bloggers being sued for defamation

“Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?”–Galatians 4:16

SheepEnemy

I’m not sure where this image originated, but I found it on the BGBC Defamation Lawsuit Archive on Julie Anne Smith’s blog.  I also found it on some Tea Party site, but I am so NOT linking there.  😛

This is for anybody who’s a whistleblower.  On Smith’s blog, it was used to illustrate spiritual abuse, and how the congregation can turn on the one who realizes they’re being led astray.

Julie Anne Smith is going through this right now, since her former pastor sued her for defamation (and lost) because of her blog, and she still gets attacked through online comments from her former fellow congregants.

Heck, Chuck O’Neal himself (the former pastor) has even started his own counter-blog from outrage over losing both in court and in public opinion.  He and his wife have escalated their campaign to vindicate themselves, taking it to ridiculous levels.

He even used the URL of Julie Anne’s original blog (before she switched from Blogger to Wordpress), changing it from blogspot.com to .org, obviously to fool people into finding his blog instead.

I’ve seen the counter-blog, and it convinced me that Julie Anne is telling the truth!  He’s so blinded by his own megalomania and abuse that he doesn’t even recognize how it shows through everything he posted!  From the above linked archive:

As I have noted elsewhere in this Archive, one wonders if anything would actually have satisfied Mr. O’Neal in his craving and quest for “protecting and defending” his family and his church.

Wherever that urge and urgency comes from, it seems to have driven him to great lengths to refute the alleged lies of his nemeses – Julie Anne Smith and Meaghan Varela – with everything he can.

In addition to his church-related duties, he spent time with press releases and documents and other tasks related to preparing for the lawsuit.

He was already required to pay over $60,000 in the defendants’ court costs and attorneys’ fees, along with his own courts costs and fees for the services of at least three lawyers. But what could have been next – once the lawsuit had been dismissed?

It turns out that he is continuing the battle that he believes he has been called to engage in. His ongoing campaign deeply involves his family and his church in further activities. Some of these have been relatively predictable, while others have been quite unexpected….

According to the O’Neal’s website, Mrs. O’Neal created business cards that label Meaghan Varela and Julie Anne Smith as liars. These cards were designed to be handed out, used in public, perhaps even slipped under car windshield wipers.

The BGBC “Mothers Who Will Not Be Silenced!” campaign also now features magnetic van-vertisements for display on vehicles, with the all-caps slogans: “LEAVE MY CHILDREN ALONE!” and “I AM A TRUE SURVIVOR” plus the O’Neals’ website address.

From Julie Anne’s blog:

The story of spiritual abuse needs to be told. People are being hurt emotionally and spiritually by pastors who use bully tactics and we need a place to learn, to talk freely, and to heal. I will not be silenced. (source)

“I will not be silenced”–Hey, that’s what I said!  😉

Why My Stalkers’ Threat is Bogus: Going to my Priest is Well Within My Rights

What amazes me is the fury with which I was hit for musing, on one of my blog posts months before my blog stalkers ever found them, that if our churches were to merge, I would have to go to the priest of the merged church for help:

Richard’s church and mine are both very small and in financial trouble; the archdiocese has suggested they merge.  The two churches don’t want to merge, since they’re in different counties, and somebody would have to move.  But the option is still on the table.

If the churches merge, I will have to go to the priest with my concerns, and show him the proof that Richard is a convicted child abuser, to establish my credibility and prove that he is violent.

Because Tracy has bullied and verbally abused me as well, I will have to also show him an article I found on a contract one church drew up with a member who had been charged with molestation, a contract which was meant to help the member find redemption, but also consider the needs and fears of the victims.  We could modify it for our own needs.

For one thing, this was hypothetical and may never happen, because our two churches do not want to merge.  I posted that a year ago, and nobody has done anything to move toward a merge.

For another, when one person in a church has been abused by another person in that church, going to the priest/preacher for help and protection is perfectly valid and may be necessary to provide protection.  For example, see the article I linked about the contract one church drew up.

Disagreements between parishioners are one thing, but we’re talking actual abuse here, which caused me extensive spiritual damage as well.  It is my right–even in the Constitution–to go to my priest with concerns like this.

From what I could determine from Richard and Tracy’s vague and threatening e-mail (see Now I’m Being Stalked), this is the action which they warned me they would sue me for.

Also, asking for spiritual help and counseling from a priest, preacher or other qualified parishioner, to help with another, is not only perfectly valid, but commanded by Christ for handling disputes (Matthew 18:15-17), so that the body will not be divided.

So by threatening me, Richard and Tracy are fighting Christ.  A mediator would be absolutely necessary in a small church, in a situation as abusive and volatile as this.

[Update 9/6/14:] Not only that, but a police officer told me I had the right to do this and could not be sued for it.

Since my blog stalkers tried to use threats of lawsuits to keep me from handling this dispute properly within the church if our churches were to merge, I can only assume that it was because they know they’re in the wrong.  That they don’t want their abusive actions to see the light of day.

Keep this in mind as a red flag, because such threats are common from abusers, whether the victim has already told, or to prevent the victim from telling, those who could help.

Others have been through this, such as Julie Anne Smith, who have tried to have such a counseling session/meeting with their abusers, but the abusers have refused, choosing to sue instead.

(So far, Julie Anne Smith has won, all charges against her dismissed with the plaintiff paying her legal fees, while another blogger’s suit is just beginning.  But over and over again, I find plaintiffs losing such cases.)

Disfellowshipping from the church is only to be used for extreme cases, and I never intended for my blog stalkers to be disfellowshipped even if we did get that far.

The contract described above, is what I wanted, to stipulate that they keep their distance from me and not harass me, so I could feel safe at church without fearing for my emotional, spiritual or even physical well-being.

But the unwillingness of my blog stalkers to recognize their own part in things and apologize, even after we have spoken to my priest, and for them to react so harshly against the idea of counseling with the priest, leaves me free to disfellowship them from me.

But this page on resolving disputes between congregants, from a Protestant denomination, sums up quite well why this is so vital in a tiny church:

Many branches of the church of God are small in the number of members. Most of our individual congregations are quite small too. There were positive and negative aspects of the large congregations of our former fellowship.

Because of the much greater numbers of people in our old congregations, there were more opportunities for friends and companionship, but there were also more opportunities for offenses.

This fact also allowed the offenders and the offended to “resolve” their differences by merely ignoring one another and gravitating to another set of church friends. We do not have that luxury in our tiny congregations today!

We have very limited opportunities for friendship and fellowship within our tiny congregations on our little “church islands.”

Remember that our little church congregations are small islands of truth and righteousness, isolated and surrounded by the vast ocean of Satan’s world.

We need to stick together. We should not be giving offense to our beloved brethren, and neither should we be so touchy and sensitive that we are too easily offended.

Let us strive to get along together and to love one another with the godly love that is unique to the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ.

If our churches were cathedrals, or at least as large as my husband’s church (500), we could easily lose sight of each other in the crowd (and neither church would be in financial straits and talking mergers, either).

But no, our churches are so tiny that you can barely move without bumping into each other at some point.  A person can barely speak without everyone in the room being aware of it.

In mine you have the little sanctuary and a little office upstairs, and the basement downstairs, and that’s it: no classrooms, even.  Theirs is even smaller.

My priest is already aware of the situation, but because our churches have been reticent to merge, there has been no reason to ask for a formal contract as described above, or for formal counseling sessions involving my blog stalkers.  The best means has been to simply avoid each other (though stalking my blog hardly counts as “avoiding” me).

Most of the time they’re not at my church, so there is no problem with this, and I have felt no need to go further.  But my church is in the final stages of negotiating a salary for my priest; if he rejects it, I don’t know what will happen.

If the idea of merging is put on the table again because of our recent, sudden change in finances, then I’ll have to ask for formal help–or go to a church which is farther away, but free of this drama completely.  Or if they start coming to mine on a regular basis, I will have to ask for formal help, because I won’t uproot myself from my own church.

And they will not be able to sue me, will have no right to, because I have and will have broken no law–and because it would be a violation of my rights.

Neither option is appealing.  But if I have to ask for formal counseling, it is well within my rights as a parishioner and an abuse victim–and my blog stalkers would have absolutely no basis to sue me over it.

I would keep out opinions of motivations, etc. and stick to what happened and how it made me feel, not out of fear of a lawsuit, but because it would not be right or tactful to bring such things into counseling sessions with a priest.

It’s not his job to sort that stuff out, and I would be far better served by keeping things clear and to the point, no speculation.  I’ve noted that people involved in custody battles are advised this as well.

In other words, what works for venting to friends in cyberspace, is entirely different from what works for negotiations, and could actually work against the desired result.

Why this would so disturb my blog stalkers that they would call it a “threat” (when it wasn’t even directed at them, just musings written months before they found my blog), and threaten me with a lawsuit if I did this, I have no clue.

You can easily see that there was no hint of a “threatening” tone in the “offending” paragraph.  Unless, of course, they recognize what they did was wrong, and that this would force them to face that.

What I do know is that their threat is groundless, and because of our First Amendment, the courts would not even touch it.  How churches deal with contentious members, is entirely up to the churches.

I am 100% supportive of outing these fools by name. Unfortunately, there are many who don’t understand that outing them is a direct consequence and they should deal with it. They don’t.

Instead, they seek low-life attorneys willing to send cease and desist letters to scare us into thinking we’re committing a crime.

We’re not!! It’s called freedom of speech.

If they think we’re lying and hope to sue us for defamation, libel, or slander, they need to prove that in court. The burden in U.S. courts is on the complainant, not the defender. I believe it is opposite in some countries, including Canada and the UK. :) –Paula, Lance Armstrong’s Jailhouse Confession

 

Defamation and the Abuse Blogger: I’m Safe and Here’s Why

From what I’ve seen, all the time, bloggers about abuse get sued–or threatened with a lawsuit–by their alleged abusers.  This strikes fear into the hearts of people who want to tell their stories, but don’t want to be sued over it.  Just as when my abusers/bullies threatened me.

I have examined the legal documents used in the case of Beaverton Grace Bible Church against Julie Anne Smith, and come up with the following quotes:

Quotes from Request to Strike Defamation Lawsuit Against author of BGBC blog, Julie Anne Smith:

Even viewed from a secular perspective, Hannah’s statement, “[Pastor] Chuck micro-manages every detail, like having EVERY song approved by him” is not defamatory, nor are Julie Anne’s opinions that something or someone is “creepy,” “legalistic,” or “controlling.”

There is no such thing as a false idea. However pernicious an opinion may seem, we depend for its correction not on the conscience of judges and juries but on the competition of other ideas. Unflattering opinions are not defamation.

While offensive opinions are not actionable defamation [Gertz, supra; Milkovich, supra], there is also a related federal Constitutional rule that a derogatory opinion based on stated facts is nonactionable as defamation, regardless of how unreasonable the opinion drawn from those stated facts might be.

A simple expression of opinion based on disclosed or assumed nondefamatory facts is not itself sufficient for an action of defamation, no matter how unjustified and unreasonable the opinion may be or how derogatory it is.

A statement is “true” if “substantially” true–this is if the “gist” or “sting” is true, even if the statement contains slight inaccuracies.

In a similar case, the Northern District of California noted that when statements are made on “obviously critical blogs, … readers are less likely to view statements as assertions of fact rather than opinion.” Art of Living, 2011 WL 2441898, at *7.

The court cited a previous decision which explained that statements made on a personal website, through internet discussion groups, and as part of heated debate are less likely to be viewed as statements of fact. Id. (citing Nicosia v. DeRooy, 72 FSupp 2d 1093, 1101 (ND Cal 1999)).

In this case the “broad context,” is the internet, where particular norms of expression have evolved. These are recognized for spontaneity, informality, and often exaggerated and hastily written exchanges of opinions.

Readers understand the atmosphere of overstatement expressed by web conventions, such as ALL CAPS (a visual representation of shouting), just as they understand a “review” and “take such railings with a grain of salt.” Moldea v. New York Times Co., 22 F3d 310, 313 (1st Cir 1994).

The term “bully” or “bullies” is just not “defamatory.”

The reference to “Narcissism in the Pulpit” was actually a hyperlink to resources identifying characteristics of clergy who may not minister appropriately. JAS Decl., ¶ 41.35 In context, (1) the reference is to an article anyone could read, and (2) no one would take this as a medical diagnosis. It is just not defamatory.

Weyrich v. New Republic, Inc., 235 F3d 617 (DC Cir 2001), held that the magazine article’s references to plaintiff’s

“bouts of pessimism and paranoia” and “habits of suspicion, pessimism, and antagonism,” were not defamatory, since “these comments cannot reasonably be understood as verifiably false, and, therefore potentially actionable, assertions of mental derangement” [Id. at 620]

and “[n]ever does the article claim to make a psychological pronouncement, nor would a reasonable reader understand it to do so.” Id. at 625.

See also, Lieberman v. Fieger, 338 F3d 1076, 1081 (9th Cir 2003) (attorney’s comments that psychiatrist was “Looney Tunes,” “crazy,” “nuts,” and “unbalanced” were protected under First Amendment as statements of opinion).

To Chuck: if you would have manned up and acknowledged that we were parting ways because we weren’t seeing eye-to-eye on certain issues, you never would have heard from us again, expresses personal dissatisfaction with the response to the Smiths’ dissent, but nothing in that statement is provably false or “defamatory.”  See the number of accusations of “lying” or “liar” found to not be defamatory in context in the several Obsidian v. Coxopinions.

The vague term, “spiritual abuse” is not capable of defamatory meaning. For example: The term “lawsuit abuse” is vague and does not have a definite meaning.

It is a hyperbolic expression of opinion, not a verifiable statement of fact. The sign may have offended Plaintiffs or caused them discomfort, but it was not actionable.

Turn a blind eye to known sex offenders in the church and other references to the investigation and conviction of a teenage church member on criminal charges of rape of a child and other counts of sexual abuse are discussed together, below.

This statement is protected as commentary on church policies about the role of family and the state in dealing with a minor congregant accused of abuse. It is also “pure” opinion based on facts known to the congregants and Plaintiffs, since the offender was tried as an adult and the records are public.

This is a very destructive and disturbing ‘church,’ This is not a safe place, and The gossip/slander, disclosure of what goes on in private counseling sessions * * *, are clearly opinions based on facts stated by Julie Anne and facts known to the congregants.

All the foregoing italicized statements are all closely intertwined with the ongoing discussion of termination of the Evangelical Coordinator and church governance and are also “pure” opinion based on 36. Paragraphs 9.e-f, 9.i-j, allege “republication” of some (apparently) deleted posts but do not allege new matter other than allegations above stated facts and facts known to the congregants.

Web “[r]eaders were ‘free to form another, perhaps contradictory opinion from the same facts’ * * * as no doubt they did.” Standing Committee, supra, 59 F3d at 1440. As Professor Smolla explains:

With “pure” opinion, as that term is used in the RESTATEMENT, either the maker of the comment states the facts on which the opinion is based, or the recipient of the communication is already aware of the facts upon which the opinion is based.

A pure opinion does not lose its protected status merely because it is ostensibly cast in factual form, if it is clear from the context that the maker does not intend to assert another objective fact, but only his personal view on the objective facts already stated.

We have shown that in this case it would not be possible to show even negligence on the part of Julie Anne or Hannah, since each their statements were religious beliefs, opinions and opinions based on stated information.

However, in their Complaint, Plaintiffs have alleged and taken on the burden of proving “malice” as the level of fault.  RESTATEMENT (2D) TORTS, § 613 states:

(1) In an action for defamation the plaintiff has the burden of proving, when the issue is properly raised * * * (g) the defendant’s negligence, reckless disregard or knowledge regarding the truth or falsity and the defamatory character of the communication * * *.

“Malice” has a particularized meaning in defamation law. To defeat the Special Motion, Plaintiffs must offer substantial evidence of “actual malice” as that phrase is used in the RESTATEMENT, the United States Supreme Court, and Oregon Constitutional jurisprudence, which is:

that Defendant had reckless disregard for the truth or falsity or actual knowledge of the falsity of her statements (to the extent any statement is “factual”).

Gardner v. Martino, 563 F3d 981, 989 (9th Cir 2009), explains that a radio talk show host’s criticism of an Oregon business, based only upon facts he heard from a caller, was not even “negligent” and did not reach the level of recklessness required for “malice.” He had no duty to investigate further. The Court upheld dismissal under ORS 31.150, et seq.

Actual malice in its constitutional sense is a subjective factual standard, not a pleading.

St. Amant v. Thompson, 390 US 727, 88 SCt 1323 (1968).38 St. Amant, a candidate for sheriff, accused the current sheriff, plaintiff Thompson, of official corruption.

St. Amant had no personal knowledge. He relied solely on an affidavit from another and did not investigate further.

The United States Supreme Court reversed a defamation verdict, because there was insufficient evidence of St. Amant’s subjective reckless “disregard” for the truth or falsity of the affiant’s statements.

[R]eckless conduct is not measured by whether a reasonably prudent man would have published or would have investigated before publishing.

There must be sufficient evidence to permit the conclusion that the defendant in fact entertained serious doubts as to the truth of his publication.

Publishing with such doubts shows reckless disregard for truth or falsity and demonstrates actual malice.  St. Amant v. Thompson, 390 US at 731.

Malice does not mean subjective ill-will or here Julie Anne’s intention to “prevent other families from joining.” Instead, it means her subjective knowledge that some of her statements were “false.” She had no duty to “investigate” or doubt the words of others as she heard or understood them….

[P]laintiffs’ allegations in actions for libel that defendants “rel[ied] on statements made by a single source,” or failed to verify statements received from an “adequate news source,” or performed “slipshod investigation,” have all been rejected as bases for inferring actual malice.

Also, for spiritual abuse bloggers, the document goes into detail about religious speech being protected by the First Amendment, and courts having no jurisdiction over what is defamatory there.

From a follow-up document:

While the inquiry in any given case is fact-specific, certain themes are discernable and worth noting here. First, statements made as part of an acknowledged heated debate often negate the impression that the defendant was asserting an objective fact. * * *. Art of Living Found. v. Does 1-10, No. 10 CV-05022-LHK, 2011 WL 2441898, at *7 (ND Cal June 15, 2011) (readers less likely to view statements made on blogs with “heated discussion and criticism,” as assertions of fact) * * *.

Second, while generally, “online speech stands on the same footing as other speech,” In re Anonymous Online Speakers, 661 FedAppx 1168, 1173, No. 09-71265, 2011 WL 61635, at *2 (9th Cir Jan 7, 2011), blogs [FN1] are a subspecies of online speech which inherently suggest that statements made there are not likely provable assertions of fact.

Eg, Art of Living Found., 2011 WL 2441898, at *7 (statements made on obviously critical blog with “heated” discussion and criticism less likely to be viewed as assertions of fact); Nicosia, 72 FSupp2d at 1101 (statements made on personal website and through online discussion group less likely to be seen as assertions of fact);

see also Too Much Media, LLC v. Hale, 206 NJ 209, 234-35, 20 A3d 364, 378-79 (2011) (noting that “online message boards provide virtual, public forums for people to communicate with each other about topics of interest” and “promote a looser, more relaxed communication style”) (internal quotation and brackets omitted); Sandals Resorts Int’l, Ltd. v. Google, Inc., 925 NYS2d 407, 415-16, 86 AD3d 32, 43-44 (NY AppDiv 2011)

(noting that the “low barrier to speaking online allows anyone with an Internet connection to publish his thoughts, free from the editorial constraints that serve as gatekeepers for most traditional media of disseminating information [] [o]ften result[ing] in speech characterized by grammatical and spelling errors, the use of slang, and, in many instances, an overall lack of coherence”;

observing that readers give less deference to allegedly defamatory remarks published on online message boards, chat rooms, and blogs, than to similar remarks made in other contexts) (internal quotation omitted).  FN1.

As explained by one court, an online blog is a “frequently updated website consisting of personal observations, excerpts from other sources, or, more generally, an online journal or diary.” Quixtar, Inc. v. Signature Mgmt. Team, LLC, 566 FSupp2d 1205, 1212 (DNev 2008). Thus, a blog is distinct from other online speech affiliated with, for example, a major media publication.

In the broad context, the statements are made on obviously critical blogs (“Leaving Art of Living” and “Beyond Art of Living”) with heated discussion and criticism of the Art of Living Foundation and Ravi Shankar. In this context, readers are less likely to view statements as assertions of fact rather than opinion.

Julie Anne’s commentary must be read in the full context of the church dispute and rest of the blog, as well as the entire lengthy entry [3rd Williams Decl. Ex. B] and the actual surrounding text:

He will have a hard time in court proving that my words are defaming. I wouldn’t waste my time on defamation – what is there to gain in that? I will, however, sacrifice my time and energy in speaking the truth when there is an abuse of power going on and lives are at risk.

In the context of the blog and the understandable reaction to a lawsuit, the statement clearly emphasizes that the religious convictions and opinions in the blog are important to Julie Anne because of the perceived risk to spiritual “lives.”

As a believer, she sees threats to spiritual growth as risks to eternal life. No reasonable person would see this as an allegation of fact, such as an accusation of threatened murder.

The words, the entire entry–the blog in toto–are not defamatory. This is simply strongly phrased opinion based on religious conscience.

“Oppressive” and “abusive” are subjective terms. Julie Anne’s summary of her opinion and choice of adjectives is not defamatory. As discussed, the opinions are based on her personal experiences and the controversial shunning of her family.

It is opinion based on stated facts. It is protected expression. See, Standing Committee v. Yagman, 55 F3d 1430 (9th Cir 1995), and discussion at Memorandum in Support (April 27, 2012), pp. 16-17.

Julie Anne was served with the Complaint on March 1. It is not surprising that she would perceive the Complaint, filed by her former shepherd, as further “interfering” with her lawsuit is a serious matter.

Finding an Oregon attorney while in the Richland, Washington area can be daunting. $500,000 damages is a lot of money. It is a devastating threat of financial ruin to a family with a stay-at-home mom and seven children.

Allegations about “punitive damages” are empty threats with no legal basis–but seemed threatening to Julie Anne. Perceiving that Plaintiffs were “interfering” with her peace of mind is not defamatory. It is Julie Anne’s opinion. It is protected speech.

I use no real names, since this blog is not about vengeance, but about sharing my personal struggles and hopefully helping others with theirs.  Everything in my blogs is based on what I have witnessed with my own eyes/ears, and things I have been told by Richard or others who know Richard and Tracy, things which I had no reason to doubt.

In the very few (two?) cases when it came from someone other than Richard, I could confirm it with my own knowledge, as a witness and/or from what Richard told me.  I can produce these sources, which are in writing.

Also, any opinions I formed based on these things, are protected by the First Amendment, especially since I’m simply blogging my personal journal, not making medical pronouncements etc. in the newspaper using real names. 

No, I’m trying to understand why some people act this way, why some people abuse, why some people don’t seem to care that you’re in pain.  It’s a means of analyzing, understanding and then setting aside the actions of my abusers, so that ultimately I stop internalizing them, and realize they were not my fault.

The same as I see on other abuse blogs, such as One Mom’s Battle, where the blogger claims her ex is a narcissist, even though he has no medical diagnosis.  But she does not name him, so any time he tries to sue her over it, he fails.

Identifying someone as sociopathic or narcissistic is about discovering that you have to cut them out of your life and keep them out, rather than giving them the benefit of the doubt or trying to change them (see here).

Whether they truly are sociopathic or narcissistic is irrelevant, because their behavior matches that of a narcissist, and therefore is no good for you.  The information is out there so we can learn to identify such people without having to lug a psychiatrist along with us everywhere we go, so we can protect ourselves.

And all sorts of abuse blogs talk about “narcissist” or “sociopath” etc. family members, but do not name them, so the blogs are still up.  These blogs are about finding healing and learning that it’s not the victim’s fault.  They are not about vengeance–which would mean using real names and identifiers for the purpose of destroying reputations.

Therefore, any claim my blog stalkers might make against me, would be frivolous and subject to dismissal–ie, a huge frickin’ waste of time and money.  Note that the case against Julie Anne Smith and others who were sued along with her, was dismissed–and the church now has to pay her legal fees.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where we have to watch everything we say, give everyone the benefit-of-the-doubt, worry about being sued for “slander” and basically tolerate everyone and everything.

What if the good people stood up against the bad people, exposed them, fought them, and became strong against them?

…And for those harmed by Sociopaths or someone with a Personality Disorder: What if you didn’t hide away with shame? What if you spoke out, used your experiences to teach others, and stood tall and strong for what you believe in? –Lynna, What if the Teachers Had Guns?

But how can we, as lay persons, make that determination and measure the leap from having JUST a personality disorder to being a sociopath without a conscience? How can we accurately, as non-scientists, measure the truth and conscience of another person?

Out of respect for the researchers in the field of psychology and neurology, we can’t. Only a skilled and experienced professional in the field can diagnose or determine the mental state of a person we date, marry, or cohabitate.

But we can still listen to our intuition and act in order to protect our own mental health and existence and that of our children.

So, instead of waiting to find out if your Cluster B is also a sociopath, it’s best to be on the safe side and assume that he is.

In my experience with a sociopath, I made the mistake of trying to disprove he was a narcissist (because who wants to accept being a victim?) when I should have gone with the safer assumption that he was a full-blown sociopath.

I would have escaped sooner, and then I could have spent my time away from him (in a safe place) reflecting, researching, and making the determination as to what he was and remains to be.

Making such an extreme assumption is not a very scientific or politically-correct thing to do, but it certainly would have saved me a lot of blame, shame, and guilt.

I recommend that each of you, if in an abusive relationship, assume the person who is abusing you (physically, emotionally, and/or sexually) to be a sociopath and get out, seek support, and try to put your life back together before it’s too late. –Paula Carrasquillo, The mask of a sociopath: awareness of cluster B disorders and sociopaths

Identifying the Narcissistic Sociopath–After reading this on Paula’s Pontifications, sociopathy becomes a distinct possibility not just for one, but for both my blog stalkers.  It is, of course, hard to be absolutely sure, but as the above blogger advises, better to behave as if they are.  It’s safer.

In my opinion, the victims of sociopaths and cluster B personality types are better at diagnosing these monsters than any psychiatric professional.

Sure, doctors have the background in the terminology and the experience with real “crazies.”

But do they have the real-life experiences and reactionary impulses victims have? Are they going to get the “truth” of what these monsters did straight from the horse’s mouth? Do they have video, audio, or even images of these creeps in action?

Most likely no (unless they are dealing with convicted sociopaths who could possibly be countered with lots of jail-house video on file.)

But your everyday, non-convicted sociopaths just lie with impunity and make gigantic fools of these skilled and highly-trained pros. (Sorry, doc, but it’s the truth.) –Paula Carrasquillo, You know in your heart she’s a sociopath.  So what’s holding you back from saying it?

My story is also in the public interest.  Not only are we allowed to tell our autobiographies and publish memoirs, but the number of people searching for stories and information just like mine, shows it is of interest.

The BGBC/O’Neal lawsuit was pivotal to watch last summer because it discussed freedom of speech regarding church abuse.

Because of the clear victory in my case, a precedent has been set, giving bloggers added confidence to know that it is within their rights to publish their stories and express their opinions about their negative experiences in churches or ministries with strong words like: spiritual abuse, cult, creepy.

They can even discuss publicly online how churches handle sex abuse or sex offenders. –Julie Anne, Are Bloggers & the Internet Having a Direct Affect on Churches and Their Policies?

I am 100% supportive of outing these fools by name. Unfortunately, there are many who don’t understand that outing them is a direct consequence and they should deal with it. They don’t.

Instead, they seek low-life attorneys willing to send cease and desist letters to scare us into thinking we’re committing a crime.

We’re not!! It’s called freedom of speech. If they think we’re lying and hope to sue us for defamation, libel, or slander, they need to prove that in court. The burden in U.S. courts is on the complainant, not the defender. I believe it is opposite in some countries, including Canada and the UK. :) –Paula, Lance Armstrong’s Jailhouse Confession

 

Never Be Bullied Into Silence. Speak Up About Abuse!

NeverBeBulliedIntoSilence

(This image is all over the Net, so I don’t know where it came from.)

Here’s how one court dealt with a narcissistic ex-husband suing his ex over her blog and book:

The Commission refused to hear the motion and threw it out while making it very clear that he does not want to hear about the book or blog ever again. He said that I have the right to write about anything that I choose. —One Mom’s Battle

When dealing with a high-conflict person, DOCUMENT EVERYTHING.  Keep e-mails, make records, and toss none of it.

You may need it later, not just to prove your claims of abuse, but because abusers will try to gaslight you into thinking you’re crazy and it didn’t happen the way you said.

It also protects you from going back into an abusive situation, because our memories often will begin fading, until we start thinking it wasn’t as bad as all that.  It happens to me on occasion, then I go through my accounts again and remember, to steel myself.

I recall feeling a crisis, going back and forth for a few weeks about whether or not I should call CPS about my abuser Tracy smacking her child in the back of the head, right after I saw her do it–and whether I should’ve called the police right when it happened, and yelled at her to stop.

I agonized over it, felt I was betraying the child if I didn’t, felt I was betraying Tracy if I did.

I showed my husband the e-mail I had received in March 2009 which was proof of her abuse, told him what all I’d witnessed, discussed it with him.  I said, “How much more of this [watching Tracy abuse her kids and Richard] can I take?”

The crisis only stopped when mutual friend Chris unwittingly brought up the subject and I had the chance to say that was abuse.  Then Chris posted something on Facebook that gave me a chance to say what’s abusive.  This is in my accounts, which also describe the other things I witnessed Tracy doing.

But I couldn’t help feeling a huge crisis at being friends with an abuser and not reporting her.  It worked like acid on my conscience.  I’d breathe a sigh of relief whenever I’d get through a whole visit without witnessing her even verbally abusing the kids or snapping at Richard.

In February 2011, after seeing The Boondock Saints for a second time and hearing the theme of evil winning because good men do nothing, I decided it was time to be an angel to those children, before something terrible happened–and tell somebody about the violence between Richard and Tracy, before somebody got killed.

I had no idea, since it was not yet published online, that Richard had already strangled one of his children until she passed out.

I sent an e-mail to a friend in social work in the state, describing everything I witnessed and knew.  I wanted to make sure it all qualified as reportable abuse.  She begged me to report them, saying that she grew up in a house like that and it caused lasting damage, that Richard and Tracy both sounded very abusive, and that I should do it to help my friend, Richard.

My pastor friend had also begged me, back in 2010, to report them, because he used to work in a domestic violence shelter.

Coincidentally, I mailed my report–a 3-page letter–the same day that Richard was officially charged.  Right there is proof that I did the right thing, that my instincts were correct.  My conscience is now clear.

I also have various e-mails and drafts of e-mails written in December 2007 and very early 2008, which describe things I witnessed, and specifically refer to Tracy’s behavior to Richard and the children as abuse, and her treatment of me as bullying and abuse.

They also prove that I was having just as much trouble in the late winter/early spring 2008 dealing with how she had treated me and others, as I’m having now, that I was just as angry with her then as now, even while we were still all friends, that this is not just a reaction to how she treated me in 2010, or brought on by researching abuse in 2010-12.

No, I am in the exact same frame as mind now as then, about what she was doing.  The abuse in that family began long before they came to my house.

I also have a disturbing and shocking e-mail received in 2009 which proves it, and notes written on it by me which describe feeling gaslit until I got this e-mail, also giving more frightening information given to me over the phone the following day.

The list, the e-mails, and the letter in my previous post–written to Richard but never sent because it felt too dangerous because of Tracy’s restrictions on his communication with me–all confirm my web accounts and blogs to be my actual impressions at the time of what was going on.

They all confirm that I remember things as they happened.  They all confirm that I felt abused, and felt I was witnessing abuse, that this was not at all something that later crept in to my head to make me feel justified in ending the friendship.

No, we ended the friendship in 2010 precisely because of the abuse; this was not some story invented later.  They confirm that my claims of abuse came from a combination of observation and the victim’s own words.

They all confirm and back up the story that I have told as being factual to the best of my knowledge. That no, the issue was not, as Tracy claimed, me “snubbing” her or needing to “grow up” and accept her venom as my due, stop feeling hurt over it.

Another issue was that Richard was in exactly the same place with Chris’ wife, as I was with Tracy, and I even told him so, yet he never seemed to make the connection and show me compassion because of it.

No, the real issue was the way she abused me and others and got Richard to go along with it.  She made it very clear that we could only come back to them once I stopped “feeling hurt” over her abuse.

She made it very clear that she would accept nothing less than me submitting to all her abuse and venom as my due.

Which is never, ever going to happen, and proved to me without a shadow of a doubt that she is evil, that I do not want to be friends with her ever again.

My husband would get very angry if I did submit to her, and says that she has to get down on her knees and apologize to me for what she’s done to me.

No, I did not deserve her abuse, I will not accept it, and I’m not the one who needs to “grow up.”  That’s a very peculiar definition of “growing up”: accepting another’s abuse.  No, that’s not “growing up,” that’s “being a doormat.”

Only an abuser would require you to accept abuse without complaint.  “Growing up” means controlling yourself and getting the facts, not raging at and abusing your friends like a toddler throwing a tantrum.

A normal, healthy person would apologize for blowing up at you, and agree to a civil conversation, with give-and-take.

Whenever I start doubting my memories and impressions, I need only remember that e-mail–and re-read all my documentation.  And then I see that all her opinions of me are sewer sludge–and worth just as much.

This sounds so familiar, especially the coddling of the BS of the abuser:

Consistent with narcissism and other cluster B personality disorders is the need for constant drama from which the N personality derives attention.

For my mother, this was manifested in her constant need to be at war with someone. For years it was her sister, then various friends, my father, several coworkers, and eventually, her children.

She was in constant need of worship, consolation, pity, or some other form of manipulated obligation from those close to her.

For everyone else, appearances were everything. On the surface, she worked diligently to keep up with the façade that we were the “perfect family”.

At home, she flew into regular fits of rage which cycled into stoic depression. Her emotional pendulum swung between spitting rage and icy indifference with few stops in between. Everyone was always “out to get her.”

For my father, the cluster B’s were manifested through his enabling of my mother’s unhealthy bouts of behavior. While I do not believe he actually suffers from one of these disorders, he was extremely afraid of my mother’s reactions and reinforced her maladaptive traits as a result.

He would rage at us kids if he felt the threat of one of her tantrums looming. He became intolerant of noncompliance and the voicing of opinions that did not cater to my mother’s disorder.

He buried himself in work and checked out when it became evident that an avalanche of torrent was coming and showed up in the aftermath to make sure we didn’t rock the boat any further.

He too took on the role of authoritarian abuser in support of my mother, but at the same time cowered to her alpha personality. —One Mom’s Battle

In high school, I did not tell my teachers about the boys who sexually harassed me.  I did not tell my parents, even though I began to get an ulcer.

In college, I told no one how my fiancé Phil was treating me, though people did notice some of it and hated him for it.  I will be silent no longer, will not even be bullied into silence by my blog stalkers.

I stood up for the truth and for what’s right.  I was an angel for those children.  I’m standing up for abuse victims everywhere.  Every day I get stronger as I continue to tell my story.

My story of narcissistic abuse is here.

It’s been a long time coming
And the tables’ turned around

I’m not running, it’s a little different now
–Sick Puppies, “You’re Going Down”

 

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