Saturday, 1 December 2012

Emotional violence and social power: August 6th 2020

Updated August 6th 2020

Headline from article about Warren Ellis in The Guardian

I'm writing this as scores of women come forward about a man called Warren Ellis. Their description and explanation of that individual's methods brilliantly illustrates coercive abusers' rape-adjacent, violating and manipulative tactics. I first read the women's account when I was approached by several of Ellis's victims as well as journalists covering the story, asking if he was the same individual as the one I've written about below. He isn't, although their strategies are the same, with one exception: the perpetrator I discuss below doesn't target vulnerable women. He targets strong, powerful women. 

Emotional Violence and Social Power, my #MeToo article about illegal coercive control, grooming and sexual exploitation, is below. As a result of writing it I have received multiple extremely aggressive threats by the same individual using the same law firm between 2014 and 2018. Anyone who wants to see the threats and my  responses can contact me. The most recent threat came 9 years after I knew the individual for 6 months. 

I want to thank all those who advised and worked with me on this case: the police, Helena Kennedy QC, JB and HW, MM, my prison and probation contacts, investigative journalist colleagues, specialist prosecutors, domestic abuse and sexual violence charities and numerous MPs working on coercive control, grooming and sexual exploitation, harassment and male violence against women and girls. 

Thanks to the many colleagues who warned me (too late) and the countless women who wrote to me from all over the world. I am continually contacted by strangers who have been targeted by the same perpetrator, who has named and slandered other victims to them, including me. These women work in publishing, academia, the media, events production, TV, comics, politics and activism and many are in public life. They range in (perpetrated-at) age from their early 20s to their late 40s and have detailed their experiences from 2002 to the present, describing precise and identical patterns of the same predator's speech and behaviour. I have met many of the women the perpetrator had slandered to me by name and of course they were all completely normal well-rounded adults who'd witnessed or been subjected to his perpetrations and were, like me, dumbstruck.

I don't believe it's our job to psychoanalyse our perpetrators. However, a helpful book list is at the bottom of this intro and a good start would be to Google 'narcissistic sociopath', 'narcissistic personality disorder', 'sociopathic abuse' and 'covert/vulnerable narcissism'. These are terms I learnt after yet another victim of the same individual contacted me and sent me down a Google rabbit hole. Fetch a sick-bag and start here and also here or right here, or maybe here, or even here, or here.  If you're not nauseated enough, read Anne Ursu's piece, or this particularly emetic post, or look here or here or here or even here or check out this long list. As you can tell, the patterns are all the same. Like here. And here. Or here and here. Or hereThis entire site is excellent, as is this one. A hint to begin: they always start with a pity ploy

For me and all the women who contacted me, the most chilling thing is the way the perpetrator can act to appear noble, soft and gentle, even victimised, while keeping his abuses secret for decades, grooming and abusing countless women simultaneously and moving fast to threaten any woman who speaks up. His male friends are abusive men like himself, or at the very least they are sexual harassers, philanderers, liars and cheats. I always found it interesting that men who are not like this could see through him instantly, while women fall for his glib surface charm and appearance of vulnerability. The things the perpetrator said to me once his mask dropped are shocking, unrepeatable. Not all are covered in the article below. No-one who met him socially would believe he was capable of them. This is the lonely bind that targets of the covert narcissistic abuser find themselves in.

I believe it's worth making a statement to the police, because the behaviours I am talking about are criminal acts of abuse. Doing so is exposing and you need to give exact references, facts, dates and contact points. The police may not be 'nice' and they may not believe you. Go in with zero expectations of a good outcome or a pleasant experience; be ready to be victim-blamed, insulted and gaslit. Making a statement is your right, they keep all details on record, it goes in the system and your words support other victims. The police take note when multiple people reference the same individual behaving in exactly the same way over two decades. They are also in touch with international prosecutors and investigators. The law on coercive control is explained here and a Crown Prosecution Service link is here. Rights of Women has a criminal law helpline that's a good starting point.  In the US the use of deceit and manipulation to gain sexual access is under discussion as an amendment of rape laws. You can find out more about the crime of psychological domestic abuse here and of course sexual exploitation is a crime in itself. 

If you go down this path, keep all the receipts and a detailed journal of all dealings and conversations with police officials. Pay for a consultation with a specialist criminal barrister (the best you can afford) in advance so you know the law and your rights and can frame an argument that the police can't refute and refuse to pursue. 

For years, people came to this page to eat up my horror, my disgust and violation. They wanted to count the ways a perpetrator can gratify himself and abuse women without actually punching us in the face. They wanted my five thousand word verbal puke of horror about an abusive man who's such a good actor that he's perceived by everyone as gentle, sincere and principled - 'just the nicest loveliest guy in the world,' as he was described to me several times. 

People want to hoover up details about female suffering and trauma. They relish a perpetrator who pathologically abuses women and uses institutional grievance procedures to terrorise those who speak up in academia or politics or publishing. There is a sick pleasure in learning about the perpetrator's use of enablers, dupes and groupies. But when a woman draws a line and moves towards action and justice, the kick for voyeurs is gone. They enjoy the pain of the suffering victim but are not interested in joining the women who fight back.

Everyone wants to know what happened next. The answer is, nothing. Impunity and success for the perpetrator, injustice and downfall for the victims, bemusement for the witnesses. I wrote my piece and took the consequent trash-talking, the disbelief, the punishment, the threats and betrayal and ostracism. That's par for the patriarchal course. Perpetrators don't change, they are all exactly the same  and they are incredibly skilled at what they do.

My #MeToo piece enabled a rich white man to go to a rich white man law firm and club up with them to threaten me, for years. That is, to use the legal system to terrorise a woman and exercise control while maintaining an outward show of morality, rectitude and wounded sanctimony. That's obviously repellent. But it's also common. 

The last verifiable whistleblow I received was on 10th July 2020 and they keep coming. But this is nothing to do with me. I am not Psycho's Victims' Chief Co-Ordinating Officer and I resent being dragged into a garbage man's garbage world. All that constant drama and lies and grooming and games and feuds and fallings-out and groupies and grievances. Life is easy when you don't lie.

The narcissist ...constantly lies about every aspect of his life: his self, his history, his vocations and avocations, and his emotions. This false data guarantee his informative lead, asymmetry, or "advantage" in his relationships. ...The narcissist is devoid of empathy and incapable of intimacy with others as well as with himself. To him, lying is a second nature.

My piece was not cathartic and evidently did not protect potential victims. It delighted gossips and bystanders, empowered trolls and enabled further abuse against me. I am a woman of colour who was perpetrated against by a white man who is wealthy, charming and plausible on the surface. I do not expect to be believed. I do not expect to be supported. I do not expect to see justice. Several of his victims, enablers and dupes are women of colour - a disproportionately high number in a very white milieu. I always wondered about that, the race-hate element of these abuses.

But overall, I'm done psychoanalysing the mendacity of abusive men. So listen, perp. Yes! You got me! And lots and lots and lots and lots of other women. You will abuse us women for the rest of your life and get away with it. The joke's on us, a hundred per cent. You're an amazing actor and you deserve a BAFTA. Your bathwater is now very, very, very stale and fetid. Enjoy it. 


Trauma and Recovery – Judith Herman
The Sociopath Next Door – Martha Stout
The Covert Passive Aggressive Narcissist - Debbie Mirza
The Body Keeps the Score – Bessel van der Kolk
The Body Remembers – Babette Rothschild
Betrayal Trauma – Jennifer Freyd
Blind to Betrayal – Jennifer Freyd
Trauma and the Body – Pat Odgen
Multiple books on trauma by Peter Levine
Power and Control - Sandra Horley
See What You Made Me Do - Jess Hill
No Visible Bruises - Rachel Louise Snyder
Why Does He Do That? – Lundy Bancroft
Complex PTSD – Pete Walker
It's Not Me - Anabel Gonzalez
Duped - Abby Ellin
Look What You Made Me Do - Helen Walmsley-Johnson
The Empathy Trap – Jane McGregor and Tim McGregor
Psychopath Free – Jackson MacKenzie
The Betrayal Bond – Patrick J Carnes
How to Handle A Narcissist – Theresa Jackson
Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare – Shahida Arabi (all her stuff is good)
Soul Vampires – Andrea Schneider
Revenge: How to Beat the Narcissist – H G Tudor
In Sheep’s Clothing – George Simon
How to Spot a Dangerous Man – Sandra Brown
When Love is a Lie – Zari Ballard
From Charm to Harm – Gregory Zaffuto
How to Kill a Narcissist – JH Simon


Emotional Violence and Social Power:

I've been attacked.

No, that’s not quite right.

I was set up, groomed, coerced, sexually exploited and intricately played by a stranger.

“It’s so horrible what happened to you,” said a friend to me at lunch.
“Why, what happened?” asked a new acquaintance.
         Ten second pause.
“I was tricked.”
         The most humiliating sentence I've ever spoken in my life. I had found out, by that point, that the perpetrator did to me, he did to many other women, some of them in parallel with me.

A very close friend of mine was played for over a year, her body used, her emotions exploited, her face lied to by her partner. She described it later as “emotional violence.” I watched, over the following six years, as her trust, strength and happiness were replaced with something wired and watchful. It’s called cheating not because specific restrictions have been broken but because the lover has been cheated out of their faith in the world, their trust, their sense of good judgement and their peace of mind. In time, she rebuilt herself. But she lost the career that she loved: she had been a gifted film-maker working in equal partnership with her ex, in the company they created. When the revelation came it was too humiliating to go to meetings, knowing that everyone knew. There was a particular look people had - of revolting open-eyed pity for her, but no censure for him. Seeing that 'liberal' industry for the protection racket that it really was poisoned her career. She was punished for being a victim and he was rewarded for being a perpetrator. The perks and job offers went to him and she was frozen out. Her ex’s career flourished. He is now rich, famous, thriving, happy and busy. She left the country and lost everything.

The phrase “emotional violence” stayed with me. At the time I thought she was talking out of her immediate devastation, but I now understand. The pain is physical. For a year after my discovery of the perpetrator's real character my skin crawled night and day, I felt nauseous, food tasted like ashes, my muscles were tense and, if I heard the perpetrator being praised as an unbelievably lovely, decent and gentle guy (as I do often), my heart pounded and felt as though a metal vice was squeezing it, I went hot and cold, then started sweating, shuddering and retching. I realise now that these are trauma responses. I didn’t know there would be a feverish restlessness and that my skin would feel as if it was being cut across the surface. I remember standing in the shower, feeling my back burning, certain that it was running with blood, slashed in a diamond pattern. I accepted every invitation, every work offer no matter how pointless and exhausting, because whenever I was alone, my skin crawled in one piece.

After that I felt numb and heavy for a year, as if my limbs were made of lead. I only wanted to be alone. My skin crawled when I was with people. And then it was all just cold, and grave, and realistic, and even. There were long term physical effects: my hair thinned and my immune system suffered. I see clearly now. I see him thrive. I see that I have fallen. The fear has calcified, the horror deepened, the wariness soured into cynicism.

“I’d say it took ten years to get over.” “After six weeks, when I phoned to check she wasn’t dead, she said, ‘I’ll live. Just.’” “I’d say it took…five years?... to feel like myself again. It’s just the thought that I didn’t even figure in his thoughts. What it would do to me…” “Even now, five years on, I wonder if it’s something I did.” “Don’t be embarrassed. I still talk and think about what happened to me, five years later.” These are all quotes from women I know, all strong, all successful, all different, with different lives and personalities, none of them stupid or na├»ve.

My own quote was, “It’s like taking a life.”
Mourning the Narcissist

A colleague of mine cheated on his pregnant wife but was described as “a dear” by a female colleague when I, instinctively rattled by his vibe, privately asked her if he was “a good guy” or not. Later he helped his own image by talking about how much he loves his baby; if a woman did that in the workplace she’d be dismissed as a lightweight who couldn’t keep her mind on her job. Indeed, at a NUJ conference last year one woman recounted how a female colleague had been slandered when she answered a family emergency call: “They said, ‘That’s a woman who should be producing a programme, not dealing with her kid.’’” Yet a male colleague in the same situation was cooed over: “They kept saying, ‘He’s such a great dad.’”

There are three poets: one is O, an erudite, high culture young Turk type, a kind of young fogey, short, wordy, with pretensions to greatness. The second is L, a wily Londoner, loose and warm and friendly, a little buzzed, streety and voluble. The third is S, a salt of the earth type, accessible and germane, frank in manner (though not actually honest, obviously), who, like all philanderers, writes marvellous odes to his wife. There was the colleague whose mistreatment of women was so well-known that once, when reception called and said there was a courier downstairs with a package, a couple of my male colleagues laughed and said, "It's a lawyer with a briefcase full of paternity suits." Not knowing this, I complained to this same guy during a friendly conversation about one of the poets, who had repeatedly betrayed and used a friend of mine (and all the women he betrayed and used alongside her) for years. The guy laughed immediately in easy dismissal. "O? O's a fuckin' lovely guy."

From the other side of the glass ceiling I watch them collect all the perks the world has to give. I watch them act craftily to gain the assistance of women and also help and excuse and cover for other men. I see women grovel and defer. There is the writer and film-maker who, again (spotting a theme?) has helped his own career through writing about his family life, as though he’s some hapless dad just bumbling along delightedly in the realm of the women and the babies. He has been cheating on his wife since their son was little. There is the publishing guy who went straight up to a beautiful friend of mine at a reading and said the following: “Hello! I’m Jonty Grope, my wife lives in the country, my mistress lives in London. Do you want to be mistress number two?” Ten years later he contacted me for a work project and I sat through the meeting, the bile rising in my throat, as he sat with his shirt unbuttoned halfway down his chest and a load of hairy uncooked-pastry skin oozing out and talked about his ‘fantastic’ wife, who always looks as miserable as shit whenever I see her. Oh, and his ‘great’ daughter too, of course. Sometime between those two days he sacked an incredibly competent friend, who had been rising steadily in his company, when she was on maternity leave.

Everyone knows about this guy; nobody does anything. If we all withdrew, he would have no career and he would rightly be reduced to nothing – since he has treated his wife, daughter and countless other women as nothing. But he flourishes. He called a meeting at which were present two close personal friends of his: one of the cheating poets I mentioned above, and a broadcaster who has had a sexual harassment case proven against him and whose wife left him after he betrayed her – although, thinking back, I realise that when he was actively betraying her I met him and he made the entire room look at him lovingly, as if he was a good man, as he described the birth of his daughter: “I didn’t even care what happened to the baby, I just couldn’t stand to see my wife in that much pain.” Well – you’d know about inflicting pain, right? Being formally reprimanded for sexual harassment and being divorced for betraying a woman has not taught this man any respect for women. I was speaking on a panel with him at a major cultural venue. I walked in and he said, "Love the gloves! Can I - ooh - can I just smell one?" We were being briefed by the chair of the panel, an extremely eminent woman, and halfway through he interrupted, "Now, Jill, don't pretend you don't want us to notice you've had a haircut. Very sexy." She took a deep unsmiling breath, paused for a few seconds looking flatly, then continued with what she'd been saying. He didn't notice or care. When I complained about the man to a colleague later they said, "Believe me, that's the very least of what Jill's had to put up with." This sexual harassment, belittlement, patronage, objectification and derailing of women, often by so-called 'liberal' men is completely endemic.

Now that the scales have dropped from my eyes I’ve been horrified by the hypocrisy and protectionism which surrounds these people. They are abusive men, nothing more, acting with forethought, secrecy, control, coldness and multiple simultaneous victims. Their victims are women, not men. The fact that the perpetrators pretend, at the same time, to be feminists, in order to get close to and then harm the women whose destruction will give them the greatest kick, compounds the unspeakable nastiness of their misogyny. Meanwhile, the misogyny of the beholders runs so deep that they just don’t care how much these men abuse, because their women victims are not human, it seems. Women are not even animals, for if any of these men had been witnessed mistreating a dog or a cat, people would be appalled. I have sat back in astonishment as ‘nice guys’ easily, happily praise and defend abusive men, in comically identical language. In fact I have never heard any man describe another man as 'wonderful' except when the second man was abusive towards women.

Chap: “George Best, what a wonderful, wonderful footballer. My father [who was a doctor] treated him, you know.”
Me: “For alcoholism, or for wifebeating?”
Chap (reddening): “Oh – for alcoholism.”

About V S Naipaul, who I witnessed at a book reading openly jeering at any woman who asked a question about his work, a male colleague said, “Yes, he was a rotter to women wasn’t he but my God, what wonderful, wonderful books.”

Even when I have outed abusers to colleagues, the colleagues do not then refuse to work with the abusers. Yet these men and women would, I am sure, would hate to be treated in the way I have described. Meanwhile, the gratuitous slandering of innocent women is endemic in public life and general conversation, as is the silencing, punishing, trashing, disbelieving and blaming of women victims who dare to speak out about what we have survived.

The effects go far beyond the incident and are enmeshed in a wider culture which does not punish this mistreatment but excuses and even rewards it, while attacking victims. When I have confronted abusers myself they have laughed in my face because they know that their abuse is not only protected but rewarded. It was devastating to learn, through experience, the ubiquity and connectedness of professional discrimination, personal abuse and cultural excusal, of perpetrators covering for each other and assisting each other’s careers. These men don't "love" women, as abusers forgivingly say of themselves. They hate us. If you spend years playing women, coercing women, tricking women, setting women up, using women's bodies, tricking women, duping women, lying to women, exulting in women's obliviousness, you are an abusive man.

There is the individual who perpetrated against me - let's call him Jekyll - whose entire public persona is built on his decency, his fairness, his niceness, his strength, his beauty, his activism, his progressive politics and his integrity. Because of you, Jekyll, I can no longer say I have never been perpetrated against.

I do not flirt, date, tease, pass messages, go back and forth or play sexual games with anyone, ever. This was not some romance but a drive-by shooting, a hit and run, a hard lesson taught to a stranger, a knifing by a passer-by. I told my mother about you and showed her the thousands of words of sly texts, endless emails and carefully crafted handwritten letters, including the classic line, "You ask if I am playing you. No defensiveness intended, but how would that work exactly?" Jekyll, it would work by teasing, coercion, compulsive and pathological lying, mercenary professional exploitation, manipulative mental games, sexual exploitation, emotional exploitation, hypocrisy, control, sadism, repeated and sustained deception. My mother, a scientist and academic, said, "He created a fantasy persona for himself: the little boy lost. He uses it to trick women. And he targets the clever ones. He uses his looks to deceive women - not a good look but a hurt, vulnerable look. I used to think there was something more to it with him but now I think he's just a piece of rubbish."

I could never look him in the eye again. That was the most painful thing – the speed with which the person I most wanted to see became the person I least wanted to see, the one I dreaded seeing, the one whose name made me feel physically sick. I am braced in fear at all times. When I walk down a street or enter a party I scan it to check he's not there. Once I worked my way down through all the various layers of deceit - the shifting storylines, fudges, feints, conditions and tales a liar has to tell to keep themselves steady on wobbly ground - there was nothing left. Everything he did was part of the game, step by careful step, move by move: the first email, the first letter, the first gift, all came from him. Done with expert ease. It is dizzying to contemplate the massive distance between that beautiful and intelligent face and the incredible sadism behind it. How could anyone do that - be so abusive yet so careful, so nasty yet so systematic? And how is it that apart from some surface static electricity, there was no consequence in the outer world? He flourished. Women and men flocked to serve and enable him. Everything was given to him and, typically, he took everything he could use.

There is the appalling knowledge that he is doing it to countless other women simultaneously and I cannot warn them because no-one believes me. There is the horror of knowing that, across months and years, a person can create and then enjoy pain in other human beings, for fun. There is the steepness of his hypocrisy and the psychosis of his pretence, in which the mask doesn't slip for one moment. Serial killer by night, pillar of the community by day.

When I am triggered by the mention or image of the man, which is frequent as he is an industry peer, the physical reaction is immediate. To describe it literally and in order: I feel I have been stabbed in the heart with something thin like a knitting needle; a sour poisons slip down my throat into my stomach and curdles there; a sizzling shock spreads from my heart through my veins, running out in thin lines until it reaches the surface of my skin and burns; the blood drains from my face and my lips go numb; I begin to pant and feel light-headed; my stomach turns over and I retch; finally, heat and adrenalin rush to my face and I cry thick tears, shaking with horror.

The obscenity resides here: how can he laugh, talk, joke and socialise with such clear-eyed cheerfulness? How can he deceive, plan, use, enjoy? How can he pretend to be a good person? How could he set up, mentally eviscerate, sexually exploit and deceive us all and make it look like they were mad when we sensed something was wrong? How could he groom and use women, pretend to cherish us, pretend to feel it mutually, use it as a smokescreen as he mistreated us, then throw it back in our face?

Jekyll, you ....I can barely write this... you pretended to be shy, unworldly, innocent, hesitant, awed and delighted. And while you did that to me, you did it to many other women simultaneously. You wrote that when I gave you compliments, you read them "with a kind of stuttering shy delight." You wrote that it was "life-changing, when that door opened." "Your worst fears about me are not true." You said, "I have never, in my life, so enjoyed waking up with someone." "I like how I am with you. I play when I'm with you. I never usually play." "I love that you notice me - I love that you notice things about me." "The way you kiss me..." "I'm not a sadist, I'm not a sociopath. I'm not a sadist, I'm not a sociopath." You texted, "Just got your letter [in reply to mine]. I cannot even believe what you are. Brace for comeback." "Oh my sweet thing, oh my gorgeous girl." "Well for a start you're heart-freezingly, heart-killingly beautiful." "The taste of you...." "I crackle in your company." "I love your crackling energy. And I love that you've read books and have opinions on things." "I'm trying not to get obsessed with you." "I see your eyes everywhere." "I know I have been charged with finding you a nickname but I just keep repeating your real name to myself, over and over." "I feel filled up with you. You fill me up, Bidisha." "Have a good day, my taut-skinned doe." "I have been going around my room smelling all the places you've been. I caught myself breathing through the T-shirt you wore like a diver breathing through a regulator. I even considered tying it up in a plastic bag to preserve the smell." "I'm sorry, I'm smitten. I'm gone on you."

I participated, responded, initiated, invited, answered, with absolutely equal ardour, but for one thing: I meant what I said, and you did not. You were lying, but I was not. You were using me, and countless other women, but I was not using you. You played a game, but I did not. You know me, but I do not know you. You are a stranger. When I think about how I behaved with you, with such open-eyed delight and interest, when I think about what I wrote to you - "It's as though Rodin and Michelangelo fought to make you" - the things I said, the pet names, the gifts, the endearments which were wholly meant, and how you acted, as if with with absolute reciprocity, I am corroded by coarse inner humiliation and regret.

When I finally confessed to a colleague and close friend about what you did she blanched, her eyes rolled and she revealed that this was your method with all the women you trick and use simultaneously, and has been forever, including to a close friend of hers who had been "distraught" and whom she had supported through the "fallout". How crushing to know that your satisfaction came from setting up the trick, using my body, playing with my feelings and then seeing how tormented I was, knowing instinctively that something was wrong, while you gazed at me in gentle puzzlement, blinking. How crushing to learn years later that this is what you were doing and are still doing, not just with me but with countless other women. Because of your sadism, Jekyll, I fear you. Because of your hypocrisy and impunity, I fear you. Because of your strength, I fear you. Because you target, use and harm women, I fear you. Because you are such a good actor, I fear you. Because you pretend to be a feminist when you are a man who hurts women, I fear you. How easily you abuse. How assiduously you take. How smoothly you lie. You wanted to deceive, sexually exploit, professionally use, emotionally eviscerate, mislead, sabotage and betray women, and you did. You thought you would be assisted and protected by countless other men and their geishas, and your own self-hating groupies, and you are.

I do not understand. Surely it takes more effort to mistreat women than to be a decent human being? Surely it does not feel good to behave this way? How can it be that everything you have claimed about yourself is a lie, everything you do is part of a gigantic game and every way you present yourself is a front to facilitate your mistreatment of women? You know how to give feminist quotes and say all the right things about women's rights. You know exactly what to do to advance yourself publicly, how to hurt women privately and make sure nobody finds out and that victims are silenced through legal threat. For a devastating article on this issue, by Meghan Murphy - so close to my own experience that I was chilled to read it - please look here.

It's funny. I used to pride myself on my shrewdness but now I realise how naive I am, how stupidly trusting, how innocently attackable - how easy to knock down and infect with fear. I have written about these issues throughout my career yet when it happens inside the circle of my own life, I am devastated. Jekyll, I think that you yourself would not like to be harmed, then threatened years later when you speak out. Why do that to women, while talking softly, blinking gently, standing diffidently and pretending that you are a principled and progressive thinker, a supportive family member, a role model of integrity, a stalwart friend, a doting partner? [There is an amazing, disturbing article about 'feminist' and 'progressive' men who abuse women here.]

"How did he get away with it?" I asked my mother. "He's cleverer than you, in that regard," she said sadly, "there is such a thing as the perfect murder." And I recall, when I found out what you were, you jeered at me and snarled, "You know nothing about me, my sex life, what I do." Yes, I realise that now. And I realised, when you said, "I never told you I loved you. I was very careful about that. I said I adored you - but that's not love," that I had been set up. And I realised it too when you said, "It's none of your business what I do with my dick."

Jekyll, I am tormented by the horror of what you did to me - its specificity and its malice - and to the others, and what you continue to do. In the years of the aftermath I have confided in too many women who then paled and told me that you had done the same to them, or to a close friend, or colleague. I have learned, with a sickness I cannot put into words, that your mistreatment is not just serial but simultaneous: there is a mass, a morass, a mess of emotional abuse.

I feel humiliated, yet I have done nothing wrong. I believe that I deserve to be treated well, as I treat others and indeed as I treated you. I do not co-betray other women or stand by while other women are mistreated. I have never been abusive to anyone in any way for any reason. And I don't cover for perpetrators, or practice diplomacy with them, or speak well of them as though their mistreatment of women is somehow separate from the rest of their activities, nor do I help their careers - although I helped yours, Jekyll, and you took this help and used it for yourself.

Jekyll, do you realise that where sexual attention is procured under false pretences, consent cannot be freely given? I would never choose to touch the person you really are. Know that I would rather be punched in the face once than chosen out of a crowd then used and destroyed from the inside out with that unspeakably evil combination of alternating kindness and cruelty, teasing come-on and marginalisation, only to discover years later that this is your strategy with all your targets except those grovellers you use once like wank tissues and the colleagues you court to utilise.

I know, Jekyll, that I was nothing to you, just another victim to be killed alongside the others. And there is some humour in realising that I am not the star of a story but another faceless dupe, set up and used by a con artist. But I am something to myself: a kind, strong, clever and decent person who was light on her feet, strong, open and affectionate. That person is dead. You offered many gifts, which I see now were carefully selected props and that I was one recipient among many. I have returned these of course. But the two greatest presents are ones I cannot return and do not want: they are sadness and fear, extreme fear of you and of a world in which perpetrators are helped and victims are punished. Now when I see your face I do not see beauty there, but the silent gloating of a corrupt exploiter. This used to be my world too, Jekyll, but I can no longer survive in it. I have been defiled by you.

Jekyll, you do not live in Purgatory, but I do. I am caught between the memory of a sweet and happy past, which turned out to be a trick, and a disillusioned future in which anything anyone says to me is met with suspicion and uncharacteristic mistrust. It is a warped reality in which exactly those 'nice guys' who go on about being male feminists are the biggest abusers. And they can be assured that their actions will be condoned by apologists and that women who speak out will be attacked and punished. As if any woman, in a million years, would drag her own name through the muck to make up a lie as humiliating as this.