Tales of Abuse: Activists, Organizers, Artists, and more…

It’s not just me. It’s not just you.

It (abuse, manipulation, abuse of power, etc.) is happening in Brooklyn, New York and other cities around the world. The article below from City Paper just happens to focus on the art scene in Baltimore.

These type of men are abusive and use very similar tactics — in organizing, artists, healing, spiritual, and social justice circles — AND too many people stay silent.

When we speak out and set boundaries around pretty much any matter to protect ourselves we are challenged, questioned, ignored, or attacked (physically, professionally, emotionally).

It’s time to start speaking up, telling our truths and taking back our power.

“People ponder what can be done to stop enabling abusive behavior, to make our scenes safer, but still the scene is the same. The names of abusers continue to appear on lineups at shows, on the boards of nonprofits, in press releases announcing award and grant recipients, in directorial positions at institutions with growing clout.

“Artist communities are prime territory for misogyny and abusive behavior in ways that are reflected in the rest of society but persist through avenues that are in some ways more navigable here. Because these communities exist under the guise of the avant-garde or even activism—ostensibly freed from the ties that bind society at large—patterns of sexism, racism, trans/homophobia, and abuse regularly go on unchecked:”

““In the beginning, he talked with me about his past failed relationships, and his addictions. While he sort of admitted to cheating and lying to previous partners (he called it failed polyamory—a classic misogynist tactic), he never mentioned the physical abuse or stalking. At times, he seemed to be really attempting to be a better person, at least when we talked about his ‘ex’ and our relationship together. But, agreeing to have a relationship with someone half his age (me), and who he then hired as an employee, was probably not ‘the next right thing’ for his newfound desire to improve on past slimy/grimy behavior. He eventually became verbally abusive toward me and discouraged me from getting mental health treatment when I really needed it.”

“Whether or not this is an abuse of a person, it is certainly an abuse of power.”

“Their relationship hit the ground running, in ways that Wanda says felt enthralling at first, though retelling it now, she views his early intense affection as manipulation. He toyed with the definitions and boundaries of their relationship constantly—pulling her in and pushing her away, telling her he loved her and then not talking to her for days. If she expressed discomfort with any of that she says she would “get kinda punished for it,” or he’d give her the silent treatment.”

“The art scene has no structures to keep harassment in check—no HR rep; no union, in most cases; no established, accepted, and enforced code of conduct. For people like this artist, there is no clear or secure course of action for dealing with workplace harassment.

All this is just scratching the surface of what people face in coming forward about mistreatment and abuse. Describing abuse can be re-traumatizing, and again, fear of physical or legal retaliation is not unwarranted.

But still, at a certain point the feeling of isolation, the inability to freely participate in the community, and the fear that an abuser will continue to abuse others outweighs the risks.

And so, survivors speak up.”

SOME PEOPLE SHY away from taking a stand because they say they don’t want to meddle in people’s personal situations; it’s none of their business. Within the arts community, that response is fraught.

“To say that it is their personal life and that has nothing to do with their capacity as an authority in the art community is preposterous because there are people who can’t work in their space, and also any festivals or spaces that they’re affiliated with, and also people that enable their behavior,” says Ferrera.”

Quotes from “Abuse and Accountability in the Arts Scene: A Reckoning” By Maura Callahan and Rebekah Kirkman | Illustrations by Kirsty Hambrick

You can read the article in full at http://www.citypaper.com/bcpnews-abuse-and-accountability-in-the-arts-scene-a-reckoning-20170822-htmlstory.html