Intimidation of Abuse Bloggers
Please note: This is a diary of my struggle dealing with abuse and stalking, NOT legal advice.
My abusers are trying to intimidate me into silence. I have clear documented evidence of this, and witnesses. I have pulled this information together for others being intimidated into silence by their abusers, especially for bloggers. In our voices, we have strength. Keep blogging!
Threats and intimidation: threatening to harm the victim, family members and pets, using physical size to intimidate, shouting, keeping weapons & threatening to use them —Abusive Relationships
Whether it’s bullying from peers in school or the workplace, sibling abuse, child abuse or domestic violence, constant intimidation is unhealthy for all involved.
Whether you are the perpetrator, the victim or an innocent bystander, constant intimidation can cause anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and nightmares.
Even if the perpetrator fails to act on his threats, the damage is done. Verbal and mental intimidation can be far more damaging than physical violence as the scars are much less visible and can go undetected. —Long-Term Effects of Constant Intimidation | eHow.com
Only she is far from alone. My own friends list is full of people – mostly women – whose activism has led to them being targeted: whose failure to “get a joke” turns them instantly into the butt of one themselves.
I’ve been on the receiving end, too, very recently. Of online abuse. Of intimidation. Though nowhere on the scale of that endured by better known columnists such as Julie Bindel, who has been threatened yet again this past weekend.
So forgive me if I don’t join with those suggesting Suzanne Moore “man up” in response to the latest batch of online abuse. Or dissing Mary Beard, who has come in for abuse following her appearance on Question Time last week, as an online wimp. It’s an issue – and the simplistic analysis I have seen of it so far doesn’t go a fraction of the way to address it.
First up, there is something disturbingly misogynistic about online bullying. Yes: blokes, male columnists, undoubtedly get it too. But it feels as though there is something far more vicious, gender-related with respect to what women have to endure. Beard makes the point well, in a blog responding to her own online treatment.
It is clear that she is no stranger to tired old jokes about her appearance – but even she has been shocked about the response she evoked, describing the level of misogyny as “truly gobsmacking”.
The focus of much of the abuse is sexual, sadistic even and, she adds: “it would be quite enough to put many women off appearing in public, contributing to political debate”.
In other words, it is silencing, something I get very well from personal experience. I’ve opted out of contributing online for periods ranging from hours to a couple of weeks after being subjected to this sort of online nastiness.
Not just me. Many far braver women with serious contributions to make to public discourse on violence and abuse have suffered similar: been silenced simply for having an opinion. –Jane Fae, Misogyny, intimidation, silencing – the realities of online bullying
This sounds like the kind of thing I was subjected to in 2009, here, which my narc ex-friend Richard proclaimed I should “get over.” As does the vile crap which Mary Beard was subjected to because of her name, as she documents in her blog post, Internet fury: or having your anatomy dissected online. An excerpt:
All the same, you may say … why pay it any attention, still less give it publicity?
Several reasons. First, the misogyny here is truly gobsmacking. The whole site is pretty hateful (and what some of the comments say about Andrew Marr since he’s been ill are almost worse than anything).. but the whole “cunt” talk and the kind of stuff represented by the photo on right is more than a few steps into sadism.
It would be quite enough to put many women off appearing in public, contributing to political debate, especially as all of this comes up on google..
But is it just a kind of rugby club joke misfired? Well that’s what I’d guess they would say. “Where’s your sense of humour?”
But reading through it (and yes you get tipped off about it whether you search or not.. and no you cant resist looking at it), it is absolutely plain as day that this is meant to hurt and wound (“If all else, we got to her” as one commenter says).
It shows the classic signs of vile playground bullying — claiming to know about the victim, sneering at things they could not possibly know but claim they do, destabilising by using names in the thread that are those of you friends or even anagrams of your own, suggesting that they are watching you… that’s all part of the bullying repertoire.
Given the kind of graphic threats Kathy received, I can appreciate the need to be cautious, maybe even to take a hiatus for a while. But when a voice is voluntarily silenced forever, the bad guys have won. Fear wins. I cannot accept this. Intimidation only works if you let yourself be intimidated; terrorism only works if you let yourself be terrorized.
So Kathy, if you’re out there, I urge you to come back. We miss you.
Of course, it is Dare’s blog, and he is free to do whatever he likes with it, regardless of what those 70,000 readers might want. He doesn’t specify exactly what the problem is, although I have a hard time imagining that his many posts about XML, web APIs, and Facebook are causing problems for his family in Nigeria.
Still, I hate the idea that Dare is giving up, that he’s conceding to unnamed forces who are intimidating him into silence.
It’d be one thing if Dare said that he didn’t enjoy blogging, or if nobody was listening. But clearly that’s not the case. Dare provided a refreshingly honest and open look at what was going on inside parts of Microsoft, along with some penetrating industry analysis. I’ll miss that greatly.
I’ve never met Kathy Sierra or Dare Obasanjo, although I do feel I know them peripherally through long term readership of their blogs. It’s not my place to tell them– or anyone, really– what to do.
But I’m absolutely certain that when they stop writing, everyone loses. –Jeff Atwood, Death Threats, Intimidation, and Blogging
The district court’s ruling (PDF here) is the fullest treatment I’ve seen of the theory that blogs, as an inherently less factual medium, are less susceptible to defamation suits.
Judge Marco Hernandez turns to the Ninth Circuit’s standard test (first laid out in Unelko Corp. v. Rooney but expanded upon in Partington v. Bugliosi) for deciding whether a written work is “factual” (and thus open to defamation claims) or “opinion” (protected by the First Amendment).
That test, first of all, looks not at the author’s intent to be “factual” or not, but instead turns on how a reasonable reader would interpret the information.
To figure out how readers will take the information, the test looks to the “context” of the work, both in a broad, general-tenor sense (which includes “the subject of the statements, the setting, and the format”) and in a more focused sense (looking at things like the writing style of the disputed content, whether figurative language was used, and so on).
Judge Hernandez ended up ruling that Cox, who runs a website critical of Obsidian Finance’s acts in the bankruptcy realm, was writing opinion and not fact. And that’s fine with me.
The judge’s order runs through plenty of evidence — the website’s URL (ObsidianFinanceSucks.com), the subject matter (bankruptcy disputes), the language and tone (described as “stream of consciousness”) — to suggest that Cox’s posts aren’t “factual” in the defamation-law sense of the word.
Instead, Cox is just someone with (as the judge puts it) a “personal vendetta” against Obsidian Finance. Her writing makes that bias obvious, which undercuts the factual nature of her blog.
Now, that’s fine. I’ve got no problem with looking at the entirety of a website to decide how factual or non- various statements are. (Otherwise, The Onion would have a lot of trouble). That inquiry focuses on the message being conveyed, not on the medium used to convey it. –John Sharkey, Why Blogs Can’t Be Trusted, or: ‘Statements Made Here Are Not Likely Provable Assertions of Fact’
Cox vs. Obsidian Finance Group, Judgment; The Case
Here we go again. Over the past few years there have been a number of cases in which a crank, quack, or charlatan has attempted to silence legitimate criticism of their claims and behavior by threatening legal action, either shutting down their site through the ISP or suing for libel.
I guess they feel that a lone blogger would be easy to intimidate. They are not part of a large media outlet with lawyers on the payroll to defend them. Defending against even a frivolous suit can be ruinous to a lone blogger.
The goal, however, is not to really sue but to threaten the blogger into silence. It is intellectual thuggery, meant to defend a charlatan who cannot defend themselves with science and evidence…..
Recently a person calling himself Marc Stephens wrote a very threatening letter to Andy Lewis who wrote a critical post about the cancer clinic of Stanislaw Burzynski called The False Hope of the Burzynki Clinic. Stephens tried to make the letter sound legal and official, even though he does not appear to be a lawyer. The letter says, in part:
Please be advised that my clients consider the content of your posting to be legally actionable under numerous legal causes of action, including but not limited to: defamation Libel, defamation per se, and tortious interference with business contracts and business relationships.
The information you assert in your article is factually incorrect, and posted with either actual knowledge, or reckless disregard for its falsity.
In other words – the blog post is libel and we will sue if you don’t take it down immediately.
Lewis essentially responded the way General Anthony Clement McAuliff responded when asked to surrender by the Germans in World War II – “Nuts.” The post is still up, and now there are dozens of other blog posts up also criticizing the Burzynski clinic and their attempt at silencing criticism. –Steven Novella, Another Crank Tries to Intimidate a Blogger
There is an extensive blogging community who write about their experiences with abuse, narcissism, borderline and other Cluster B personality disorders.
I have looked over countless such blogs, and it is the normal way of things to describe your experiences, in however much detail you like. Some people use their real names, but most use pseudonyms and fake names or “titles” for the people in their blogs, such as “NM” for “narcissistic mother.”
Oftentimes the blogs are found by the people described. Sometimes these people get upset, but don’t do much except be nuisances, leaving nasty comments or sending complaining e-mails denying the truth of the blogs.
But I have come across various cases of bloggers being threatened with legal action. One narcissism blogger wrote this very helpful post for fellow bloggers, Airing the Family Laundry: Libel, Slander and Defamation of Character. I’m reblogging this for all such bloggers who might happen upon my blog. Some quotes:
“…context matters: courts have held that given the nature of online forums, online comments cannot be taken as seriously as those made in real life or in the media. Because of these requirements, bringing a claim for internet libel is a challenge.” —the Legality ….
I read several articles in preparation for this post and most of them suggested it was ill-mannered and probably not-very-wise to write about family and friends.
However, in context of the recovery community, personal narrative and disclosure are de rigueur. Readers expect a certain type of blog when reading about narcissism.
We don’t expect love stories—unless the blog is seriously pathological and merits being flagged as inappropriately ludicrous like Chicken Soup for the Soul-less or something.
We expect bloggers to write from the gut, interspersing emotion-laden anecdotes, not clinical appendages suitable for publication in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
We expect to see a cooperative blog where people share their troubles with one another; i.e.: airing out the family linen together.
On blogs like mine, self-disclosure is i-m-p-e-r-a-t-i-v-e. Bloggers connect the dots between past and present which will, if we are doing our recovery work, focus on family dynamics.
Bloggers write about sensitive topics such as: family patterns and dysfunctional behaviors; internalized beliefs and assumptions; distinctions between normal and pathological behavior; traumatic events; intimate details in relationships; our thoughts, behaviors and reactions to other people’s thoughts, behaviors and reactions; and never forget: the armchair diagnosis based on accessible information about pathology.
We do not expect bloggers to be professional psychologists so whatever diagnosis bloggers have determined best fits, is not libelous. It’s opinion.
…Don’t let the fear that you ‘might’ be sued stand in the way of speaking your truth.
I would imagine that more than one blogger writing about narcissism has been warned—finger in the blogger’s nose—that should she write even ONE WORD disparaging the narcissist’s most excellent reputation and untarnished character, that she would be sued into the netherworld of Hell.
And yet, here we are—still blogging, still learning, still fighting for healthier relationships by opening the doors on dysfunction…whether people like being written about or not.
The chances that you will be sued are slim-to-none if you follow Good Faith practices protecting your anonymity.
If you’re the one being unjustly written about, be careful reading websites sponsored by ambulance-chasing attorneys who’ll feed your greed and your desire for revenge. You’re better off toughening your own thin-skin and keeping the narcissist away from your blog, than you are engaging in litigation that could cost thousands of dollars and a decade of your life.
And what for? So you could tell the narcissist she was a scuz? So you could stick it to the person who said you were scuzzy?
I am preaching to myself as much as anyone because it isn’t easy defending people’s right to free speech when you’re seriously butthurt from something they said or wrote about you.
….Cyberspace is most definitely a new world from the print-world I grew up in when the printed word (newspapers and magazines) was the only source of information.
Retractions for false information couldn’t be edited at a moment’s notice and people had no voice for opposition if they didn’t own a printing press. Libel suits were integral to a fair and just society because reputations could be ruined and financial losses irreparable by the time a retraction could be published.
This is not our reality today. Our first action ought be contacting the author. Working things out. Resolving our differences. Not hiring an attorney.
…I hope my blog inspires an army of ACoNs [Adult Children of Narcissists] to start writing since nearly every person who does, discovers a power within they didn’t realize they had. Writing puts things into perspective and for some of us: restores our SANITY.
I was thinking about the ACoN community and why blogging is so important. If you ever attended 12-step meetings, you’ve likely heard the cliche: “Your head is a bad neighborhood to visit alone.”
Talking with other people interrupts unhealthy rumination and even obsessiveness. That’s been my experience and believe you me, I know a lot about obsessiveness. ha!
… Where do you go to talk about dysfunction and narcissism? If you join your local quilting group and start talking about patriarchal abuse, they’ll stick you with their needles and sew your mouth shut. I mean seriously, who are you going to talk with?
A lot of people have the resources and the time to spend years in therapy. Some of us don’t have extra cash for that and our insurance policies won’t pay for it anyway.
To just sit in our ‘shit’ and let it fester rather than working through our issues with people who don’t shame, blame and “sue” us for defamation, perpetuates dysfunction. We start out with unhealthy behaviors and if left uncorrected, those behaviors turn into traits and pretty soon, you’re the lonely old cat lady shooting passersby and muttering to yourself.
The last two paragraphs were in response to a comment that there are no support groups in real life for victims of narcissists and Cluster Bs, so this is why we turn to blogging.
My comments are turned off because my narcissists found my blog. But just writing my story, and occasionally commenting on other narcissist/abuse blogs, and reading their similar experiences, has been very helpful.
These are people who understand because they’ve been there, and don’t judge you. They don’t give you pat answers like, “just let it go,” because they know that the only way to move on is to face the problem head-on and work through the pain and anger.
The biggest words to keep in mind are, of course, “falsely” and “knowingly.” You have to be deliberately writing things you know to be false, for it to be libel. I steer clear of such behavior, having always had an innate sense of honesty. Whatever I write, I have reason to believe to be true.
Using real names is also a big no-no in most cases.
So avoid both and may your blogging lead you to emotional health. Your blog gives you a voice, something which you may have been denied–as I was–in dealing with your narcs/Cluster Bs/abusers.
I don’t even care anymore when I see my blog stalkers in the stats. I know it’s them because of telltale signs, such as IP addresses and other things I won’t go into publicly. I no longer worry about them. When I see them in my stats, I go, “Oh, there you are. I missed you! Where were you?”
Here’s an example of not letting the bullies intimidate you–even at the risk of your own life: Pakistani Girls Walk in Shoes of Young Activist (the one who was shot by the Taliban).
[Update 11/10/12:] Another blogger who’s been threatened with a lawsuit, this time blogging about a narcissistic ex-husband, but it went nowhere:
The bottom line– he saw my blog and wants it removed. He wants the custody orders changed and is throwing out words like “defamation” and “slander”.
He threw out accusations of Parental Alienation Syndrome which is the furthest thing from the truth. He is a bully and he is trying to intimidate me. –One Mom’s Battle, Intimidation Tactics
After receiving the paperwork yesterday with his request for an emergency hearing, I spoke to many knowledgeable people. Professional bloggers and people with a background in law. I was assured that I was in compliance since I haven’t publicly named him. –One Mom’s Battle, Hearing Request: Denied
Just like me, this writer posted her story of abuse on the web, then her abusers found it. This is her story of what happened next:
Breaking Through the Fear of Speaking About Child Abuse by Kylie Devi
In February, I got a phone call from my main abuser saying: “I read your little blog post, what are you doing? Trying to get attention? Who abused you, and why am I hearing about it in this way?”
(I would like to say that “your little blog post” was kind of comedic to me, since this is a highly trafficked website that has helped thousands of people.)
And then 3 more phone calls from my other main abuser.
Phone Call 1: “Kylie, we got a phone call today about your blog post. Someone in the family has read it and we really need to know what is happening and what is going on here.
It’s really obvious that you are accusing someone in the family of sexually abusing you and since we know that isn’t true we just want to find out what is going on with you.”
Phone Call 2: “Kylie, one of your aunts has read the blog post and she can’t sleep. She hasn’t been able to sleep in 3 nights. She is so upset.”
Phone Call 3: “Kylie, one of your uncles has read the blog post and now he is wanting to beat up the person you accused in your article.”
Kylie: “I am really sorry for all the drama this is causing for you. I genuinely was trying to help people. I do whatever I can to help people heal from what I have overcome and been through. I had no idea it would cause anyone else any stress or pain. I was very conscientious not to point any specific fingers, so I’m not sure why people are making these assumptions about who abused me.”
Because her abusers still frightened her, she
actually stopped working on a book on overcoming sexual trauma that I have been working on for over 10 years. I stopped commenting on EFB and OSA Facebook pages and sites.
I stopped offering the recovery-based courses that women were participating in with life-changing results.
In short, I stopped speaking my truth. I silenced myself.
But she goes on to describe how she pulled out of her paralysis and began speaking out again. I noted that she was helped greatly by this post by Christina Enevoldson.
I’m not sure if Christina wrote that post directly in response to a question I asked her, or if she was already working on the post. But I had just read Christina’s post about her mother threatening her with legal action and accusing her of lying about her childhood sexual abuse, and asked her,
I noted the similarity between my story and what Christina’s mother wrote to her. I also note that she accused Christina of some kind of “threat.” What happened after this? Did the police get involved? How did you get the courage to keep telling and keep the story online, Christina?
That’s great that you’re not backing down! Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s not easy to stand up to bullies of any kind. Yours seem to be very persistent, though you seem even more so. Good for you!
My parent’s threat actually emboldened me to speak up more. The reasons for that is a little long to include as a comment, but I’m working on it as a separate blog post. I’ll post the link here as soon as I get it up.
Thanks for your question! It’s really good to consider all the ways their threat helped me.
Now her post has helped not just me, but many others as well.
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
“Note to Narcissists~ If you think you recognize yourself in something I write, then YOU owe somebody an apology. I don’t owe YOU one. It’s not MY fault if your own behavior embarrasses you.
I never identify the lowlifes I’m writing about, and if you behave like that, not to mention being arrogant and idiotic enough to actually think YOU are the star of something I write, then you SHOULD be ashamed of yourself .
So quit whining and start apologizing for acting like a jackass and hurting people who love you.” ~Rev. Renee Pitelli, posted here [Update 11/27/14: Muldrfan’s older blog no longer exists, so the link no longer works.]
As Paula wrote on one of her blogs:
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.
…Not that I’ll be doing this. No, that information is for my friends, not the Net.
Emotional abuse is a form of assault that is deliberate and manipulative and used as a method of control. The abuser uses intimidation, fear, guilt or threats to frighten and belittle the victim.
In intimate relationships, emotional abuse often results in one partner feeling ashamed, afraid and isolated from friends and family.
They may be fearful to talk to anyone about the abuse because their abuser has told them that no one will believe them. Abusers often degrade and humiliate their victims to the point that they are left with little self-esteem.
Parents or caregivers who emotionally abuse their children also use similar controlling tactics to gain power over the child.
Children who experience emotional abuse feel that they are responsible for the behavior of their parents and that if only they were more polite, better students or better children, then their parents would be more loving. —Emotional Abuse
I am beginning to think that this was his plan from the start –Wear me out emotionally, mentally, financially.
I bet he never expected me to fight this hard but either way, I wish I saw an end in sight. I can’t move on living like this. But he may have anticipated that. Turns out its not uncommon for batterers to use the legal system to abuse their ex. –Juniperskye, Power and Control [link no longer works]
Abuse is any threat, act or physical force that is used to create fear, control or intimidate. Abuse is about maintained power and control. An abuser may choose to use intimidation, isolation, humiliation, blame or physical violence to make you go along with everything he says and does.
Despite what many people believe, domestic violence and abuse is not due to the abuser’s loss of control over his behaviour. In fact, abusive behaviour and violence is a deliberate choice made by the abuser in order to control you.
Abuse takes many forms. It can be physical, psychological, emotional, sexual, and financial. —Information on Abuse
How do we deal effectively with intimidation? Well, the first thing is to recognize it for what it is. This is a problem that the narcissist has with himself, not with you.
If you take it personally, you’ll fall into the trap of getting distracted from what’s really going on. You’ll be manipulated into thinking you have something to do with his problem and hence can fix it, and you’ll compromise yourself in trying to do so.
The narcissist has a deep problem with himself. Know that the narcissist’s actions don’t come from a place of strength, but from desperation.
His greatest fear is the truth, and if he’s going into a rage, it’s probably because you’re getting close to it or you’ve already exposed him. He will intimidate if his sense of control, grandiosity, and dominance is threatened.
Remembering this can help you detach, take a step back, and allow him the space to have his fit on his own. Trust in yourself. You’re going to feel frustration, fear, anxiety, but don’t act from it or you’ll get sucked in.
Ask yourself the important questions, “Was this outburst appropriate? What happened before the outburst that brought it on? Why did it bring about such a reaction?” If you’re too enmeshed in the situation to answer objectively, ask other people what they think. –Katie, Surviving After Narcissistic Abuse: Intimidation
In 2008, when the Daily News started reporting in earnest on the growing evidence that Armstrong had cheated, we found that paranoia struck deep in the cycling world. It’s a small industry, and Armstrong was a transcendent figure, so powerful inside his sport that people feared for their livelihoods and reputations if they crossed him.
Four years later, it’s easier for the wider world to see why. The evidence published this month by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency shows that Armstrong and his cronies possessed a cynical assuredness that their yellow wristbands entitled them to smash anyone who threatened their corrupt regime.
But it’s also already becoming harder for the world to see how lonely and painful it was for people in cycling to stand up and resist Armstrong’s Machiavellian tactics.
Now it’s trendy to be an accuser — it’s the stuff of bestsellers, not defamation complaints. But if you took on that role during the peak of Armstrong’s Tour de France dominance you might be vilified, accused of being jealous, drunk, unpatriotic, mentally disturbed. —Victims of Lance Armstrong’s strong-arm tactics feel relief and vindication in the wake of U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report
A comfort for the intimidated:
What are the negative effects of intimidation?
If you continue to use intimidation to control others, then you will:
* Find people developing emotional barriers in their relationships with you so that they are no longer vulnerable to being hurt by your control.
* Be at risk of being accused as being emotionally, verbally, physically or sexually abusive in your dealings with others.
* Find that the costs of “getting your way” all of the time are greater than you expected when you find yourself lonely and disconnected from others.
* Believe that the only goal in life is succeeding in getting your way at any cost and become totally consumed in the pursuit of acquiring power, control, position and status.
* Run the risk of becoming a pathetic, lonely, isolated person with few close relationships and many enemies out to get their revenge against you.
* Experience a great deal of passive aggressiveness thrown your way by the people you are trying to control.
* Risk becoming more absolute and rigid in your exercise of power and control and become more defensive about any personal criticism of your actions or beliefs.
* Begin to prefer “rejecting” people before they reject you and find yourself becoming increasingly socially isolated and alienated from others.
* Not be accepted, approved of or sought after by others who will never get a chance to see the “real you” whom you’ve locked behind your intimidating mask.
* Feel like you’re really a “teddy bear” underneath it all and bemoan that people never take the time to get to know this side of you. You might even lie and say you don’t care if they never get to know that side of you, even though emotionally you know differently.
* Run the risk of becoming more depressed as you become more isolated and find that your anger and rage flare ups increase.
* Experience even lower self-esteem due to the lack of acceptance by others. —Eliminating Intimidation