Activism Should Never Be at the Expense of the Victims
Because of the importance of this issue, I am pinning this post to the front of my website for a time. To share this post in particular, please copy and paste this link:
August 28, 2017
How many of you know why my friend Bo Juel decided on the title, “The Least of God’s Priorities” for his book? We’ll come back to that in a minute.
Some days back, Daniel Walker (a pseudonym), who writes under the name Covert Fade on the website JWsurvey.com, announced on Facebook that he was authoring a book about the Australian Royal Commission Inquiry, of which Jehovah’s Witnesses were a part in 2015, titled, “No Second Witness.”
Great. Good for him. Goodness knows I’ve written extensively about the subject on my site. We need more publicity about this subject out there. He has my support.
At least, he had my support.
One of the victims who testified during the case, who went by the pseudonym BCG, objected to her story being part of the book. BCG is, as you can imagine, emotionally exhausted right now, and she is also rightly concerned with how Daniel, an amateur writer and a man who has never been a victim of child sex abuse, would handle her story.
BCG approached Daniel Walker privately and told him that she didn’t want her story used in his book, but wasn’t getting a positive response from him privately, or on his Facebook wall.
I knew that BCG was upset and saw that she was getting nowhere with him, so I approached her and offered support. Meanwhile, in response to BCG’s concerns, Daniel proceeded to write a long, self-justifying, misleading Facebook post, saying that some people had objections over any money he might make with the book, without telling people that it was actually BCG who had the objections, and that it was his potential mishandling of her story that concerned her.
This was an extreme insensitivity on his part; in effect, he was asking people to take his side and gang up on BCG without telling them that it was her who voiced an objection, and why she objected.
Other Australian activists know BCG personally, and they were not having this nonsense; they didn’t appreciate, not just the idea that her story might be manhandled, but that Daniel ran roughshod over her feelings. They began to respond immediately on his Facebook threads, and one person whom BCG contacted directly (and I have no idea their real identity)¹ made a post on Reddit, calling Daniel out on his behavior.
Lloyd Evans, aka John Cedars, posted a response on Reddit:
Lloyd, Lloyd, Lloyd. You’re adorable.
For the record, I have no account on Reddit, never even visit or browse; I honestly find the site a bit confusing. Also, the time stamp of the original post would have put it at 4:30-5:30 a.m. my time; my day starts early, but not that early.
Interesting that I am now referred to as a “regressive” activist. Lloyd defines “regressive activism” as “character assassination” and “petty politics” that push the movement backwards:
I’m guessing that Lloyd is trying to accomplish four things with his response: 1) a refusal to acknowledge that BCG has legitimate complaints, while degrading her concerns as being something that is okay to dismiss, namely, exploitation, politicking, and a personal vendetta, 2) to defame me and reduce any following I may have (all six of you LOL!), 3) to seek out sympathy as someone being “picked on,” and 4) to be seen as the only rational, mature adult in the room.
As the kids would say, whatevs.
However, I do want to touch on the suggestion that I am somehow “exploiting” BCG. As a victim of child sex abuse myself, I find any hint of such impropriety on my part to be nothing short of pure filth. I know what it’s like to be a helpless victim, frightened, abandoned, frustrated, used, dismissed, angry, silenced, betrayed, alone, laughed at… whatever else you want to add, I’ve been there personally. To even think that I would use someone in a delicate emotional state, after having suffered these same abuses myself, is beyond disturbing and downright repulsive.
Also, may I please see one shred of proof that I am exploiting anyone? Oh, there is none? There’s a reason for that; Lloyd made this up in his own head, and then asserted his accusation as fact, with no evidence to back this up.
It is flattering that Lloyd thinks I am powerful enough to coerce an entire country of activists to take the side of BCG, but am quite sure that they were acting of their own accord. They’re Australians, for god’s sake. Have you ever seen Australians play “football”? They’re not afraid of me. They’re not afraid of anything.
All that being said, enough time on this laughable accusation. I will simply cite the legal case of Gods v. Insects, and let that judgment speak for itself.
Besides, my real concerns are the statements Lloyd made about BCG herself; please revisit:
So, a child sex abuse victim, concerned for how her story would be handled by an obviously strong-willed, insensitive individual, new to this work and with no history of handling this type of scenario, is now “petty, tedious,” “political,” and, worst of all, “irrational and unreasonable”?
Wow. You sure told her.
By the way, this is exactly how psychologists and counselors respond to child sex abuse victims who are upset over how they’re subsequently treated, after the abuse. They make sure to berate, chastise, belittle, condescend to, lecture, dismiss, misrepresent, and degrade their feelings, and tell them that they’re “irrational and unreasonable,” “petty” and “tedious.”
No, wait, I think they do exactly the opposite.
As a matter of fact, I find it hard to imagine Barrister Stewart, Justice McClellan, or anyone else involved with the Australian Royal Commission Inquiry using those words or this approach to those victims. I would wonder how they would respond to seeing a victim whom they worked with for so many months being publicly beaten down and belittled by anyone in our community.
I can, however, imagine elders in the congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses chastising and lecturing those victims and their concerns as being “petty,” “tedious,” “irrational and unreasonable.”
Also, referring to BCG as being exploited is not just insulting to me, it’s insulting to her. Without ever having met her, and not being in any position to make this assessment of her mental and emotional state, Lloyd has insulted and degraded her as a simpleton, a child.
Consider to whom Lloyd made this statement. Even as a teenager, BCG had the strength to stand up to her abusive father, and to the elders and everyone else in the congregation, to report on the abuse happening in her home. She was physically beaten and threatened by her father throughout this process, but was still strong enough to see it through. She was strong enough to go to the police and sit through more than one trial, to ensure her father’s conviction. She was also strong enough to approach the Australian Royal Commission and go through that entire process, again facing down the Watchtower and their army of lawyers. She did all that while still being a young lady.
But now, as an adult, suddenly she’s being “exploited”? The gravity of this insult is beyond comprehension. Despite demonstrating to the world the breadth and depth of her mental and emotional strength, Lloyd assumes that he has the right to make the public declaration that she is not an intelligent, strong, mature, grownup, adult woman with her wits about her, but is just naïve and dense.
As for irrational and unreasonable, can anyone point to one day, one line of testimony from this woman, one thing she did in her past in staring down her own family and the machine that is the Watchtower, that could be called “irrational” or “unreasonable”? As with Lloyd’s flowchart over the Russian ban, if you don’t agree with him, you need “professional help,” and are now “irrational and unreasonable.”
I want people to take a step back and consider this entire matter carefully and objectively. After all BCG went through in her childhood home – and believe me, you have not heard a tenth of what she went through – and after her bravery and strength in approaching the ARC, after sitting through grueling hours of pre-Inquiry testimony, after watching the elders who handled her case betray her one more time by trying to defend their own manhandling of her, after all that, she comes to the community of former Jehovah’s Witnesses, and is called by someone she’s never met and who doesn’t know her in the least, “irrational and unreasonable,” “petty,” and “tedious.” Lloyd does this publicly, and repeatedly. There are not enough swear words in any of the languages I speak to describe my feelings about that.
But She Should…
If your immediate thought is to argue with BCG about whether or not her story should be included, don’t. It is not anyone’s right and privilege to even discuss BCG’s feelings. They’re her feelings, and there’s no such thing as right or wrong feelings when you’ve been the victim of abuse.
What she deserves now, for the first time in her life, is respect for those feelings, whether or not you agree with them. The Watchtower didn’t give her that, the elders didn’t respect her, this woman’s abusers obviously gave no heed to her feelings; are we now going to do the same, in the community of former Jehovah’s Witnesses? Act as if her feelings are up for debate? Are you thinking that we should have some sort of vote and whatever the community decides, BCG will just need to abide by that? We’ll decide what’s most important here? She’ll need to respect your feelings, your opinions, your viewpoints, your wishes, but hers can just be damned?
This is part of what child sexual abuse victims go through; there is always someone or something else more important than them, more important than their own health, safety, well-being, and sense of self. They’re just objects, pawns to be used, not priorities.
Which brings me full circle.
If you’ve read my friend Bo Juel’s book, you’ll understand the reason he decided on that title; he was always the least of everyone’s priorities, as a child sex abuse victim, as were many other such victims. The religion, the abusers, the headship arrangement, the head of the house; someone, something always comes first, and victims will need to just suck it up. That’s how BCG has been treated her entire life, and now we’re going to do the same? Daniel Walker will do the same? Argue with her, stubbornly insist she put her feelings aside, hide behind what is legal rather than considering what is moral? We’ll make that decision ourselves instead of, for the first time in her life, asking her how she feels, and then actually… brace yourself… letting her lead the way and abiding by her wishes?
I have no concern as to Lloyd Evans’ unfounded and filthy attacks on me; clumsy schoolboys never keep me up at night. However, Lloyd absolutely owes BCG a huge apology for attacking her publicly the way he did; calling her “petty and tedious” and “irrational and unreasonable” is just disgusting, and there is no excuse for it. None. I also mean a real apology, not some deflection about me or some couple in New Mexico, not some cry for attention over his “depression,” not any attempt to rationalize it or explain it away or make himself the victim in this. I’m not having it. They’re not having it downunder either. (Did you know that “downunder” is one word in Australia? I now know that.)
As for Daniel Walker, I realize he is somewhat new to the exJW arena, and that in of itself should be a lesson; if you’re not a victim of child sexual abuse, if you have no training or qualifications in dealing with them, then you need to tread lightly, as I tried to tell him on his Facebook wall. No one is saying that information about the ARC should never be discussed, but a true, professional journalist will know how to respect the bruised and battered feelings of those who have been through hell and back. Running roughshod over them, trying to clamor up support on your social media pages with half truths, justifying yourself rather than stepping off that person’s toes, is not activism; it’s just rude. It also sends a message to other victims that they are not safe, not even in the community of former Jehovah’s Witnesses, as they may be quickly berated, insulted, and belittled publicly. Abuse upon abuse, that’s all these victims get, it would seem.
As one last, very vital point; men who are dealing with female victims of abuse, especially women who have come out of male-dominated, misogynistic, patriarchal religions (or any such setting) need to be very, very careful of how they treat such victims. This is not to insult the many extremely sensitive and respectful men who have been of great assistance to those victims, but revealing yourself to be someone who is controlling and condescending to a female victim, as Daniel and Lloyd especially certainly have, only serves to remind those women of their past situations, and of the men who re-victimized and re-traumatized them with similar controlling, dismissive, insulting attitudes after their actual abuses. If your approach to victims, as we’ve seen from both these men, is that their feelings are not as important as what you want to do, then you need to step away from activism. Far away.
By the way, hurting a victim who has done so much for the work already, potentially scaring off future victims from coming forward, calling other activists and especially child sexual abuse victims all sorts of vile, filthy terms, is the true definition of “regressive activism.”
I await that apology.
¹Since the original publication of this post, the Reddit user in question came forward to Australian activists and his/her identity is now known to myself and others.
The September 4, 2017, Season 5, Episode 1 of JW Podcast, titled “Speak Out,” featured a discussion of this issue. Please listen here.
Read BCG’s public statement regarding these social media attacks at, “Public Statement of “BCG” In Response to Recent Manufactured Social Media Attacks.”
Daniel Walker has since offered an apology to BCG, who has not accepted it. Please read her statement in response at, “Public Statement of “BCG” In Response to Daniel Walker’s Apology.” Read my personal statement in response at, “My Personal Response to Daniel Walker’s Apology to Victim “BCG””
Lloyd Evans has offered an “apology” to BCG, who has not accepted it. Please read her statement on the matter at, “Public Statement of “BCG” and Response to Lloyd Evans’ Apology.” Read my response to Lloyd Evans’ “apology” at, “My Personal Response to Lloyd Evans’ Apology to Victim “BCG”“