While I have made numerous public statements on many of the incidents that I describe below, I realize that something I haven’t really done yet is to truly let myself take up the role of a survivor of accountability abuse (the manipulation of social justice discourse on accountability to propagate harm) and write on my experience from that place, mainly for my own emotional needs to be seen.
This may have also other effects such as public learning as well as seeking the accountability of those people I name as having harmed me as I describe below, but I want to keep coming back to center myself, hopefully in a good way that is contained and accountable.
The incidents shared below are broken down in roughly chronological order but the timeline is a bit mixed so it balances the sequence of events with highlighting the actions of individuals. I know that this might throw off people’s sense of the timeline but there is a lot I experienced and recounting things isn’t a process that I can easily streamline so I apologize beforehand.
I am anonymizing some names and revealing others based on how I assess their access to power in their communities as well as to social and financial resources.
Perhaps the best place to start is in 2015. I lived in Vancouver BC at the time and was in charge of a new semi-collective house. I had formed the house and had the task of being the main person in charge of critical decisions around things like addressing house conflict issues for the first few months as the house dynamic gelled.
It’s important to note that this was a time in Vancouver when there was, in general, a climate of fear around activists housing together, with many horror stories circulating in the community around incidents that we would probably now describe as being a part of cancel or call-out culture.
If you ask me now if I had the skills to navigate such a role in such a mercurial time, I would easily say no. I was over my head. But it was also the mutually agreed dynamic at the time.
Moving on, one of my first housemates at the time was a disabled Asian lesbian woman D.
As a person who was enthusiastic about social justice issues, I was stoked to welcome D as a housemate. Our general vibe was that we want to have good communication and values around social justice issues but pay attention to when it becomes too much of a fixation. The other two housemates were less focused on social justice issues and I felt that would provide a good balance in the household.
Over the time I got to know D, I felt I started to see a certain pattern in how D addressed the men in her life, including myself, another housemate who was increasingly feeling encroacher by her, and her male friends, of ridiculing them in a way that was infantilizing as well as behaviors that felt overbearing and parental, such as cleaning things owned by the men of the house without asking even after repeated requests for her to not touch our things. These may sound like small things but the regular frequency and the resistance to change in the face of feedback was wearing people thin.
In particular, D’s relationship with another male housemate had become quite toxic, with him feeling constantly smothered by D’s gestures. Since the beginning, I had advocated for D’s position as a woman in the house but I started to feel something was off and my male housemate was valid in their complaints.
D also asked for a lot of emotional labor in attending to her requests that were about recognizing her needs as a woman to feel safe. I didn’t totally feel bad about putting this work in but it was feeling off and unbalanced combined with the dynamic above.
One day, I felt frustrated enough I confronted D and simply asked point-blank if she had an issue with men. I don’t remember the conversation that ensued but there was a level of civility at the time. A few days later, she became withdrawing and simultaneously very spontaneously angry. It was clear to me that my confrontation touched her in some kind of way.
Things escalated quickly after including her shunning me during a group outing at a dance party, publicly ridiculing me at our house-warming party, and going MIA while not paying rent even after days of multiple text messages to her. During this entire time, there was no communication from D about what she is specifically upset about.
The withholding of rent felt like things have come to a place where it was appropriate to ask her to leave the house as I felt it was a clear power play on her part. Like I said before, it was agreed upon that for the first little while, I make final decisions about personnel at the house and weigh in on conflicts. I took up my role, gingerly, because it was obviously a dubious place to exercise power when I was now in conflict with her as well.
I want to make a point here that I would go about things very differently now, so I take a lot of responsibility for the above matters. That said, I do think the D’s responses to critique and request for respecting boundaries revealed that it was very unlikely it was a resolvable situation. What I might change now is that I would go through a much more orderly dispute process through the tenancy branch, including paying her to leave, which I would have been happy to do if it makes things easier.
Overall though, I do believe I tried my best as I could in a very difficult situation and I feel was reflected in my communications such as below:
D ultimately moved out after a series of emails that included threats to file a dispute.
On the day she moved out, she screamed at me for about a minute, with her eyes wandering away from me, which left a lasting impression on my psyche. It was really the first time I’ve ever had such a falling out and it was an acute moment that has left me physically afraid to be around someone that used to be a friend.
When she left the house, she still owed me and other housemates money that she had borrowed from me to cover her previous rent and utilities.
One of the general patterns D expressed in the way she navigated our conflict was to lobby people we both knew to change their opinion about me and take their side. For example, she would claim that they felt victimized by me making lesbian jokes when in fact we had a (toxic) sibling-like teasing dynamic and in fact, they routinely made fat-shaming jokes of me, to the point that I had to ask them to stop.
As a result, one of my closest new friends abandoned me and sided with D. Another person, who I knew to be quite popular in my local community and was friends with D made a public post about me being a misogynist at the same time, which I imagine was driven by similar kind of information-filtering.
In this passage, it became clear to me that while I did have my shortfalls in dealing with the housing situation with D, there were clear aspects of their character that lean towards using distorting of truths to socially isolate someone they have a vendetta against. Since, it has been shared with me from some former friends of theirs that this was a serial pattern.
In the fall of 2016, I moved to remote and rural Cortes Island BC, partially from feeling burnt out from the constant exposure to conflictual behaviors in Vancouver’s activist community.
It was then in the spring of 2017 that I started building out my experimental projects on providing compassionate allyship coaching for white people, which used an attachment and neurology lens to look at inter-race and inter-culture issues in relationships rather than the typical mainstream intersectionalist lens.
Through this time, I met, Hannah Harris Sutro, a white female colleague of mine from Montreal QC, through Turtle Tank, an online ‘radical business’ incubator.
Hannah became an early fan of my work.
Hannah was also one of the first test readers of a book I never published on building healthier relationships in progressive communities. In fact, you can read her enthusiastic review of my non-published book here on Goodreads.
As I felt like we were comrades, I also collegially supported her in navigating issues around their whiteness, including a very public conflict with a WOC in Montreal.
Based on the above, I developed a quick sense of trust for Hannah’s moral compass and capacity for relational repair. I believed she was genuine in looking at how her traumas and privileges impact how she shows up in her interpersonal relationships.
In the spring of 2018 I decided to move to Montreal for a variety of reasons, including interest in the radical healing community there, which Hannah was a large presence in, as well as the street dance scene that I had a lot of friends in ever since I lived there for a brief time to train my dance in 2011.
Naturally, I thought me and Hannah may become closer colleagues and friends, and we did hang out a few times for a few months when I first arrived.
It was later In the summer of 2018, after we had just watched a world cup game together and were talking about watching another one, she said she didn’t have time for a new friendship. I felt caught a bit off guard but was totally OK with it because I understood there is always timing and rhythm to relationships.
We even still saw each other a bit here and there through the winter of 2018-2019 when we briefly attended a very small Buddhist sangha gathering together through a mutual friend K.
It’s also important to note here that I saw D at a few local queer gatherings around this time. I was instantly terrified at seeing them so I did my best to avoid her but eyes definitely connected.
In the winter of 2018-2019 I came to know two local Montreal community organizers and then co-hosts of Chai Chats, Dona La Luna, and Parneet Chohan.
We all had a mutual interest in dance, restorative justice, and healing, and we were actively talking about hanging out more as we hit it off. We even recorded an episode of Chai Chats that talked about restorative justice and ritual (which was never released likely because of events that followed).
My first inkling that something really bad might be up was when January 30th, 2019, the two approached me about an anonymous claim of harm made against me.
Below is a copy of the email.
When I saw the email, my mind instantly went to D and asked for clarification on who is saying what. I also said if that can’t be shared, I need a very tightly held trauma-informed process where I can lobby for my own safety.
In our original email exchange, Dona repeatedly denied my right to a transparent, accountable, and trauma-informed process — the logic being that such a request was forfeit because of my gender in relation to theirs and the claimants.
I was extremely disturbed to get this kind of response from a person I felt I should be able to trust based on their purported values and instead followed up with just Parneet, recording a conversation together that was satisfactory to Parneet in terms of hearing my side of the story.
At the same time I was in an email exchange with Dona and Parneet, I learned through my aforementioned friend K that D was indeed behind the claim brought forth.
A little bit before Dona sent their email, the two of us had recently joined a small Montreal-based community Facebook group for ‘weird’ or ‘artsy’ Asians called ‘The ASIANCY’ and had attended a small meet up dim sum. Following the hang-out, I added K to the group, who was also Asian.
K informed me a few days after Dona’s initial email to me that they had seen the following post made by the admin of ASIANCY Facebook group, Richmond Lam:
Richmond: Dear Asiancy, especially those that were present at yesterday’s dim sum. It was brought to my attention that one of the attendees and Asiancy member (ex by now), Tada Hozumi, has had a very problematic past in the form of physical and sexual assault, directly and indirectly related to one of our members back in Vancouver. Therefore I suggest that we all remove him from our FB and personal circle. We strive to make this group a safe and inclusive environment and will not tolerate any kind of abusive behaviour, past and present.
This was followed by a comment from Dona that was made without ANY direct follow up with me:
Hi folks, This is sad news for me as the person that invited him into the group. I didn’t know of the super problematic behaviors and actions he has made in the past. I’ve just finished talking to the person who has experienced harm by him and am super sorry that all of this has happened. I absolutely believe all the stories I’ve heard so far and stand by anyone that has been harmed, especially queer/women of color. I think kicking him out of the group was the right call to make, so that the person(s) that was harmed is respected and stood by. At the same time, having been in the social justice community for so long and organising within it, I know that I personally want to move away from punitive and carceral culture, and towards restorative and transformative ways of dealing with problems within the community. I personally think cancel culture doesn’t help anyone, and doesn’t shift or give space to grow out of / reconcile abusive behaviors, if anything it makes it worse. So, I will be dealing with this as this brings up concerns for me as an organiser in various communities that he is a part of, primarily queer/POC/therapy/arts/dance communities. I do want to name also that this is sad, and such an unsurprising thing for us as women, especially racialised women to hear and to learn about. I do encourage and hope that the men in this group check each other as men and/or masc folks and hold each other accountable when necessary, as the folks who are harmed (who’re generally women/femmes) are the ones that usually do this work.
This post immediately confirmed a few suspicions I’ve had regarding Dona and Parneet’s inquiry, especially as it was followed by a statement from Dona that they took it upon themselves to speak privately with the alleged claimant and that they believed them.
K was able to confirm that D was part of the ASIANCY Facebook group – they had me blocked so they were not visible to me, while me being visible to them.
For the record, I have NEVER gone near D in a way that can be even remotely interpreted as physically and sexually assaultive. I don’t even remember if we hugged when we were close. D was essentially signing off on a statement about me that contained an outright lie.
What is true is that while D and I lived together is that I had a one-night stand with someone I had met at a bar while out dancing and there were some consent issues around some light BDSM acts that followed that. Even though they were not extreme acts and I simply stopped when I felt we were mis-attuned to each other, I realized that there are psychological risks like triggers that can come into play and that at the minimum it was something that was neglectful and at worse harmful. At the time when I was processing this the day after I was in a shame spiral and had blabbered about it sloppily in a conversation between me, D, and a friend of hers.
I immediately followed up with my one-night partner about it, offering my apology and also any space they would like to let me know if they have been negatively impacted. They did not indicate experiencing any harm in their response, although I understand that doesn’t mean harm didn’t happen. Sometimes it takes years for these thing to surface.
On that note, it was only after a few years that I realized I had my own boundaries cross that night as well, with my one-time partner having initiated genital-to-genital contact without any protection or conversation about consent around sexual acts. My material around masculinity kept the impact of this out of view.
These details are relevant because it is highly likely that D has been manipulating and distorting my accounts of my own behavior, which were already reported to her from a place of shame collapse, without even the consent of the original alleged harmed party i.e. my one-time partner. D did not even know the name of this person and it would only be through a small miracle that they would have connected with each other given they hang out in completely different communities and localities.
At the same time that this was going on, I learned more about Hannah’s real reason for cutting off our relationship.
K revealed to me that Hannah had in fact heard of the rumors about me, and she cut contact with me while lying that she simply didn’t have space for more friendships and that there was nothing problematic. K had been, for a long time, holding the tensions of the confusing dynamic within themselves, watching me and Hannah interact very friendly in a very small spiritual learning group, even doing small group exercises together about embodying kindness, and so on.
Below is a text message sent from Hannah to a group chat that included K and at least one other person Hannah has done group healing work with
K also further revealed that Hannah was not just a friend and colleague. K had previously intensive group healing work with Hannah and even some private work. Being on a more equal footing as friends as colleagues was something they were working towards. It was deeply confusing to them why someone they looked up to for role modeling on subjects such as building healthy relationships, was acting in such a secretive and incongruous way that required K to be complicity silent.
Hannah’s behavior was basically the exact opposite of what Hannah and I had discussed time and time again, including conversations that were explicitly about her being able to navigate her shame in being called out publicly by a WOC. Not only that, she was doing all of this within an act of malpractice, trying to influence someone they have considerable professional influence over, to end their friendship with me.
Following our conversation, K sent a letter to Hannah, detailing the serious issues with her behavior. As of the date of publishing this note, K or I have yet to receive any kind of proper apology.
As of today, Hannah claims on her professional website that she is aligned with a practice of ‘cultural somatics’, a conceptual term for politicized somatics work that I named and have provided many of the frameworks for, only citing Resmaa Menakem’s contribution when in reality she was exposed to my very early cultural somatics work even in its very nascent stages.
When I learned about Hannah’s betrayal, I also learned that a white woman writer based in Toronto with a large platform, Sabrina Scott, was gathering stories about my alleged problematic behavior.
This was highly bizarre to me because Sabrina and I have never had any online or offline personal contact.
I only knew Sabrina because they had been majorly involved in the online bullying of a colleague and friend of mine, who was the admin and facilitator of a large online queer healing group. Sabrina majorly participated and enabled the bullying of my friend, including trying to get an online media outlet, operated by a long-time friend of my colleague, to try to publish an article that denounces my colleague.
Many people collapsed into supporting or at least condoning the bullying because of the dynamics where my friend was white and the main bully was black.
Learning that Sabrina was involved added another layer of surveillance of my behavior even in my private relationships. It was new to me that there are people who would spend significant time and energy trying to exact vengeance on someone they have no relation to. Anyone could get caught in the cross hairs of such behavior.
Since releasing a few public statements on Sabrina’s involvement I’ve also received another claim of Sabrina’s repeated stalking and bullying behavior.
In the months following these incidents, in an email, I directly confronted Richmond, the admin oft he ASIACY months about the statement he made. In his response, Richmond explicitly admitted to me in writing they never cared about the validity of the claim.
I have to say that this is a surprise. I appreciate that you want to tell your side of the story, and I am grateful to have heard it. I’m afraid it is not up to me to decide what really happened between you and your accuser, and whether you’re in fact guilty of the other misconducts you’ve been accused of. My sole concern and responsibility, as the administrator of the private FB group Asiancy, is to make sure that our existing members, and friends, are feeling safe in our group and at our activities.
This is to say that he was knowingly willing to commit libel and/or defamation.
I also followed up with Dona again from May – June 2019 and the emails went as follows:
Hi Dona, hope you are well.
As summer and the season for dancing merriment approaches, and felt the call for us to follow up and mend.
Curious how this lands with you.
I look to be pretty free next week and the week after. If you throw out some times that are good for you, especially in the evening, I should be pretty free and able to make something work.
Thanks for reaching out. I had capacity/desire to do the follow up, show up and the mending then. You went a different route wanting to deal just with Parneet which is fine, as that was what was alive for you then. Now, I no longer have the same feeling as I have other priorities I want to put energy towards in my life. Because of all of this I don’t view this situation as one that I am that invested in anymore, tbh.
As summer slowly rolls along we may cross paths on the dance floor at some point. I personally am not really fussed about it. If we see each other we see each other. Just wanting to be transparent though that I don’t feel the want/need to deepen/mend this relationship by sharing more space or going beyond a bumping into of each other in any way either. I dunno if this helps bring any kind of clarity or closure on your end. This is where I am at with this.
I am going to level with you.
This is fucking garbage.
The entire way you started this accountability conversation has been about your emotional needs i.e. your triggers, without hardly any consideration about the impact of your choices on me.
Right from the beginning, you didn’t handle the situation in a way that I expect from a colleague, let alone someone who holds social power and takes on a leadership role in conversations around restorative justice.
You didn’t step in with any clarity about how your trauma responses are impacting your behavior and explicitly invalidated clear signs I sent you about my trauma responses.
I saw that you spoke affirmatively to Richmond’s post in the ASIANCY group, which I confirmed D is a part of, standing on your claim of being a community organizer and validated claims BEFORE speaking to me directly. This is a complete lack of good faith. You, with your community position and purported knowledge base, which you exercised, should have known way better.
You dehumanized me by reducing my identity to being a predatory man without consideration that I could at all be abused by a woman. That is really just selective belief that is about emotional entanglement – not honoring survivors and actually listening to their stories from a place of presence.
I chose to start conversing with Parneet first because I didn’t feel confidence in how you were showing up. My decision was that any process that is fuelled by your triggers and compromised by your lack of trauma safety would be unethical and inherently harmful to myself and others, including people I have have been intimate with AND D, who I consider one of the very few people who have ever abused me in relationship.
Your response to my e-mail is ridiculous to me given I’ve been holding the larger responsibility for looking after all parties involved when that was clearly your work to do.
It isn’t ethical for you to close this process on your terms when these things haven’t been explored in due process. Your actions have real and public consequences for me, especially given that you voiced things in a community space on the internet.
Plain and simple, what you have been calling an ‘accountability process’ has been an abuse of your power.
If you are saying you are someone in Montreal’s healing justice community that is a leader and space-holder, you need to check yourself and be accountable to how you are handling this.
I’m just hearing a lot of blaming, shaming, and patronising me for the things you believe I should or should not have done, what I should or should not have known better, what was ethical or not, etc. I hear a LOT of assumptions about the work I have or have not done, about who I think you are, about who you think I am, that I haven’t thought about the consequences or your well being within this, etc. This is one big mind dump/projection on me in an email. Maybe I am reading it wrong but the tone is coming across to me pretty clearly. I feel insulted and unacknowledged because the due diligence and work that I have done is completely disregarded, the ways in which I have been responsible, and the ways in which I have showed up. There is a lack of owning your own experience, actions and the needs you named with your last email (back in Jan). I hear you and why you would be upset bc I have a better understanding of the reality you are in. We share really different realities of our experience so I want to explain a bit for you to better understand why I am where I am at. Email obviously is not the best way to do this but it is the best I can do atm.
I invite you to consider who I am and where I come from. When trauma stories are being told to me, especially if they come from women/femmes of color, I believe them. Period. We cannot keep gaslighting women and/or femmes esp of color and their stories of abuse. You cannot blame or shame other women of color like myself for believing in WOC, then say I am not honoring survivors. It is hypocrisy and it’s hella wack. Your response centers yourself and gaslights the majority and dominant reality of who often is the target. It shows a lack of understanding around the OBVIOUS reason why we’d respond with concern and caution. It is the smartest thing to do that comes out of survival. This is something that should not be taken personally or thought of as a lack of “complete faith” as you’ve put it, it should be seen as an act of solidarity, sisterhood, and quite frankly, understandable, especially if you understand the intersections I am speaking about and the privilege/power you hold in terms of who you are and how you are seen. You are dealing with all femmes of color in an accountability process and it IS concerning what you have been accused of. It is even MORE concerning that way you are responding. It is not ok the expectations you have from me (including Parneet) and the labor you want from me considering all of this. I never intended to invalidate your experience, to invalidate your truth, to invalidate a exceptional reality that can and does happen. I am well aware of multiple truths at the same time. Your truth is not the only one at the table and and the whole point of an accountability process is recognizing that and moving forward. I (we) wanted to have a conversation to better understand and honor your experience while holding other truths. I was not invited into that opportunity (or given reasons why). On top of all of this, we also kept it private. We never brought this into the public space. I didn’t spread rumors. I didn’t call you out. We respected the privacy and confidentiality of what was shared and of the process. The only “public” space it is mentioned, is in a private group. If that one post (and the only “public” post which was a response to the call out) that I have made makes you feel super concerned for your future, I am happy to remove it. Then there will be nothing in the “public” space if that is something you want. So please, consider the amount of care that has gone into this that HAS benefited you, that HAS humanised you, AND how much labor and faith that femmes of color (Par especially) has given you in this process.
The way I see it, you chose to have the process with who you wanted to have it with on a deeper level. I honored that and didn’t push you. For me, the amount of responsibility I had was re-directed onto the other person involved in the process (Parneet). I lost investment because after seeing that, months passing by, not hearing anything, I came to conclusions that you were following a process / getting closure in a way that felt good to you. That I no longer needed to be in the picture and/or was a priority in your mind to continue the process with. I also trusted Parneet and she was ok to take it on. I came to closure to it on my own bc of how I understood the information in front of me. It is absolutely a responsibility of mine to show up if I am a person that called someone into an accountability process. I believe I did my part and within the values I hold to the best of my ability. Even now. There WAS a lot of intention and a level of honoring that went into this. Was it an assumption that you didn’t want/need closure/process with me in the future? Sure. Is it unfair and/or an abuse of power for me to let go of my power/responsibility on this after everything I am mentioning here? No. At least, I don’t think so.
If you still need me to be a part of this for whatever reason, I really do not have the capacity or interest in doing so and it is not personal. Same with just not having space to deepen and move towards shared space. My cup is just too full right now and this is no longer in my eyes, a responsibility of mine. I’m not going to be forced back into a process I (we) started that you chose to leave me out of with no direct communication to me (I had to find out through Parneet) after many months. It makes no sense to me. I have also stated my boundaries which I also have a right to do, as you had the right to take more time. I hope you are able to understand that and find ways to find closure for yourself within this in relation to me. Again, I am more than willing to remove my response on that call out post if this helps you move forward. Please only respond to whether you want the post removed or not, anything else I won’t respond to as I really need to disengage.
First, boundaries are not valid when they protect you from being accountable, especially to a process that you intervened in using your social capital and took a power position. Re: power, you explicitly told me that I don’t deserve the same amount of power as you or others in this process.
You not spreading rumours first hand to me was one of the minimums of your responsibility. The reality is that you validated a claim that was put out to a lot of people using your social capital as a community organizer and jargon about transformative justice. I still see you as accountability and it will be sought as my capacity allows.
Please DO NOT take down the comment for my sake as I consider it erasure. I have already documented it for myself. The only change I accept is an edit to it that acknowledges the shortcomings of your process.
Next, I am not emotionally responsible for your lived reality. I have not explicitly or implicitly welcomed that. That is codependency.
Lastly, the very premise of ‘believing survivors’, which you justify your actions around, is highly problematic. If you do not believe women can weaponize victimhood to harm men, or project, even fabricate their unresolved traumas on to men, you haven’t been paying attention for example, to the actual history of countless black men who have been killed, imprisoned, and more because of exactly that, and generally to how trauma actually works.
‘Believe survivors’ is a hashtag. It is not anything close to an actionable principle in actual community work.
You are taking up roles in community that you don’t have the competency for.
Thanks for sharing and good luck.
The toll on my system of having gone through passage was being nearly bedridden for weeks by fatigue and migraines, all the while teaching an online course, supporting clients (which I purposely reduced to manage my workload), and simultaneously supporting a close collaborator in navigating the harms of a well-known former teacher of theirs.
(I have since talked to Parneet about these matters and in 2020 we recorded a conversation where they admitted their participation and enabling of my bullying and that the entire process completely lacked integrity. The recording may be released at a later date.)
In January 2020, I l finally left Montreal and moved back to Vancouver, largely in the hopes that it would be a safer city for me as I have better professional relationships in local communities.
Unfortunately, in the spring of 2020, I was removed from an ancestral skill gathering local to Vancouver, Limina Gathering (now Limina Collective) because of incidents that played out after another anonymous claim of me doing harm was made to its white female organizer, Mara cur.
To give a bit of background on Mara and I’s relationship, Mara was a friend and colleague I had gotten to know since I participated in the second Limina Gathering that took place on Cortes Island BC in the summer of 2019. After the gathering, Mara and I continued to stay in touch and we developed a mutually supportive relationship in which I sometimes provided collegial support to Limina Gathering. I was even invited to be on the board of directors or an advisory council member when Mara was considering making Limina Gathering a non-profit.
In our time of getting to know each other, Mara and I talked at length a few times about accountability and restorative justice, with some sharing of the situations we have both gone through. These conversations also included a call-out that was made against Mara in real-time by an indigenous elder and a group of white queer activists. On the face-value of Mara’s reporting, I identified the behaviors of the claimants as problematic. I am pretty sure I also told her at this time that I had their back if anything should happen that involved the upcoming Limina Gathering for 2020 – I would hold her accountable if there is any legitimacy to the claims but I would not abandon her, and if the claims are problematic, I would stand with her. Either way, that is what I would have done as I always have with all my close colleagues.
Things between Mara and I became troubled during a weekend in mid-early February I was visiting Mara at her home and tan-hiding workshop, just outside of urban Vancouver.
On the first or second night of my stay, we were having a chat about accountability abuse in general and I confided in them with a few more details about accountability abuse situations I have had to navigate over the last few years.
Ironically, the next evening she told me that an ‘anonymous’ source had just reached out to another planned facilitator, J, about my alleged past behaviors. When I asked her what it was about, she said she did not have any details but said that some names that were connected were D, Lela Brown (a white woman who lives in Oregon whom I will speak more on later), and W (the person who Sabrina had enabled).
What I felt I picked up from Mara’s behavioral cues was that she was in an activated state and her immediate response was distancing. There was no indication of her intention or commitment to being supportive of me in the process. It felt like it was much more about her not getting entangled in a messy situation. I didn’t feel an embodied integrity I could trust her to actually stand with me so I asked her to put me in touch with J, which she agreed to do but never fulfilled.
(I understand that my interpretations are intuitive and vague here but I believe her subsequent actions validated my sense of the situation.)
Not feeling like I could rely on Mara to uphold the integrity of the meant that the task of defending myself fell on me alone and I decided to issue a small public statement about what is happening, including some details that may identify the individuals involved without giving their names away completely. Below is a saved version of the original Facebook post I made:
A day or two after I received an email from Mara that I was going to be removed from the gathering. In the email exchanges that followed, I repeatedly requested a direct recorded one-on-one accountability conversation with Mara, and was repeatedly evaded and rejected by ghosting me for months at a time while reassuring she would get back to me.
I tried to restart this accountability conversation again in the summer to fall of 2020 and Mara again ghosted the process, claiming I was insulting her and others. In these conversations, Mara kept stating that her decision to remove me was driven not by the claims against me, which she verified that she still didn’t know what they were, but how I had described the psychological states of the people who have been allegedly been abusing me.
It was extremely disappointing to me that 1) she never asked why I made such assessments – D had expressly condoned complete lies about me and I had very few other ways to understand and explain her behavior 2) it would have been a VERY simple piece of feedback to give to me – I immediately made a public apology about using such language and made an amendment 3) she treated a detail in a short intentionally semi-anonymized statement that I had to put out after years of stalking and bullying to be more worthy of consideration than the needs driving the statement in the first place – I do not think I can be expected to offer some kind of pristine response when she and others have continued to abandon me when things actually matter.
For reference here is a copy of my apology in regards to the earlier statement.
Shortly after I lost touch with Mara again, I decided to finally release a non-anonymized statement on Facebook that detailed some of my experience over the last few years. Mara responded as below, revealing either a series of lapses in memory, or unconscious or conscious disinformation.
First off, to my best recollection, it was Mara who offered the names of Lela and W to me, not the other way around.
Particularly, Lela, a former white female online acquaintance of mine local to Portland Oregon, who I had unfriended and blocked on Facebook after I repeatedly asked them to curb their racist behavior (I deleted some of Lela’s comments that would show the larger exchange that unfolded), was not someone I had even dreamed of being connected to D or Sabrina. I only learned about Lela’s involvement in the campaign against me through Mara.
Not only that, Mara even commented on Lela when they told her about me, that they had heard Lela can be quite a conflictual person in their local community.
Since, I have also confirmed from other acquaintances of mine who live in Oregon that Mara certainly knew who Lela was.
The next issue is that Mara never told me that she was in direct contact with D and was following up with them. When asked about who it was that got in touch with J, she continued to refer to them anonymously and the only person who she said she would contact was J. In our last few emails, Mara claimed I knew that she was getting in touch with D but this was obviously absurd since if Mara was going to do that, I would coordinate my public statements with that rather than act independently.
The last straw for me has been finding out, through a new acquaintance, someone who was also a slotted facilitator for the 2020 Limina Gathering, that Mara had sent the below group email to all slotted facilitators of Limina Gathering immediately before they sent me a notice that they were removing me from the 2020 gathering.
This email is going out to all facilitators and care team members of Limina, from Mara; hello!
I’m reaching out to everyone to let you know that I’ve asked a facilitator at Limina to step away. I’m emailing you as a whole so that folks can feel fully informed and hear it from me directly rather than potentially from social media or community grapevine channels.
Limina was approached with concerns about Tada Hozumi, centring on issues of consent. It’s clear that there is unresolved harm impacting people in our community.
I’ve talked to some of you by phone, and received much appreciated feedback. The responsibility to make this decision rests with me, and I am here for it.
If you have any feedback or questions, please reach out. I am here to listen, as well as be part of processing. This is the where the work happens.
To those whom I’ve spoken to by phone, again thank you! I am honoured to be part of this and aim to make Limina a safe, welcoming, truly healing platform.
Please note that this email:
1) Directly contradicted her assertion that she removed me because of my public response to the anonymous report, not the content of the report itself. Her email explicitly states that the reason I am being removed because I was accused of some kind of consent violation that she believed was true.
2) validated a claim against me that had no specific details and I have not even been able to respond to – Mara had not even spoken to D about what her actual claims were. It also revealed that Mara did not tell the full truth. She knew that the claim was about some kind of consent violation.
2) was sent without ever consulting with me at any real length about their actual decision process for asking me to step away from the gathering.
3) was sent without ever transparently notifying me that such a group e-mail had been sent to possibly over 20 people in my community. Meanwhile, the whole time I had been holding out on making a public statement regarding Limina Gathering, waiting to see if we could actually be in dialogue.
It is still hard for me to believe that someone I have called a friend, confided in about my experiences of abuse, supported their projects, and even supported in navigating their own alleged bullying would not just abandon me but manipulate the truth in doing so.
Further, one of the scariest parts of the incidents surrounding Mara was learning that Lela was connected to the stalking and actively spreading disinformation about me where ever they had influence.
In the fall of 2020, I found out, after being approached by an acquaintance Golden Eventide, that Lela had made allegations of harm against me within a large addiction recovery support Facebook group of 1300 members, Reimagining Recovery, primarily based in the American PNW. This is a group that I could assume to include many connected (potential) colleagues and clients.
Lela made her comments without giving any specific details, only using vague character sketches. From the text they left, I would have to assume the behaviors they are referring to are at least partially about me blocking them.
From Golden and I’s conversation, I garnered that Lela and Golden had some kind of long conversation.
As an example of the kind of damage that the kind of behaviors like Lela’s may cause, Golden has since gone on to make statements in various community groups such as this post in the Radical Dharma Book community:
Lela Brown is currently a moderator of a Facebook group with over 6000 members called ‘Decolonizing Consciousness’ that D is also a member of. In the fall of 2020, I made a response comment on a thread in the group in which Lela had gone into her usual pattern of accusations towards me. She blocked me immediately despite being a moderator of the group itself — an obvious abuse of power to evade accountability.
With people like Lela involved probably both in front and behind the scenes, there is no actual telling how far rumors can spread and the reality is that I will have to continue to defend myself from allegations for the foreseeable future while trying to create a sustainable business as a disabled person of color.
Update March 2021: Mara Cur is known to have contacted Mercedes Grant who signed on to this statement by Kelly Germaine / Energetic Justice about my alleged harmful behavior and highly likely that the false and unsubstantiated information that Mara provided Mercedes has ended up in it.
Ongoing violations of my practice through anonymous and confidential report about my allegedly problematic behavior continue to be an issue for me today as of Dec 30th 2020.
The latest has been an anonymous claim that has been made to The Breathe Network (TBN), an organization that focuses on somatic healing resources for healing sexual trauma, that I have provided their director, Molly Broeder Harris with consulting on their programs since the fall of 2018, including a practitioner training that I have also provided educational material for.
Currently, TBN is working towards trying to install a policy for dealing with these kinds of inquiries and has at least for the moment honored the request for anonymity and confidentiality of the claimants, including details about what the claim actually is. You can see their official statement on the matter here.
While I cannot confirm that the incident is definitely connected to the stalking and abuse I have already been through, it is consistent in pattern.
Moreover, my belief is that the very nature of the inquiry itself, characterized by asks for anonymity and confidentiality while seeking consequence that impacts someone’s livelihood, is problematic, especially as this is not remotely close to a case such as domestic violence or workplace harassment where there is a genuine threat of harm from revealing of identities.
Right now, I have no way to vet the legitimacy of the claim itself or the decisions that TBN may make and I find this power dynamic to be very fragile and ripe for abuse.
I hope that in moving forward, TBN is able to work towards a restorative justice framework that recognizes the work of healing sexual trauma must not produce privileged classes of abuse survivors in its work and includes support for the entire ecosystem of relationships that surrounds the subject of sexual trauma, which necessarily include victims of accountability abuse.
Please note the impact that these experiences of accountability abuse have had on my practice and personal life are much deeper than what I have shared in detail above. Matters around this stalking and abuse have caused numerous other issues, including troubles in solidifying a book deal with a publisher, that came out of me being transparent about the experiences that I have been through, as well as clients betraying my trust.
I am also sure there are many ways my practice has suffered that have been unbeknownst to me because of the covert ways this campaign has spread itself.
I have also had to majorly curb my public involvement in many projects for the fear of any incidents that may arise like the ones I described above.
In sharing my overall experience of the last three years, I hope that you have come to understand that accountability abuse is not collateral damage.
In many ways, I am lucky to be here. There are people who have far less financially, emotionally, and relational resources to me.
I have heard of a person in a political community I am a part of, a poor veteran of color, die of overdose after a cancellation campaign was waged after an anonymous twitter account accused them of sexual harassment. I also have heard of a trans person of color who ended up on the streets, addicted and toothless, after a failed accountability process that was based on the mistake that they were dealing with a cis man. A person I personally know and was close with lost their entire business and has spent the last few years of their life in isolation and suicidal depression.
The only way we can change this is to take accountability abuse seriously and treat it as a priority, NOT an after thought like it has been. It should never OK for the damage we have suffered to be brushed off or questioned through the use of social justice discourse on accountability. Supporting survivors of abuse needs to include us. Otherwise, there is no integrity to the work.
For my further thoughts on this subject, I have written a post for my practice website about how we may identify and mitigation based on observations from my real-life experiences. It is not nearly comprehensive, I am just one person in a collective conversation, but I do believe it is at least a beginning to start a much needed conversation.
Thank you for reading, I hope this note has served you well.
If you’re someone who has been a victim of accountability abuse, I hope it has given you some courage to not hold in the truth of your experience.
If you have knowingly or unknowingly enabled, participated in, or been silently complicit to the accountability abuse of your fellow community members, I hope it brings you a greater sense of responsibility to hold yourselves and others accountable as well as the courage to actually follow through.
If you would like to discuss further any of the incidents and issues I have brought up above, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for witnessing,