Content Warning: Bullying, Harassment, Successful Suicide Mention, Doxxing, Mention of Sex and Kink, Mention of Eating Disorder, Mention of Insomnia, Mention of Vomiting.
Recorded version, if you’d prefer to listen than to read is here.
Now that I’m a bit calmer, and the danger has been removed from the perpetrator’s website, I’ll write a bit about what’s had me in a tizzy for the past 18 hours or so.
Last night, a good friend sent me a DM (direct message) with a link to an author’s blog. Her contact page, specifically, that had a comment on it that outed my legal name and associated it with this pseudonym. The comment had been there for anyone to find since August of 2017. There were massive consequences to this, which I’ll detail later.
Now, I’ve always been scrupulously honest about using pseudos, and my reasons for why. When I made the switch from writing custom kink stories for private clients to writing for publication, a former friend who happened to be a sex worker, and knew I wrote kinky/sexy stories, advised me to use a pseudonym. That made sense to me and I didn’t have a problem with it.
I’ve never been particularly attached to my legal name (I’ve hated it *forever* I’m named after a soap opera star for gods sake and it was the MOST popular name the year I was born. I had 6 people with the exact same name in my class of 30 growing up. We had to go by our last names, like we were in the military, in elementary school.) So I chose a name I really liked and went with that (it’s also a bit of a joke, and a nod to my partner’s Welsh ancestry, very few people, mostly native Welsh speakers get the joke.)
Since coming out as trans, its also become my dead-name, I don’t even use it in real life unless I absolutely have to. The absolutely have to is legal paperwork, I just don’t use it. It has those negative connotations to it too. I can’t afford to change my name, because I’d have to change it in two countries. It’s prohibitively expensive and the process is also terrifying for me. So many gov’t offices, embassies, officials et cetera.
But seeing my legal name still hurts me. Seeing it on this author’s page, one I’d call an enemy, shocked and horrified me. Knowing it had been there for so long made me sick to my stomach. I know, it’s been there for years, why is this bothering me so much now? Right? It’s because of the consequences I mentioned earlier.
Having both my legal name and pseudo also associated with untrue, cruel rumours about me rather sucked.
A few years ago, a young woman was bullied during the lead up to PitchWars, which is a contest for authors to get a mentor and get their work in front of agents. I had nothing to do with the incident except that someone who did happened to respond to both me and the bullying victim. I was a follower of all three of the people involved. This was in my early years on Twitter, and I basically followed anyone who followed me, anyone who was a writer. I figured if you were a writer you were great people and I wanted to know you. It’s what a lot of us writers do when we first find the writing community on Twitter. I’m no longer so indiscriminate in whom I follow/become mutuals with. I can’t be. It’s too dangerous. That’s incredibly clear to me now. So clear.
Later, around the mess with ficfest, (another contest that collapsed under accusations of racism and bullying) I was accused again of having something to do with bullying the victim, who suicided later that same year. I was a ficfest mentor for all of 18 hours. A good friend of mine asked me to co-mentor with her and I jumped at the chance because I wanted to help other writers. 18 hours when I was caring for two vomiting children and coming down with the stomach bug myself because my husband was out of town. So not exactly strolling around on the internet, if you know what I mean. When I was well, I came back online to see that the organizer and some of the former ficfest mentors had bullied the person again.
I was still painted as being part of it, because I was a ficfest mentor. Because I’d wanted, naively, to help other writers and had jumped at the chance to mentor in a bigger contest.
I knew about the suicide within hours of her actions, her friend told me, but the news didn’t hit Twitter for months after and when it did it was a huge mess. Once again, because I’d reached out to the person via a private DM to offer support after the ficfest thing, I was implicated in bullying and in driving her to suicide.
Part of my life mission is to educate people on what bullying is and isn’t. I’ve done hours and hours of Master’s level coursework in education, I have a dual Masters in education and world history. I have all this information on what bullying is and how to prevent it. I was a history teacher in the states, prior to that I was a traveling sexuality educator. It was after I’d gotten out of crime scene investigation, before I became a parent and before we came to Canada. I’ve seen and prevented bullying and I’ve also been bullied most of my life. It’s not anything I would ever be part of.
My brother died from suicide, I would never in a million billion years have something to do with driving someone to make that choice. But it doesn’t stop the rumour mongers. One of the worst of whom is the YA author who had my name on her blog.
To have those two accusations constantly follow me around is particularly cruel. If they could’ve chosen things to label me with that would hurt me most it would be that.
About a year ago, or maybe a little more, I wrote an ill-timed thread on Twitter about author behavior. The thread legitimately had nothing to do with anyone in particular, but because I’d mentioned that someone had soft-blocked me just before writing it, it was associated with being an attack on that person.
Now, I will never understand how allistic people think. To *me* I was talking about authors in general, not anyone in specific, there were no names mentioned, just ‘authors’ but thanks to the same person who hosted my name on her blog for so long, (and others) I was painted as attacking a young woman of colour. This person (the one who had my name on her blog) has a long history of attacking and dragging neurodivergent and/or mentally ill people. She never, ever apologizes for it. Nor, does it seem, does she ever suffer professional consequences for it.
Attacking a young person in general, or anyone of colour is also something I would *never* do. (Aside from it being cruel and bullying and contrary to my very firm sense of honor, I have better things to do with my time, like write books, play games or stare vacantly out of the window at fog, maybe scrub the bathroom floor with a toothbrush or my tongue.)
I was subtweeted for days, called all sorts of unpleasant things and I received a lot of harassing emails about it. 10 former mutuals (two people who follow one another on social media) didn’t bother to ask me what I’d meant with my thread, they just listened to this other author and blocked me and subtweeted me, and basically made my life a living hell for over a week. Queer people I’d held virtual hands with the night Frump was elected as we all watched in horror. None of them even asked me what I’d meant with my thread, whether it was directed at someone or not, they just assumed and listened to this horrible author. People who weren’t exactly friends, (I use that word sparingly and with care) but were more than casual acquaintances.
Once I finally figured out what people thought I’d said (I mean… jesus, would it have killed someone to reach out to an autistic person and say, hey, these allistic people think you said X, maybe if you didn’t mean that you might want to clear that up?) I both privately and publicly apologized for my thread.
I still, for the life of me, don’t understand how those awful people could think my words on general authorial behavior could be associated with a young woman who hadn’t ever written a book. I mean… she hadn’t written a book? HOW COULD SHE BE AN AUTHOR THAT I WROTE A THREAD ABOUT? The illogic of it all was staggering. But that’s allistic people for you, they make no damned logical sense at all. Sorry allistics, many of you are wonderful, and I mean that, I wish you made sense to me. You just don’t.
I’m mixed-race, mentally ill, queer, autistic, and physically disabled. I’m a published author of queer romance with ownvoices characters and I also don’t lay down about abuse. I have strong opinions that I voice frequently, and I tear apart warrior autism parent’s self-aggrandizing books. I’m not bad to look at and I have a real, recent photo of myself as an AVI. I get (and I expect to get) a lot of harassment of various types including sexual harassment. I get a lot of death threats, some quite inventive.
So that’s why I use a pseudo, it’s got nothing to do with trying to hide who I am. In this industry, my legal name is an open secret anyway because it’s on any query I’ve ever sent. I stopped counting at 500 queries, so you know, a lot of people know my legal name. But most people, most industry professionals, have the decency and honor to keep it to themselves. As is done in any industry where pseudonyms are used.
To out that, to doxx me like that, to host that comment for YEARS on her blog. It’s personally reprehensible to me. Horrific even.
Someone mentioned the possibility that she didn’t know it was there. Anything is possible I suppose, but I highly freaking doubt it.
- It was on her contact page, and it’s fully updated to include her agent’s information. I have a fantastic memory when pain isn’t inhibiting recall. My autistic memory is telling me she didn’t get the agent until *after* August 2017. Meaning she had to have seen and approved of that comment. It was the only one on the page! Also, it had been there for years, years! The belief factor of her not knowing it was there kinda fades the longer it’s there.
- It was on the contact page, not buried in some random blog post. I glance over my contact/landing page frequently, once every few months, to make sure my professional contact information is up to date, most authors do.
- It’s a wordpress site, we all get notifications when we receive comments on our pages. It’s part of the wordpress setup and you have to physically opt out of that option. Most of us don’t bother because we actually want to hear from people about our work. We’re authors, we like to hear what people think.
This author, letting this comment stay there on her page for so long, is directly responsible for the months of harassment I received. Even if the harassment didn’t come from her directly (and I have no proof one way or the other, whether it was her or not). The harassment that eventually made me close my direct messages on Twitter to mutuals only. The harassment that made me take all contact forms (which allow messages from anonymous IP addresses) from my website. (Basically if someone fills in a contact form on a website and sends it in, it looks like it comes from the website, not a personal IP address.) So that the harassers would have to send anything to me from trackable IP addresses so the police could catch them. I had to involve the police with the level of harassment I was receiving. 8 months of death threats, threats of exposing my name, threats of exposing my partner’s and childrens’ names. Where they go to school, my home address…
All because this author had my name/pseudo right there for anyone to find. When I think about it even now it makes me cry. WHY? Why would she do that to me? Why would anyone do that to anyone?
Why does she hate me so very much that she would allow this? It’s her blog, it’s her responsibility. Legally and morally.
What have I *ever* done except try to stand up for people like me, to point out the unfairness of the way marginalized people are treated? What have I ever done that would make this author think this is even remotely okay?
I mean, I know a lot of authors’ pseudonyms and real names, I worked in publishing for several years before going freelance. It would never, ever occur to me to out someone. It would never occur to me to allow a comment outing someone on my blog. I just don’t understand why this person is so awful. I don’t, I never have.
I don’t understand why they won’t suffer professional consequences either, but as I’ve learned, I will never understand allistic people.
During the time when I was getting *at least* a harassing email every week, (often I’d get three or more) I wondered who the person was who was being free with my legal name. Or people, it’s possible other people have something like this out there. Obviously, someone was, because the harassing emails all had my legal information. Many had my partner’s, his place of work. One even had our phone number and license plate number in it.
Do you have any idea of how terrifying that is? I’m a trans, mixed-race female presenting person. A person very similar to me was attacked just last week in the states. I have a family with minor children in it to protect. These are the consequences that this person will probably never face because of what she’s done.
And this author carelessly, or perhaps maliciously, (I’ll never know because I won’t speak to her, in fact have had her blocked since the thread/subtweeting issue) left my name where anyone could find it.
That kind of thing, those unfounded accusations and my legal name being paired together with my pseudo could’ve cost me jobs if I’d gone to search for them. It could’ve really fucked up my immigration status.
How is any of that even remotely okay?
People aren’t, and have never been, shy about telling people like me, in detail, what kinds of horrible things they will do to us and our families to ‘pay us back’ for being queer, or outspoken, or *insert whatever reason for hatred people can come up with*.
They’re not shy about actually doing those things either.
At 4am this morning, I wrote to this author’s agent, begging her to make the author take the comment down. I didn’t know what else to do except publicly out and shame the author (which is a form of cyberbullying, so I didn’t want to do that). I guess the agent must have moved swiftly, because, despite my not receiving a response, the comment has been taken down. I’m certain the author claimed innocence. A lot of allistic people do when they get called on bad behavior. We’ve all seen that. But you know, also, I’ll point you to the fact it was there for almost 2 years. Every day it was there the believability factor of innocence fades. It just does, it’s only logical.
Despite the removal, I still feel so threatened by what that author did. And I’m questioning how many of my mutuals, even people I’m close to, knew it was there and didn’t tell me?
Not being able to trust easily is so hard.
I’m still afraid, I’m still wickedly upset and crying at the drop of a hat (and I really don’t cry easy, I’ve been through too much, too much trauma, but this has just shaken me so damned much.)
To leave that kind of thing up on her contact page for so long is utterly unconscionable. But she’ll get away with it. Just like she’s gotten away with subtweeting and harassing me. Of causing me so much pain in the past. Like she’s gotten away with attacking and dragging other neurodiverse people over and over again. I’ve seen her do that multiple times.
For someone who is a so-called professional in an industry like publishing, gods, especially of books for young adults! (I tell you, I have a young adult. I would not want my young adult reading a book by someone with morals like that. I just wouldn’t, I wouldn’t allow that book into the house. I wouldn’t.) To not only allow the doxxing of a fellow author on their blog but to also leave it where anyone could find it for such a very long time… it’s personally reprehensible to me. Especially when I’m a marginalized author, it’s so dangerous. I’m terrified, angry and sickened by this author’s actions.
Although the post has been removed, it doesn’t change the damage and pain she’s caused to me. The 8 months of harassment I received, me having to contact the police, the danger my family has been in. The danger *I’ve* been in. I had someone threaten to kill my cats!! Yeah. It doesn’t change it.
Because of people like that author, and others, the rumour mongers, I will always have the stink of false rumours and cruel innuendos clinging to me. That is so unfair, I don’t deserve that.
I had a wicked panic attack last night, then I got so, so angry. I still controlled myself. I didn’t publicly out who this author is. I can and will continue to tell people who ask me privately. That is not bullying, and since she had my legal name and pseudo on her blog for almost two years, two motherfucking years!, I have no problem at all telling people who it is if they ask me privately. Email me if you want to know, or if you’re one of the few who have access to my direct messages on social media, you can ask me that way. I won’t become the bully and say it in public, though. Not unless I have to out of self-defense. What you all do with that information is up to you. I don’t advocate for following/unfollowing or blocking this person. (Because that would be bullying.)
If *you* want to unfollow/block, do it, and I’ll support you.
If *you* don’t want to unfollow/block, do that, and I’ll support you.
I make it a policy to not attempt to influence peoples interpersonal connections, it’s far too close to abusive behavior (controlling who someone is friends with is a huge abusive red flag) and I’ve had that done to me by abusive boyfriends and family members. I’ll never knowingly do that to someone else. I may warn someone, I might open the door to say here is this information if you want it, but telling them who to be friends with/not be friends with is just not something I do.
But, I understand the need to protect yourself, and the need to know you aren’t friends/associates/following someone who is capable of doing such a horrific thing as this. So yes, I’ll absolutely privately tell anyone who wants to know. What you do with that info though, you get to decide. I can’t and won’t advise you on that.
My eating disorder reared up again last night, and I’ve been doing so well! I still haven’t eaten (I’m working on it, I really am, I’m working on it).
I had a horrible night of insomnia, and honestly, I doubt I’ll ever get an apology. She’s never apologized for anything she’s done to me before, she’s most likely is not going to suffer anything for what she’s done, professionally or personally, so why the hell would she apologize to someone she obviously doesn’t consider human?
I knew, from previous encounters with her, how horrible she could be, but I never in a million years expected her to stoop so low as to allow a doxxing of me on her blog. Never.
So that’s what’s been behind all the vague angst I’ve had for the past 18 hours. I’m going to go on full hiatus from Twitter for the weekend, maybe even a week. Maybe just stay off online for a bit. I’m removing the app from my phone and tablet for a while.
It’s got nothing to do with any of my followers, you all have been wonderful, but I just need a break. I need to lock the door to my house and keep the world out for a few days. To just be around my family, people I know would never hurt me, either by doing awful things or not telling me about someone doing awful things and thereby endangering me and my family. Enabling the level of harassment I was under.
Because some people I’m close to must have known that was there. It’s illogical that they didn’t with this person being a mutual, a friend even, with many of mine. Being close friends even, with many of you… we have many of the same business associates, this industry is tiny. We know many of the same people.
That fucks me up so badly.
That they didn’t bother to tell me. That’s… rather an ouchy thing to realize. That people I’m legitimately close to would allow all that harassment of me and my family to continue to take place. Knowing the likely source of where the harassers got my name.
Ouch. So I kinda have to cope with that too.