Courtesy of Unsplash through Wix
Let me begin by saying that while this will primarily be written with him/her, men/women, I'm not in any way minimizing this happening to other people - this is all in relation to what's been going on recently, what I've experienced, and what I've witnessed my friends going through. I'm also well aware that the people who need to read this the most, probably won't, but it makes me feel better to get this off my chest.
It's no secret that there has been a large uptick in the number of men being outed as misusing their position within the community: harassing, lying to, manipulating, and just generally coming at women in horrible ways, even after they've sometimes gone out of their way to label themselves as a safe place. I like to think that it's because the horror community as a whole is more supportive to the women who have the courage to speak up (and in a lot of ways it is), but we still have a lot of work to do, my friends. I'd like to take some of the most common negative responses (most commonly from men), and go through them one by one.
"I've been friends with him for (insert amount of time), and I've never seen anything to indicate he would behave this way."
Well, that's because usually said perpetrator is a straight man, so he's not interested in you. If every man out there with an intent to prey on women was obvious in how he went about it, everyone would be well aware of what a creep he is, and avoid him. We wouldn't be in this situation to begin with.
For the women who support men with a statement like this - maybe you're not his type either. Everyone has a type. If someone goes after emotionally vulnerable women, and you're happily married and living a good life, he's not going to come at you. If you happen to be in a position where he can swoop in with the appearance of being a wonderful, supportive hero, your experience could be much different.
Apply this same logic elsewhere. Dennis Rader (the BTK Killer) was a deacon at his church. Ted Bundy worked at a suicide hotline. Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. (a.k.a. The Golden State Killer) was a police officer. People don't carry red flags on full display.
"One incident is hardly enough to call someone a predator."
Is one murder enough to call someone a murderer? Is one rape enough to make someone a rapist? Is there a "get out of jail free" card I don't know about? Where is that line drawn? Why isn't one woman as important as three women? Five? Fifteen? If it was a girl/woman who was close to you (your daughter, sister, mother, wife, etc.) and someone told her that her experience wasn't enough for someone to be labeled as a danger to others, how would that make you feel?
"What he did to you isn't predatory."
If someone intentionally looks for emotional vulnerable people who will be more likely to believe them, and lies with the goal of having their own personal needs met, that is predatory. They are looking for a very specific type of person, with the intent to be dishonest and play on their emotions. A predator doesn't have to be someone who is physically abusive or blatantly evil. They can be subtle - trying to isolate you from the people who support you, inserting themselves into your life just enough to feel like they have some level of control, or convincing you that they're the only ones who can help you reach goals.
For those who would add in, "You made the choice to believe him", that's no different than you choosing to believe him now. These women never had any reason to think he was dangerous either, so keep that in mind.
"I know him, but I don't know you."
Well damn, I had no idea you were required to know a victim before they could be considered a victim. As awful of a concept as it is to process, the people we like/love really can be capable of horrible things. How many times have you heard that true crime stereotype of, "He was such a nice guy", "He was such a pillar of the community", "We never would have thought he was capable of that"? It's because people who do these types of things don't go around advertising what they're doing.
"If there are other women, why aren't they speaking up? Why aren't you telling us who they are?"
It's embarrassing to admit you were emotionally vulnerable enough to believe someone's lies. Hindsight is 20/20, and when it becomes clear later on what a conman someone is, you feel like you were an idiot. You aren't just exposing to the world what someone else did, you're having to admit what feels like a personal failure, even though it's not your fault when someone else behaves this way.
Unfortunately in a lot of cases, it's tearing open wounds that may not have even healed yet. You are having to prepare yourself for a potential onslaught of interrogation and disbelief, and it's a choice only you can make for yourself. If you know of other victims but know they're terrified to come forward, all you can do is speak to what's happened to you and make vague references that something similar happened to someone else.
"You just want attention."
Trust me, we have nothing to gain from opening ourselves up to this kind of dissection. It's not fun in any way, shape, or form. Every notification you get for daaaaaays sends your stomach straight into your throat, because you don't know if someone is going to be supporting you or ripping you to pieces. If people don't believe you, there's the possibility of further harassment, being labeled a liar, a bigger boost for the very person who needs to be outed, and the potential for other women to be put in the position you're in because he hasn't suffered any consequences for his behavior.
"I want to see proof."
Admitting to the community what has happened with someone is not a trial in the court of law. A victim is speaking up about what they experienced. This is not Forensic Files, or The First 48. Proof in this instance, again requires someone to rip themselves open and display very sensitive/delicate portions of their lives.
Not everyone keeps documentation of what happened. If a person has taken advantage of you, then saving screenshots, photos, videos, etc. can feel like you're allowing them to continue having a place in your life. Some of us feel the need to immediately dump everything when the truth comes to light, for the sake of our own mental health. I can guarantee that a good chunk of women who choose to come forward later on will think, "damn I wish I had saved _______", but it was more important at the time to make our personal space feel safe again.
Even when someone has saved screenshots and other documentation, the odds of them having saved every single file from every single conversation is astronomical. You're looking at a fraction of everything that occurred. There are people who wouldn't accept anything short of witnessing the entire situation as evidence, and seem to think that's perfectly reasonable.
Specific to Angel - Voices From the Mausoleum - I've seen "Well you knew he was married, so you're not perfect either."
First and foremost: no one is claiming to be perfect, and this has nothing to do with anyone being perfect. Being perfect is not a requirement for calling someone out on their bullshit, and *not* being perfect certainly doesn't exclude someone from being a victim. That's like someone trying to say a sex worker can't accuse anyone of sexual assault because of the line of work they're in, or telling a woman she should have expected to be raped because she was drunk and "scantily dressed" at a party. Anyone👏Can👏Be👏A👏Victim.
Since there have been people so quick to jump to Steve's defense, because he's such a believable guy, what indication would Angel have had that he wasn't being honest about him being in the process of ending his marriage? For all his lamentations about being unhappy in his relationship (as can be heard in the voice note she shared), he was miserable long before he started speaking to her, so it would sound perfectly reasonable for him to be following that course of action. But he's got such a great reputation, he couldn't possibly be dishonest right? And yet the fact that he said what he said to Angel with no intentions of following through, proves that he's lied, therefore making him dishonest and toying with another person's emotions just to meet whatever needs he had.
Please, please, please watch this video on YouTube, because it's a beautiful example of how ridiculous it would sound for victims of other crimes to be treated the way some of these women outing men in our community have been treated.
"You're just being paranoid."
I saw a meme once that showed the statistics of being attacked by a shark, versus a woman being attacked by a man, and then asks how a fear of sharks is more socially acceptable than a fear of men. Most violence against women comes from men we know. When I tell you that statistically speaking, as a straight man, you truly have no idea what it's like to be a woman and to constantly be on guard like we have to be, I'm not just spouting angry nonsense. And often, the men who do have some grasp of what the situation is, can identify someone they know who has been attacked and gave them more insight (thank you to the friend who pointed this out to me).
I'm going to touch on an experience I had last year with Jake Bannerman from Nightcore, and highlight the things that are legitimately red flags. You may not think of them as red flags, but considering how long this shit went on for, I can confirm that's exactly what they were. "Lucky" for me, he wasn't all that well-known and he is blatantly creepy, so it wasn't a big deal to call him out and I didn't face some of the pushback other women have.
He first reached out to me on Instagram about editing some work of his, and he sent his request as voice notes rather than a written message. This is invasive AF from someone you don't know. They're sending those notes with the implication that you have to listen to their voice to find out what they want, and you don't have any idea what's coming. I was still building my presence as an editor and hated to let any message go unanswered, so I listened even though it made me uncomfortable from the start.
He sent his phone number, trying to use that as a means of communicating rather than social media or email.
I read his work after he emailed it to me, and it was the most disgusting, sexist bullshit I've ever read in my life. I felt like I needed to shower with bleach afterwards, and not in a good horror way.
Because he had my email, he added me to his email list without permission. I responded to several of his emails asking to be removed from the list, with no reply. I blocked him, but with Google, all that does is mark him as spam. Building a business means getting emails from unfamiliar addresses, so I had to check my spam folder on a regular basis to make sure I didn't miss anything. It was essentially useless, and went on for around eight months.
He still hides behind the curtain of his work supporting mental health resources, and will blatantly say that if you don't support his work, you don't care about people who are depressed and attempt suicide. Someone so worried about mental health, is trying to guilt trip people into buying HIS work.
He became more active on Twitter around the time the email list started, and would randomly tag several women in his video clips (including myself). At first I would just go in and remove the tag, thinking he would get the hint, but he continued. His other posts were along the lines of Craigslist/dating ads. He would plaster his phone number everywhere, essentially saying that he didn't care who you were or what you looked like, he was "really horny", and I had no interest in my account being associated with this kind of content.
I finally messaged him asking him to stop tagging me. He responded that he would, and then blocked me (a legit relief). The emails kept coming.
About eight months in, I pulled up his Instagram to reach out to him there, and found a picture he had very obviously photoshopped. It was another woman I happen to follow, who has a very large following in the community, and I reached out to her to make sure she was aware that her photo was being used to promote his work. She did - she explained he had been bugging her to promote his book, and because she just wanted him to stop asking and leave her alone, she gave him permission to photoshop. She also had concerns about his mental health, but didn't want to get involved with anything messy because of the risk it could pose for her and her business.
While it may feel like you're simply being logical about everything, these situations aren't that cut and dry, and trying to force them into nice, neat little boxes is doing a huge disservice to the victims who have taken a huge gamble by speaking up. Please don't turn these situations into The Spanish Inquisition and rip these women apart, just because your buddy has never done anything that you've witnessed. None of this is fun for us. We don't get bored on a Saturday and pick a random guy to try and destroy. It's awful to find out that someone you know and trust may not be the person you thought they were, but I can assure you, it was worse for the people who experienced it and chose to bring it to light in the hopes they can prevent it from happening to someone else.