Sins of the Fathers
ChrisOLeary.com > Sins of the Fathers > TOC > Gaslighting Examples

Gaslighting is a term people casually, and increasingly, throw around, generally as a synonym for "lying."

However, as a survivor of the Catholic sex abuse crisis, and someone who has and continues to face Gaslighting, I can tell you it's more than just lying.

Gaslighting Examples

In the piece by Aisha Sultan in which I went public, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Louis said...

…The archdiocese’s record of Mr. O’Leary’s allegations are significantly different...the information O’Leary shared initially changed multiple times...

In other words, that I'm lying.

However, the specific words the Archdiocese of St. Louis used to discredit me...

...the information O’Leary shared initially changed multiple times...

...are particularly disturbing -- they're an example of Gaslighting -- because they contradict something I was told when I met with the ArchStL Review Team in 2011.

2002 Early March

In early March 2002, after Fr. LeRoy Valentine was named as an abuser in a New York Times article entitled 2 Paths, No Easy Solution on Abusive Priests, I talked to then Bishop and now  Cardinal Timothy Dolan several times on the phone. I told ++Dolan about my memories of Fr. Valentine and ++Dolan immediately, without any investigation, told me nothing happened.

My memories didn't mean anything.

++Dolan then had me visit an older female psychologist who I have to assume was Nancy Brown, the Assistance Coordinator for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. She told me the same thing; that my memories didn't mean anything.

That I was just "misinterpreting" Fr. Valentine's actions and/or his intentions.

2011 May

By 2011 I was in the middle of what's best described as a nervous breakdown, so on May 9, 2011 I met with a Review Team from the Archdiocese of St. Louis. In sum, I asked them a simple question...

Are you SURE my memories -- what I told Cardinal Dolan and Nancy Brown in 2002 -- don't mean anything?

And I received a strange reply.

We have no record that you had any conversations with Cardinal Dolan or Nancy Brown. Are you sure you talked to them? Actually?

They then preceded to ask me a bunch of questions about the woman I met with, all of which had the effect of leaving me less and less in touch with reality.

Logically...

It took me literally years to deal with the fallout from the Gaslighting that took place on May 9, 2011. However, by the the time Aisha Sultan read her piece to me in preparation for publication, and she got to the part where the spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Louis commented on my story...

…The archdiocese’s record of Mr. O’Leary’s allegations are significantly different...the information O’Leary shared initially changed multiple times...

...I was able to immediately -- after having a good laugh -- respond with a rhetorical but still penetrating question.

From when to when?

If the Archdiocese of St. Louis is claiming that my story...

...changed multiple times...

I would ask them this.

From when to when?

Remember, when I met with the Review Team from the Archdiocese of St. Louis on May 9, 2011, they told me they had NO RECORD of my early March 2002 conversations with then Bishop and now Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

So May 9, 2011 was the FIRST -- and, as it turned out, because they refused to meet with me again, ONLY -- time I met with a Review Team from the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

So how can the Archdiocese of St. Louis say my story CHANGED?

Much less MULTIPLE TIMES?

When they only met with me ONCE?

I'm sorry, but that doesn't make logical sense.

2013 Removal of My Abuser

Another example of Gaslighting by the Catholic Church and the Archdiocese of St. Louis is what happened on...

TLDR; They removed my abuser and acted like I didn't exist, which was a REAL mind-fuck.