Athaliah the gaslighter
Ellie ♦ 2nd July 2013 ♦ 47 Comments
Note from Barb and Jeff C: Ellie has been commenting on our blog for some time and has written guest posts for us. We have now officially given her an Author role at the blog. Thanks for joining the team, Ellie 🙂
2 Kings 11, ESV
Athaliah Reigns in Judah
1 Now when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal family. But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the king’s sons who were being put to death, and she put him and his nurse in a bedroom. Thus they hid him from Athaliah, so that he was not put to death. And he remained with her six years, hidden in the house of the LORD, while Athaliah reigned over the land.
Joash Anointed King in Judah
4 But in the seventh year Jehoiada sent and brought the captains of the Carites and of the guards, and had them come to him in the house of the LORD. And he made a covenant with them and put them under oath in the house of the LORD, and he showed them the king’s son. And he commanded them, “This is the thing that you shall do: one third of you, those who come off duty on the Sabbath and guard the king’s house (another third being at the gate Sur and a third at the gate behind the guards) shall guard the palace. And the two divisions of you, which come on duty in force on the Sabbath and guard the house of the LORD on behalf of the king, shall surround the king, each with his weapons in his hand. And whoever approaches the ranks is to be put to death. Be with the king when he goes out and when he comes in.”
9 The captains did according to all that Jehoiada the priest commanded, and they each brought his men who were to go off duty on the Sabbath, with those who were to come on duty on the Sabbath, and came to Jehoiada the priest. And the priest gave to the captains the spears and shields that had been King David’s, which were in the house of the LORD. And the guards stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, from the south side of the house to the north side of the house, around the altar and the house on behalf of the king. Then he brought out the king’s son and put the crown on him and gave him the testimony. And they proclaimed him king and anointed him, and they clapped their hands and said, “Long live the king!”
13 When Athaliah heard the noise of the guard and of the people, she went into the house of the LORD to the people. And when she looked, there was the king standing by the pillar, according to the custom, and the captains and the trumpeters beside the king, and all the people of the land rejoicing and blowing trumpets. And Athaliah tore her clothes and cried, “Treason! Treason!” Then Jehoiada the priest commanded the captains who were set over the army, “Bring her out between the ranks, and put to death with the sword anyone who follows her.” For the priest said, “Let her not be put to death in the house of the LORD.” they laid hands on her; and she went through the horses’ entrance to the king’s house, and there she was put to death.
I was listening to this story on audio Bible the other day. It struck me that here is Athaliah, the ultimate traitor to her son, her grandchildren, her country, her GOD, yelling, “Treason! Treason!” when the rightful king is revealed. What a nut! How in the world is saving an infant son of the king treasonous? Abusers’ sense of right and wrong is so skewed. Anything that goes against them is treacherous. Anything they want is good. Nope. Abusers don’t get to define right and wrong.
Ultimately, I think this reveals abusers’ sense of entitlement and their jealousy of God, the ONE who does define right and wrong. I have to think that there were some in the crowd who were confused by Athaliah’s last words (it’s so good on this audio Bible, very dramatic). It reminds me of the convicted murderer Barbara Graham’s last words, “Good people are always so sure they’re right.” In The Sociopath Next Door [*Affiliate link], Martha Stout identifies this as gaslighting because it confused so many people into questioning reality, so much so that a movie was made casting Bloody Barb as a victim. What would Athaliah look like in a Hollywood movie? I don’t even want to think about it.
Gaslighting is a terrible form of mental abuse. But it is so common. I documented things so that I would have a way to go back and KNOW what happened. Abusive texts and emails are filed away. Audio that I recorded is filed away. If I need to review things because I get foggy and start thinking the fate of the world rests on my ability to endure his abuse (and maybe it wasn’t THAT bad), I read those texts and emails or listen to his ranting, but only for a little while. It is overwhelming to review it for too long.
A few examples of his gaslighting me are:
He insisted we join a MultiLevel Marketing organization, wouldn’t do the presentations. I learned to and, at his insistence, subscribed to their promotional materials and actively recruited only to be told that it was all my idea and I was ruining our marriage.
When I’d catch him looking at porn, he’d scream at me and tell me that I was spying on him.
Complained throughout the divorce process that I was mistreating him. When in fact, he was being disrespectful of my boundaries and requests.
Says my recording his abusive rants was betraying him instead of acknowledging that the fact that he was ranting was betraying me, our kids, everyone who knows him who he acted like he was a rational reasonable person to.
Acts like his having to paying debts we incurred together is me abusing him and comparable in any way to his hitting me and threatening me.
Ignores the kids and accuses me of abandoning them.
Took off his wedding ring, but says I abandoned the marriage. Says he thought marriage was forever, but constantly made it into a transaction, making me earn him putting his ring back on.
We went to a marriage counselor and he screamed and swore at me the whole time. He ordered me not to look at him, said we weren’t married anymore. Then when I filed for divorce, his mother told me that we hadn’t tried marriage counseling.
Concerning his adultery with his married subordinate, told me that he didn’t have a relationship with a married woman. He was in a relationship with a woman he liked. I still have no clue how he could say that with a straight face. Then he told me he never would’ve done it if he hadn’t thought we were through.
Texted me when he was shopping with the co-adulterer for new clothes to ask what size clothes he wears (I’m not making this up). Then when I told him how much that hurt me, he said it was a legitimate question because I know what size clothes he wears and he doesn’t. The appropriate response would be an apology, not trying to explain to me that I’m wrong for being hurt that he made me his accomplice in his adultery.
I am glad that I am learning more about this form of cruelty. Good people aren’t always sure they’re right. We, or I anyway, can be confused into thinking that I am the cause of the problem. Of course, I wanted to believe that sometimes because if I’m the problem, I can fix the problem. If it’s him, I’m stuck with two terrible choices, endure the cruelty, or divorce. At least – I thought divorce was a terrible choice. It’s not what I wanted, but it’s better than living with his abuse. I feel that this divorce is God’s deliverance for me and my kids. And I am grateful to Him for His provision.
*Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link.
- Posted in: Abusers
- Tagged: abuser's tactics, couple counseling, Ellie, emotional abuse, false guilt, gaslighting, identifying abusers, Kings
Leave a comment. It's ok to use a made up name (e.g Anon37). For safety tips read 'New Users Info' (top menu). Tick the box if you want to be notified of new comments. Cancel reply
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Praising the Lord you are out of this horrible emotional war zone! I was one week from a marriage with a gaslighter. I remember one of our first “couple’s counseling” sessions. He had spoken at length to the counselor by phone before we even went, and then he proceeded to take control of the session with his childlike charm. He looked so caring and concerned, but the things coming out of his mouth were completely distorted. I was so confused because I thought he was being so kind to pay for the expensive counseling to help our relationship (his rage problems), but I was sitting there being made to feel extreme guilt for things I wasn’t even doing. As I listened for an hour to things I absolutely had not done (he warped everything I did/said for his victimization…even kind things!), I had the gut reaction of standing up and running. My eyes filled with confused tears, and something snapped in my head and I left the counseling office and walked all the way home by myself (5 miles). I know now that I was sensibly running away from danger like Arwen running from the wraiths (the Gift of Fear…trust your gut instincts)! Unfortunately, this made me look like the angry, unreasonable, crazy one, and the counselor and the boyfriend talked me back into things for another year of this treatment (which grew worse with his rage). As a typical gaslighter, he came to my house looking so hurt and understanding (“I was too hard on you when you were so tired after work on a Friday…”), and of course, I ended up the one apologizing and amending my “wrongs.” I wanted to believe he was just confused, and I hadn’t worked hard enough or been patient enough to try to understand his “perspective.” Now I fully understand…it’s all CONTROL. It’s the pattern and cycle how they gain and keep control. Confusion…disorientation…losing trust in one’s reality…guilting…undermining…questioning…manipulating the people in the support system (counselor)…and then using “love” and “caring” to brush away your doubts and concerns.
ack! Ellie ((hugs)) I soo relate to the clothes shopping – their entitlement and arrogance is so breathtaking. It makes you question your own sanity sometimes because .. how could anyone be that cruel with a straight face, right? ugh
Mine asked what laundry soap to use that he wasn’t allergic to and where to get his coffee?!?!?
When I first left, he demanded that I come do my job during the day (do his laundry and take care of the house). I did everything I could think of to bless that man while we were together and I was happy to do it. I’d still be doing if he could’ve been nice. But the abusive controlling mindset is too strong in that one.
It was good to read these examples. I hadn’t even really realized some examples in my own marriage until now.
I forgot to ask y’all to tell your stories of being gaslighted. I think that as we learn about this form of cruelty, we learn to recognize instances and, in turn, get a tighter grip on our sanity. I have realized that a family member has been gaslighted several times in the past and it’s had the intended effect of causing others to question her sense of reality. She is learning to think proactively to guard against it and even experimenting with Gray Rock The Gray Rock Method as a coping mechanism. But she has to be careful since she doesn’t know how her abuser will escalate if his squeak toy stops squeaking on cue.
So, if you feel comfortable doing so, would you share your experience with having been gaslighted?
Well done to record it, you have evidence to show others, and maybe useful in court, my abuser was Furious when i gave a letter in which he threatened to kill me to my Lawyer,i wish i had recorded some of the verbal stuff too, so when a lot of it fades, i can remingd myself, when the enemy whispers ” it wasn’t as bad as you remember” Some Christians have said that it was wrong to give the letter to the Lawyer, because i am not forgiving Him,I can honestly say i have forgiven, but it does not mean i have to be anywhere near Him again.God bless you.
Some Christians have said that it was wrong to give the letter to the Lawyer, because i am not forgiving Him
I wonder why they think forgiveness and foolishness are synonyms?
BIT your sense of wit and humor gets me every time. You are awesome!!
Thanks AJ! Happy to oblige. 🙂
They do make it easy though, giving me so much to work with….
They do make it easy though, giving me so much to work with….
Eahill58, Yes, you are absolutely right…you’re forgiveness does not include restoration of a relationship. So happy for you that you understand that concept! 🙂
BIT, I love you’re response! It’s so succinct! 🙂
I used to have those moments after we were free, that voice that says “it wasn’t as bad as you remember” …thankfully I’m getting stronger because I don’t doubt myself like that anymore. Usually I would have those doubts after someone else would question my experience and I had to try and explain it.
Thank you for describing your experience with gaslighting. I endured similar scenarios, and you have reminded me that I really was, and am, sane.
My ex-idiot invaded my house and I had to call 911. I ran from him and told him that is he didn’t leave I would have to call 911. He left after I called and after a few emails back and forth from my pastor. He still did not take blame and here you can see how he twisted it all back on me. Gaslighting..so confusing!
“P.S. About coming into the house: Sunday scared the daylights out of me and has given me concerns about entrapment so I won’t be coming into the house alone and when possible will have a police officer or a witness with me for my protection; I never thought in a million years you’d try to call the police on me because of a fear of something I’ve never done and I am intensely concerned about the overreaction. I am praying that God will cure your fear, that you would seek pastoral counseling, and that you will seek His will and power to overcome it. If we move in together again, then we need to do some sort of joint counseling to address and manage this fear.”
ugh. Still Scared, thanks for sharing that. I think many of our readers will have lights go on from reading that example of an abuser twisting a situation.
Ohhh. I have a sudden urge to bang my head against a wall. 😦
I imagine when they do this after a 911 episode it is for CYA as well as the sheer fun of it.
I have banged my head many times! It’s the normal reaction of a normal person to an abnormal interaction.
I’m not sure if this falls under “gaslighting” or not. But my ex does this thing that I call “emotional whiplash”. That’s where he’ll be giving me the cold shoulder or sneering at me or something…basically making me cry or feel miserable…and then all of the sudden he’ll change like Jekyll & Hyde and say something in a totally conversational tone of voice, like “Hey, have you lost weight Katy?”
I really thought that I must be insane. He did that to me again recently. But the worst example was when we were getting a divorce, and one night he was threatening me and screaming and ranting and raving, swinging his arms and towering over me and threatening to take the babies away from me forever…. I was sitting in a chair with my head down, praying and shaking….and ALL OF THE SUDDEN he stops. sits down across from me. His voice was calm and WISTFUL as he says “wow. Our relationship has been such a roller coaster, such highs and such lows.” and he shook his head like it was so sad that it was ending.
I was incredulous (since I don’t remember any of these “highs” he spoke of???)
To me, that sounds like a form of gaslighting for sure, because it’s designed to make you feel like you are going crazy. The rapid switch to Dr Jekyll nice guy has the effect of erasing and denying the reality of what he just did moments ago when he was the Mr Hyde monster.
And it makes you wonder ‘Who is the real one? the nice guy? or the monster?’
And furthermore, ‘I must be crazy to think that a person can show such opposite personalities; there must be something wrong with my perception or my thought processes!”
I like that term “emotional whiplash”. Good one, Katy!
Katy and Barbara – I so relate to the Jekyll/Hyde thing. They completely rewrite the event in their mind and somehow believe this rewrites the event for everyone. Reality is what they decide it is, and if you don’t agree with their reality, you are the crazy one.
Otter, exactly…they believe their re-written history and are aghast that you don’t.
“wow. Our relationship has been such a roller coaster, such highs and such lows.”
Like this kind of thing just happens. No responsibility. It just “has been” like that.
I once asked my MIW if he believed his own lies and he said “no.” I almost laughed out loud because any other person would have responded with ,”I’m not lying.”- I still shake my head when I think of that.
I am so glad you wrote this. The Bible has something to say about everything. My husband has been doing this a lot lately. I wish I could record some of them. I kind of think it would too dangerous but am not sure.
I too like the term emotional whiplash. I was thinking my husband is bi-polar but maybe this is just one of his abuse tactics.
Yes, my ex had told me that he was playing the good parent to my bad parent. I had not thought of it that way before. In counseling later, I mentioned it and he looked at me and said, ” Really, do you have to call someone the bad parent?” I was aghast as I had not been the one to come up with that. He had. But he had to prove to the cute female counselor that he chose, how awful I was! Talk about whiplash. That was just one instance too….
Thank you for the examples so I know what gaslighting really looks like. It’s a hard concept to wrap your brain around. So confounding the way abusers think.
And I agree with Wisdomchaser, God’s Word really does have an answer for everything. The Bible is so rich!
I have so many examples, but this one stands out: My oldest daughter just broke up with her boyfriend — it was clearly his fault, but I’m pretty sure my STBE didn’t know the circumstances at all. One day we were both standing in the bathroom talking a little about it and he says “if she had spent more time with him, they would still be together.” ?!?!??!?!? I was like ” what?!” So many questions — how do you know how much time she spent with him? Why do you care? Are you defending him? Are you blaming her for this? He of course denied he meant any of those things and only kept repeating his comment, as if it had no meaning apart from the individual words. He did that all the time — would make a statement and completely deny its implied meaning and claim there was no meaning other than the words he said. It made me completely crazy and he claimed he just didn’t know how to communicate. Did that all the time too. So finally I said out of total frustration “so , you would rather I think you are stupid, than that you are just being mean?” and he said “yes.” He actually said “yes.”!?!?!? I cannot tell you how many “conversations” I had with him that played out just like this. I would be a frustrated, hysterical mess by the end usually.
Here is another. Over the past 12 months he has only paid child support for 3 months and I have to remind him each time. I am getting worn out and now have it written that he has to deliver it prior to the day it is due and I did say that if this continues I will have the state take it from his check. I think that I have been more than fair. His response:
SS, I would be changing the method of child support collection to put it into the authority’s hands, rather than doing it informally (passing the money directly from him to you). When it is informal payment between the abuser and the survivor, it often just gives the abuser another arena in which he can keep you hanging on a thread.
Mind you, using the Child Support Service (CPS in Australia; it may have a different name in the US) to collect the money and pass it on to you, is not always a bed of roses either. Like any bureaucracy, they can bungle; and the abuser can conveniently lose his job and switch to another job so the CPS can’t track him down to collect the money. My ex did that kind of thing, but in the end the CPS managed to collect the entire arrears he owed me. Overall it was way better than doing if informally, as it was one less hold he had over me and one less thing he could guilt me about.
that is what my current plan is…of course he needs a job again…
Wow. The phrasing and blame shifting sound so familiar. And his wordy manipulation, so sincere sounding, so confusing.
Your ex-idiot has got this down to a science.
You know, I understand people who don’t pay Alimony. It’s not right, but I can understand the bitterness and anger manifesting itself that way. But not paying child support? Really?
Unless someone has lost their job and literally doesn’t have the money, there’s just no excuse. More proof that these people do not think the same way normal people do.
Right….they don’t think like normal people. To an abusive father, children and child support are just another avenue with which to abuse the mother. They don’t care if their children have food on the table.
Jeff S, he keeps losing jobs and won’t do anything on the side, no tutoring or tech writing or anything. When I was trying to get a job in my profession after he left I babysat, tutored, walked dogs, anything to help provide for necessities for my kids. His entitlement means that he should only do jobs he wants to do. It is so sad ( and very frustrating ) he thinks this way. I figured out that in the past 12 months, I have only received 4 months of child support. I am going to stopped beating myself up because I have a minuscule savings account and am struggling to help my oldest pay for college.
Yes, even my allowance for “losing a job” can be taken advantage of, can’t it?
The truth is, if you love your child you do whatever it takes to contribute to their lives. And a person who does lose a job is going to work as hard as possible to make it up.
As you explain this, it makes me worry what will happen when this becomes an issue for me- because the behavior you describe is very consistent with my ex (who ended up moving out of state because she couldn’t find a job here- it’s not like Atlanta is a small city).
I say “when this becomes an issue for me” because right now, since I was working and she was not while we were married, I pay her Alimony, but she pays me child support. I just deduct the child support, so there’s no way right now for her to not pay it. That will change in a few years though.
I’ve been just assuming that she will pay it and keep current after the Alimony period ends, but these comments have led me to be a little more cautious with that assumption.
Jeff S…i never thought it would be this bad. I don’t know why I didn’t think this. He always put himself first before all of us so I should have known. It’s just not how I see the world. I don’t think I am entitled and if tasked to do something I do it. I guess I just thought if the legal system was involved he would do it. Instead he tries to find a million ways around it. They wear you down.
That’s it, SS: we don’t think like them.
We think they will behave responsibly, we think they will follow court orders, we think they will care properly for their children, we think they will snap out of their black cloud and become decent people like the rest of us. It’s just so hard to think that the abuser is not going to change. It’s so hard to wrap our heads around the fact that since the abuser has not changed thus far, we’d better start expecting them to carry on being abusive, and we’d be wise to try to imagine and foresee what tactics of abuse they will next pull out of their kit bag, and what nefarious new tactics they will come up with as we erect boundaries against them. . .
This sounds just like the song and dance I get from my MIW about getting money from him every month.I always have to beg and it’s never enough,and boy does he have excuse after excuse.
I am trying to find more examples of gaslighting from my ex-idiot’s emails. It helps to see many examples I think to be able to recognize them more quickly. This one is when I did not tell him about something with my adult child. I had told the adult child it was up to him to tell his dad if he wanted to. He hadn’t and my ex-idiot found out from a friend of a friend. ( and the issue with the adult child had been going on since he was 11 so my ex-idiot should have been very aware, it was just made a formal thing.)
Oh my goodness! Reading this post describes MANY incenses with my husband! His defensiveness over anything I question him about….like “what did you do with the loan money?” to just a simple comment can lead to an argument and the next thing I know its all about me and how I’m the abuser, and what ever else he can throw in my face to hurt me and make it look like I’m crazy and better go talk to my therapist. He throws emotional bombs using anything he can to rewrite history and character assassinate me to get the focus off the original topic. I’m new to this post and already have gained so much validation that its not me. My husband is a very clever sleath abuser. He has almost driven me to suicide……gas lighting is one of his favorite tools…..now I clearly see this tactic and its purpose. My prayer is that one day soon I can leave. I have left two times and have been forced back here due to finances…which he controls. Please pray that the Lord will provide a way of escape for me………thank you so much for this site………blessings to you all.
lauralee, if you haven’t already done so, I would strongly suggest you make contact with a domestic violence support service (The Hotline [Internet Archive link] will give you the contact details for your local services. They may be able to help you with safety planning and ideas for how to navigate the financial issues.
(((hugs))) to you, and so glad you did not succumb to suicide 🙂
Very confirming to read other’s experiences with gas-lighting. Even the same sentences almost. My ex’s pinnacle was when he actually had my (former) best friend) convinced that I was responsible for his moving in to a commune with 7 women after he moved out of our home. He moved in to the commune with a straight face, still claiming to be a Christian and that he wanted to reconcile.
I have come to love this clip- Minions What?! from .08-.13.
I watch it regularly coz it sums it up life with my ex perfectly.
I’m new here and just read this post and wondered if this type of conversation would fall under the heading gas-lighting.
Me: You said / did _______.
H: I didn’t say / do _______.
ME: I heard / saw you ________.
H: I would NEVER say / do that.
ME: Yes, you did.
H: You just THOUGHT I said / did that.
ME: So, you’re saying that I’m making this up?
H: You misunderstood. It isn’t what you’re thinking.
ME: What do you mean? What is it that I’m thinking?
H: I would never do anything to hurt you / disrespect you / ignore your request.
ME: Well it is upsetting because I want to resolve this and you keep saying it never happened.
H: Well don’t get mad. You have no right to be upset with me. I didn’t do anything wrong.
These conversations could go on and on until I couldn’t take it anymore and would retreat to the bathroom for a good scream or cry.
Yes — it’s most certainly gaslighting.