Ethics in Outing Abusers

CN: SA, r*pe, victim shaming

Sharing screenshots where an abuser admits to abuse isn’t morally the same as abusing someone. Sharing screenshots where an abuser admits to abuse isn’t morally the same as abusing someone.

Sharing screenshots where an abuser admits to abuse isn’t morally the same as abusing someone.

I cannot believe I have to say this. I said it last year during the Phoenix Drake fiasco and again, this year around the same time as well, concerning Dan Linford.

In both cases before any screenshots were available some people, mostly men, asked “where’s the evidence?”. Never minding the fact that both Phoenix Drake and Dan Linford admitted to rape. Never minding the fact that several people in both cases came forward with their own stories about these two.

But this post isn’t about not believing victims. Which honestly I could write a post about. No, this post is about the ethics in sharing screenshots. I’m writing this because, frankly, I am sick to death of having people not believe victims only to then shame them when they DO provide evidence. Why do they get shamed? Because apparently since both Phoenix Drake and Dan Linford confessed in private messages, they both have an ethical right to privacy.

This is where I call bullshit. If they had confessed to a mandated reporter, that person BY LAW would have to notify the authorities. This is no different. In both cases, confessions were made and the people who heard these confessions did the ethical thing and warned others. As you read in both articles linked above, these men infiltrated groups with vulnerable people, several times. This is important. They were able to do so because there hadn’t been a way for their previous victims to warn others.

But it stops here. This is how women and non-binary people protect ourselves.

Phoenix Drake and Dan Linford didn’t confess to eating too much chocolate and feeling bad about it. They confessed to rape. In both cases, they made excuses, they minimized what they did to their victims. They weren’t sorry for what they did (if they were, they would have turned themselves in, they wouldn’t have made excuses, they wouldn’t have confessed to women and NB folks and used them as emotional labor). They certainly didn’t show any ethics in their behavior.

Once someone shows themselves to be abusive they lose any right to privacy. There is no moral equivalence here. The unethical thing to do in this case would be to keep the confession to yourself. Rapists lose any right to privacy the minute they demonstrate they’re a danger to others. Indeed, it is because of this privacy that they felt confident and comfortable enough to be able to abuse again and again. (As an aside: Dan teaches philosophy and ethics. Let that bit of irony set in)

Phoenix Drake and Dan Linford will not and cannot get away with this. We will not let them. We’re tired of being abused, we’re tired of being gaslit. We’re tired of giving our trust to people unworthy of it. We don’t have many ways to defend ourselves, but we have this. I will be damned if anyone is going to guilt us for doing what we need to in order to protect ourselves.

Ethics in Outing Abusers
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Street Harassment and Me

CN: street harassment, catcalls, sexualization of young girls

 

 

I was 11 years old when I was first cat called. I remember it vividly. I was on my way to school when two men in a red sports car started yelling at me and honking the horn. I ignored them, they drove up to me and slowed down. They were commenting on my body and asking my name. I kept ignoring them. I was about 10 minutes away from school. I had my uniform on, I think at that time I was carrying my Rugrats backpack. I knew if I stopped walking they might have gotten out of the car. But if I kept walking they would know where I enter school. I was afraid they’d be waiting for me. I wanted to cry. These were grown men and I was just a little girl. I screamed that I was eleven. The guy driving said, “damn!” and then they sped off. They only left me alone once they realized they could go to jail.

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Clearly, a preadolescent girl in a school uniform carrying this bag was the ideal target for cat calls.(image is of a black, maroon and plaid backbag with three cartoon characters from the kids’ TV show Rugrats.)

I told mami and grandma later that day. They told me the usual; not to get in cars with strangers but to also not worry. I should worry once men stopped looking at me. That day I learned men’s pleasure was above my safety.

I stopped telling anybody about the street harassment I got when I walked to and from school.

Up until I was fifteen, the harassment was just verbal. Then it became physical. It was Halloween and I was out with a friend. We walked past some men and one of them grabbed my arm and asked “trick or treat”. Ever since, I never walk past a large group of men. I usually cross the street or wait until the group has dispersed.

I would tell my friends and the girls would commiserate with me, but also tell me I was being overly sensitive. There was nothing we could do, so we might as well endure it. The boys would tell me they wished they got cat called by girls. I wondered if they really meant that? Did they want to spend extra time on an outfit to determine whether or not that particular pant or shirt would get them more harassment than usual?

As a result of the daily street harassment, I started hating my body. The men who cat called me would comment on my thick thighs, my big butt and wide hips. Once, a man told me “tanta carne y yo sin arroz” (literally “so much meat and I don’t have rice”). That man literally said I was a piece of meat. That’s how I felt too.
People told me that I shouldn’t worry about street harassment since nothing would happen to me becuase I was “jailbait”.

I wanted to believe that was true. When I turned 17 the big joke was that now I couldn’t cry “jailbait” at cat callers. I was on the train once when I noticed this guy staring at me. He got off at the same stop I did. He walked alongside me. He was asking me where I lived, what I did, if I had a boyfriend. I figured I would lie about my age and he’d leave me alone. I told him I had just turned 16. He said it didn’t matter, that we could still be friends. I told him I was too young. He said, “with that body it doesn’t matter. You could kill with that body”. I held on tighter to my messenger bag. I needed to get on the bus and was afraid he’d follow me. I lied and said I was on my way to my boyfriend’s house. He eventually gave up and walked away. I stayed on the station platform for about 30 minutes just to make sure he wasn’t waiting for me.

And again when I told anyone, they’d tell me to be flattered.

The harassment has only gotten worse as I age. I may have a “baby face” but my body’s shape gives me away. It took me a long time not to hate my body. It was those men and the rape culture I should hate.

Walking with my mom or grandma doesn’t stop the harassment. In fact, the men think if they’re nice to mami or grandma they have an “in”. Walking with TJ also gets me harassed. I’m asked if I’m looking for a daddy for her. Once a man commented on my dimples and said he was sure we’d make “beautiful light ‘skinned babies together”.
The only time I’m left alone is when I’m with other men. It pisses me off that I’m only respected as some other man’s property and not as someone autonomous. As stated above I’ve been taught the only feelings which matter are men’s.
“Be flattered!”
“Don’t be rude!”
“Say thank you! It’s a compliment!”

I’m not safe from any age group. When I was 14 some boys, no older than 10 passed by me and said something about my ass. When I was in college, some teens hollered at me about how slutty my dress was. Another time, a man old enough to be my grandfather, told me I had a “great rack”. And yet another time, an elderly man actually used TJ to get to me. TJ was three years old at the time. It was a hot summer day. I was wearing shorts. The old man was walking towards us and said TJ was very pretty. I said thank you and kept walking. Then he said “she gonna be tall”, looks at me “just like her momma, she got legs for miles, hmmm”. I picked up TJ and ran away. I was disgusted and it got me thinking, how old will TJ be when she first experiences street harassment directed towards her?

Thinking about it fills me with dread. I don’t know what I will do, but what I do know is that she will know street harassment is unacceptable. She will most definitely know that her safety is paramount. She’ll know she can come to me and I won’t dismiss her fears.

Street Harassment and Me

My forced pregnancy

TRIGGER WARNING: Sexual assault/rape. Domestic violence. Reproductive coercion. Instances of victim blaming/shaming. Gas lighting.

I used to be one of those “I’m pro-choice but…” people. You know, the ones that say abortion is only acceptable if the woman’s health is in danger or she was raped. The type that slut shames without even realizing it. “Oh, well she should have used protection!” I was in my late teens; I thought I had all the answers.

At 19, I got together with my abusive ex; my daughter’s father. I never wanted kids. All I wanted was to go to college and work. Of course, in the beginning he wasn’t abusive. He was sweet and caring. He mentioned he wanted kids. I told him no. He never wanted to use condoms and after a while I didn’t fight him about it, because it was either get beaten and have him rape me, or have him rape but not get beaten. I consider what he did rape, because there was no active consent from me. (This may sound obvious but I’ve had people tell me I wasn’t raped because I “let him do it”.)

He would lament the fact that I wasn’t getting pregnant. He thought I was infertile. He was upset. It was my fault, he said. Finally, I became pregnant. I told him that I thought it would be better to abort. That I didn’t want to bring a kid to the world knowing I would struggle to raise them. That he knew I never wanted kids. It wouldn’t be fair to the kid. Then he told me I should have been on birth control, or made him wear condoms. Never minding the fact that when I would ask him, he’d threatened to beat me or worse.
I talked to him about adoption. But he wasn’t listening. I was forced to carry to term. I had to fake being happy. After my daughter was born I was diagnosed with postpartum Depression. My abuser made me feel like a failure because of it. He said I wasn’t a good enough mother because I had a hard time breast-feeding.

I finally got the courage to leave him for good when my daughter was barely two months old. He retaliated by trying to have her removed from my care. He hasn’t been in our lives since, thanks to an order of protection.

I have to say this now:
I love my daughter. Honestly, she is what keeps me going some days. She’s awesome and wonderful and I’ve learned (and am still learning) a lot from her. She comforts me when I’m sad, and when she tells me she’s happy I know I’m doing the best I can. I would like for her to look back at her childhood and know that I did the best I could. It’s why I’m in college. It’s why I’m doing everything I can to get out of the shelter. She amazes me every day. She has the greatest personality. If this sounds like I’m bragging, it’s because I am. My daughter is just great. She’s smart and it amazes sometimes that this kid could be mine. But it took me a while to get to this point and sometimes I struggle with my feelings of resentment, not towards her but of how she got here.

I say this because most think that pregnancy is the best thing that could happen to a woman. That as soon as a baby is born a woman instantly connects to her child. That if you don’t bond well at first, the woman is somehow acking. She isn’t good enough. There must be something wrong with her. Indeed, if a woman wants to be child-free she is fighting her “natural instincts” because all women want kids.

During and after my experience with my abuser, I learned a lot. My views have changed a lot. I believe that abortion should remain safe and legal and on demand. Abortion shouldn’t be only for women whose lives are at risk or are survivors of rape. Abortion isn’t always a hard decision. Abortion is OK. Abortion is good and sometimes it’s the most responsible thing to do. I know now that every woman faces a different situation and that every woman makes the best decision as she sees fit. I said this in one of the earlier posts of this blog, that in my abuser’s attempts to make me into the “perfect” little housewife he created an even (bigger than I already was) feminist. Funny, how that works.

I’ve already discussed it with my boyfriend. I’ll be aborting if my BC fails. He is 100% supportive. In fact, when we were getting to know each other one of the first things I asked him were for his thoughts on abortion/reproductive rights. His response: “I’m pro-choice. It’s not my place nor do I have the right to tell any woman what to do with her body.”

No need to explain why but I will:

My current financial situation

My current living situation

My mental health

My first pregnancy had some complications

I need to stay healthy and happy for the kid I already have.

But, even if I had the money, or the house and no health problems whatsoever, I would still abort. Because I do not want any more kids. That simple; end of story.

No woman should be forced to carry a pregnancy they do not want.

I should add that lots of other women who’ve been forced to carry to term don’t end up loving their kids. I honestly do not know the right words. I struggle a lot sometimes with my feelings towards my pregnancy, and I hate how my daughter came to be here. I attend parenting classes. I’m aware that it’s not her fault that she’s here, and it’s not mine either. I really don’t know how to say it, I guess I’m lucky? The women who do not end up feeling a bond with their children should not be shamed either. This is a difficult topic. I set out to write how I feel, and I’m not sure it’s being communicated properly. The take away should be: we need to get rid of abortion stigma, some women want babies, others don’t. Some women end up with babies they didn’t want and end up loving them, some women end up with babies they didn’t want and the results often end in tragedy. We need choices and our bodily autonomy. Every child born should be wanted from the get-go.

Information and resources if you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship: http://www.thehotline.org/

For info and resources on abortion:
http://www.fundabortionnow.org/

My forced pregnancy