One of the many benefits of having written Broken Pieces is the support I’ve received from other CSA (Child Sex Abuse) survivors. So much so that I created a private, secret Facebook group (up to 50 mostly female members now). It’s our private place for group support — not therapy — and I couldn’t be more pleased to have connected with these amazing souls.
Another idea I had, after guesting on Bruce Sallan’s #DadChat last year, was to start #SexAbuseChat (read more here). I didn’t start the chat, however, until I had a certified therapist on board, as my background is marketing, not psychology. I’m so pleased to have connected with the amazing Bobbi Parish — survivor, author, and certified therapist. Definitely read about her — she’s amazing.
We’ve successfully had a wonderful weekly chat on Twitter (every Tuesday 6pm PST/9pm EST) for wow, maybe nine months now? It is a public chat, so we let attendees know that it’s fine to participate, lurk, send private DMs, whatever is comfortable for them. We also remind everyone that the chat is NOT meant as a replacement for therapy or meds (if needed), more a way to find support within the survivor community. (Want to join? Use the hashtag from 9-10pm EST any Tuesday to search, join, chat.)
Okay. Let’s deconstruct.
This week we had a man, who recently followed me, chime in with several disparaging comments regarding women and rape (which I won’t repeat here except to say that it’s not how women dress or what they’ve had to drink — women don’t rape themselves). Meanwhile, he DMs me to say that he doesn’t really believe what he’s spouting — he’s simply link-baiting, if you will, in hopes of getting retweets and more followers. I also received DMs from several chat participants who were triggered by his outburst.
What would you do? Here’s what I did (not saying it’s right or wrong, it just is).
While my usual policy is to ignore trolls, I didn’t feel I could do that here. Not because he stepped on my turf, but because he deliberately hurt chat participants with his careless comments.
I DM’d him back that regardless of his personal beliefs one way or the other, crashing my chat to dump on women was inappropriate. Twitter is a free country, if you will. Say what you want about whomever you want — but there ARE rules (no, I didn’t make them up) and bogarting a chat for your own harassing purposes is not only rude but also against Twitter’s Rules.
I was also fucking pissed. How dare he use my chat (, which I’ve worked for months and months to be a safe (albeit, public) place for any survivor of sexual violence), for his own flimsy, silly purposes (more followers, retweets). The lack of respect was appalling, but the fact that it triggered survivors (don’t we get enough ‘victim-blaming’ as it is already?) brought out mama bear.
I demanded a public apology (‘sorry if ladies were offended’ was the weak extent) as Bobbi and I hustled to check on everyone who messaged us to make sure they were okay. I realize I cannot control what anyone will say or how others will react to it — I’m not naive. However, most people are extremely respectful of our chat and wouldn’t dream of creating pseudo-intellectual, misleading tweets for the sole, selfish purposes of increasing their own following.
I do wonder what his mother or sisters would think of his behavior (even if he doesn’t REALLY mean it), because regardless of whether or not those are his beliefs, he’s adding to the victim shaming/blaming indicative of much of social media’s patriarchal attitude toward rape, only furthering the rape culture they deny exists.
Really, like anything online, it comes down to a matter of respect. I get that people get off on that rush of retweets and replies (whether positive or negative) when saying something controversial on social media, particularly on Twitter. Careers have been made with a simple tweet. They’ve also been broken. ‘Nobody is watching until everyone is watching’ as the Twitter saying goes.
If you’re unsure about a conversation or chat, do this: Lurk. Watch. Listen. Learn. Because guess what? It’s not all about you, and when you interrupt someone’s chat with rude, insensitive comments, you make something good into something that I now have to write about on my blog. My chat will continue with my amazing family of survivors, regardless. In fact, we’re stronger after a situation like this because not only did we survive the initial abuse, we can deal with these types of comments and file them away under ‘Trash.’
Where it belongs.
I’d love your thoughts, comments, and experiences! Be sure to sign up for my newsletter, to hear about what’s coming up with my latest book projects and various blog posts. Need social media, branding, or marketing services? Visit my BadRedheadMedia.com site for details.
Bobbi Parish-Logie saysJune 21, 2014 at 11:37 pm
YES! Such a fantastic piece, Rachel. You’re right. We are such an amazingly strong community of survivors! We’ve had a few attacks since we started #SexAbuseChat but we’ve withstood all of them. And ironically, it’s made us even stronger. We have supported and protected each other with fierce swiftness. You were so quick to intervene and TwitterSmack that rude guy. I’m so DAMN proud of you! Thank you for creating a place for Survivors to share their experiences and knock shame into the dirt.
Rachel Thompson saysJune 22, 2014 at 11:37 am
Thank you, Bobbi. Our community is what makes the chat so awesome 🙂 and like any ‘parent,’ I feel protective of the chat and of our participants. I’m still kinda shocked at how cavalier he was about it all, but you know what? That’s HIS issue, not mine.
As always, my (and your) concern is for the survivors, and anything that threatens that has to go through us!
Bruce Sallan (@BruceSallan) saysJune 22, 2014 at 8:57 am
You are doing Tikkun Olam, Rachel – YOU are “Repairing the World” and I was honored to have you as a guest on #DadChat.
Rachel Thompson saysJune 22, 2014 at 11:39 am
Aw, thank you Bruce! I was honored to have been a guest. Love that phrase (adds to my notes). I didn’t set out to do that, but I certainly hope that my voice helps just one person — it’s all worth it. xx
Janie Junebug saysJune 22, 2014 at 11:34 am
What a jerk that guy is. Many years ago I had a friend whose 80-year-old grandmother was raped during the night, in her bed, by someone who broke into her house. Had she been skipping around in front of the open windows earlier, wearing a slinky gown? The poor grandmother told my friend that she believed she died that night and was shocked to discover she was alive.
Rachel Thompson saysJune 22, 2014 at 11:41 am
gosh, poor thing. I’ll never understand the criminal mind, especially when aimed at children or the elderly. Your point (about clothing) is well taken — a person is raped because someone raped them. It’s really simple.
Well, it should be. Blaming women for being women is the most ridiculous argument I’ve ever seen yet there it is.
Paula Reed Nancarrow saysJune 22, 2014 at 10:02 pm
The guy was not only trash, he was stupid trash. How misogynist hate speech in a chat for sex abuse survivors is going to get anyone more followers worth having is beyond me. I mean, I would understand it more if he actually believed what he was saying…
Rachel Thompson saysJune 23, 2014 at 12:19 am
HI Paula — yes, misogynists have no place on a chat for survivors (of any kind, but especially CSA survivors). I think, not to defend him, he thought he was somehow being funny? I see that in men A LOT. Silly, misplaced comments for a joke of some sort. Unfortunately, jokes at the expense of anyone rarely retain their humor.
Usually I’ll give people the benefit of the doubt, but in this case, his DMs showed me he thought it was just SO funny. #Blocked
Lisette Brodey saysJune 22, 2014 at 11:07 pm
Wow! I’ve heard of lots of ridiculous motivation for things, but i never thought of being an insensitive ass and hurting CSA survivors (or anyone else) to gain more followers. That is some seriously skewed logic. When I see people like that online, they’re blocked immediately, even if they haven’t interacted with me personally. Hope you tightened the lid of the trash can. Sad and pitiful.
Rachel Thompson saysJune 23, 2014 at 12:26 am
HI Lisette! Yea, I’m sure he and his 10 followers got a kick out of it (or maybe they too were appalled and unfollowed him). Who knows. What’s sad is that it was a learning moment that went awry. What’s good is that it was a learning moment for ME — I learned (through gut instinct) when to draw the line. Don’t mess with my peeps. #rawr
Dalton Blankenship saysJune 22, 2014 at 11:10 pm
I thought I was having a true theological discourse with a fellow Twitter guy recently only to find he was merely out to sling mud our church and pastor, for what reason I have no idea, all in the name of ‘Christianity,’ of course. My son said it well: “Don’t feed the trolls.” I think you handled it well. When they ooze into your chat and harm those you are trying to give safe ‘nourishment’ to, starve ’em out.
Rachel Thompson saysJune 23, 2014 at 12:33 am
Hi Dalton, thanks for reading and commenting.
I find it difficult to have ‘reasoned’ discourse regarding two topics on really any social media, but especially Twitter and FB. The extreme on each side is well represented, which causes many disagreements where there is not true ‘winner.’ Nor does there need to be.
I blocked another fella recently who made horribly disparaging comments and slurs about African-Americans (too KKK for me, when he spoke of lynchings and such). There’s disagreement, and then there’s hate and racism, neither of which I’ll tolerate. His toxic comments made me sad for society, and shocked to an extent that people still think and take that way.
Blocking can be handy. 🙂
Jeffery Rowan saysJune 23, 2014 at 1:21 am
I am flabbergasted. He actually thought the fact he didn’t believe what he was saying made it better somehow. This man gave no thought to what he was doing or gave it a lot of thought. Both options scare me. People it’s time to stop propagating the values of the rape culture. Take the time to learn what is meant by the term. Yes, it’s a scary thing to think about but it’s so insidious that people don’t even recognize it when they are making decisions based on an ignorant primitive system of values based on might makes right. But it is buried deep in our histories so we walk blindly on. What’s the term for a male mistress? Paramour includes both sexes so it doesn’t count. Why the extra term for women only? Insidious. It shows itself even in things that are not.
Rachel Thompson saysJune 23, 2014 at 1:56 pm
I know, right? If you’re going to make the case that ‘women deserve to be raped if they dress like a slut’ then back your shit up (not that I’d EVER agree). Victim blaming is incredibly damaging to survivors but also to good men who’d never do anything like that. Rape culture assumes all men are animals who rape with no thought. ALL men. How insulting!
Interesting on the term for male mistress — lover? which can work for either sex, you’re so right. My son the other day said, ‘Why is history HIS-STORY? That makes no sense. Women make history, too.’ That’s my boy!
Carol Hedges saysJune 23, 2014 at 3:19 am
Tremendous stuff! And total respect for all of you. The way some (men) cross unacceptable boundaries on social media is a hundred blogs in itself! I’ve been in the unfortunate position recently of having someone progress from mild flirting to inappropriate and persistent comments..over a long period of time. When challenged, their response was that I’m a ”censorette”’ with no sense of humour. Er, no, guy, I just don’t like being come on to by a married man who thinks perving over women on line is OK. The Equalities Act clearly states that making comments that cause hurt, distress or make the recipient feel degraded or uncomfortable constitutes sexual harassment. Can’t get clearer than that! And I think we should be prepared to challenge anyone who engages in inappropriate remarks with the threat of legal comeback. (and yes, gentle reader — I blocked him….)
Rachel Thompson saysJune 23, 2014 at 1:53 pm
thank you, Carol. It’s sad that so many people (not only men) feel that being on social media means we want to hook up. I’m there to build relationships with my reader base, book bloggers, reviewers, other authors. Not to fuck them (sorry, but come on). The majority of messages I get from men are great — normal, talking, sharing information and stories. When a perv shows up, I put up a wall (as I’m sure most women do).
A good friend of mine is a VERY handsome guy, engaged, madly in love with his wife-to-be. He gets hit on constantly online, to the point that he shut down his Twitter account. He’s brilliant, not rich, not pervy. Just a good guy. I’m glad he took the stand! It’s incredibly superficial that people won’t even ask about a person and their interests, and go right into the pervy stuff. Gawd.
Lisa S. saysJune 23, 2014 at 9:15 pm
I think that you handled it well, Rachel. The #SexAbuseChat Twitter chat is a safe space for CSA survivors that was violated to an extent by that guy. However, as you proved, you are not a victim and stood up to him. To him, apparently ‘the ends justifies the means’, if he was only baiting for follows. It’s a needed chat that has to be protected. I’m glad to hear that Bobbi and you reached out to those who needed it.
Rachel Thompson saysJune 23, 2014 at 9:36 pm
Thank you, Lisa! It is sad when people abuse or attempt to victimize the very people who are brave enough to participate in the first place. Infuriating, really. But mostly? I feel really, really sad for them.
Another guy today asked if I write ‘kiddie porn.’ Seriously. #blocked and with a few choice words from me. I don’t know what is wrong or why people feel that saying such things would EVER be funny. At a loss, to be honest.