Of Pagans and Predators: Part 1

5683209_xxlI’ve been trying to wrap my brain around what to write on this topic. There are predators in our community–this isn’t new. Predators go where they can easily gain access to their prey, and small subculture communities like the Pagan community are ripe for this for so many reasons.

I want Kenny Klein’s arrest (and presumed conviction, since he confessed) to be a lightning rod for change. I want this incident to catalyze our community to work toward being better.

Because in the fallout of the announcement of the arrest, people started coming forward. People who saw Kenny interacting with teens, and teenagers that he had inappropriately touched. This has been going on for decades and though these people complained to Pagan leaders and festival organizers, nothing was done.

Before I go into some of the steps I think we need to take to address this systemic problem within our community, I first want to reflect on how–and why–this has affected me personally.

A while back Kenny Klein wrote an article admonishing Pagans for what’s often referred to as “Pagan Standard Time.” I used that particular quote from Kenny in a longer post on leadership I wrote.

“Get over it! You represent the Pagan community! Pull yourself together! I know, it is a hallmark of our culture in general that people are rude, late, and self-centered. But as Pagans, shouldn’t we be above that? As people who, after considerable thought, gave up the status quo to pursue our true selves, shouldn’t we be the shining example, not the common problem? I think we should.” – Kenny Klein

(Witches and Pagans has suspended Kenny Klein’s blog pending his investigation or I’d link to the full article.)

So I read this, and I experience cognitive dissonance. I sit there and wonder, “What was Kenny thinking when he wrote this?” 

Was he thinking that what he was doing was ok? Had he somehow ethically justified it in the way some pedophiles do, that the age of consent is too high and that teenagers and children should be allowed to be sexually active? Or was he in that zone where he just wasn’t even thinking about the wrongness of what he’d done?

See, sometimes I’ll start writing a blog post about an issue of Pagan leadership ethics or things leaders should or shouldn’t do, and then I’ll reread what I wrote and I have to laugh and say, “Yeah, I totally do that. I’m going to have to fess up to that.” I have always tried be up front about the places where I fuck up as a leader. I’m particularly ashamed of the times when I committed to doing something and then failed a commitment I made to someone.

But I suppose I’ve worked to try and find that balance of, not getting stuck in the spiral of shame, but also, not minimizing my mistake so that I can work to ensure I don’t do it again.

Leaders are human beings. We’re going to make mistakes.

But then I reread some of what Kenny Klein has written and my mind starts hamsterwheeling again. What was he thinking when he wrote that? Was he really in total denial about how he was (it now seems clear) sexually abusing children? Or was he one of those abusers that keeps falling off the wagon and then he climbs back on and says, “I can do this, I can be better, I can stop abusing children,” or was it something else entirely.

I’ve wondered a lot in the past about what goes through an abuser’s head, because I’ve been abused before.

My Abuse
I was not sexually abused as a child, though I know many people who were. I’ve written in the past about the abuse I suffered from my peers throughout school, and while I’ve done a hell of a lot of personal work, the shadows are still there. And it’s those issues in my own past that are probably why I’ve ended up in a few not-so-healthy romantic relationships.

I’ve written in the past about my ex-fiance and former working partner, but in light of what’s going on, I’m going to go ahead and name him. He’s gone by Mark Mandrake, but he seems to have switched back to his given name of Mark Robert Necamp. When I met Mark, he was married, and he lied about the status of his relationship. In fact, he compulsively lied throughout our relationship, and I had to learn something important about myself–I’m pretty easily duped.

I don’t like admitting that. But once I trust someone, I believe the lies.

Some day I’ll write about my whole decline with him, because understanding how I got into that headspace has helped me to heal–somewhat–from what he did, and how I enabled it. I still have a hard time rectifying my own image of myself as someone who is strong and independent with the creature I became when partnered with Mark. Sad, depressed, angry, exhausted, and easily manipulated. 

Mark isn’t (to my knowledge) a pedophile. Nor is Mark (to my knowledge) a rapist. Though, I have personally experienced that sex with him was sometimes on the border of what I call consensual. He often pressured me into sex when I wasn’t in the mood. Making things even more screwed up in my own head, sometimes I initiated sex with him not because I wanted to, but because I was afraid he’d cheat on me if I didn’t.

He cheated on me several times during our relationship, though it wasn’t until well after he left me in November of 2011 that I learned the scope of his cheating–and that other women he was with also felt confused around whether or not they’d really consented or not. They didn’t feel that they’d been raped, but they did feel manipulated into sex. Women came forward that he’d had sex with, and other women came forward that he’d sexually harassed to the extent that they stopped coming to my events in Chicago.

Mark engaged in a pretty clear pattern of emotional abuse, if you know the signs. Isolate and confuse. He would tell me that people in our group didn’t like me or had problems with me. I’d tell him that he should engage them in talking to me directly. “Oh, they don’t want to do that.” Or, “They are too afraid.” Or, “It’s confidential, I can’t tell you who.”

I have pretty good boundaries these days and I have developed a far healthier sense of self esteem than in years past, but over time this wore on me. It ate at me. It played to every fear I had creeping around in my chest from Middle School. My secret belief deep inside that EVERYONE SECRETLY HATES ME. 

Depression
I’m already an introvert, but this fed my spiral of depression, which made it even harder for me to want to go out to various Pagan social events. I’d frequently just tell Mark to go on without me.

And what, do you imagine, Mark did at those gathering? If you’ve read the abuser handbook, you know that he was complaining about me. How antisocial I was, how depressed, how hard I was to live with.

So then the next time I saw those folks, there was an undefined tension and it reinforced the crap he’d been feeding me. People really did dislike me. Like acid, it ate away at my sense of self. If everyone disliked me, and I was as difficult as Mark told me I was, maybe I was just inherently unlikeable.

 

Which is part of what leads into the really important part of this spiral–that paradoxically, I cling more to my abuser. “He’s the only one who will ever stick by me. Nobody else will ever put up with me.”

I’m oversimplifying, but I hope I have made the enabling pattern a little clearer.

Grooming
Abuse happens by inches. It’s called Grooming and I’ve written about it before. The behavior I put up with from Mark in the end, I never would have in the beginning. But by the end, it was invisible to me, like the air around me.

When he left me in 2011 and I discovered he’d been stealing money and planning his abandonment for months, there were a few days where I just wanted to die. I just wanted it all to end. I could not imagine that I could pull myself up by my bootstraps yet again.

What drove my mind into spinning circles of confusion was asking that question. How could he do this? Wasn’t he thinking of the consequences? How could someone hurt someone else like that?

See, Mark and I taught together. We taught Leadership workshops together. Mark would talk about sex and ethics, about abuse, about what behavior was appropriate for a leader and what behavior wasn’t. I knew that he knew that stuff.

So when I reread Kenny Klein’s post, I found myself asking those questions again. How could Kenny–who, by his writing, knew what was right and what was wrong–do those things? How could Mark?

Many Kinds of Mental Illness
What finally saved me from spinning in my brain after Mark left was when several mutual friends with a background in psychology spoke with me about Mark’s behavior. All of them were very clear that–with Mark not being their client– they could absolutely not diagnose him, but, that some of his symptoms were red flags for Borderline Personality Disorder or Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

When I began to read more about Borderline PD, things began to make sense. And–I myself am not a psychologist or therapist, so I can only speak in terms of his behavior that I witnessed, and what I’ve read about, and what I’ve observed in others.

With many of the major personalities or other mental illnesses, there are compulsive behaviors. I certainly witnessed these in Mark. Compulsive cheating…compulsive spending. He even shoplifted a few times when I was with him. One time it was just a bottle of tobasco sauce, and we got to the car when he revealed what he’d done, and he giggled. He also destroyed property in front of younger members of our local group, or acted in other ways that just didn’t make sense.

Later I’d ask him, “What were you thinking?”

And ultimately that dynamic became our relationship. He’d do crazy, destructive things, and I’d berate him like a nagging shrew. I became his mom, not his partner. The more I got on his case about his behavior, ultimately the worse he’d act out. And I kept wanting him to just be logical and make sense and realize what he was doing was wrong, and he wouldn’t.

It’s Not Going to be Logical
And I suppose that’s where I start to come to one of the cruxes of the difficulties with abusive behavior.  A lot of Pagans are talking (via blogs and Facebook) about teaching people what consent means. And that’s great–it is important for each attendee at an event to know they can say No. And it’s important for each attendee to know to respect a No, and in fact, that they need to wait for an enthusiastic Yes.

But none of that fixes the problem of the predators. The predators out there are:

  1. Convinced that they deserve this and are morally in the right, and are deliberately hunting, or
  2. They are in compulsive mode. They aren’t thinking about right and wrong because they are mentally ill. They are not in a headspace where consequence will stop them.

There’s certainly more than those options, but I think those are two big ones.

Temporary Insanity and Consequences
Have you ever actually experienced what’s known as temporary insanity? If you’ve met me, you probably know that I’m about as calm and collected as it gets, particularly when there’s a disaster. Ritual altar on fire? No problem. I can put out the fire and re-center the group without a blip in my blood pressure.

My mom throughout my life has jokingly called me “Mr. Spock” because I can be so calm and logical in the face of complicated disasters. I’m the person who can apply pressure to a wound while calling 9-11 and keeping everyone else calm.

So whenever I read about temporary insanity, I thought it was bullshit. I thought, “There’s never a time when I’m not thinking, when I’m not imagining consequences.”

I mentioned a bit about my mental health decline when I was with Mark, and there were a a couple of memorable moments where he did something so grievous that I did something totally out of character for me. Where I wasn’t thinking about consequence, I was just acting.

If you haven’t experienced that moment where consequence just disappears, I can’t explain it to you. And for myself, I’ve only experienced it in the briefest moments and even then, I’ve usually taken that step back and said, whoa. That’s nuts. I can’t do that.

However, I think it’s important to understand the idea that there are people–at least in certain moments–who are not bound by consequences or logic. To understand that when we’re talking about pedophiles, sociopaths, alcoholics, abusers, or people with other specific mental illnesses, we’re often talking about folks who are not thinking about what they are doing, or they don’t care.

I’m not talking about, “I was drunk, it wasn’t my fault.”

Compulsive
I’m talking about compulsive behavior where–in that moment–the person is going to seek to meet their need even if it harms someone. It might be an addiction to a substance, like alcohol. It might be a particular behavior. And it might be the compulsion to flirt with someone until it gets harassing, because they are so desperate to be wanted and loved. And that compulsion might also include sexual abuse of minors. Some people–for a variety of reasons–have specific compulsive tendencies.

Particularly sex offenders against children, who have a ruthlessly high rate of recidivism (return to the behavior.)

Please don’t read what I’m writing as an apology for their behavior. What I’m trying to do is offer some context for why it happens–because, people often shake their heads and ask that. Why? How can someone hurt someone else like that? How can someone abuse their spouse, their child?

Logical People
I experience that sane, rational, logical people expect other people to behave like themselves. So on the various comments on blogs and Facebook posts when people are talking about the Kenny Klein issue, they are talking about a number of strategies that are useful for sane, rational people.

There are folks who are socially awkward, and we can work with them to say, “No, that’s not appropriate.” We can work with folks to explain consent culture, and I think that’s all worthwhile.

However, that still doesn’t protect us from the predators who either believe that there’s nothing wrong with what they are doing, or, who are acting in a compulsive way.

The Pendulum Swing, or, “Baby I’m Sorry, I’ll Change
Raise your hand if you’ve heard that one before. “Baby, I’ll get better. I’ll go to therapy.” “I’ll go to ____ anonymous.” “I’ll never do it again, I swear.” “I got you some flowers.”

Often an abuser goes in and out of the bad behavior, which is what keeps their partner in the destructive cycle. I’ve been there, I have a one hell of a t-shirt. With Mark, he would promise to be better. He’d go to therapy, or to sex addicts anonymous. For a while it would be better…and then he’s start cheating again. Or other things.

There were the times that I really should have left him. (Should is such a damning word.)

But I caught enough self awareness from him that I stayed. He was aware he’d screwed up. He hated himself for it. He’d break down crying, he’d promise to be better, I’d promise to help him.

And this, ultimately, is what breaks my heart. Mark would be an amazing resource for the Pagan community, if he didn’t ultimately always swing back to the damaging behavior. I watched him do it with me, I watched him do it with women he dated after me. And, as the stories trickled in, I realized he’d been preying on a lot more women than I ever expected.

Enabling
My own shame around this is that I enabled his behavior. I bought into his “I’ll get better” and kept bringing him along to the hunting grounds for his predatory behavior. I helped him get his first teaching gigs; I’d bring him along when I was invited to teach out of town. I helped him to run a group in Chicago, and later, empowered him as a leader of my group Ringing Anvil.

At the end, I can honestly say I was not right in the head. I was stuck in the headspace of, “If I break up with Mark, I’ll be alone forever.” And those words don’t really do justice to the state of depression I was in. I literally couldn’t imagine how I’d go on if I was alone.

I made his behavior ok by continuing to run events with him, by continuing to co-teach with him.

Literally the night before he and I were scheduled to drive down to Louisville to be headliners at a festival, he introduced me to the woman he had started a relationship with and demanded that I agree to polyamory.

I spilled coffee in his lap and went home (one of those temporary insanity moments). He didn’t come back that night but the other girl dumped him when she found out she’d been lied to. In the morning, he came home, and I agreed to bring him with me to Louisville.

At the time, I thought I was putting on my professional hat. I thought that a professional should suck it up and go do a good job and not let personal stuff get in the way. And largely that’s true. In this case, if I’d been looking at his behavior from the angle of “Mark is a predator,” I would have perhaps more clearly seen that I was just bringing him to the hunting grounds and keeping him in a position of power that he could use to exploit others.

In fact–and I couldn’t even make this stuff up if I tried–after he left me, Mark began a relationship with the woman who coordinated that particular festival, among other people. He also began a relationship with a woman he’d met when we taught at a Pagan student conference, and then dumped her after revealing that he’d been cheating on her with another Pagan in Michigan that he met under the auspices of her being his student.

So, it’s not just me making this stuff up. There really is a pattern to his behavior.

What’s Abuse? What Do We Do With Abusers?
When Mark left, I opted to just make a public announcement on my Facebook about what had happened. There wasn’t any way around Facebook not announcing “Shauna is now Single,” and I thought, I’m going to be telling this story anyways, I should just be public about it, particularly as I began to understand the full scope of his abuse and his theft.

After he left, I discovered that Mark had arranged for several teaching engagements with various festivals. Some were festivals where I originally had introduced him to the organizers. And I was torn. Do I contact them and “warn” them? 

In my experience, nobody listens to that, and I’d just get branded as “the crazy ex with sour grapes.” I tried to take a stance of being very public about what Mark did to me–and later as things came out, about what he did to other women–but I only opted to contact one festival organizer whom I knew well to let her know what had happened before.

In her case, she’d been duped by another Pagan/Occult teacher and it broke her group apart in the past. Though, ironically, not only did she not ban Mark as a teacher, she let him live with her for a time, though I understand he’s currently banned from her land and events for something he did.

Organizers Turn a Blind Eye
One or two festival organizers reached out to me to ask for details on what Mark had done and promised to keep an eye on him, but that was it.

Ultimately, Mark is reflective of the problem in our community that created a hunting ground for Kenny Klein.

I’ve heard over and over the excuses that what Mark did is just he said/she said, or, it’s “just” domestic abuse. Or what several festival organizers have told me, “If I kick him out then I’m taking sides in your domestic squabble.”

And here’s where we start to run into some real gray area, because we have to ask, what is abuse? What behavior is acceptable in our leaders?

When you hire a Pagan teacher, publish a Pagan author, what are you promoting? What behavior are you making ok? If you know about things they have done and hire them anyways, what are you enabling?

Abusive Leaders and Victim Blaming
I know of tons of Pagan leaders who are verbally and emotionally abusive. They aren’t predators, aren’t rapists, but they sure are assholes, and we sure do keep empowering them to lead groups or sell books. Some are a shade more dangerous than that. Still others use their position as teachers to get laid. And to be sure, there are more child molesters out there waiting to be found. 

We have a culture in the Pagan community of wanting everything to be free. Sex is cool, sex should be fun for everyone, we should all be free. We are all seekers of spiritual truth, we shouldn’t kick anyone out. Except…we are a breeding ground for bad behavior.

We don’t listen to our victims. We dismiss it as, “Surely you are overreacting.” “You must have been mistaken.” Kenny Klein’s victims have been coming forward in the form of people who were teenagers at the time at festivals he was at, his ex wife, and his children. Not only were his ex wife and children not believed by local festival and community organizers–they were basically excommunicated.

We need to start listening to our victims and taking their complaints seriously.

But Not Pagan Homeland Security
Nor do I advocate that we kick every person out for every single complaint. To be quite frank, those of us who travel and teach acquire our own set of stalkers and weirdos. I’ve had to block a few people on Facebook who wanted me to come out and live with them or other weird creepy stuff, and when you cut off a stalker, there’s pushback. I hear this from many Pagan authors, and from a number of group leaders–people make up some crazy accusations when you turn them down.

And there’s this other problem we have in the Pagan community. I won’t go into the complexities of why, but we do have a lot of professional victims out there who, when they don’t get what they want, accuse a group leader of sexually assaulting them or of being a pedophile or other various accusations.

Having heard about and witnessed (or been involved in) a number of Pagan disputes, let me just sum it up by saying, it can get really fucked up. And determining who the actual victim is can be like sorting a ball of yarn after a cat got at it.

What Next?
What is clear is that we have some real problems in the Pagan community around abusive behavior. And, they aren’t easy problems to solve, which is–I think–part of why we often give up. It’s also a really uncomfortable set of topics, because it basically means that victims have to come forward and share their stories and relive what they went through. 

I’ve been going through it myself, particularly since my own abuser, Mark, opted to contact me and tell me he was sorry I felt the need to keep talking about what happened. And that he forgave me.

While that still has me wanting to vomit, I am reading stories online or hearing people share with me one-on-one from other people sharing their stories of molestation, rape, and other abuse. So yeah…we have a problem.

As always, I am an optimist. I believe we can be better. And in part 2 (because this got far longer than I planned on) I’ll outline a few thoughts on what might help us, as a community, to build a healthier community for the future.

 

 

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22 thoughts on “Of Pagans and Predators: Part 1

  1. I believe we must think of predators like hunters to understand them and protect against them. Their prey are food to them. For someone who doesn’t know about regular hunting it might not make sense. But regular hunters set up things before they go on their actual hunting trip to make the game animals comfortable. They do specific things to lure them in like set up decoys or foods that will attract the game. They will dress and scent themselves like the animal to blend in. They get together with other hunters and make plans and share tips. Predators of children do this too. They have communities where they discuss and plan how to hunt children and groom them for abuse.

    If you do want insight into how a predator like Kenny Klein thinks, read his books about Faery tales. He repeatedly writes about the young fairy tale princesses having sex and seeking out older men. He makes it enchanted by describing them as changlings in children’s bodies. He adds in details he supposes are there, but aren’t in the stories, like snow white having sex with all seven dwarves as a prepubscent girl.

  2. I am currently dealing with my own life events and realising that I was married for a very long time to a man who was emotionally abusive and manipulative, and unfortunately a predator – reading this set off a lot of trigger bells for me, but I am glad I worked my way through it. And, I want to come back to read part 2.

  3. I left the commuity at large years ago, due to people (including my partner at the time) using the community as an excuse for rotten behaviour. It has taken many years to find myself again, but in truth I may never rejoin the larger commuity due to my distrust of it. It’s appalling that someone in a postion of authority would allegedly act in this manner. It confirms to me that my distrust is justified. I know not everyone is like that. This sort of thing hurts the community on a much grander scale than the perpetrators realize. We have fought hard to be taken seriously. This behaviour sets us back.

  4. Time to reread Machiavelli – some of these predators did. The number one take-home message for me has been: the easiest way to get away with the worst behavior is to first develop a reputation for being a fine upstanding professional with a lot to offer – because it will make no one believe your victims.

  5. I think that when your in a relationship and realize it isn’t healthy you should either fix it or walk. You were using Mark to get your name out there. He wanted more from you than a couch potato and you couldn’t get behind actually being a partner. he was hurting and hurt you, and you are not being any better. Sometimes people are fucked up mentally from actually having a really rough life. Something you would know nothing about. Sometimes people actually need to go through therapy and get help. There is no shame in that. At leas some people are willing o do that so that they can become amazing partners, great dads, and wonderful people. Sure he made mistakes in the past. Who hasn’t? Should someone who knows your past publicly demonize you? I wonder how you would like that?

  6. Just as a note for folks who are unaware, Jessica Alman is Mark’s current fiance. I don’t blame her for this post, because I was there. I was Mark’s biggest public apologist. I knew he was fucked up and I kept making more space for him to get better…and he kept falling back into poor behavior. So I hear where she’s coming from on this–but, it exemplifies my point of why the predators keep coming back.

  7. Thank you for this post – it takes courage to be so open with difficult parts of ones life. I see a lot of similarities to parts of my own life here, and it helps to know one is not alone. I had often thought of certain things I did or thought or felt as being insane – putting up with bad behavior, loving someone so much that logic goes out the window. Insanity indeed.

  8. I hear what you are saying, Shauna, but it doesn’t excuse Jessica blaming the author for her victimization. Shame on you Jessica. As women we need to learn to support and cheer each other on, NOT take opportunities to tear each other apart. Even if you don’t like her.

  9. Stormbringer wrote: “This sort of thing hurts the community on a much grander scale than the perpetrators realize. We have fought hard to be taken seriously. This behaviour sets us back.”

    The behavior that set us back is how we as the community dealt with it. That downward spiral started when the community didn’t listen to the victims of KK and ceremoniously turned their backs on his now ex wife and children.

    That set us BACK. When we refused to listen and erroneously swept such whisperings of abuse under the rug by certain folks set the tone and the road that we are currently on.

    A lot of the pain and suffering that went on could have been avoided, if the community at that time choose to listen. There are a lot of questionable people that we consider our ELDERS. That are in a position of teaching and are respected.

    But if they are using their said positions to coerce or mentally or physically abuse their students we need to stop it right now. We need to have a safe place for all of us to be able to commune with our Deities free from unwanted bad behavior.

    As I see it the community ( I wasn’t a part of it then) basically put the heads in sand and was like what abuse I don’t see any abuse.

    Just because they may well be a respected elder or they bring a lot of ideas into the community is not, nor should it be a reason to silence victims when they came forward. As they did and no one wanted to believe such a thing could be possible within our walls. Well guess what it HAPPEN.

    How we choose to deal with it NOW will define us. By folks speaking out and telling their stories of what happen to them.

    Somehow when all the talking is done we actually need to move forward with action to ensure this doesn’t happen again. I am not silly enough to believe that KK is the last one out there. Nor am I silly enough to believe we can stop it all. But we can certainly try.

    I would like to thank Shauna, T Thorn and all others who have come forth to tell their stories of what happen to them or what they knew. Because it became a safe place for others to voice their concerns on what was/is still going on within a huge community.

    Toya
    JMHO YMMV

  10. Thank you so much for your words and your insights, both into others’ and your own behaviors. I don’t think you “demonized” Mark….on the contrary, you did your best to understand why he acted the way he did.

    We all have patterns we fall into. Unfortunately, the culture into which we were born, this time, this place, is just starting to work its way out of a one-sided power stance. Using both our power and our love, we can stand in the center of ourselves and understand that we hold the key to our own ability to see the truth. Learning about “boundaries” has helped me open my eyes in many ways.

    I think that this realization of truth with Kenny Klein can help us all create better boundaries for ourselves and for those who are too young or too unconscious to do so for themselves.

    On one of the Pagan News Blogs, I read an article questioning why a country which honors many Goddesses would have so much disempowerment of women. This was in the context of India and Hinduism. However, now that this story about Klein has emerged, I understand that we must not only honor Goddesses, but also work for a complete societal acceptance of the power of women to create our own boundaries and stand in the center of our own Spirit in every way as we relate to others and to ourselves as Goddess-loving people.

  11. Shauna, thanks so much for writing this. I have been thinking about a small number of folks I know that I would warn individuals about. But that’s part of the problem, isn’t it? I would warn individuals about the people that everyone knows about but nobody does anything about them. Maybe part of the discussion needs to focus on 1) determining lines separating acceptable from unacceptable behavior; 2) what actions are available and how individuals/groups can take them; 3) how to deal with the reaction that is certain to happen; 4) how to manage communication between multiple groups/solitaries in an area.

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  13. I second what Judy said. I, too, was in an abusive relationship many years ago. I think one of the most difficult things to process (I’m still struggling with it 14 years later) is knowing that the abuser will abuse again, and what, if anything, *I* can do about it. I was fortunate that I don’t traverse in the same social circles as my ex, but I can’t help but think about the poor women that have gotten mixed up with him after me. I don’t even know who they are and I feel so sorry for them more than I can say. It’s so much more complicated when it’s people you know and connect with on a regular basis. I would love to see more about what options people have to help protect (or at least inform) those after them and what to do with the backlash that is inevitable.

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  16. Someone wanted to post a comment anonymously and my WordPress settings don’t seem to allow for that, so I’m posting it for them:

    “Mostly I want to say thanks for speaking openly about this
    stuff. And if under these circumstances it makes sense to you to
    allow an anonymous comment, here’s what I tried to post:

    Thank you for your bravery in writing about this. I have also
    experienced harm from a predator whose behavior is subtle enough that
    others deny or apologize for it. I have a lot of compassion for the
    position you’re in, where telling the truth is likely to perpetually
    earn you accusations of bitterness, “sour grapes,” exaggeration, etc.
    I don’t know you, but I believe you. And what you’re saying is
    important. We have to admit to ourselves that the predators really
    exist. Many of us would really like to live in a fantasy world where
    we can trust that the good in everyone will prevail and we can extend
    everyone the benefit of the doubt. It is hard and painful to admit
    that that’s a fantasy. But it is. About one percent of the
    population may be neurologically unable to experience empathy. Many
    of them are very very smart, and developmentally they absolutely have
    to learn to hide their difference from themselves and others in order
    to function socially. You can be around them and not know it. Or
    maybe your only clue is that feeling in your gut that something is a
    little weird – but how many times have you ignored that feeling
    because it’s more socially expedient to carry on as expected? But
    that’s what we can’t afford to do. We have to admit to ourselves that
    the people we meet might not be governed by logic or compassion, and
    we have to listen to our guts, and we have to be honest and speak out.”

  17. Pingback: Outing Pagan Abusers | Song of the Firebird

  18. I’ve come from your article, Sins of the Whistleblower, on Pagan Activist.
    Above, you say,
    when you cut off a stalker, there’s pushback.

    Before “stalking” was a legal concept, and Caller ID was allowed in California (we might have been the last state not using it) , and changing your phone number without moving was a difficult and expensive process, I had an ex (formers: you’re still on good terms with, exes: you’d rather forget) who periodically stalked me by phone. I have no clue where he was, I only knew that when I picked up the phone and heard his voice, I began to shake, and continued to do so for about 30 more minutes. I do not know why I just didn’t hang up with force, I just froze, saying little. I began to have recurring nightmares, something I’d never had, nor have had since. We had a mutual friend who Just Didn’t Get It. IF I’d been able to change my phone number, he’d have given it to the stalker.

    At some point,the stalker was back in the area, and the mutual friend got us together against my better judgement. The surprise was that the stalker apologised. However, he still had no clue about how he’d damaged me, and wanted to start getting together. I said, I can’t imagine why. I see nothing positive about what happened before, and we have nothing of mutual interest.

    He never called again. He moved to the midwest, and I heard about a year later that he’d a fast-moving variety of MS, and was not going to live long. I couldn’t, I just couldn’t drag myself to get an address or a phone number to render sympathy.

    I also resonated with your “If I break up with him, I’ll be alone for the rest of my life”. I said yes to my first proposal of marriage because I felt guilty for feeling nothing, and I think my father (aka the sperm donor, who was a prime abuser himself) had probably put the idea in my head that if someone claimed to love you, you were expected/obligated to love them back. I was hanging wash on the line, puzzling this over, and a Voice said, He’s not even third best, or second best. There was an inference that I could do better, but as popular for dating as I wasn’t in high school, I figured I’d never get another proposal–was I ever wrong! That must have been in the summer before college. By March of the next year, I had realized that my situation with him resembled that of my parents way too much, and that I didn’t need to repeat history. I broke up with him on the 14th or 15th. That night, I got several calls–after directing the dorm’s switchboard operator not to put any calls through–from people who he visited in an attempt to get sympathy, and then proceded to make a showy attempt of trying to kill himself. It was nothing but manipulation.

    The sperm donor called the next morning and ordered me down to San Diego. I neither drove nor had the money for cabfare to the nearest airport, but I mindlessly obeyed, but shaking and unable to speak easily without stuttering (I’m a lefty, but not switched). In the intervening hours, I realized that if I recanted by disengagement, that any time I did something he didn’t like, I’d deal with a suicide threat. I wasn’t having that, no matter what the sperm donor said.

    Later that weekend, my younger sister told me that he’d tried to get her to go out with him, while I was up at college. She wasn’t the only one he approached–there were a number of women he went out with.

    This is the possessively jealous jerk who told me that I shouldn’t hang out with any male students because “All men are studs, all of the time, including me”. When I saw him the day after the disengagement, I told him that there was a corollary to that statement: All women are whores, all of the time, and that includes me. I don’t think he liked that….but he took up with a woman who pursued him once I mentioned he was available, and they married, I’m told. Got him out of my hair, certainly.

  19. Sad to say that I hear a lot of stories like this, and I’m sorry you went through it. But, it’s why I write about it–so that we don’t have to keep getting stuck. 🙂

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