Saturday, 1 December 2012

Emotional violence and social power #MeToo

Emotional Violence and Social Power, my #MeToo article about an abusive perpetrator, illegal coercive control, grooming and sexual exploitation, was on this page.  As a result of writing Emotional Violence and Social Power, my #MeToo article, I received multiple extremely aggressive threats by the same individual using the same law firm between 2014 and 2018, based on events in 2009. These threats and my responses are in wide circulation amongst peers, colleagues and the public. The most recent threat came 9 years after I knew the individual for a handful of weeks. One of the threats includes the allegation that the complainant has been falsely accused of being a rapist because I wrote in my original #MeToo piece, "don't you realise that where sexual attention is procured under false pretences, consent cannot be freely given?" 

Thanks to the many colleagues who warned me, the police, other journalists and countless women who wrote to me from all over the world. I am continually contacted by strangers who have been targeted by the same one perpetrator, who has named and slandered other victims freely to them. These women work in publishing, academia, the media, events production, TV, comics and conventions, 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 perpetrator's speech and behaviour. The majority of the testimonials come from the UK and the US but there are significant scatters related to grooming, sexually coercive and covert inappropriate behaviour and messaging on trips, residencies and assignments all over the world. I have met many of the women the perpetrator slandered to me by name and of course they are all completely normal well-rounded adults who witnessed or were subjected to his perpetrations and were, like me, dumbstruck. I discovered that the police were already aware of the perpetrator due to his actions in other areas such as activism and politics over the years. 

It's not 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. Start with this general summary which is excellent. Fetch a sick-bag and continue 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 here. Or hereThis entire site is excellent, as is this one.  A hint to begin: intimate perpetrators often start with a pity ploy, a story designed to gain sympathy and gauge the listener's manipulability. They are quick to name names of people they claim have wronged them - often calling them evil, crazy, irrational and so on - and they over-share in a way that seems 'nakedly honest' but is strange if you compare it to how normal decent human beings behave. 

I do believe it's worth going to the police, because the behaviours I am talking about are criminal acts of abuse and because the law against coercive control has indeed led to trials and convictions of the perpetrators. Doing so is exposing and you need to give exact references, facts, dates and contact points and names. 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. But forge ahead anyway. Put down just the facts. Making a statement is your right, they keep all details on record, it goes in the system and your words support other victims and witnesses cooperating with the investigation. The police take note when multiple people reference the same individual behaving in exactly the same way over two decades, across multiple countries. The UK police 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; let me point you to this section on consent. Rights of Women has a criminal law helpline that's a good starting point.  In the US, punishing the use of deceit and manipulation to gain sexual access is being strengthened through an amendment of rape laws and there is an active campaign to add coercive control to American legislation. You can find out more about the crime of psychological domestic abuse here and of course sexual exploitation is a crime in itself. Don't think of it as a soul war or a personal story that's happening 'between' you and the perpetrator. Think of it as a crime that has been perpetrated against the law, by a nearly lifelong criminal guilty of multiple different crimes, all of which carry prison time. So he can be arrested once, charged with multiple crimes at that time and tried for all of them. The courage of some victims and witnesses will encourage others to come forward. 

If you go down the police/criminal justice path, keep all the receipts and a detailed journal of all dealings and conversations with 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. It goes without saying, alas, that the more well-resourced you are on your side the better your experience will be. 

Everyone wants to know what happened next in the case I wrote about. The answer is nothing at a public legal level, despite everyone knowing who and what the perpetrator is. There was (apparently) impunity and success for the perpetrator, injustice and downfall for the victims, bemusement for the witnesses, entertainment for gossips. I wrote my piece and took the consequent trash-talking, the disbelief, the punishment, the poison pen letters from the individual's fans, the years of threats from him and betrayal and ostracism from industry peers, many of them women who claim to be feminists. However, it became clear during the reporting and investigation process that the perpetrator's actions are well known. 

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, and presumably other women, 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. His threats make it explicit that he obsessively watches my Twitter account [which is now deleted] and this site. That's obviously repellent - and online stalking is illegal, yet another distinct crime that the perpetrator has committed. But it's also common. In fact everything the perpetrator does is textbook. It's as if they're all following the same manual, although not all of them pretend to be feminists and human rights leaders as this one does (although all do maintain a carefully calculated front).

For years, people came to this page to eat up my horror and disgust. They wanted to count the ways a perpetrator can abuse women without actually punching us in the face, and get away with it. They wanted to read my five thousand word verbal puke of disgust about an abusive man who's such a good actor that he's perceived 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 formal grievance procedures to terrorise those who speak up. There is a sick fascination in learning about the perpetrator's clever use of enablers and groupies, his carefully thought-through grooming of new acquaintances and Oscar-worthy 'nice guy' acting. 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.

Perpetrators don't change, they are all the same and they are incredibly skilled at what they do. But they are eventually undone by their own actions. The last verifiable whistleblow I received was this spring (from non-permanent teaching staff at a major university) 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, having to investigate my own case or become an authority on perpetrator dynamics. I don't want to head up my own personal justice project and I don’t like dealing with the police. I want the perpetrator to be punished for his decades of criminal abuse and to no longer encounter any targets to groom, coerce, victimise and threaten.

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 in the form of years of threats. 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 his abuses. 

But overall, I'm done psychoanalysing the mendacity of abusive men. All that constant drama and lies and grooming and games and feuds and fallings-out and groupies and grievances. Having to toggle between jobs and locations and cohorts every time you get caught. All those aliases and multiple phones and accounts. Having to switch up your environment to gain access to new victims. Life is easy when you don't lie.

For me and all the women who contacted me about the same perpetrator, the most chilling thing is the way the perpetrator can act to appear soft and gentle, even victimised, while grooming, manipulating and abusing countless women simultaneously and threatening anyone who speaks up. He only perpetrates against women. All the people he has threatened in institutional, political or organisational settings are women. This would be unpleasant in a teenager and sinister in a twenty-something. For a man to commit these acts continuously throughout his entire thirties and forties against countless women simultaneously is repellent. It is also illegal. The perpetrator has no friends, because you can't be friends with someone you have deceived for years. His male cronies are abusive men exactly like himself, or at the very least they are sexual harassers, philanderers, liars and cheats who exclusively harm women, not men. His female 'friends' fall into various categories: duped fans, groupies, enablers, mistresses and flying monkeys; craftily courted professional peers (often older and very eminent) whom he keeps on side to draw career benefits from; or maternally pitying, indulgent old friends/flames that he keeps on the hook to draw narcissistic supply from.  I always found it interesting that men who are not like him can see through him instantly, while women fall for his victim-playing and fake fragility. 

I want to thank all those who advised and helped me on this case: the police, HK 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. I feel certain that this individual will end up in prison one way or another, regardless of whether all the details of all his crimes makes it into the press. 

And listen, perpetrator. Everyone knows who and what you are. The plentiful factual evidence, countless victim testimonies and years of written threats from you to multiple women illustrate your character clearly. Your bathwater is now very stale and fetid. You are an exhausting repetitive  nightmare. As time goes on, the number of victims increases. The next thing for you will be arrest, charging, trial and prison. 


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
Assume Nothing - Tanya Selvaratnam
No Visible Bruises - Rachel Louise Snyder
Why Does He Do That? – Lundy Bancroft
In Control - Jane Monckton Smith
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
Borderline, Narcissistic and Schizoid Adaptations - Elinor Greenberg
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
Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited - Sam Vaknin
The World of the Narcissist - Sam Vaknin
Toxic Relationships: Abuse and its Aftermath - Sam Vaknin
Too Much and Never Enough - Mary Trump (it's about her uncle Donald Trump of course but it skilfully describes generational cycles of narcissistic abuse)
Personality Disorders in Modern Life - Theodore Millen
The Mask of Sanity - Hervey Cleckley