Content/trigger warning: ableism (especially saneism and autmisia), abuse discussion, detailed description of DARVO, saneist slur (censored) used to make a point
So. Healing from trauma for the sake of others. I’m going to do something a little unusual for this entry: I’m going to start by talking about something that happened to me. It happened months ago and has been really weighing on my mind ever since. I have to get it off my chest.
I was on a Discord server for a music YouTuber for a long time. I was even a moderator. Until the day I was DARVO’d and bullied off of the server.
It was mostly a good time there, but I noticed a lot of ableism. Autistic people were tolerated unless we were too socially awkward, in which case we were mocked in the mod chat (and I am pretty sure at least one of the other mods was also Autistic; just goes to show you how lateral autmisia sucks). Granted, some of the Autistic people who were eventually banned from the server did behave inappropriately, but the mods didn’t behave appropriately towards some of them either. Because autmisia.
I was a Good Autistic™, which enabled me to become a mod. I butted heads with the other mods frequently, especially one who I will call D and one who I will call U. U was frequently mean to people who behaved inappropriately on the server and sometimes to people who were just going about their business; U had experienced significant trauma and had cultivated a tough, badass attitude in order to cope. (I’m not speculating here; they basically said as much.) I frequently reported U to the server owner for their inappropriate behavior. U had no sense for healing for the sake of others either; once, they inboxed me to tell me to stop mentioning my trauma even though everything I said was spoliered and warned for appropriately. (But they could talk about their trauma all they wanted. Funny, that.)
I argued with D a lot, but the worst part/biggest red flag was when I got in a fight with him when he defended Awkwafina’s anti-Blackness and accused me of manipulative behavior when I argued with him.
So the day I got DARVO’d. What happened?Another server user (I will call her J) said something totally innocuous that was uncharitably interpreted by D and U. U bullied J off the server with D’s help. U’s bullying was extremely triggering for me to see because it reminded me of how my abuser used language (ostensibly asking a question, but actually making an accusation). I went into the mod chat against my better judgement–I was triggered and should have stepped away, but I wanted to do the right thing for J–and called out U (not D) for bullying. I said U’s behavior was triggering to me and that U had used language in a similar way to my abuser. However, I did specify that I didn’t think U meant it that way.
U and D went OFF. D said I was acting like his abuser and accused me of gaslighting and playing the victim. U trotted out their traumas–including shit that should have been trigger warned for but wasn’t–like that automatically made them right and me wrong. I kept trying to explain my perspective and U and D kept misinterpreting me and calling me abusive.
The term for when an abuser is called out and accuses the person calling them out of being the real abuser is DARVO, which stands for Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender. (Ironically, D also accused me of “calling [him] the real abuser” even though I said fuckall about his behavior; U had been way worse, so I only called them out.)
Another mod stepped in and accused me of making assumptions about U’s motivations even though, again, I had specifically said that I didn’t think U meant to bully J or trigger me. The dogpile was too much. I sent a note to the server owner and left the server permanently.
I later sent another note to the server owner explaining what had happened and detailing U’s and D’s abusive behavior toward me. (I didn’t use the words “abuse” or “DARVO,” but I did call it bullying.) I also apologized for the mess; it was partially my fault, as I should have gone directly to him, not the mod chat, since I knew U was an incorrigible bully, and I should have waited til I wasn’t triggered. I also admitted that I shouldn’t have said anything about how U had triggered me. I also said to the server owner that I hoped the whole thing hadn’t triggered his anxiety, which he had been open about. Instead of replying to me and telling me that D and U would be dealt with appropriately, the server owner ignored my message and blocked me on YouTube and Discord.
Why did this happen? Why was I treated this way by not only D and U, but the server owner?
My guess, for a while, was lateral saneism.
“But Amaranthe,” you might be saying, “your bullies had PTSD! The YouTuber had anxiety! How could they be saneist?”
Well, that’s why I said laterally saneist. Also, they had PTSD and anxiety; I was the only one who had CPTSD. I was the only one with alters. I was the only one with a personality disorder. And I was open about all of those things.
They were mentally ill; I was cr*zy.
See, as hard as I fought against ableism on that server, people who had been banned or people who (on or off the server) had exhibited abusive behavior were called saneist slurs and terms (especially ones targeting unreality and/or PDs) by…basically everyone but me in the mods only chat on a regular basis. There was an inextricable link between abusive behavior and severe mental illness in their minds. I’m pretty sure that that’s why I was the one who was ignored and blocked despite the fact that I was the one who was DARVO’d and bullied by the other mods.
But lateral saneism doesn’t explain everything, now, does it? Especially what U and D did. Why did U trot out their traumas like the fact that they were so traumatized was proof that they were right? Why did D accuse me of acting like his abuser?
They hadn’t healed sufficiently. Like I mentioned earlier, U had no sense of healing for the sake of others. They were still as raw as an open wound and had built their entire personality around protecting that wound. Part of that personality included lashing out at anyone who threatened their persona, or…well, even disagreed with them. Obviously not everyone who has unresolved trauma lashes out at people they perceive as threatening, but it can happen. I used to be like that too, until I started EMDR.
D, too, was quick to accuse me of acting like his abuser because he felt threatened that I called out his friend. I’m pretty sure that if he had confronted and processed his trauma, he wouldn’t have perceived me rightfully accusing his friend of bullying as threatening to him. When you’re highly traumatized, you’re very sensitive to threats, sometimes when they’re not there. (This is another thing I know from personal experience.)
And I’ve noticed that people with trauma who really need to heal for the sake of others are really…uh…well, I see this a lot online. It’s common to find Discord servers where you’re expected to spoiler and trigger warn for shit like the anime that someone’s toxic ex liked, and there are dozens of these obscure triggers that you’re expected to keep track of; that in and of itself can be an accessibility issue. I had to leave one server because literally any mention of mental illness had to be spoilered and warned for, which was de facto saneist. I mean, do these people who demand their obscure triggers be accommodated online go up to people in real life and say “Don’t use the words ‘at all’ at the end of a sentence, that’s triggering to me”? Probably not! I mean, the words “at all” at the end of a sentence used to be one of my actual fucking triggers until I worked through it in EMDR, and I didn’t ask people in real life or online to not do that, because that would have been fucking silly.
You can’t expect the entire world to conform to your trauma. The world isn’t responsible for that. Trigger warnings are critical, of course, and there may be shit that you may never get over, and it’s still a good idea to trigger warn for really common triggers like sexual abuse, murder, child abuse, etc. But if you have a shitload of obscure triggers like I did, you’re going to be fucking miserable and full of fear all your life if you don’t process your trauma in addition to imposing on people who aren’t responsible for the fact that the UK spelling of “behavior” is one of your triggers. (If you guessed that that also used to be one of my triggers, you’re right.)
So how do you heal for the sake of others (and yourself)?
EMDR was the ideal solution for me and I can’t recommend it enough. (I’m actually currently reprocessing the Discord DARVO with my therapist, funnily enough.) And if therapy isn’t accessible to you for whatever reason, learn meditation/deep breathing. Find coping mechanisms. Learn what self-care looks like for you. Take up a new hobby that doesn’t involve the Internet/media consumption so much, like cooking or knitting. Hell, Google “how to deal with PTSD triggers” and you might find some good information. (Note: there are “DIY EMDR” videos out there, and I don’t recommend those; EMDR needs to be handled by a trained professional.)
Just don’t fucking DARVO people because your own trauma makes it hard to handle being called out when you fucked up. Okay?
And with that…holy shit, this blog has been around for FIVE FUCKING YEARS. I can hardly believe it! Thank you so much to my Patreon supporters: Ace, Hannah, Emily, Mackenzie, Sam, and Sydney! It’s only $1 a month to be as cool as them, and that also gets you early access to my blog entries and access to polls about what I should write about next!