I am not a journalist. I’m not looking for fame. Look around and you won’t see any ads. When I write it’s because I’m passionate about my subject for one reason or another. When I wrote this post it I was disgusted with the hypocrisy in the progressive community regarding abusive behavior from our own. You should know that though I was disgusted with progressives it was never about politics. I get disgusted because our side will– in a heartbeat — call out that exact kind of behavior from the Right using every weapon in our arsenal. I wrote subsequent posts about exactly that.
Here is the catalyst for this post:
I’d like to hear what she did to provoke him
Now we have an answer to that seemingly innocent question:1
When someone victim shames, or slut shames, they do so by asking questions that seem innocent. This isn’t something that seems odd to most people because we have this mentality taught to us. We’ve seen it in media, learned it from our family and, probably, engaged in it– She must have done something to deserve what happened to her. For rape victims it’s usually her sexual promiscuity, but for abuse victims it’s pretty much always “What did you do to deserve that?” This kind of thinking presumes that the aggressor is innocent and isn’t capable of controlling his own actions. If only she’d have known that he was this way she’d not have brought such a thing upon herself. God fucking forbid an adult have any kind of self control. Women have these magical powers, you see. Not only can we coerce men into falling in love with us (Magical vaginas!) but we can force them to put us in our place.
I remember once, when I was about 14, my sister’s lover beat me so severely that there were literally puddles of blood in the carpet. He was 18 at the time and there were plenty of witnesses. In those days, minors couldn’t bring charges against adults for battery. It was up to the parents to do it. When my mother found out what had happened, when she saw the carnage, the first question she asked me was “What did you do?” It doesn’t matter what provoked his attack on me, so I won’t answer that question for you. It is an example of how ingrained victim blaming is in our culture2. We can forgive a man for being abusive to a woman if she did anything leading up to the abuse. We use that reason to offer him forgiveness or, really, just to give ourselves reasons for not standing up against it. This is typical of our culture and cultures worldwide.
So, what did she do to provoke the abuse she received in this voicemail?
Jessica has a tendency to fight — and she will admit this — that she withdraws. She likes to say that she likes to go and stare at a wall, maybe for a day, maybe for a week but whatever. When she’s good and ready to then talk, she’ll come back. [...] And she did it this time, and I unloaded. I didn’t want to sit there another week and wait for her to come back on her own sweet time…
She chose to not participate in an argument and to allow herself time to cool down. By his own admission, he didn’t want to wait for her to cool down. He knew she withdrew and he didn’t accept that. What part of that behavior begs for the kind of abuse he leveled at her in that voicemail? None of it, of course. Because her withdrawal from an escalating argument is exactly the right thing to do. It’s what he should’ve done. Indeed, he admits that:
I should’ve gone to take a walk. I should have gone and smoked a cigarette, even though I haven’t had one in six years. I could have done a lot of things. I didn’t. I unloaded on her, and I’m very sorry about that, and if she ever gave me the chance to, I’d tell her that I’m very sorry about that.
That should end this situation. That should be the very last thing that he has to say about it. But, in fact, it’s not. Because he’s not sorry for his abuse. He’s sorry that she revealed it to the world. He’s sorry that we’ve been discussing it. And he’s sorry that she didn’t give him the chance to bring on yet another honeymoon period.
For those who don’t know what a honeymoon period is:
- Reconciliation/Honeymoon phase
Characterized by affection, apology, or, alternatively, ignoring the incident. This phase marks an apparent end of violence, with assurances that it will never happen again, or that the abuser will do his or her best to change. During this stage the abuser feels overwhelming feelings of remorse and sadness, or at least pretends to. Some abusers walk away from the situation with little comment, but most will eventually shower the survivor with love and affection. The abuser may use self-harm or threats of suicide to gain sympathy and/or prevent the survivor from leaving the relationship. Abusers are frequently so convincing, and survivors so eager for the relationship to improve, that survivors who are often worn down and confused by longstanding abuse, stay in the relationship.
Although it is easy to see the outbursts of the Acting-out Phase as abuse, even the more pleasant behaviours of the Honeymoon Phase perpetuates the abuse because the survivor then sees that the relationship isn’t all bad.
He admits that he’s very, very good at the honeymoon part of the cycle:
But she knows also that I’m *sorry* when I’m sorry, okay? I’m pretty good at that. Okay? To the point where she used to not like it very much. [chuckles] Because I can be good at it. Okay?
And what I mean by that is that when I’m contrite, I am *really* contrite. I will explain *why* it hurts so much that I hurt her, okay? And sometimes we’ll talk too much about it.
Do you see what he said there? Do you see the admission? This was not the first time he’d done this. Indeed, it’s not the last. In fact, his “apology” post was in reference to a later incident that happened 7 months after the voicemail to which I’ve linked above.
He’s very good at apologies and convincing her that he’ll be a good boy from now on. It’ll never happen again. It’s only this one time. Why won’t you please just fucking get over it, you cunt!
He says that he explains– to her — why it hurts him to hurt her. They talk about how it hurts him to hurt her. If she wouldn’t behave that way, if she wouldn’t stop staring at that fucking wall he wouldn’t have to hurt her. Do you see how that works? Those pretty words, spoken calmly and with a chuckle, tell us so much about his mind. And if she wasn’t being manipulated by her friends then she’d see that. If she wasn’t so sick of being intimidated and harassed and having her friends harassed then she’d understand how much he hurt to have to hurt her.
This is not a play on words. I am not taking anything he said and twisting it. Feel free to listen for yourself. For those who can’t listen the transcript of the relevant portion is at the bottom of this post.
The reason he did this “interview”– with two men he claims he can’t stand — was to “clarify” some things. He claims that he didn’t want to bring up Jessica in this “interview” and yet the very first thing he did was try to explain away his own behavior. It was her fault because she didn’t want to speak to him. That’s how she dealt with his moods and that’s why he had to go off on her. Oh, if only she’d have allowed some time to convince her he wouldn’t do it again. If only those meddling friends of hers hadn’t been manipulating her to keep her away from here.
Another common theme out of this particular episode is that he doesn’t give her credit for anything but his angst. When she decided to break it off it wasn’t because she chose to do so– it was because other people were meddling. The reason she outed the abuse wasn’t the reason she gave3, but because someone manipulated her to do it. They’re manipulating her now! This very instant! If it wasn’t for her obvious lack of mental capabilities everything would be a-ok. Because they were stronger in her mind than he was– with his ability to be very contrite– and not at all because she made the decision that enough was enough.
But it wasn’t enough for him. He mentions being dumped or doing the dumping. He also says a few things that are contradictory:
- “We had not had a relationship
- “…it was only a cyber-relationship”
- “All I wanted to do was discuss the issue, because we just spent two years together. Do you know what it’s like to walk away from two years, Lee? Obviously, you want to try to fix things, right? If it’s at all fixable.”
I’m sure that he doesn’t realize what he did there. He wants people to hold in their heads two thoughts: That it wasn’t a “real” relationship and that it was so serious for him that he had to do anything to fix it. They had two years! It was fixable! Except it wasn’t real. In so many ways he invalidates her very person and he’s so sincere; so troubled. Listen to the audio. He truly believes that there was no way that Jessica could have chosen to walk away and so he had to do something to save her.
His enablers, like the person who tweeted the bullshit above, think that she should’ve walked away. It’s their contention that it’s Jessica, Imani, Darshann and the rest of us who have caused all this strife. In his own words he explains how he tried for weeks to contact her friends to get Jessica to allow him to work his magic on her. Listen to the audio.
Because from that point forward — then from three weeks from that time, Jessica — Jessica went online and went into a meltdown rant which — I tried to reach out to her friend Brandibax. I said what’s going on? Why won’t Jessica respond to me?
He knows that Jessica is pissed. He knows that she doesn’t want to speak to him. So he continuously tries to contact her through her friends. He emails her to warn what will happen if she keeps speaking out:
But I’m basically saying, “look, you always told me you were so paranoid about your work and here you are making this scene on Twitter. Randy, you know is up my ass all the time. He’s gonna come gunning for you.” She then presented that as a threat to her, right? And I’m now — she described in her blog — I was setting up plausible deniability to threaten her.
He did threaten her. He did it in public– on Twitter — for all of us to see. Not only did he threaten her in public– after much behind-the-scenes communication hadn’t worked– he tried to emotionally blackmail her into talking to him.
And when that didn’t work, he decided to sic his less ethical friends on her. But wait! As this escalates and he doesn’t get what he wants, he decides to try another tactic: going after her friends.
By getting them out of the picture then he’d have a better in– or, as he puts it, he’d be better able to find out why she “suddenly” went on a rant. How else could he get her to listen to him? It’s not like he could possibly have left her alone to deal with this on her own and, maybe, get to the point where she could say “Dude, look, it’s over. Let’s move on. Good luck.” He couldn’t possibly just say to himself “You know, she’s upset about something. Maybe I’ll just give her some fucking room and let her heal.” That would be something a normal person would do. Especially if they thought the situation would escalate. Not him. He decides to take out her support system.
“You’d think that they wouldn’t want the guilt of their friends being hurt by their endless malice. They don’t seem to care.” Read more along those lines here.
And he did. He began to threaten to out their real names on Twitter as well as where they work. He even went so far as to tweet to one person’s employer.
1 of your employees is harassing me, possibly on your time & hardware. Where I can find your legal dept’s #?
He’s emailed them, blogged about their personal lives (and had others blog about them) and threatened to call employers. Of course, all of this pissed off her supporters and, well, didn’t work. None of her friends abandoned her. None of them decided “Hey, I better get back in line or this dude is going to fuck up my life.” In fact most of them– including her– outed themselves and their employers. They took away the weapons that he had against them and pushed back. Most of the push back was in the form of mockery. Is this guy serious? (Yes, he is.) Does he not understand the words he forms on the screen? (Apparently not.) Does he understand that other people can see what he writes? (Apparently we’re all affected by short-term memory loss and can’t remember what we’ve seen with our own eyes.)
These are just examples of his public behavior. All of the people he was threatening were previous allies. They were his friends who trusted him with personal information. But he happily provided all of their information for fodder to be publicized and twisted and made into, I kid you not, “Burn Notices”.
She knew he was capable of this when she decided enough was enough. He admitted in this interview what he was willing to do to bring her back to him. To talk to her and convince her that he was “contrite”. I can’t speak on the motives of people who aren’t her, but she wanted him to leave her alone. To let her be and to allow her to be angry. Anger brings healing and, eventually, silence. For most people, who are normal and aren’t of the mind that manipulation is the very best way to love, an “I’m sorry” would have been the end. There would be nothing else to say. No more for her friends to become angry over. No more damage. Normal people, though, don’t allow themselves to become the person who can laughingly say they are good at explaining how hurting someone else hurts them.
When the only way he could get a message to her was through Twitter he let a bit of his manipulation tactics show. He was on a rant and said that his mother was sick. Not just just sick, though, she was close to death. All of this was becoming too much for her and she wasn’t taking the breakup so well4. This form of manipulation is, again, text book for identifying an abuser.
Knowing that the victim wants love, approval or confirmation of identity, blackmailers may threaten to withhold them or take them away altogether, or make the victim feel they must earn them: “as the power of emotional blackmail indicates, self-identity is inevitably affected by… the ‘reaction’ of the other”, as is self-esteem. If the victim believes the blackmailer, he/she could fall into a pattern of letting the blackmailer control his/her decisions and behavior and become “caught in a sort of psychological fog”.
Emotional blackmailers use fear, obligation and guilt in their relationships, ensuring that the victim feels afraid to cross them, obligated to give them their way and feeling guilty if they don’t: indeed Forward and Frazier invent the acronym FOG, standing for Fear, Obligation, Guilt – feelings which often result from being exposed to emotional blackmail when in a relationship with a person who suffers from a personality disorder.
Forward and Frazier identify four blackmail types each with their own mental manipulation style:
- punishers – ‘My way or the highway’ is the punisher’s motto. No matter what you feel or need, punishers override you.
- self-punishers – “self-punishers cast their targets in the role of the ‘grown-up’ – the only adult in the relationship… supposed to come running when they cry”
- sufferers – sufferers take the position that “if you don’t do what I want, I will suffer, and it will be your fault” (see victim playing)
- tantalizers – Tantalizers are the most subtle blackmailers, they offer nothing with a free heart.
He sent this series of tweets to her:
.@vdaze My mother is despondent over reading your manipulations. You’ve hurt many people just to “get even.” Call me & we can end this.
.@vdaze And if my mother dies as a result of this drama, it will be one of the saddest cyber romances in history.
Fuck. My sister just called. My mother is reading these streams and shrieking hysterically. GOD DAMN THIS WOMAN. GOD DAMN HER.
He readily admits to lying about this. He’d sent an email to a friend of Jessica’s who, rightly, fessed up. If there was ever the seedling of a doubt that maybe his mother was very ill over their breakup5 then someone who cared would call him to either tell him to fuck off and quit involving his mother or call him to express regret. Either way he was hoping that she’d call him. This alarmed her friend who saw it as obvious manipulation and, really, who lies about their mother being ill? Someone who is desperately trying to control a situation from which he should be walking away.
More on emotional blackmail:
Abusers often justify their emotional blackmail with fear – abusers are often afraid that they may lose something important (material or immaterial) that their victims provide. This can include a home, access to money, the loss of credibility, sexual intimacy and the loss of parenting opportunities, etc.
Most people who use emotional blackmail fear losing something. To gain coercion, compliance and dominance, abusers may:
- Act like victims
- Make angry threats
- Install limiting beliefs
- Block the victim’s goals
- Disguise abuse as humor
- Withhold essential information
- Forget promises or agreements
- Contradict their victim’s perspectives
- Invalidate their victim’s reality and perceptions
- Trivialize their victims thoughts and achievements
Abusers can come from any background – most seem to learn to abuse by watching their parents.
What did she do to deserve that? She removed herself from the situation. That wasn’t good enough for him because it was out of his control. So she fought back. But is it as bad as getting a smack? Knowing that someone is desperately trying to communicate with you and will do anything to do so creates a psychological dilemma. She knows that her friends are putting themselves at risk. She knows that he won’t stop and will just evolve into something more. She’s seen him do it to other people. He recruits people to help him in the assault. If she finds herself moving on, he’ll find a way to let her know he’s watching. Always watching. So, she knows what’s coming and, yes, that can be just as bad as knowing a smack is coming.
The assumption is that her experience really isn’t that bad and if she hides herself away he’ll just go away. It’s not that bad. Why ya whining, sister? Every chance he has to get her attention or to insert himself into her head, he does exactly that. What’s so bad about that? It’s not like he’s throwing punches, right? It could be worse. It’s probably a good thing she removed herself before it got to that. But saying that about emotional abuse is an intellectually lazy excuse to absolve him of his own guilt. That’s laying the responsibility for his abhorrent behavior on her shoulders.
Yes, it could’ve been worse. I was nearly killed by one of my abusers and have a life-long disability because of that experience. But that doesn’t mean what she experienced wasn’t traumatizing for her. That kind of emotional manipulation takes time and when it’s finally over the healing is extremely slow.
The question in this segment of the interview is simple:
What’s your goal in all of this? And what I mean by that is, what are you after? What do you want Heather to do? What do you want Imani to do? What do you want Jessica or Milt to do?
The answer is, well, interesting:
I want to know who told Jessica about this alleged invitation to Canada that blew her up. That’s what I want to know. That’s first and foremost what I want to know. Okay? And you can ask Randy right now, if you wish, but I’d like to know what you believe. Did you hear that story? Do you know who did it?
These two are supposedly discussing a conspiracy where a group of people are targeting an activist group and/or/maybe trying to get money from a guy who admitted to being an infiltrator and/or/maybe they’re trying to hide their complicity with said infiltrator. That’s what the question was referencing. The answer tells another story — it’s all about her. I find it interesting that here is the answer to it all, every bit of it, but the discussion surrounding that very candid admission is just not there. He wants answers. She gets angry and withdraws. He admits that he will do anything to get her to communicate with him. He admits that he doesn’t blame her for allowing herself to be manipulated (though he would very much like to be the one doing the manipulating) and why is everyone so damned mean?
The most telling part of this segment, though, is this:
It’s my fault that I do that; I shouldn’t do that. I shouldn’t go from an agitated state like I’m at now [yelling] to some kind of abuse when she doesn’t answer the phone! Okay? Agreed, that’s abusive. And that’s exactly what that message was about.
Yes. Yes, it was abusive. The actions that led to that and the actions to led to her blog post were abusive. The actions that have led to this blog post are abusive.
Want this to stop? Repeat after me: I’m sorry.
Then leave her and her friends alone.
***Updated to include a screenshot of a DM that he sent Jessica regarding her asking him to “please stop” as well as the email that he sent admitting to lying about his mother.***
- I ran across this audio and immediately thought of the “what did she do to deserve it?” nonsense. This is about that. [↩]
- And a big “Fuck you” to the enablers who will undoubtedly repeat “Well, at least it’s not as bad as…” I’ve been through worse too and it’s my experiences that allow me to recognize it and to have a voice in calling it out. [↩]
- That he’d been harassing her and her friends and she just wanted him to stop. [↩]
- The breakup of a couple who weren’t in a relationship… heh. [↩]
- That didn’t happen because there was no relationship, right? [↩]