How to start.
Most of you are probably aware that Donovan (MrOzAtheist) and I had some sort of falling out. Some of you know a great deal more than that. In the last month or so, as I’ve started discussing this, a lot of people have asked me for more information on what happened between us. And I’m ready to talk about it. If you just want to see the email, scroll down. Otherwise… First, a few things….
It happened a year ago! Why are you bringing it up now?
Because I don’t think there should be a time limit on discussing or coming to terms with emotional abuse. I didn’t bring it up before for a few reasons. First, I was genuinely paranoid about what he might do if I mentioned it. I was worried what people would think of me for making a ‘respected’ person on Twitter look bad. And mostly, I wasn’t ready to deal with it. I tried to ignore it. I shared it with a few trusted people. But I’ve come to realize that I am not over it. When I recently (October) described the situation to some friends, I immediately burst into tears. I couldn’t help it. This situation was very, very distressing for me, and still is. But I’ve found that talking about it makes me feel better. It makes me feel like he has no power over me- which is exactly what I needed.
You’re just trying to make Donovan look bad.
Let’s be fair- he’s made himself look bad through his actions. I’m simply coming forward now to explain what he did to me. He sent this email to me. He tried to intimidate, blackmail, and threaten me. The decision to open up and discuss it is mine, and of course, you are under no obligation to read it!
It was just one mistake!
I know we all make mistakes. That’s human nature. But this is something different, much more cold and calculated than a simple ‘mistake’ or ‘error in judgement’. In fact, he mentions in the email that he thought about it for a long time, and went so far as to discuss it with others before deciding to send it. I don’t know many people who are willing to resort to threats and intimidation to try and get what they want. I don’t want to know those people.
What I realized in the time since is that, though it was by far the worst, this was not an isolated incident. He spent months trying to make me feel guilty for having friends that weren’t him. He asked me not to speak to those people anymore. He told me he felt ‘betrayed’ when I asked him for space in the summer of 2013. That, when I briefly closed my Twitter account due to personal issues, I “owed it to him” to tell him why. It was nearly a year of that kind of concerning behaviour that culminated in this email from him.
Donovan and I were very close. We hit it off immediately, and there was a time when we spoke every day, in one form or another. I shared a lot of personal information with him, and he did the same with me.
As time went on, I started making other friends on Twitter, as is known to happen. Donovan was jealous, and as I said, asked me to stop talking to certain people because of that jealousy. Because of this and a few other issues, we started to drift apart. We started to disagree on petty things. To me, it wasn’t a huge deal. People change, friendships come and go. That’s life. Eventually, by August of 2013, we decided to end our ‘extra’ communication. No more DMs, emails, etc. Just follow each other on Twitter, and that was that.
In time I realized I didn’t really care much for his tweets. I don’t need to get into that, but as he and I discussed on The Herd Mentality Podcast, episode 30 (here), we disagreed completely on what an appropriate ‘style’ of tweeting was. No matter. Disagreements happen all the time. I unfollowed him, we podcasted, the end.
No. Not the end. It was about 2 weeks after the podcast in November 2013 that I received the following email from Donovan.
I think that was the first time in my life I experienced a genuine state of shock. It legitimately came out of nowhere, when we hadn’t spoken a word since the podcast with Adam two weeks before that.
I was also completely distraught. I burst into tears. I cried off and on for several days and was absolutely paranoid for weeks. I checked my mail every day for at least 6 weeks, worried what he might have sent to my husband. He knew my name, my address, my workplace. Everything. And he knew a lot of things about me I’d not care for my work, or even my husband, to have found out. I had no idea what he was planning to do. I was beside myself trying to figure out what “letter” he might send, and to whom, and what it might contain.
We emailed back and forth for awhile. I am embarrassed by how I reacted to it. Rather than telling him to go fuck himself, as I should have, I reasoned with him, sympathized with him, and told him it was ok. That’s how disturbed and concerned I was that he might do something drastic. I hate that I reacted that way. It was weak and spineless, but I had no idea what else to do.
After I sympathized with his situation, he apologized. At the time I accepted it, because I was relieved that maybe if I did, he wouldn’t act on his threats. However, once I stepped a toe out of line- by subtweeting him, the next day- he immediately emailed me again and said I had “broken my word”. That I’d better “hope he calms down”, because he had drafted a tweet that was “not going to look good” for me.
That was when I knew I was dealing with something more than a mistake, and when I knew this and any apology from him was meaningless. The second I did something he didn’t like, he resorted to trying to intimidate and threaten me again, to get his way. Since then, our contact has been minimal, until I began to open up about what happened. His response was to act as though he is the real victim, here. Some friends of mine, and others whom I don’t know, haven’t been especially kind to him since learning what he did to me. To be frank- I don’t care. I have had nothing to do with it. And, most importantly- anything other people may have said to him in response to his actions in no way detracts from or impacts what he did to me. It doesn’t lessen what he did, or make it ok. As it is completely irrelevant to his harassment of me, I won’t discuss it further here, and certainly won’t entertain the idea that he is the victim.
Since mentioning this on twitter, people have also asked me what it is that I “want” now. Well, here’s your answer- I don’t want anything. I’m uninterested in another apology. “I’m sorry”, in this situation, whether sincere or not, does nothing for me. It doesn’t take away the distress I felt for weeks, and even still, over this situation. And coming from him, as I said, it is meaningless. All I want is to explain what happened to me, on my terms, because I’ve found that talking about it is therapeutic. On one hand, I hate feeling weak, vulnerable, or victimized. I’d much rather act like I don’t give a shit about him or what he did, and rather that I’m tough, and give no fucks. But that’s just not the case. As much as it annoys me to need to show a chink in my armour, the benefit I get from talking about it greatly outweighs that annoyance.
So, there you have it. I’m not here to hurt anyone. I’m here for purely selfish reasons- to talk about what happened, in hopes it will make me feel better. That’s all.