20 days to respond to the service process if the respondent resides in Arizona. If the respondent lives outside of Arizona, they will have 30 days to file a response. Failure to respond to the divorce petition may result in the divorce proceeding by default.

Most spouses in Arizona will have some community property to divide in a divorce. Spousal support may also be an issue. If the spouses have minor children together, they will also need to work out child support and child custody. It is encouraged for the spouses to work these issues out of court rather than before a judge. Mediation might be able to bridge the gap if they reach an impasse in negotiations.

If the spouses can’t reach an agreement, some or all of their cases will go to trial. This is an expensive and complicated process. There will be requests for documents that must be complied with within court deadlines, allegations that must be disproven with evidence, calculations to trace commingling, and more. Settling out of court is consistently less expensive and stressful, but simply isn’t a possibility for all couples. To discuss your personal situation in detail with a skilled Arizona divorce lawyer, call 480-448-9800.

Previous Words Of The Year

The word of the year tends to be reflective of events that occurred in the previous 12 months. Check out the previous Merriam-Webster Dictionary words of the year below:

  • 2021: Vaccine – A preparation that is administered (as by injection) to stimulate the body’s immune response against a specific infectious agent or disease
  • 2020: Pandemic – An outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area (such as multiple countries or continents) and typically affects a significant proportion of the population
  • 2019: They – Used to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary
  • 2018: Justice – The maintenance or administration of what is just, especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment or merited awards and punishments
  • 2017: Feminism – Belief in and advocacy of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes expressed especially through organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests
  • 2016: Surreal – Marked by the intense rational reality of a dream
  • 2015: -Ism – The first suffix to be named the Word of the Year
    • Act, practice, process
    • Manner of action or behavior characteristic of a (specified) person or thing
    • Prejudice or discrimination on the basis of a (specified) attribute
    • State, condition, property
    • Abnormal state or condition resulting from an excess of (specified) thing or marked by a resemblance to (such) person or thing
    • Doctrine, theory, religion
    • Adherence to a system or a class of principles
    • Characteristic or peculiar feature or trait
  • 2014: Culture – The customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group
  • 2013: Science – Knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through the scientific method

Dedicated & Experienced Arizona Family Law Attorneys

If you’re fed up with gaslighting and other emotionally abusive behaviors by your spouse, it may be time to consider filing for divorce. However, other options, such as a legal separation or an annulment, may work better based on your specific circumstances. AZ Family Law Lawyers can walk you through your options. We also offer competitive rates with payment plans that make high-quality family law representation more affordable for families across Arizona. You can speak to a member of our team yourself to see the difference we can make in your case- free of charge. To learn more, contact us to schedule your free phone consultation or call us at 480-448-9800.

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