On Sexual Violence: Bystanders Don’t Get To Decide What Restorative Justice Is

Trigger warning for rape and gendered violence.

A few days ago I was made aware of a now deleted twitter thread tweeted by a prominent American activist whom I will call Allanah. The thread attempted to justify their ongoing friendship with – and support of – known abuser and proven serial rapist, New Zealander Morgan Marquis-Boire. Although Allanah does not name him specifically, it has been confirmed by multiple sources via backchannels that this thread is absolutely about him:

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For some context: Last year US online media network The Verge worked with me to undertake a lengthy journalistic investigation into Morgan, in which he was exposed and proven to have spent decades raping and beating women all over the world. I am based here in my hometown in Aotearoa/New Zealand. I grew up interacting with Morgan until he went overseas about ten years ago.

He started raping women in Aotearoa in the early ‘90s and 2000s, eventually making his way to the US where he became a superstar of the tech and cyber security world. He was chummy with the likes of Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden, and lauded as one of “the good guys” on the back of his claim of feminist allyship, and dedication to the cyber security of dissidents and journalists. All the while he continued to rape and beat women while he hid in plain sight.

Back here, in my home country, many other women and I, whom Morgan had hurt, raped, and assaulted, spent years speaking out against him in the hopes that one day our stories would be told and believed. It would take well over a decade for our hopes to become a reality.

Yet here I am now, reading that despite the insurmountable damage he has caused, Allanah is giving him the “the benefit of the doubt.” They believe with the right kind of “support” Morgan will be able to make the “necessary changes to keep from repeating [that] harm”.

What the fuck.

I am so done with anyone who naively and dangerously believes he deserves a second chance to correct his mistakes. He was given every chance in the world to stop raping women over the last twenty years, and he still kept raping them. Allanah is not the only person in Morgan’s support camp who have indicated to me they believe he just needs a bit of support and compassion, and somehow this will magically exorcise the serial rapist out of him.

I want to give space to a wahine known as Lila, whom Morgan raped, and was the first to publicly go on record about his abuse. She helped me come up with the title of this essay, and wrote this, to me, in direct response to Elle’s twitter thread:

“…anyone who ignores the suffering of his victims in hopes that maybe Morgan might turn things around one day shouldn’t call themselves an ally of anything but rape culture.”

On that note, the following is my kōrero whakatūpato (cautionary warning/tale), directed at anyone who continues to support and offer their friendship to Morgan, and men like him:   

I want to make my position on Morgan Marque-Boire crystal fucking clear: He is not just a broken man who can be fixed and transformed with enough “compassion” and “patience” as Allanah believes. He is a dangerous predator, incapable of remorse, who will not stop until he is stopped. “Transformative Justice” will not be effective with someone like him. He is a psychopath who is unable to feel the deep pain and devastation that he has caused. And I cannot think of a model of  “harm reduction” that could minimise the suffering he has inflicted, and will continue to inflict, against women.

It is not up to Allanah or anyone like them to make decisions around what should be done about his behaviour. Allanah was not there. They did not live through the nightmare and sheer horror he put so many of us through. So not you Allanah, nor any other bystander, should dare try prescribe a cure for what he has done. It is not your place. It is not your right.

I promise you that your support and calls to meet him with aroha/love will only embolden him in his abuse, while he croons in your ear that “he can change” and he will “do better.” He can not do better. He does not want to do better. He enjoys his long-established habit of raping and hurting women far too much to ever stop doing it.

You are not the first, nor will you be the last to support Morgan, and your support simply empowers him to continue raping and abusing more women.

Back here in Aotearoa NZ, an entire community of people inside the insular Auckland Goth scene enabled and protected him because they thought he was cool, and wanted to bask in his popularity (corroborated by The Verge). This community support created the perfect conditions in which he could cultivate his grooming tactics and develop his rape strategies. He used our subculture as a hunting ground, spending nearly a decade raping and beating girls and young women with near impunity. Much like Allanah and the American infosec community, people within our Goth scene wanted to believe he was one of the “good guys” despite the fact that many within our community were quite aware he was a serial rapist and an abuser.

His friends used to joke about him drugging and raping women as early as 2006:

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Morgan pictured left, standing up, at one of the monthly Circadian Rhythm Goth gigs, in Auckland, Karangahape Road, 2006.

It takes a village.

Your ongoing support of him after the fact, now, makes you complicit in a global community of people who continue to coddle and pardon men like Morgan for acts of gendered violence, which you are not placed to pardon. The evidence against him is staggering; he outright admitted in chatlogs that he had raped so many women that he had lost count of the number. He has had nearly a year to make a public statement and apology, or show an ounce of remorse for his actions. He has done neither. I believe he never will. He knows there are people such as Allanah who will continue to advocate, on his behalf, that we meet the catastrophic damage he has caused with aroha and compassion.

Fuck that. And fuck off.

So as some of you continue to wring your hands with worry over Morgan’s welfare, I want you to know… nah, I want you to feel the costs that speaking out against him had on me, personally:

I nearly lost everything. This includes my life. I lost friends. I was ostracized and bullied by his supporters, and very nearly passed my breaking point. Whenever I dared speak out against him and call him “rapist” I was labelled “crazy” or a “liar”…  by nearly an entire community who adored him, and wanted his favour.

Do you know what that kind of sustained bullying and collective gaslighting does to you, as person? I was only 17 when the attacks started; I was a kid, a child. I was called a “liar” so often by so many people that I almost started to believe I was one. I do not have the words or language as yet, to describe how this specific type of gaslighting warps your world and convinces you that what you saw, and what you know to be true, was not true. When it was true.

Morgan hit and physically assaulted me when I tried to stop him from assaulting my friend. He raped a close family member. He raped my best friend. He raped women so violently that they have ongoing physical health problems and pain, today. He had a pattern of behaviour in which he would bash women in the face and head if they resisted or tried to fight him off while he was raping them. He threatened to kill me in front of people – once with a knife in hand – on multiple occasions, because he knew I knew, and he wanted me silent and compliant. (The Verge has also verified nearly all of this).

Monsters maybe not be real but what he did was monstrous.

There can be no forgiveness for what Morgan Marquis-Boire has done, at least not from me. He cannot be redeemed because redemption is for those who earn it. He does not deserve your support and he certainly does not deserve anyone’s compassion or sympathy. From where I stand, what he deserves is nothing less than street justice. And if there is a God or two, I pray to them that I land the first blow against his body with a baseball bat. I have been told I should not admit such things in public space (because female rage and anger is taboo). But my rage is absolute. And fuck your taboos.

Anyway, while some of you workout a “wellness plan” for Morgan, I think you should know something: The reporting I did on him with The Verge was so traumatic that I was diagnosed with acute PTSD, anxiety, and clinical depression afterwards. I seriously thought about taking my own life because it was just all too much to bear. I felt desperately alone.

I am still grieving over what he took, and what I lost, because of what he did. And I do not know if I will ever stop grieving. In many ways I do not want to let go of my grief because it helps me to understand the suffering of others, and that matters. My grief makes me stronger, even in the parts which hurt the most.

Eight months after it all came out, I am finally doing better. I fought my way back from a place that I can only describe as hell. I have not thought about taking my own life in three months and I am now able to get out of bed without the weight of depression pushing me down. I have joy and happiness and there are days where I no longer think about him and what he did. But it took every last ounce of mana/strength I had left to make it back alive.

I am alive

I am alive

I am alive

But so is he…. So, is he.

And still I have to read and hear about people who continue to support Morgan; people who believe he just needs a bit of “transformative justice” and a hug to fix his broken bits. Imagine how it might feel for someone like Lila, and me, to read such tone deaf horseshit. Imagine how painful it is to read that people have more empathy and compassion for Morgan than for the women he raped, bashed, and brutalised. Imagine.

 

 

3 Comments

  1. I am so very very sorry you have been through this, all of it. This makes me sick….and…cry. See, while I know there is no earthly justice for me, there is for you. And all his victims. And yet…he persists. I can not comprehend what reason any would have to stand by his side….a known and proven serial rapist, and say stuff like that. The Golden Rule dictates he be treated they way he treats women. Do not any who support him care at all about their own mothers/sisters/wives/daughters ??? So much more I could say, but this is not the place for such ugly words as I feel about him. As for transformative justice….is a lobotomy and castration transformative enough? Is that justice enough?

    Like

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