Should bloggers reveal the names of their abusers? Should I reveal mine right here in a big expose’?
Why do we have to keep everything a secret? Why are our ‘secrets’ considered embarrassing? Why are we protecting our abusers? What’s wrong with a good ol’ public hanging?…
Nowadays everything happens behind closed doors. And on top of that, victims aren’t supposed to talk about it. …Why are we being judged for what others did to us? –Prozac Blogger, “Why are we the ones that hide the truth?”
Prozac Blogger no longer blogs, at least not about his abuse. He wrote in the post/comments that he was afraid his dad would find his blog, and proceed to “wipe the floor” with P.B. with his high-powered lawyers. So he kept his identity secret.
But then, one day last year, he finally got the chance to confront his abusive father, and cut him out of his life for good. After that, he felt healed at last, took down most of the blog, and started a new one which revealed his own identity, but was about various things, such as politics and his own short fiction. (He was a porn star! Who knew!)
From that, anyone who knew him could figure out his father, so I guess he was no longer afraid, even though he didn’t give his father’s name. But now, I don’t see P.B. anywhere when I search. I had to get the above link through the Wayback Machine.
When Savannah Dietrich was raped,
The public humiliation culminated this June, when her assailants struck a plea deal on charges of felony sexual abuse and misdemeanor voyeurism that Dietrich felt amounted to a “slap on the wrist.” And the court had an order for Dietrich, too: Don’t talk about it, or risk 180 days in prison and a $500 fine.
First, Dietrich cried. Then, she logged online. “There you go, lock me up,” she tweeted to a couple hundred Twitter followers, outing her assailants by name. “I’m not protecting anyone that made my life a living Hell.”
These men had made their assault on her public. Now, they had convinced a court to keep it all under wraps. “If reporting a rape only got me to the point that I’m not allowed to talk about it, then I regret it,” she wrote in a note on her Facebook wall. “I regret reporting it.” –Amanda Hess, Slate.com
Read the rest of the above post for details of how various girls have used social media to expose their rapists–and the fallout they received for it. But Hess sees them as brave, fighting to make a change despite the odds. After all, exposing rapists and abusers online is risky, especially if you can’t point to a settled court case.
If your rapist was convicted, or your abuser is sitting in jail for years for choking you, then you can’t be guilty of libel. But if it’s not proven, or if it’s verbal/emotional abuse or a general pattern of behavior, then you are on riskier ground if you reveal names.
Julie Anne Smith was sued by her former pastor for blogging about spiritual abuse she experienced from him; she won.
I understand why they used real names, but that put them into treacherous waters from the very beginning. However, it has given other victims of spiritual abuse a forum, as they discover they’re not the only ones abused at Beaverton Grace Bible Church. Other spiritual abuse victims of other churches are also speaking out on these and other blogs.
As you can see in this post, in which I published the DARVO e-mail sent to me by my own abusers, they apparently had some crazy idea that I was going to go on some kind of public campaign outing them to the whole city.
I never said or “threatened” that I would, and I have no clue where they got this idea; it must have been their own paranoia speaking. (But then, Tracy has shown a tendency to read in things that aren’t there.)
Or, as I figured at the time, maybe they were jumping on the fact that I wrote–in a post written long before they ever found my blog–that I would have to talk to the priest if their church merged with mine, to get his help dealing with the situation, and form a contract which would keep them from harassing me at church.
No, the only thing I told them was to either apologize or stay the **** away from me, and don’t contact me. No threats, period; they pulled that “threat” concept out of their backsides, then proceeded to give me an actual threat.
No, I had already told my friends and family what happened, reported my abusers to CPS for the many instances of child and spousal abuse I witnessed, and told my priest what was going on so he could advise me, all before my abusers even found my blog.
I named my abusers to my friends and family, who include people here in town. I no longer hesitate to use their names when speaking of them on my Facebook. But my Facebook wall is closed to the public.
This was all the public “outing” I ever intended to do, and all of it is covered under our precious First Amendment.
I used my blog as a tool to get everything out in great detail, something my friends would not have the patience for, so that I could heal and maybe help other abuse victims in the process.
But all names and identifying details were changed, I even removed pictures from my website/blog and Richard’s comments on my blog from 2009, and I had no intention of ever revealing these things on my blog.
Besides, posting their names here would be vengeance, not justice or a healing tool.
“Justice” was telling my priest and family/friends.
“Healing” was writing about the abuse, venting all my anger, and then beginning to transfer it to the written words and out of my heart. “Healing” is seeing others read my posts to help their own healing, sometimes even downloading a copy.
Putting their names on a blog so future employers could Google it–that’s vengeance. “Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord.” Not MINE. (Besides, if I ruin their chances at getting a job, I ruin their chances of ever getting the means to move the heck away from this town.)
Now, the state publicly posts court records; I have nothing to do with that. That, they will have to contend with. Richard ruined his own chances of ever becoming a priest, and can’t sue the state for posting his criminal records.
I have seen all sorts of different abuse blogs in the past few years. Some have never given the names of their narcissists and/or abusers, such as Tina Swithin and Whispers of God, but have still been threatened with or actually hit with lawsuits.
Some have given real names; the results have been mixed. Princess Fi tried to go through legal channels, but it had been decades since her parents sexually abused her, and the police finally dropped the lawsuit. She posted the names of her abusers online, but she lives in the UK, where the police forced her to remove the names. Swithin has never actually been sued, and still blogs.
Christina Enevoldsen has been public about her abuse experiences in her own town for years, and even was threatened by her own mother with a lawsuit, but that never happened. Other bloggers on Overcoming Sexual Abuse use real names as well.
[Update 12/20/14: After this post was written, Enevoldsen revealed that she was indeed sued by her mother–and won. She writes about it here.]
Bloggers on Emerging from Broken use real names. Though I think for the most part the bloggers are using their own real names, not naming their abusers. Of course you can figure out who that is if you know the blogger, but the general public wouldn’t know.
Paula’s Pontifications does not give the name of her narcissistic ex.
Exposing the name of your abuser is a huge risk. I don’t advise it, because changing names and identifying details should keep you from being successfully sued–especially if the abuse cannot be proven in court, such as verbal abuse or narcissistic mind games.
If your arm has been broken and the police are aware of this, or if your abuser has been convicted of sexual abuse or rape, you may be able to get away with exposing names. But otherwise, take care. It’s bad enough to be abused in the first place, without getting sued as well.
See Intimidation of Abuse Bloggers and Dealing with Gaslighting Legal Threats for more on this subject.