Saturday, 1 December 2012

Emotional violence and social power: 17th March 2021

Updated 17th March 2021

From The Guardian article about Warren Ellis

Emotional Violence and Social Power, my #MeToo article about an abusive perpetrator, illegal coercive control, grooming and sexual exploitation, was on this page.  I'm writing this update after the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a police officer, after the third year anniversary of the Harvey Weinstein #MeToo testimonies, after Johnny Depp has lost his libel claim against The Sun newspaper (who described him as a wife beater in an article), after the conviction of police officer Timothy Brehmer for manslaughter rather than murder after strangling a woman to death in his car and after scores of women came forward last summer about a man called Warren Ellis. Their description and explanation of  Ellis'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'd written about. He isn't, although their strategies are the same and their worlds overlap somewhat. I am also writing in the wake of revelations about Armie Hammer, Shia LaBoeuf, Ryan Adams, Marilyn Manson, Joss Whedon, Noel Clarke and Eric Schneiderman. 

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. Anyone who wants to see the threats and my responses can contact me and they are already in wide circulation amongst peers and colleagues. The most recent threat came 9 years after I knew the individual for 6 months. One of the threats includes the allegation that I falsely accused the perpetrator of rape 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 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. 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.

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 always start with a naked pity ploy, a story designed to gain sympathy and gauge the listener's manipulability. They are always quick to name names and they over-share in a way that seems 'nakedly honest' but is strange if you compare it to how actual normal decent human beings behave. 

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 noble, soft and gentle, even victimised, while grooming, manipulating and abusing countless women simultaneously and threatening anyone who speaks up. The fake vulnerability makes my skin crawl. He only perpetrates against women. All the people he has threatened in institutional 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 exes 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 glib charm, victim-playing and fake fragility. 

I do believe it's worth going 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. 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. 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 the use of deceit and manipulation to gain sexual access is under discussion as an amendment of rape laws and there is an active campaign led by Jess Hill 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. 

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. 

Everyone wants to know what happened next in my case. The answer is nothing, despite everyone knowing who and what the perpetrator is. There was 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 his fans, the years of threats from him and betrayal and ostracism from industry peers, many of them women who claim to be feminists.

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. His threats make it explicit that he obsessively watches my Twitter thread and this site. That's obviously repellent - and online stalking is illegal. But it's also common. In fact everything the perpetrator does in 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 he does.

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 abuse women without actually punching us in the face, and get away with it. 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 clever use of enablers 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.

Perpetrators don't change, they are all the same and they are incredibly skilled at what they do. The last verifiable whistleblow I received was this month (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 constantly 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, 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. 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 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. Life is easy when you don't lie.

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. 

And listen, perpetrator. Everyone knows what you are. The plentiful factual evidence, countless women's testimonies and years of written threats illustrate your character clearly. You are a dull, exhausting nightmare. Your bathwater is now 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
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