On Victim Shaming: We Will Not Be Silent

Stop talking about it

Updated Below

I want to make something completely clear: Jessica did not ask me to write my previous post. In fact, she didn’t even know the post was coming until it was done. Going a step further, her abuser would label me as an enemy. I took it upon myself to post what I did in solidarity with her because I refuse to pretend this is a “private/family matter” that shouldn’t see the light of day. She took a big risk letting the world know what he did and how he behaved toward her. She knows what he’s capable of but still took that leap. I wrote my post to support her– so she wasn’t leaping alone and so our little twitter community couldn’t say “This is just a private spat between two people”.

Fuck that.

Abusers count on their victims remaining silent and their actions remaining hidden. When we have evidence that abuse occurred– and verbal/emotional abuse is as bad as physical abuse– we as good people should not be silent. Abusers should not be able to hide behind the cliche that this is a private matter. We’ve come too far to go back to that. We’re stronger than that. We no longer accept that.

But many people in the Left’s twittersphere have decided that discussing an instance of abuse, online and in public, is distasteful. They don’t want to see that. They want to discuss the “issues” and continue tweeting Obama to his presidency. They don’t like seeing this played out and their favorite twitter icon shown in a bad light. It makes them uncomfortable and sad. They’re conflicted so they tell the victim to just stop talking about it.

Update 1:
This is an example of what this post is about:

and then:


End update

Here’s a clue for those of you whining that it’s too ugly for your blushing eyes to handle: Abuse is an “issue”. It’s an ongoing battle that many women, children and men endure. Most of the time that abuse is kept “in house” and the abuser gets to say things like “There’s never been one woman come forward”. It is an issue that spans the political spectrum and effects millions of people. If this particular abuser were anyone else, you’d be chirping how awful he was and that he should seek psychiatric help. Instead you validate his claim that he’s being bullied unfairly. How dare anyone come forward and show his abhorrent behavior to the world! How dare anyone blog it or tweet it!

*Note: No one is alleging physical abuse. But if you’re intelligent then you know that emotional abuse is just as painful as physical abuse.

In many ways, emotional abuse is more psychologically harmful than physical abuse. There are a couple of reasons for this. Even in the most violent families, the incidents tend to be cyclical. Early in the abuse cycle, a violent outburst is followed by a honeymoon period of remorse, attention, affection, and generosity, but not genuine compassion. (The honeymoon stage eventually ends, as the victim begins to say, “Never mind the damn flowers, just stop hitting me!”) Emotional abuse, on the other hand, tends to happen every day. The effects are more harmful because they’re so frequent.
The other factor that makes emotional abuse so devastating is the greater likelihood that victims will blame themselves. If someone hits you, it’s easier to see that he or she is the problem, but if the abuse is subtle – saying or implying that you’re ugly, a bad parent, stupid, incompetent, not worth attention, or that no one could love you – you are more likely to think it’s your problem. Emotional abuse seems more personal than physical abuse, more about you as a person, more about your spirit. It makes love hurt.

Let’s look at some facts:

Verbal, Emotional, and Psychological Tactics1

  1. Using degrading language, insults, criticism, or name calling;
  2. Screaming;
  3. Harassing;
  4. Refusing to talk;
  5. Engaging in manipulative behaviors to make the victim believe he or she is “crazy” or imagining things;
  6. Humiliating the victim privately or in the presence of other people;
  7. Blaming the victim for the abusive behavior;
  8. Controlling where the victim goes, who he or she talks to, and what he or she does;
  9. Denying the abuse and physical attacks.

I’ll tackle these one at a time.
1. Using degrading language, insults, criticism, or name calling;

We know for a fact he does this. Listen to the audio. “You intolerant cunt”

2. Harassing;

She’s made clear that he’s contacted her friends and continued to try to call her even when she ended their relationship. In fact, if you look at Jessica’s posts in response to his you will see that this wasn’t the only voice mail he’s left her. He actually “apologized”2 for the wrong one. I have no idea how many of those he left her in his fits of anger, but I see the pattern.

3. Refusing to talk;

I guess this one doesn’t apply from the evidence we have.

4. Engaging in manipulative behaviors to make the victim believe he or she is “crazy” or imagining things;

In his latest note to Jessica he says this:

We even spoke of you getting counseling for your relentless brow beating of me whenever we had seemingly minor disputes. None of that made it into your blog narratives.

On Twitter someone said she was childish, he agreed. He’s setting the “narrative” that she’s emotionally unstable. He ignores the fact that he’s the one with the anger problem for which he should seek help.

5. Humiliating the victim privately or in the presence of other people;

Currently he’s doing damage control and so is very much trying to get her to shut up or at least get the rest of us to shut up. As we’ve heard on the voice mail (which, I will remind you, was not the only such one he left for her) he used very humiliating language.

6. Blaming the victim for the abusive behavior;

There is ample evidence of this, both in the voice mail and his response to her making the voice mail public.

From the voice mail:

You did that on purpose…stop driving me to this level of anger and pretending that you’re not aware that you do it. You know that you’re aware that you do it.

From the “apology“:

It was loud, intense, and used words I deeply regret. I am so sorry for them, and I wish I could take them back, but I can’t. I was furious. No, that’s wrong. I was totally and completely hurt and angry at you for taking our private matters into a public venue like Twitter as you had. After repeatedly asking you to explain what had suddenly angered you, knowing my countless enemies are always trying to game us and destroy me, I got no responses at all.

From his response to his behavior being made public:

Again that doesn’t excuse my vitriolic anger, but since recordings only reveal my reactions and not what caused them, they naturally work for you among your friends, or anyone disposed to thinking that any form of yelling into a telephone answering machine is evidence of, or suggestive of some larger form of physical or extreme abuse in person. We both know that never happened.

7. Controlling where the victim goes, who he or she talks to, and what he or she does;

He’s infamous for his DMs telling people to unfollow or block certain people he doesn’t care for3. She has admitted that she’s done these things for him in her apology to the people she hurt. I have to other evidence to show he’s gone that far.

8. Controlling where the victim goes, who he or she talks to, and what he or she does;

I’ve personally seen no evidence of this one. So, I’ll assume until otherwise notified this one doesn’t apply to him.

9. Denying the abuse and physical attacks.

There is ample evidence of this particular tactic. Just look at his blog or his twitter timeline. He’s denying it as I type this. As far as quoting him, look above. His non-apology and his response show in great detail how he denies the emotional abuse. Note: We are not talking about physical abuse here. Jessica made clear that it was not physical.

We have seen that abuse has happened and that it is ongoing– in his responses to her on his blog and twitter, his underhanded threats to her4. Yet, there are still some who say that this should be handled privately, that this shouldn’t be brought out into the open or that public squabbling is unseemly. They are uncomfortable with being confronted with the fact that someone they respect is capable of such things. They are conflicted because they’re not sure how to act. They blame her for being emotional.

Why is it a good idea for Jessica to discuss this publicly? For one, she was able to name her abuse and her abuser. By doing that, she took back her power. Secondly, she was able to find allies to support her. She found that she did not have to face this alone.

NAMING IT
Because it is harder to name emotional abuse as abuse, it can be harder to heal from as well. The first step is to name your experience as abuse. Trust how you feel. Many people can identify the abuse once they know what to look for because they change from being outgoing, self-confident, and care-free to feeling nervous, anxious, and fearful in the company of an emotionally abusive person

She needs to get her confidence back. If you’ve ever experienced this kind of abuse, you know that it drains your very soul. He was able to take her self away and make her his. By naming him and her experience, she was able to take her self away from him.

IF YOU’RE PRESENTLY BEING EMOTIONALLY ABUSED
If you know that you’re currently being emotionally abused, you’ll need to find ways to protect yourself emotionally; to reduce or stop contact with the abusive person; to find allies; to talk about what is going on, and to look into options to keep yourself from being further abused5

She reached out in a way we’re all familiar with– to her allies in the virtual world. Her friends and people who can empathize with her situation. She is finding support and healing from the damage he did to her in a way of her choosing.

So, let me be very, very clear here to the people who are telling us– and specifically her– to stop talking about this. When you tell her to stop talking about it, you are telling her to shut up and you are attempting to shame her into silence. That makes you part of the problem. That makes you his enabler and that makes you supportive of the abuse.

Does that make you uncomfortable? Are you angry now? Good. You deserve to feel that way. Imagine what the victim of the abuse feels like when you tell her that her experience is not worthy of your tender little eyeballs. When she sees you validating the person who abused her. It’s precisely people like you and your reaction to this that more people don’t come forward. Go sit in your corner, cover your eyes and pretend the only ugly that happens in the world happens to people you don’t know. No one’s stopping you from hiding to protect your delicate sensibilities.

But we will not be silent. We will not ignore it. We will stand up and say that this is enough. Abuse is a real issue that affects real people and, guess what, Sherlock, those real people are probably people you know. So, you can sit down and shut up now. Hide away deep in the crevices of the internet where real life never seeps in and your only exposure to real ugly is in a link your friend posted. The rest of us, those strong enough to actually look at what happened to Jessica and others like her, will stand with the victim and see real life the way it actually happens. And we will be very, very angry about it.

Update 2:

Jessica has updated her own post to include more voice mails. You can read the transcripts and listen to recordings.

Don't be silent

  1. Courtesy of “The Basics of Domestic Violence“ []
  2. I use that term very loosely because his apology was anything but. []
  3. Myself being on that List, which is actually quite comical. []
  4. That he will write his own tell-all and that she’s lucky he’s above that. []
  5. Courtesy of “Emotional Abuse: The Most Common Form of Abuse” []

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