If 50 posters shout in a forest, is anyone listening? April 22, 2010 9:31 AM   Subscribe

This question seems to be getting a lot of people's back up.

For background, the poster ChucksNPaintbrushes has posted an almost identical question to the one she posted [under another username]. The first question received an overwhelming response which is being echoed in the second one. It calls into question, though, given the fact that the poster is still resistant to the community's response whether or not this is just chatty posting under multiple usernames. There have been 100+ comments in two threads which seem to be not getting through to the poster.

I understand the subject (abuse in a relationship) is not exactly the easiest for someone to come to terms with but it seems like a waste of the community's time and effort if the poster isn't at all receptive to the advice and is defensive the entire time to what seems to be a pretty unanimous opinion.

I brought this here because it seems to be coming out in the latest thread. What do you think?
posted by Hiker to Etiquette/Policy at 9:31 AM (158 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

As a very annoyed poster in the second thread (okay, I was annoyed in the first one as well) I feel like this post is kind of taking advantage of the Ask community. Which, you know, isn't against the rules, per se, but is rather poor form.

Her reactions are sort of "lol" and "I'm not really a doormat" and "the hitting isn't so bad" that it makes me think something else is going on here. Some sort of extra validation that this poster is looking for that is above and beyond validation for her poor relationship choice. I find it creepy.

Honestly, I want to hope that when people come here with these types of questions that they get value from the response and that those responses are helpful in making a change. To come back a week later and post again under a different name about the same situation just gets my hackles up. Something ain't right here.
posted by amanda at 9:35 AM on April 22, 2010 [13 favorites]


ValidationFilter posing as RelationshipFilter? I, for one, am shocked.
posted by 0xFCAF at 9:38 AM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Maybe the stories are actually about the poster's friend who she's trying to get through to. By responding to the commenters the way the friend has been responding to the poster's imploring, the poster is trying to make the friend see how bizarre the whole situation is. That's the only way I can make sense of any of this.
posted by amethysts at 9:39 AM on April 22, 2010


a lot of people don't have one back they have many backs
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:40 AM on April 22, 2010


Man, I gotta walk away from that. I was too close to posting, "Maybe you'll get back together with him and then he—who has abused you multiple times—will escalate and kill you. Problem solved!" I don't want to be cruel, but it's one of those, "GRAR WHY ARE YOU SO STUPID! DON'T YOU SEE THE TOTALLY OBVIOUS AND TERRIBLE PATTERN WHAT THE FUCK!" moments, and since I'm really trying to keep my unconditional love of the world and of MeFi, I gotta stay away.
posted by klangklangston at 9:42 AM on April 22, 2010 [22 favorites]


a lot of people don't have one back they have many backs

Noted.
posted by Hiker at 9:44 AM on April 22, 2010


This is the very reason I have decided not to move in with him. I don't want "home" to be in a place where I can't get away from him if I need to. Until I feel differently, the answer will be no.

The poster is being receptive. You can't control asker's in thread response to askme questions, anymore than you can control answerer's responses. I think it's a question asked in good faith and the OP just seems young.
posted by edbles at 9:45 AM on April 22, 2010


Seems discriminatory against people who have no back.
posted by found missing at 9:46 AM on April 22, 2010


"GRAR WHY ARE YOU SO STUPID! DON'T YOU SEE THE TOTALLY OBVIOUS AND TERRIBLE PATTERN WHAT THE FUCK!"

'It felt like a kiss.'
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:48 AM on April 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


This must be a mere taste to what it's like to work as at a women's shelter. So fucking frustrating.

Wasn't there a blog post linked here awhile back about how easy it is to fall into a relationship with an abuser? Someone should prescribe that article to her, maybe it will come through. Poor girl.
posted by Think_Long at 9:48 AM on April 22, 2010


I'm 94% sure we're being trolled here.
posted by palomar at 9:53 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just because the guy hit her doesn't mean he's a domineering abuser. It could easily just be a mutually horrible and drama-seeking couple who drive each-other insane but are too messed up and co-dependent to last. It doesn't smell like fake trolling, just total attention-whoring, chaotic lookatmeism. She's clearly not blameless in that trainwreck.

That said, that other account should be deleted or have it's name changed. The woman clearly registered (accidentally?) under her real name. Outing her in that thread is both useless and possibly dangerous.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:54 AM on April 22, 2010


[I've edited the post to omit the explicit mention of the previous username. Hiker, if that's a problem I can just kill this, but it seems like it's a valid thing to discuss. The problem with the old username is inherent in the username itself, being basically a bunch of identifying details, and I'm not really comfortable with us putting them side-by-side in google's index.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:55 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I guarantee that somebody, probably not a site member (maybe even a future site member), who needs help in this way, will see that thread. They will see themselves in both the poster and the responses. We are now writing the responses for THAT person, because that person is going to look at the OP and see how flawed their logic is and want to disassociate from them. I say, let the OP take it as far as necessary with the denial. There's always going to be somebody one step behind them that could benefit from the advice the OP is clearly ignoring.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:56 AM on April 22, 2010 [41 favorites]


I think the only thing that can make this situation worse is a Blame The Victim Pile-On.

ChucksnPaintbrushes, a lot of us are very very seriously concerned for your safety. Many of us are concerned because we have seen your situation over and over and over again. And we have seen it escalate from what you are experiencing to terrible things. Last fall, one of my clients and her daughter were both killed in a domestic dispute during my first week on the job.

You need to protect yourself from this person. And you need to protect yourself from the parts of you that are keeping you in this dangerous, unhealthy relationship.
posted by greekphilosophy at 9:56 AM on April 22, 2010 [13 favorites]


It is hard to leave an abusive relationship. It is really, really hard. These things mess with your sense of normality, kick your judgement out from under your feet, and leave you all confused and torn and befuddled about stuff. Trying to get your head around all that can indeed make you sound both defensive and flippant - you don't want it to be that bad, so you make it sound like it's not a huge deal to you, and you don't want to think you've just described someone you love in a way that's made half of AskMe go "MY GOD RUN AWAY FROM THE EVIL CRAZY MONSTER," so you explain that it's not like that and here's a bit of the story you don't have yet and he's genuinely sorry, and so on and so on.

Suggesting that AskMe is powerful enough to undo all that, and then getting huffy with the OP for disrespecting the community by not immediately doing what everyone said the first time, is... well, either it's vastly underestimating the degree to which abusive relationships can fuck with your head, or vastly overestimating the power of AskMe. Or both. But I don't think either is exactly helpful.
posted by Catseye at 9:58 AM on April 22, 2010 [44 favorites]


too messed up and co-dependent to last

I meant "to break up"...wishful thinking I guess...
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:01 AM on April 22, 2010


He's getting things right with God (I am a Christian so this is very important to me).

Wait I just saw this line.

Chances we're being trolled just rose to 50%.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:04 AM on April 22, 2010


What do I think?

I think that human experience is almost entirely dominated, at least in the West, by narrative, internal or otherwise, constructed as a means to thread together one event after another into a semi-coherent string. With storytelling comes all of the traditions and variations. Some prefer their personal narrative as a comedy, others try for a heartwrenching drama. These are chosen early in life, as young experience is reworked into a sense of what part you play in the world. Later, when the narrative seems to be lacking a bit in punch, some go so far as to make choices which lead them to preserve the theme and tone, thereby creating pattern. This can be wonderful when you have an uplifting story, but it leads to destructive tendencies, even when seeking to evoke the desired response in others who are invited to witness this ongoing story. The story becomes more important than what participating in it does to you.

This preservation of the narrative can frustrate and enrage audience members who were expected to haul out their hankies or validate the story, often because they recognize either the trend or the familiar down endings of the dramatic arcs of their own stories. One narrative threatens another. Some storytellers will finish until the bloody end, even while being booed off the stage. This is not a prop gun on the mantelpiece.

We always say that a great performer suffers for their art, and so we have this.
posted by adipocere at 10:04 AM on April 22, 2010 [28 favorites]


Hiker, if that's a problem I can just kill this, but it seems like it's a valid thing to discuss.

Not a problem in the least; protecting the poster makes a great deal of sense.
posted by Hiker at 10:05 AM on April 22, 2010


Just because the guy hit her doesn't mean he's a domineering abuser.

Yeah, it does. They could both also be into the drama and the attention-whoring, but he's still a domineering abuser.
posted by misha at 10:06 AM on April 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm 94% sure we're being trolled here.

It's always possible, but so it goes. I don't think the poster is trying to fuck with anybody; as far as askme goes, that needs to be the assumption in any case, the alternative being to stay out of the thread.

The serial questions thing is weird on the face of it but from my perspective it isn't so weird at all, being essentially a reboot with the new account (the old one had been used basically only once and the user immediately decided they didn't like the username). Clumsy, not how we suggested the user approach the situation, but they're not doing anything explicitly wrong.

Failing to take people's advice in askme is also not against any rules. It means that a lot of answerers will be frustrated by the thread and that the asker may not get the utility out of it that a lot of answerers and lurkers would hope like heck would be gotten, but that's the way it goes sometimes. If this some how turns into a long string of not-really-using-askme-well questions, we'll worry about that then, but for now I think it's mostly an answer-the-question-if-you-can thing and the speculation about the user's motives/etc aren't so great.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:07 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Her reactions are sort of "lol" and "I'm not really a doormat" and "the hitting isn't so bad" that it makes me think something else is going on here. Some sort of extra validation that this poster is looking for that is above and beyond validation for her poor relationship choice. I find it creepy.

amanda, I got a strong whiff of that too, and that's precisely why I've kept my blabbery mouth shut in the thread. Having seen one of my best friends go through a 5-year-long abusive relationship, I'm usually extremely protective of anyone who is being mistreated by a partner. But I'm not feeling that for some reason. Rather, the whole thing makes me feel... icky. She seems to be getting off on the responses somehow. I don't understand it and don't want any part if it.
posted by keep it under cover at 10:08 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Personally, I'm done with that particular thread. In the same way that she can't change him, we can't change her. I'm getting the feeling that she thrives on the drama, and I'm not going to feed into that any more.

I don't necessarily think it's trolling, because I have personally known women who were just like this. Intelligent women who would have freaked out if it was happening to their friend, but when it's them, it's different.

There's also a good chance that all of her friends are sick of hearing about it already, so that's why she posts here.
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:11 AM on April 22, 2010 [14 favorites]


Something I’ve found it helpful to remember on AskMetafilter is that other people are not like me. Seriously. If I were doing this it WOULD be trolling. The way my universe functions and the things that I am exposed to on a daily basis make this situation seem unreal to me. That doesn’t mean it isn’t someone’s reality.

On Preview:
Are you guys reading a different thread? The OP doesn’t see herself as a doormat because IN THE MOMENT she fought back. This isn’t trolling it’s piss poor decision making and an unwillingness to confront uncomfortable truths that have been gradually adapted to over a long period of time, making these incredibly not cool things seem normal.
posted by edbles at 10:14 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm going to agree with Misha here. Being a contributor to a horrible and drama-seeking relationship, and being the victim of abuse are not mutually exclusive. Regardless of OP's deficiencies in the relationship, the abusive behavior she describes is still entirely unacceptable.


Maybe she is a troll. Maybe she isn't. But since she is struggling with a serious and life-threatening issue, better to err on the side of caution and allow Askme to give her advice, rather than shut it down and prevent her from accessing advice she desperately needs to follow
posted by HabeasCorpus at 10:15 AM on April 22, 2010


misha: I really have no idea, but doesn't it seem possible, especially given her description and attitude towards the whole thing, that they are in a high-drama filled screaming match every day? His slapping her could indicate, not that he is controlling and intimidating, but just very disturbed and oversensitive? I guess what I'm saying is, they both sound highly manipulative and codependent. There may be no victim, or rather both parties seem like victims of a toxic dynamic. So the heartfelt "Get out now you're in danger" posts don't really seem warranted and are falling on BS-stuffed ears. Better safe than sorry I guess--and they obviously should break up instantly--but it might be more effective to respond to the situation as it stands rather than a worst case scenario.

Again, just speaking from my limited experience with poisonous relationships, please correct me if I'm wrong.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:19 AM on April 22, 2010


Man, I will send Matt a crisp five dollar bill if he would be so kind as to impose a moratorium or straight-out ban on usage of the word 'troll'; even in the very rare occasions when there could be justifiable grounds to use it, it's still lazy frigging thinking and doesn't do anyone any favours.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:21 AM on April 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


I don't think she's a troll. I think she's a confused 20-year old girl with Battered Person Syndrome. We've done what we can. At this point it's probably best to just walk away.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:22 AM on April 22, 2010


Trolling? No way. This is plain old Stockholm Syndrome denial. Haven't you guys met someone in denial before?

I hope something somebody says in there causes her to snap out of it, but the odds are very small. This is a very sad situation, and I hope people stop complaining about her not listening, because that's just going to be seen as an attack.
posted by equalpants at 10:23 AM on April 22, 2010


Sorry, to be clear, I wasn't trying to suggest that she IS a troll. I was more trying to say that, even if she is a troll, we should still try to answer her questions in a manner calculated to (a) get her help and (b) get her out of the relationship, considering the seriousness of her circumstances. Trolls are people too!


(I also don't like the word troll. But I lack a better vocabulary)
posted by HabeasCorpus at 10:32 AM on April 22, 2010


She seems to be getting off on the responses somehow. I don't understand it and don't want any part if it.

This is what's bothering me. I'm not saying "do this" or "do that" or remove anything. I'm just saying that these posts bother me. I mean, if she was going to fess up that this was the same guy why all the tedious detail about his mental health issues AGAIN? Why not just say, "this is me again and I chose to stay with the guy but now I'm doing something else which I need help with."

In which we'd all give the same advice, anyway. And, look, if part of this relationship is the theater and drama that she enjoys then *that* should also be called out in an honest way if people really want to help her and feel like she needs your help. It does no good to gloss over the fact that she's posting about the same guy with the same issues with the same results more than once. So, it could, in fact, be clarifying to her to say, "hey, WTF?"
posted by amanda at 10:41 AM on April 22, 2010


This is a harm-reduction situation, I think, as are a lot of AskMes where we're tempted (but unable) to keep the poster from doing dangerous things. I am really into that lately, as opposed to telling people to DTMFA. For one, it's not respectful of the actual question they're asking . For two, there is a well-known Romeo and Juliet effect, where the more we tell her that they shouldn't be together, the more they want to stay together. So I've come to the conclusion that telling someone with conflicted feelings to dump someone else is not really helpful. Tempting, but not actually helpful, due to our silly and highly fallible brains.

So, on a more personal note, I was really irritated by her until I realized that I AM her.

A famous example of this is the guy who threatened to kill me (and cut out my tongue). In writing, where a lot of our mutual friends saw it. He was horrendously jealous. I actually ended up dating him again and then cheating on him, putting myself and the other guy in a very bad situation. I think about the time that he walked into my house at 4am to come find me and I was in my locked bedroom, naked with another guy...it could have gone very, very bad. People telling me not to mess with him because it was dangerous, well, no fucking duh it's dangerous, just like smoking, driving over the speed limit, and playing football.

So we have one of two choices:

1. Get pissed that we can't control her behavior and dismiss her as a person, get mad at her, and otherwise get our egos and pride really wrapped up in making her do what we want

2. Help in whatever way we are willing to help while letting her know that it's okay to ask for help and advice as many times as she needs to, and that we will treat her as a person with inherent worth no matter what she does or "allows" to be done to her

I hope that situation goes well, in the long run, and I hope that she feels free to come back and ask us for help over and over again, as many times as she wants to.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:42 AM on April 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


orange swan: "ChucksNPaintbrushes, you've posted here twice under two different usernames (and you haven't seemingly made any other contribution to Metafilter) and you've been given the best advice we have to offer, which is that you need to leave this man and get some counselling for your own issues, full stop. It's totally up to you to either take or ignore the advice, but either way please don't post any more AskMe questions about how to work on your relationship with this man. If you want to waste more of your own time with this guy, that's up to you, but you need to respect this community and the time of those who have tried to help you."

WHAT THE FUCK? NO, you do not get to say this on my behalf.

What the fuck. You owe her and this community an apology. You are not in charge of who gets to come her for help and why. You especially don't get to tell someone in an abusive relationship that they can't come to us for advice.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:45 AM on April 22, 2010 [26 favorites]


You know, I wish there was a better word than "troll" to sum up what I fear might be going on here. Maybe I should have said, "My gut tells me the OP is stuck in a high-drama, high-manipulation relationship, and she may be manipulating us in order to get some attention." Too bad there's not a single word that sums that up. My bad for using the word troll, I guess. Sorry, I guess I'm just a lazy friggin' thinker.

That said, I do hope I'm wrong. Wait, that doesn't sound right. I guess there's no really good way to say you hope someone's not being a troll, because then it sounds like you hope they're being genuinely abused, and that's so not what I'm trying to say. I hope that if she's really asking us for advice, that she's able to take it. There. Being sadly a little logy from sleep/pain meds, that's the best way I can put it.
posted by palomar at 10:48 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Uh, yeah. orange swan, that is really out of line. She posted two questions about an abusive relationship and you're telling her, on behalf of the whole of AskMe, that she's disrespecting us and needs to shut up and go away? Don't do that.
posted by Catseye at 10:49 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


And for reference: SWEET GOD, PEOPLE, the world of abusive relationships is not divided up into 'genuine victims' and 'people who are getting hit and yelled at and spat on, but are somehow irritating me in the way they're describing it, and clearly if they're not listening to my advice to leave then they're being manipulative and demanding and probably have their own issues going on, and I wish they'd take it off my nice MeFi.'

What makes it an abusive relationship is the presence of abuse, not whether or not the poster annoyed you by typing 'lol' in any of her comments. Quit blaming the victim. Jesus.
posted by Catseye at 10:53 AM on April 22, 2010 [11 favorites]


This must be a mere taste to what it's like to work as at a women's shelter.

Not really. Domestic violence services are voluntary, not compulsory, so every woman presenting for services is at least at the moment she is presenting for those services aware of the danger she faces and the pain that she has suffered or else she wouldn't be there. This awareness may be fleeting, and she may eventually disengage from services and fall back into contact with her abuser, and a pattern of engaging/disengaging services, engaging/disengaging the abuser may emerge but women presenting for services at black site shelters where they are cut off from contact with their friends and family for their own protection are not typically all "lol" about it.

Maybe she's just young and early in this pattern with her abuser, or maybe it's an isolated piece of drama and she likes the attention, or maybe she's trolling. Regardless, you don't see me contributing, despite the fact that I've worked with battered women, because it honestly seems like a waste of my time.
posted by The Straightener at 10:56 AM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


What makes it an abusive relationship is the presence of abuse, not whether or not the poster annoyed you by typing 'lol' in any of her comments. Quit blaming the victim. Jesus.

She's made it clear that she hits him back. Doesn't make her an abuser, but she's fighting dirty, too.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:07 AM on April 22, 2010


Regardless, you don't see me contributing, despite the fact that I've worked with battered women, because it honestly seems like a waste of my time.

I have large respect for this sort of pragmatism in relation to Ask MeFi. Really, if it's not a question you can constructively engage with, or it's something you don't want to engage with, knowing it and owning it for yourself is one of the best options for dealing with it.

I've been where that young woman appears to be standing. Telling her never to darken our doorstep again is an option, but I personally don't find it constructive. If someone doesn't want to engage certain users over certain issues, there are client-side solutions for that, including "not clicking on [more inside]."
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 11:10 AM on April 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's a garbage chatfilter question and it should be deleted.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:14 AM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


My gut says she loves the drama. She loves the online attention from us and she enjoys the attention from him. She clearly has mental issues of her own, but I'm not a psychologist, so I won't give my armchair diagnosis. Maybe she'll wind up in a hospital in a week, or maybe she'll be duking it out with this jerkbomb until they're both cranky, violent, co-dependent 85-year-olds. There's plenty of good advice in both threads, but she doesn't appear interested in doing anything other than living this to-her-exciting, to-her-interesting story.

That she has turned twice to AskMe for a sounding board on this relationship makes me wonder if she's pushed away all of her other friends on this issue. It's a shame, but what are you going to do.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:15 AM on April 22, 2010


Failing to take people's advice in askme is also not against any rules.

No, but just using it as a place to have a conversation does. I don't agree with orange swan's declaration that ChucksNPaintbrushes shouldn't post any more questions, but I do think that this particular question is a strong candidate for being closed, based on the fact that she is openly less interested in solving a problem and far more interested in getting people to talk with her about all various details of the current episode of an ongoing relationship drama. (Which, by the way, I can empathize with; I remember what it was like to be young and IN LOVE with the role of Kooky-Crazy Smart Girl Perpetually In Dramatic Crisis. But that doesn't make it an appropriate use of AskMe.)
posted by scody at 11:16 AM on April 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


Denial is not only a river in Egypt.
posted by ericb at 11:16 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


She's made it clear that she hits him back. Doesn't make her an abuser, but she's fighting dirty, too.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:07 AM on April 22 [+] [!]


OP said "I punched him because he slapped and refused to get away from me." When somebody physically hurts you and will not get away from you, hitting them is not 'fighting dirty'.
posted by Catseye at 11:19 AM on April 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Dan Savage has response that he's used on occasion, where he gets e-mails from people asking, "Was that question about that thing really true?" and usually the question in question was, "This man hits me," or a, "I'm not sure if this was sex or rape" type questions that really have a fake feeling to them. And his response to those e-mails in wasting column space on a more-than-likely fake question is he'd rather respond in good faith in the interest of educating, assisting, providing resources than he chock it up to just being fake. Because while it is more than likely a fake, what if it's the one time it's true?

I think I will take this approach when abuse, serious mental illness, and so much more is going on an AskMe. I will give the benefit of the doubt to the asker on the chance that it is a real situation, or, as pointed out above, that for someone else who comes along, it's a real situation.
posted by zizzle at 11:22 AM on April 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


It's not unheard-of for the mods to tell a poster that repeat replies to others in a question do not make for good Ask MeFi threads. I certainly see where that sort of restraint would be helpful in the current question, but I'm not sure I'd go so far as deletion, for the reason iamkimiam and zizzle both mention-- archival usage for others.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 11:25 AM on April 22, 2010


roomthreeseventeen: "She's made it clear that she hits him back. Doesn't make her an abuser, but she's fighting dirty, too."

Actually hitting someone back is, in no sense of the word, "fighting dirty"
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:25 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Look, she's in a bad place and she wants advice. Even if one might suspect she'll reject it, or not accept it right-here-and-now, as opposed to three days or a week from now, there's no problem with her asking for it.

If you don't want to see her rejecting your advice... then stop giving it to her.

Problem solved.
posted by darth_tedious at 11:27 AM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think I will take this approach when abuse, serious mental illness, and so much more is going on an AskMe. I will give the benefit of the doubt to the asker on the chance that it is a real situation, or, as pointed out above, that for someone else who comes along, it's a real situation.

And you'll do what? Google "domestic violence" and cut and paste from the first couple links? Are you a domestic violence counselor?
posted by The Straightener at 11:36 AM on April 22, 2010


WHAT THE FUCK? NO, you do not get to say this on my behalf.

Where does it say in my comment that I was speaking on your behalf?

What the fuck. You owe her and this community an apology. You are not in charge of who gets to come her for help and why. You especially don't get to tell someone in an abusive relationship that they can't come to us for advice.

I don't owe anyone an apology. You don't seem to know the difference between asking someone to do something and telling them to do it. I asked the OP to please not post another question on the exact same topic. She doesn't have to act in accordance with that request, and if she did post the same question again I'd just ignore it and let the mods deal with it as they saw fit. It's not that I'm insensitive to her situation. I know she needs help, and I certainly hope she can get it, but it would be out of line for her to keep posting what is essentially the same question over and over and complaining because she didn't like getting essentially the same answers.
posted by orange swan at 11:41 AM on April 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Help in whatever way we are willing to help while letting her know that it's okay to ask for help and advice as many times as she needs to, and that we will treat her as a person with inherent worth no matter what she does or "allows" to be done to her

I agree, but for me, it's hit the point where we're enabling her. Sometimes the only thing that will get a woman out of one of these situations is to tell her "Look, I've tried to help you, but you keep going back. I'm here if you need me, but I'm not going to get dragged into this repetition any more. When you're ready to really leave, call me. Anytime."

It's similar to drug abusers - sometimes they have to hit bottom and have everyone abandon them before they really see what they're doing to themselves.

And yeah, I've spent time in women's shelters. The women there were not like this. If they went back to the abuser at all, it was because they were financially trapped.
posted by MexicanYenta at 11:42 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can the original question with the old username be anonymized?
posted by sageleaf at 11:46 AM on April 22, 2010


orange swan, you specifically refer to "this community" and "those who have tried to help you" in your post. That's pretty clearly speaking on behalf of those groups.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:49 AM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Look, she's in a bad place and she wants advice. Even if one might suspect she'll reject it, or not accept it right-here-and-now, as opposed to three days or a week from now, there's no problem with her asking for it.

Yeah, this is why I think it's useful posting in threads like that.

A large part of the help I think we can give her is providing different ways of conceptualizing the relationship she is in right now. We're taking the evidence she gives us and saying, "Look, you might think this all means X, but, from our point of view, it all means Y." And she very well won't listen to us now. But that alternative conceptualization we're giving her will still be there, tickling the back of her mind, through future events. It'll help shape the way she interprets what happens from now on. Even if she doesn't accept our conceptualization now, and even if she never fully accepts it, it will at least still provide her different ways of understanding future developments in her relationship. And those different forms of understanding may very well sometime lead to the oh-shit moment where she finally gets out and gets help.

We can't save people. But, heck, posting in that thread took only about twenty minutes of my time that I would've wasted somehow, anyway. I didn't lose anything, and, if there's any chance someone may sometime read my posts and use that to help frame their understanding of a sick, dangerous relationship, that seems like a net good.
posted by Ms. Saint at 11:50 AM on April 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


Can the original question with the old username be anonymized?

We'll do it if the OP asks and not otherwise.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:50 AM on April 22, 2010


No, I was saying I felt that posting more questions on the exact same topic would be using the community inappropriately, etc. I will concede that I should have made it more clear that it was my opinion and I'm not a mod, don't have any authority here, yadda yadda yadda, especially since she's new here and wouldn't know that, and also that I thought it was fine to post different questions if she needed help.
posted by orange swan at 11:56 AM on April 22, 2010


And you'll do what? Google "domestic violence" and cut and paste from the first couple links? Are you a domestic violence counselor?

No, but if I knew her geographical location, I sure as hell would send her a list of possible resources for her specific area, and then it's up to her to use them if she wants.

I've done this before both for people I've known in real life and online who have been in similar situations. Sometimes someone actually goes. Sometimes not. Sometimes I never find out. But at least the person has the information now, and can use it if they wish. And that's that.

I'm not a domestic violence counselor, but I do have counseling training.
posted by zizzle at 11:57 AM on April 22, 2010


Potomac Avenue, with respect, I can't agree with your viewpoint that: His slapping her could indicate, not that he is controlling and intimidating, but just very disturbed and oversensitive?

I've fortunately never been in a relationship where someone slapped me, but I'd consider a man slapping (and spitting on) me abuse, and I think it would be counter-productive to look into his reasons for doing so, i.e., is he just disturbed? Oversensitive?

If I did that, if I rationalized reasons for his behavior, that might make me think it would be okay to stay with him instead of getting the hell out of a bad situation. And that leads to a very dangerous place indeed, and that's how battered women get stuck in these kinds of situations.

Of course, that's just my opinion, and we might just need to agree to disagree on this one.
posted by misha at 12:09 PM on April 22, 2010


lets just stop this whole discussion. the pain of those who refuse to hear is indescribable to one for whom a shelter meant sanctuary in a strange continent.

a few years and different city later i was awakened by noise outside my door, a man chased a woman down the corridor (on our floor of the apartment building, i think they were from upstairs) then ended up locking her outside the fire escape. I plucked up my courage once the noises died down and I could just hear her weeping outside the kitchen window, opened my door, let her back in and asked her to come in to my home where she would be safe/phone etc (having been there and feeling like it was my karma to pay it forward)

she refused - black eyed, battered and bleeding adn went back upstairs. it was I who ended up calling the helpline that night with flashbacks and confusion. this didn't make sense to me. it still doesnt.

i've hovered around this thread most of the day. yes, I shouldn't even be here, what Straightener said.

leave it be... there are those who are lost and can't be saved, even from themselves. that is all i know and hold on to. as for the rest, we must be always be there to extend that helping hand. that's our responsibility, but also the extent of it. horse, water, etc.
posted by infini at 12:13 PM on April 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


>orange swan, you specifically refer to "this community" and "those who have tried to help you" in your post. That's pretty clearly speaking on behalf of those groups.

>>No, I was saying I felt that posting more questions on the exact same topic would be using the community inappropriately, etc.

But you used the word 'we.' To be fair, lots of people use 'we' instead of 'I' when pronouncing on Metafilter-related things. I wish they didn't, because it's presumptuous to speak for everyone. And that's kind of what 'we' does. It enforces and us-versus-you sort of thing.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:13 PM on April 22, 2010


lets just stop this whole discussion.

And there's another thing right there that's unfair to the community. Sorry that the discussion is difficult for you, but that doesn't mean other people don't have the right to continue it. You can step away from these threads at any time.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:16 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


If I did that, if I rationalized reasons for his behavior, that might make me think it would be okay to stay with him instead of getting the hell out of a bad situation. And that leads to a very dangerous place indeed, and that's how battered women get stuck in these kinds of situations.

This is my perception as well.
posted by zarq at 12:26 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


No, but if I knew her geographical location, I sure as hell would send her a list of possible resources for her specific area, and then it's up to her to use them if she wants.

How would you know which resources would meet her needs? Do you even know what her needs are? Have you ever made a successful referral to domestic violence services? If not, how would you know which types of resources in her area were accessible by or useful to her, not knowing the details required to make a referral to such resources? Does it matter that you might be posting links to resources that she either cannot access, or may not be able to serve the needs she has? Is the fact that you may have authoritatively forwarded useless information mitigated by the fact that your intentions in doing so were good?
posted by The Straightener at 12:31 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


You can step away from these threads at any time.

yes, I shouldn't even be here, what Straightener said.
posted by infini at 12:34 PM on April 22, 2010


You don't seem to know the difference between asking someone to do something and telling them to do it. I asked the OP to please not post another question on the exact same topic.

Hmmmm. I don't think there's much of difference between asking someone to fuck off and just plain telling them.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:40 PM on April 22, 2010


I don't think calling someone young/naive/obsessed enough to think this relationship is a good idea a 'special snowflake' is particularly helpful. Yes, her responses are very defensive, but then, what happens if your friend is in a dodgy relationship? They tell you what's gone wrong not for your advice, but because they know it's wrong and a tiny portion of them really, really hopes you will say 'Yes, that's normal. That's how it should be.'

It's right there in her first question, and this doesn't say 'Should I leave him' but 'Should I snoop'.
posted by mippy at 12:48 PM on April 22, 2010


amanda and palomar, I think internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 explains the mindset very well here and here. I've never been in an abusive relationship myself, but these posts rang very true to me, and would explain the oddness of OP's responses in the thread.

I don't know, I'm conflicted. I still worry that OP is really enjoying all the drama-ing and by getting into it with her, we may be unwittingly enabling or encouraging her. Then again, this isn't just annoying-but-mostly-harmless drama-ing. OP's situation is one that is truly dangerous. We can't just cut her off and trust that she'll get over it and leave her boyfriend. She won't.

Maybe it's time to change gears and suggest to OP that she should get counselling, and perhaps tested. She has just stated that mental illness runs in her family, it's possible that she has some undiagnosed disorders that may be complicating the situation. I'm in no way suggesting that we blame the victim, but I think OP's issues go beyond the boyfriend. Somehow I doubt that her life a calm sea before the horrible boyfriend came into the picture.
posted by keep it under cover at 12:52 PM on April 22, 2010


Geez, Straightener, it's not rocket science to point at least a US-based OP toward something that could be helpful: there's a national domestic violence helpline (1-800-799-SAFE), as I'm sure you know, with information about local resources.

To answer Potomac Avenue's question as to why people would see this as an abusive relationship, rather than a mutually drama-filled relationship, I'd cite the other elements of the pattern, beyond the hitting: the "clinginess," as the OP put it -- his desire, very early on, to get to a committed relationship; restraining her in a car for hours demanding that she assure him she won't leave him; the consuming self-pity (his sad history! his mental illness!) that justifies his every action; his telling her that she's the only thing in his life worth living for; threatening self-harm if she leaves him. I'm sure there's more I could find if I went through the questions again, but suffice it to say that this relationship follows a very commonly seen pattern underlying abusive relationships.

She is alternately reeled in by his apparent devotion (an utter, consuming, passionate devotion, so far beyond what other men feel!) and frightened off by his abuse.
posted by palliser at 12:56 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


How would you know which resources would meet her needs? Do you even know what her needs are? Have you ever made a successful referral to domestic violence services?
posted by The Straightener


Normally I'm with you dude, but this makes no sense. By your logic anyone who was not a professional couldn't so much as say "call the national hotline." What should someone in that sitation do? They are, by your logic, immobilized. They can't refer her to someone like you. They can't recommend local services. Do they just back away silently, face frozen, until they can run far, lest the terrible knowledge of a phone number or two somehow make things even worse?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:03 PM on April 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


Straightener, are you saying that only someone who is an expert should be chiming in to give advice to this specific OP?
posted by Omnomnom at 1:12 PM on April 22, 2010


She didn't say she would provide a national hotline number. She said she would provide a list of locally specific resources, and anyone who works in social services knows that service quality varies wildly from location to location, and over time the quality of those services at those locations will themselves wildly fluctuate. There will be locally specific conditions regarding funding of such services, that someone who doesn't practice in that city can't know.

I'm sorry, but the sense here that people are helping this poster are wildly inflated, as they usually with these kinds of posts. But with these types of posts its honestly more about the community feeling good about itself for being helpful that it is about any actually useful information being conveyed, I understand that.
posted by The Straightener at 1:22 PM on April 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


keep it under cover, I understand the mindset. I really don't feel like telling my personal business here in regards to this issue because frankly it's not anyone's goddamn business. But suffice it to say, I've been there and I get it. But something still seems off about this to me, and like I said, I wish there were a better word than "troll", and if you need to think of me as a Bad Person who does not Get It because I called it like I saw it in perhaps ineloquent language, well, you're certainly entitled to your opinion. Just like I'm entitled to mine.
posted by palomar at 1:26 PM on April 22, 2010


its honestly more about the community feeling good about itself for being helpful that it is about any actually useful information being conveyed

So what is the useful information you would like conveyed, then? Or should these questions just not be allowed to be posted? What action would you like seen taken either within the thread or by the mods as regards these questions?

For your own reasons you didn't post in that thread, and that's cool. There are any number of threads I don't post in, either, because I don't have much I feel I can contribute or because I just plain don't feel like it, but it seems that you have the belief that nobody at all should be posting in those threads because there's nothing at all that can be done. Well, okay, so then what?

I get where you come from with regard to a lot of your opinions on not diagnosing in threads, etc., and reading your opinions on those matters definitely was informative for me, so I do respect you. Quite a lot, and those thoughts make a lot of sense to me, and they've certainly changed some of my posting habits not just on Metafilter but elsewhere as well. But I still don't always get what you're looking for with regards to some of these questions. And especially with the one in question. What should people do when someone in what appears to be an abusive relationship posts? Ignore it? Not respond? Refer them to you? What?

I'm not trying to be belligerent. I just really want to know what you think the Metafilter community should do about such questions?
posted by zizzle at 1:38 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Geez, Straightener, it's not rocket science to point at least a US-based OP toward something that could be helpful: there's a national domestic violence helpline (1-800-799-SAFE), as I'm sure you know, with information about local resources.

Okay, let's walk through this.

She calls the national hotline. Now she's on the phone with someone not near her locality, who is working off a list of resources in her locality that is likely outdated and almost definitely don't reflect staggering recent funding cuts. So the program that might have been good last year might not even exist right now, and the national people may or may not know that. Anyway, the person at the national hotline gives her some numbers to call. She starts calling numbers, and now she's actually confronted with the realities of accessing domestic violence services.

Does she have health insurance? I don't see anyone recommending that she engage in domestic violence counseling services asking this question, though it's the most critical question whose answer is going to decide what services she may or may not be eligible to receive. You're probably thinking that she'll be good as long as she has insurance, but you would be wrong and that would be indicative of your lack of knowledge of these types of resources. The likelihood that she's got a Cadillac private insurance plan that's going to cover an extended period of domestic violence counseling sessions is unlikely. If she has Cadillac insurance, does the local provider take that insurance? If not, she's screwed, because she won't qualify for Medicaid if she has private insurance.

If she doesn't have insurance, can she qualify for Medicaid? It's not a given that she will, and if she doesn't, she'll have to pay sliding scale. What is her income? Can she afford even a nominal sliding scale payment? If she does qualify for Medicaid, ironically, she might be in the best possible situation in order to receive services because Medicaid typically funds these services and the providers who provide them typically accept Medicaid.

Of course, every single detail of this post will probably be different for you if you are not a resident of Pennsylvania.

Sooooo, sure, go ahead, post the national hotline number. You are being very helpful! Because when someone calls a national hotline number the national hotline agency magically transports them to the best local provider of the services they need where they are automatically fully funded for the maximum level of care and the person's life is radically changed, all because of AskMetafilter.
posted by The Straightener at 1:46 PM on April 22, 2010


Is it your assertion that such questions not be allowed, or that the only correct answer is "you're fucked" or what? I'm not trying to be argumentative. I don't have a dog in this fight, because I think the question wasn't asked in good faith, but hypothetically speaking, is inaction the only logical course of action, in your opinion?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:51 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hey man, it's just the big backyard fence, you know, your answer is as good as mine or anybody else's.
posted by The Straightener at 1:55 PM on April 22, 2010


I think that providing a way to find resources, even if they are unable to help, is better than backing out and providing no help at all.

At least calling a national hotline is a start. It may well be that there are no local resources that are funded well enough to take on new patients, but that's not 100% sure. Unless you have a better, specific suggestion (i.e: don't go to Domestic Shelter X, they have no money, try Hotline Y) I don't see why this is a problem.
posted by amicamentis at 1:59 PM on April 22, 2010


I had the same reaction to The Straightener's early comment, Optimus Chyme. But as a local service provider whose job it is to make these types of referrals, I immediately understood what he was saying.

Here's the thing: getting referred to the wrong services/agencies is exponentially worse than getting referred to none at all. And that seems really counterintuitive for someone who doesn't work in the field because, "Hey, some information is better than none!" But it really isn't.

When someone is facing something as paralyzing as domestic violence, an abusive relationship, homelessness, a chronic medical condition, drug addiction, hunger, mental illness... (seriously, the list goes on)... BAD information only adds to the paralysis, or serves to further defeat someone who really just needs to be put in touch with the right resource.
posted by greekphilosophy at 2:01 PM on April 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Greekphilosophy, I respect what you are saying because I have no experience in this field at all (and that does seem counter-intuitive about not providing info). But what is a better solution - staying in a bad relationship? Not seeking any help? What if there are no 'right resources'?
posted by amicamentis at 2:04 PM on April 22, 2010


Professional turf stuff seems to end this way often, as we have seen from previous posters. It's gatekeeping. You know, only someone trained in $profession has valid advice about $fieldsfromprofessions{$profession}, without which the prospective patient/client/victim will fall into a black pit. Additionally, anyone not in $profession ought not to speak about $fieldsfromprofessions{$profession}, because of the inevitable ghastly result which will occur as ignorant laypeople stagger about the landscape cheerfully supposing that ammonia and bleach will combine to make a super-cleaner, rather than emitting a lung-melting cloud.

Each member of $profession of course supposes that this apply to their craft/job/service and tend not to consider it for other crafts/jobs/services. What's interesting is that you can go through AskMe and find a profession for a rather hefty portion of the questions.

Were all the members of $profession granted their wishes, AskMe would be the poorer for it.
posted by adipocere at 2:05 PM on April 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


She starts calling numbers, and now she's actually confronted with the realities of accessing domestic violence services.

Hey man, that's a good thing. All the informative stuff you posted under this, the realities of insurance and access to counseling services, are things that hotline person and certainly a local social worker can help explain to her. Confronting the reality is what she needs, hell just an unbiased VOICE is what she needs. I've personally found that just briefly talking to someone on the hotline is comforting and calming and definitely not something to belittle in lieu of handing someone a magical "how do I deal with domestic violence in my city, state" starter pack which apparently no one has. This girl doesn't even believe she is in an abusive relationship. Maybe hearing someone say "yes, that is abuse, yes, this pattern of domination, intimidation, and guilt is not normal"
posted by Juicy Avenger at 2:13 PM on April 22, 2010


would be more helpful than a slew of essentially DTMFAGTFOs.
posted by Juicy Avenger at 2:14 PM on April 22, 2010


palomar, I get what you're saying, but I don't necessarily think "troll". I get more of a feeling that this is a very intelligent person who is used to always being the smartest person in the room, combined with a need for drama. So no matter what we say, she's going to argue, because she's accustomed to always being right and she's liking the attention.* Still, some of it may eventually sink in. Even if it's not for years.

*She may be completely unaware that she's liking the attention and/or drama. That kind of thing doesn't usually dawn on you till you're years away from the relationship.
posted by MexicanYenta at 2:18 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


> Sooooo, sure, go ahead, post the national hotline number. You are being very helpful! Because when someone calls a national hotline number the national hotline agency magically transports them to the best local provider of the services they need where they are automatically fully funded for the maximum level of care and the person's life is radically changed, all because of AskMetafilter.

Once again, what would you suggest? That people in this kind of trouble be banned from posting here, or that everyone simply ignore their posts? You sure seem to have tremendous contempt for anyone who might want to help.
posted by languagehat at 2:19 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


AskMe is not here to entertain us, flatter our feelings, or make us feel like heroes -- it's here to help people. When is contempt ever an appropriate response to someone looking for help?
posted by melissa may at 2:26 PM on April 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


The Straightener: "But with these types of posts its honestly more about the community feeling good about itself for being helpful that it is about any actually useful information being conveyed, I understand that."

Very true, I am sure that these posts do more for my ego than for the person getting the advice. Lately I've tried to be a lot nicer about it so that at least my bad advice isn't rude, snarky, hurtful, or offensive bad advice. I am only okay at this, as is seen by my advice in the thread in question, which could have been a lot less battle-scarred-too-cool-for-school.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 2:27 PM on April 22, 2010


The alternative solutions you offer aren't the only ones, amicamentis. In fact, there are plenty of examples of threads where good, knowledgeable, local advice is available for the OP's perusal. But the solution for AskMe isn't always, "Go to this address and talk to Fran, ask for the blue form and bring a copy of your ID, they'll be available to set up an appointment with you on Tuesday afternoons between 2-4pm, so make sure that's when you go. Tell her you talked to me when you go."

There are even great threads where there is NO local advice - but really decent, sound advice from people who have experienced similar things and sought help. Both are great functions of AskMe in my opinion. But there is a murky third option that happens that I'd like to see people self-police a little better on. I don't draw that line very brightly, because frankly I don't think that's helpful. I think nonlawyers can talk about legal issues and nondoctors can talk about the human body. I also think that nonsocialworkers can talk about this stuff. But in every case, we have to self-police and be careful.

You've gotta have faith in the HiveMind if you don't have the answer or if you don't understand the issue fully. There are a lot of brilliant professionals AND a lot of experienced laypeople on this site, and you have to trust that they can do the job.
posted by greekphilosophy at 2:31 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


My suggestions aren't important, the community consensus is important, and the community consensus, including the moderators, has time and time again made it clear that the community's ability to provide useful or correct information about a professionally specific topic does not bear on whether or not the site should be used to forward questions about those topics. I personally think such questions, like this particular question, generate utter trainwrecks, where almost no useful information is imparted, bad information is imparted and the whole thing is a clown show because nobody can even verify that the very basic details of the question are true, accurate or even asked in good faith. This is not a starting point from which any useful interaction regarding domestic violence can be had. The fact that Mefites -- with no training in domestic violence counseling -- are trying to provide ad hoc domestic violence counseling services to this person in this situation is, again, a total fucking clownshow.

BUT HEY. Backyard fence, just opinions, etc., etc.
posted by The Straightener at 2:38 PM on April 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


The Straightener: "The fact that Mefites -- with no training in domestic violence counseling -- are trying to provide ad hoc domestic violence counseling services to this person in this situation is, again, a total fucking clownshow."

The OP wants us to give her advice, right? She knows that we're not DV counselors.

Say a friend asks me for advice about her marriage and I give her some advice. There is a lot of research, data, all kinds of actual factual knowledge to impart; there are effective research-based marital therapies. The advice I give her is not going to be that. That is OK because she wants my non-professional perspective on the situation, as her friend. She has that right. So does the OP. Her status as the victim of a violent crime does not take away her ability to make her own decisions about where and how to seek advice and assistance.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 2:53 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Such a triggery subject for me, best that I stayed out of the thread...some of it was just too close for comfort.

The more people told me to 'just leave', the more I 'knew' in my brainwashed, ravaged, exhausted mind, that everyone thought I was a fool, and yes, if I stayed, I "deserved it". An abuser tells you a million times a day that it is somehow your fault, and since the whole world is telling you basically the same thing, you come to believe it.

If I wouldn't have done this, he wouldn't have done that, on and on. Day after day.

I spent the majority of my time in that abusive relationship recovering mentally and physically until the next episode. Down is up and up is down.

I invite you to look at Biderman's Chart of Coercion (PDF)


Bidermans chart doesn’t even include physical violence, only when it is added from the DV point of view.

It is a very complex subject, and the blaming of the victim only perpetuates this, adding shame where there should be none.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 3:15 PM on April 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


But something still seems off about this to me, and like I said, I wish there were a better word than "troll", and if you need to think of me as a Bad Person who does not Get It because I called it like I saw it in perhaps ineloquent language, well, you're certainly entitled to your opinion. Just like I'm entitled to mine.

Whoah there, palomar... please reread my posts in this thread. I fully agreed with amanda that something seemed off. I only pointed out internet fraud detective squad's post because it was so interesting and gave me a different perspective of what it might be like to be OP.

I had no idea that you had "been there," but you should realize that just because you were "there" and didn't behave like OP, doesn't mean there is no conceivable reason for OP to behave like she has. Maybe she's putting us on, maybe not. I'm not justifying it in any way. I'm just trying to look at it from another angle and understand it. I feel that it's important to see where someone is coming from, no matter how messed up it is.

I genuinely did not think of you as a "Bad Person who does not Get It." It comes as a shock that you feel I came across that way, and rereading my posts over and over again, I don't see where I could have insinuated that you are a Bad Person. I'm really sorry if I offended you, and though it's "none of my goddamn business," I'm sorry you went through that.
posted by keep it under cover at 3:50 PM on April 22, 2010


This is not a starting point from which any useful interaction regarding domestic violence can be had. The fact that Mefites -- with no training in domestic violence counseling -- are trying to provide ad hoc domestic violence counseling services to this person in this situation is, again, a total fucking clownshow.

It's worth pointing out that people have been leaving abusive relationships since long before professional domestic violence counselling existed, and that many people, even today, leave such relationships without ever speaking to anyone trained in domestic violence counselling. (I was one of them.)

That's not to say that domestic violence counselling isn't an incredibly valuable thing, or that people in abusive relationships shouldn't be pointed in that direction, or that that thread wasn't a trainwreck. But saying that only people trained in domestic violence counselling can say anything useful in such a situation is just plain inaccurate.
posted by Catseye at 3:57 PM on April 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


Say a friend asks me for advice about her marriage and I give her some advice.

I think this gets to The Straightener's point. You're not the OP's friend. Nor is anyone in that thread. Any advice beyond "Snooping is the least of your problems. Get out" is going to be much more about the commenter than the questioner.
posted by dogrose at 4:24 PM on April 22, 2010


you should realize that just because you were "there" and didn't behave like OP, doesn't mean there is no conceivable reason for OP to behave like she has.

You know, I think I've said at least twice in this thread that I wish there was another word to use other than "troll". I wish people would pay attention to that and stop hammering on me for not agreeing exactly to the letter with them about the OP's situation.
posted by palomar at 4:30 PM on April 22, 2010


Somehow, we have managed to blow a minor quibble over a poster and her history into a full-blown argument here. I feel like I am a teenager again and OMG my little sister gets ALL of the attention, even if it's bad!
posted by msali at 4:32 PM on April 22, 2010


Somehow, we have managed to blow a minor quibble over a poster and her history into a full-blown argument here.

Well, it IS Metatalk.
posted by Justinian at 4:38 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


and maybe "hammering" isn't quite the word I want to use, either. But dang, I've said more than once that I wish there were a word to use other than "troll" to sum up my misgivings about that entire thread. I understand that not everyone reacts to abuse in the same way, but the people who keep saying that maybe also need to understand that saying "i have misgivings about this thread" does not make me a victim-blaming asshole. (And yes, I realize no one in this thread called me a victim-blaming asshole, but the MeMail I got sure did. That was super awesome.)
posted by palomar at 4:41 PM on April 22, 2010


As someone who has worked in getting people in bad situations connected with resources in a socials services-y context, some information is nearly always BETTER than none. Even if someone gave her a number of a place that was poorly funded, they might be able to give her the number for somewhere else that can help. Suggesting that she not call the national hotline because their information may not be 100% up to date is preposterous, frankly. The idea that we shouldn't share local resources with someone if we aren't a trained professional in that field is just bizarre. I used to see people give people the numbers to resources for things in MY field that were great referrals. Just because the person giving it didn't have MY training doesn't mean they aren't able to have applicable knowledge that might help.
posted by ishotjr at 4:47 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


> The fact that Mefites -- with no training in domestic violence counseling -- are trying to provide ad hoc domestic violence counseling services to this person in this situation is, again, a total fucking clownshow.

Once again, what would you suggest? That people in this kind of trouble be banned from posting here, or that everyone simply ignore their posts? You sure seem to have tremendous contempt for anyone who might want to help.
posted by languagehat at 4:48 PM on April 22, 2010


palomar, I get what you're saying. I really, truly do also have serious misgivings, which is why I've stayed the hell out of that thread. Like I said, my first instinct was that the thread made me feel icky. It still feels icky.

One of my best friends had an abusive asshole boyfriend, and her way of dealing was the complete opposite of the OP. My friend didn't drama on about it to anyone. In fact, as soon as she heard something she didn't like, she would shut down completely and the conversation would be over. I understand that this is how most abused women react, which is why OP's responses were so strikingly odd to me.

I guess all I wanted to say was that internet fraud's posts were a bit of an eye opener. I couldn't figure what the OP was possibly getting off on, or why. But I believe that internet fraud was speaking genuinely (and quite frankly), and that if it was possible for her to experience an abusive relationship in that way, then it is possible. Whether or not that is actually the truth here in OP's case is clearly debatable, and I'll be the first to say that all my blabbing is pure conjecture. I promise I'm not criticizing your opinion at all, and perhaps I didn't explain myself very well there.
posted by keep it under cover at 5:12 PM on April 22, 2010


The fact that Mefites -- with no training in domestic violence counseling -- are trying to provide ad hoc domestic violence counseling services to this person in this situation is, again, a total fucking clownshow.

I mentioned earlier that I had experience with battered women's shelters. More specifically, I spent 6 weeks living in one when my ex-husband, 10 years after we split up, developed paranoid schizophrenia and became violent towards me, and I had no where else to go. This shelter was considered to be the best one in the city - the fourth largest city in the US. And while I was there, I watched about 80% of the women who entered the shelter turn around and go right back to their abuser. Because that shelter and the counselors in it were a complete pile of shit, and all they cared about was making themselves look good so they could get next year's funding. No, not all counselors are are like that, but not all counselors are good, either.

However, while there, I saw the "victims" (for lack of a better word) support each other. I saw victims convince other victims not to go back. Sometimes the only person who can get through to someone is someone else who has been through the exact same thing. Sometimes it's because a victim will feel embarrassed or condescended to by anyone who hasn't done the same stupid thing. Sometimes it's because only someone who has experienced it knows the exact words to say that will hit home.

Additionally, years ago in another life, I spent about 5 years working "behind the scenes" in several strip clubs. This is one cliche that's true: the majority of the women working there were sexually (and usually also physically) abused. A frightening number of them continue on in a pattern abusive relationships for years and years. And I spent a lot of time talking to those women, and convinced a good number of them to get out of their toxic relationships. Some went to shelters, some went to stay with family across town, some left the state. I wasn't always successful, but a lot of times I was. Should I have not talked to those women because I wasn't a professional? I can tell you that most of them would never have contacted a counselor on their own. Sometimes it was out of shame, compounded by the thought (probably correct, from what I've seen) that they would be made to feel like scum because they were strippers. Sometimes it was because they had convinced themselves that there was no way out, so why bother calling? Sometimes it was because abusive relationships was all they had ever known. They needed someone else to tell them that it wasn't normal. I was there, and I was "one of them", so they listened to me.

This OP doesn't seem to have talked to any professional counselors. Instead she came here. Maybe, as a result of Mefite's comments, she'll talk to a counselor now. Or maybe she will leave him on her own. Of course, maybe she won't, but should we have just ignored her and left her to think that truly, no one does care about her except this messed up boyfriend?

And for you to refer to people who are trying to help her; who are in some cases baring their souls online in a public forum in an attempt to save a stranger, as a "total fucking clown show", doesn't sound like something they teach you in domestic violence counseling school. If I was to show up at a shelter as an escort to someone I had convinced to go, and I had spent the whole ride to the shelter reinforcing her decision to go, would you, upon our arrival, tell her that I, the one person she trusted, was a total fucking clown show?
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:30 PM on April 22, 2010 [21 favorites]


I agree with Straightener to a point, especially the clown show one, but at the very least what she'd get at the hotline is someone trained to talk with her about her relationship. Here she's getting random, wrong advice yelled in her face again and again. She's engaging people in the thread perhaps because she's trying to figure out what to do. A dv counselor, even a poorly trained one, would not use the words being used in that thread.

The entire thread made me extremely uncomfortable.

I used to do dv counseling on a volunteer basis. You can't and don't reason someone out of an abusive situation. You help them figure out on their own what is safe and suitable for them.
posted by vincele at 6:56 PM on April 22, 2010


Well, I've been reading this every so often trying to get an idea of what the problem is. It's clear to me that maybe I've made a bad choice in choosing this website to ask any kind of question. To all of you who think I'm making up this situation just for the hell of it, I feel sorry for anyone who doesn't fit into your exact idea of what a situation should look like. Since if they don't, apparently they must be lying, overly dramatic and playing games. No, I am not one of those women who just rolls over and takes it relationship after relationship. No, I do not have a history of abusive relationships. To the person who suggested my mental status could be in question because of my father should look closely into their own family and perhaps get themselves checked out as well. To suggest that I have a mental issue just because I'm not responding the way you like to your comment would be offensive if you weren't just somebody on the internet trying to be insulting.

I wasn't looking for professional answers because I'm not getting my ass kicked around by some man I'm permanently stuck with. I don't need to go to a shelter or anything like that because I have a house to go to. Thankfully, my mother knows quite a bit about this guy's medical issues and would be the first one checking him out if something looked funny. However, that is not the point I'm trying to make.

The point I'm making is that I am NOT some horrible, stupid person nor am some drama seeking "troll"; I am a person who might be making a mistake by sticking around with this guy but I can do without the insults. I don't know what I was expecting from joining this website, but in a lot of ways, I'm sorry I've wasted my time. If I wanted to be made to feel like shit, there's a lot of other people who could do that; I didn't need to come on here.

Is this a pity party? Not at all. I wasn't looking for anyone to feel sorry for me nor anyone to call me an idiot for staying. For those of you who have been in my position or much worse, do you consider yourself idiots for staying in whatever situation you were in for however long? I should hope not. I wanted advice from as many people who wanted to give it. I was not arguing; I was doing my best to describe my boyfriend as he is; not just go down a list of all the bad things he done as if that's all he is. He is probably the wrong person for me (or anyone right now) but there is some good in there as well. I'm not saying the good outweighs the bad; I'm saying I'm trying to get the point across that good exists.

There are only a few people who I feel answered my question without any snide remarks added in. To those of you who did, I thank very much and I appreciate what you've said. To those of you who think this is a joke since it doesn't match what you think it should look like, feel sorry for you.
posted by ChucksNPaintbrushes at 7:12 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


"victims" (for lack of a better word)

Survivors. Survivors is a better word. Hopefully it's fitting.
posted by runningwithscissors at 7:12 PM on April 22, 2010


Well. I don't know whether to laugh or cry now.

Goodnight, all. :)
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:21 PM on April 22, 2010


ChucksNPaintbrushes, Metafilter is a community like any other. There are a variety of people with a variety of perspectives and opinions. This is overall a good thing, but sometimes it does lead to misunderstandings or clashes because those opinions and perspectives don't always line up. Sometimes you'll agree with someone on the Blue, other times you won't. Sometimes you'll take advice on the Green, and sometimes you won't. Sometimes you'll offer advice on the Green someone will take, and sometimes you'll offer advice on the Green someone won't take. Sometimes you won't even offer advice. And still yet sometimes you'll come to MeTa to bitch about all of those things and more.

But such is the life of an internet community.

Hopefully you found some use in some of the answers you received. Either we'll be seeing you or you won't, but regardless, I wish you clarity as you work through your current circumstances and decide what it is you wish to do.
posted by zizzle at 7:26 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I checked the MetaFilter guide, it didn't say that 10:00pm was The Fucking Clown Show. Was there a switcheroo at the last moment?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:40 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


When you ask for help, and the response you receive is something you don't like, it doesn't mean that the responders were not doing their best to try to help you, and those people even STILL tried to help despite the totally not-listening, not-grateful quality of response back from the person asking for help.
posted by so_gracefully at 8:17 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hey guys, sorry I'm late! Hope I didn't miss the clownsh-

oh.

*backs out slowly*
posted by drinkyclown at 8:26 PM on April 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


If I wanted to be made to feel like shit, there's a lot of other people who could do that; I didn't need to come on here.

Given the literally dozens of people in that thread who explicitly wished you well and told you repeatedly that you are a valuable person who deserves BETTER than to be slapped or spat upon, I think that is an inaccurate characterization, at best.

I hope one day -- and one day sooner, rather than later -- you will be able to set aside the defensiveness that is binding you to what appears to be a terribly painful situation, so that you can move forward in your life a healthy manner. And when you do, I know there are many, many people here who will support you, should you wish to come back and ask for assistance in doing so.

Good luck.
posted by scody at 8:27 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Because when someone calls a national hotline number the national hotline agency magically transports them to the best local provider of the services they need where they are automatically fully funded for the maximum level of care and the person's life is radically changed, all because of AskMetafilter.

I guess that is what I meant by "could be helpful." Wow, you have utterly shattered my naive worldview. And my belief in hotline teleportation.
posted by palliser at 8:59 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is the fact that you may have authoritatively forwarded useless information mitigated by the fact that your intentions in doing so were good?

To be frank, I've gotten better information in a crisis from Metafilter members than I have from the people who were paid to help me, regardless of their intentions and their social work degrees. I especially loved the call from someone, three weeks too late, telling me that I "really needed to pursue continuity of care." So there are more ways to go about this than through professional expertise, which, like the resources you decry, might not be accessible.

You do great work in this community, but I don't get what you're trying to achieve here. People ask what you think should be done instead, short of "not allowing this type of question," and you wail on everyone's intentions and uselessness instead? You're not going to get your 100%, so you're not going to work toward 75%, either?
posted by liketitanic at 9:45 PM on April 22, 2010


ChucksNPaintbrushes, if you're still reading this, please don't let a few nasty/snarky comments obscure the thoughts and advice of the plenty of people here who've taken the time, thought about your situation, and offer caring, experienced responses. Sometimes this place can be overwhelming, but there are bunches of people who mean well and want you to stick around.

(I have found that sometimes it helps to go through a thread and copy and paste all the comments that are thoughtful and caring into a separate email that I send to myself. That way, nobody has to know, and the advice is there, with none of the snark or meanness.)
posted by iamkimiam at 9:54 PM on April 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


I think this thread does a good job of showing why it's not a good idea to talk about someone like they're not there when they're actually right behind you.

I mean, this is an argument about what one should say to the OP, as if the OP were completely able to read our argument here.
posted by Ms. Saint at 10:34 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Complete unable.
posted by Ms. Saint at 10:35 PM on April 22, 2010


"She's made it clear that she hits him back. Doesn't make her an abuser, but she's fighting dirty, too."


Uh what? I don't know about your cultural and legal traditions, but where I come from, if someone starts hitting me, it's OK to hit them back until they cut that shit out. We call it "self defence."
posted by rodgerd at 1:21 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


"She's made it clear that she hits him back. Doesn't make her an abuser, but she's fighting dirty, too."

It also doesn't mean that she doesn't need help.

*hesitates, then decides what the hell*

I was the one doing the hitting in a relationship many years ago. I finally woke up to the fact that having anyone be hitting anybody was a bad scene, and I ended things -- but I really, really had a hard time dealing with the fact that I got to that point afterward. And -- I didn't get much help dealing with that -- because people's default mindsets were equipped to deal with women-as-victim, and that's it.

But the fact that I was getting physical with my anger was a bad scene, and it was a sign that I needed a lot of help processing things.

I did it on my own, and I'm okay now -- but I still really bristle at the idea that just because she's hitting him too doesn't mean that she's all okay and doesn't need help. Because that's what people thought about me, and boy HOWDY could I have used some help.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:22 AM on April 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


ChucksNPaintbrushes: you're 20. To you this is just boyfriend trouble, and you want us to talk to you about it as if we were girlfriend-to-girlfriend discussing a guy who might be cheating on you with a friend, or who gets soooo frustrating to deal with some times, or who you're not sure is "the one." Us older folk are getting frustrated (which I think you're interpreting as "mean") because you're not seeing that what you've actually got going on is a situation where one or both of you might end up dead or broken. Maybe that's not where this is going, but what you're writing could very well be, has been, chapter one in countless f'ing newspaper articles about "how it started" when a women in her 20s, 40s, 60s, ends up dead. (Violence? check. The man with severe mental illness with poor impulse control, a paranoid/obsessive element, and a history of non-compliance with treatment? check. The woman who thinks she can handle it, that she doesn't want to leave him and she knows him better than anyone, that this is different than OTHER abusive relationships, she's not a stupid sucker like those victims....and is from a troubled background? check.)
posted by availablelight at 4:52 AM on April 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


This reads like a no-win situation: ChucksnPaintbrushes views the commenters who question the validity of her post (which, to be fair, A LOT of posts get questioned as "Are you for real?" If not in MeTa, I've certainly had back and forths with other users about "Did you read THAT? Can you believe that guy?" which makes you wonder what's going on behind the scenes - it's impossible to distill real life into a text box, and without a lot of nuance, the distillation of a problem can come off as "ZOMG! DRAMA!" when formed into an AskMe question) - and, in turn, dismisses the suggestions as not valid because we aren't open minded to "different" situations.

So, she feels like we're not reading her question in the light it was intended, and in turn feels like the advice we're giving her is off the mark, it's pretty much a lost cause.

I don't know what kind of community you're looking for, ChucksnPaintbrushes. MetaFilter is full of the smartest, most open minded people I've ever met on the internet. For almost any life experience, you can find someone here who has not only been there, but is willing to bare their soul to try and help someone else. The people on AskMe are generally there because they want to help and part of the frustration going on here has to do with the fact that people are actually really desperately wanting to help YOU, but feel like they're not getting through. You may be dismissive that they're not reading you properly, but they actually do want to help, for what that's worth. I don't know of any other online community that goes as far to help its members - if you can find one that's more helpful to you, I honestly wish you the best of luck.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:36 AM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


You know what, we're a good community, but we dropped the ball on this one so the defensive self-congratulation should maybe be saved for another time.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:39 AM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


You're not going to get your 100%, so you're not going to work toward 75%, either?

Hey asshole, I can and have done everything I can for any person I encounter online who is in a position for me to do something for them, including the people who continually contact me outside this forum. I have invested hours of unpaid pro bono social services assistance through this community and over private correspondence. I have done more than my part to "work toward 75%." It is this community, however, that seems unwilling to work towards 75% by not rushing to provide unqualified ad hoc services in ways that run counter to their effective provision, to people who aren't requesting them in the first place and then going the extra mile by bashing me for simply asking that you at least not provide shitty information if that is all you have to contribute because it makes AskMetafilter look like YahooAnswers with a slightly more powerful command of the English language.

MetaFilter is full of the smartest, most open minded people I've ever met on the internet.

This community consistently overestimates its collective intelligence and range of knowledge expertise. Individuals here need less praise from others about their supposed brilliance and a more accurate self-assessment of where the boundaries of their education and professional training are.
posted by The Straightener at 7:54 AM on April 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


The people on AskMe are generally there because they want to help

While this is certainly true a lot of the time, I can't help feeling that often - and especially in relationshipfilter - people are there more to preach than to help. Their preaching doesn't necessarily make them wrong, but still: it's off-putting.
posted by Dumsnill at 8:02 AM on April 23, 2010


we dropped the ball on this one

"We"?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:03 AM on April 23, 2010


MetaFilter: YahooAnswers with a slightly more powerful command of the English language.

Aw fuck. That wasn't funny at all. Is this the sound you hear when a meme dies?
posted by greekphilosophy at 8:06 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know what, we're a good community, but we dropped the ball on this one so the defensive self-congratulation should maybe be saved for another time.

Please don't group us all into one category. Some of us dropped the ball. Some of us did not.

I've been following this thread with interest, but didn't feel I had anything constructive or helpful to contribute that hadn't already been said by others.
posted by zarq at 8:20 AM on April 23, 2010


I understand that bringing up someone's past posts is sort of a no-no, but I think it's warranted in this case. If this comment is removed, I'll understand and not get uppity about it.

But, The Straightener, in a pretty recent other AskMe, you provided names of two addictions treatment facilities after performing a "quick google search." I won't link to the answer, but anyone going to your profile can find it easily enough. Yet it was suggested that my doing so for domestic violence resources would have horrendous consequences since I'm not familiar with services in that area ---- and yet, you performed a google search for treatment services in an area that you are likely not familiar with and posted said information in an AskMe. Now, granted, that particular question was indeed asking specifically to find those services, and you successfully answered that question. But anyone else could have done the same thing. Anyone else could have done a google search for that area and have found those treatment centers. How would anyone else doing that been any different than your doing it? Should only licensed counselors and medical professionals be able to google search a list of possible resources and post them in an answer?

Again, I am just trying to figure out what your expectations are, because really, I have absolutely no idea on this one, and you have yet to answer the question of, "What should happen with questions like this? Who should make suggestions on calling hotlines? Who should perform google searches for possible services it the poster's area?"

I mean, I get that you have a cause, but the self-righteousness isn't contributing anything useful. And maybe none of us contributed anything useful in that thread (you seem to think so), so take this moment and offer an impartial explanation as to what would have been useful and as to what you think we should do. Educate us on an appropriate response if we're making inappropriate ones. Use it as a teachable moment, cliche as it is. I'll pay attention. What can you teach me about how I should respond to such threads and why? What harm has posting what's been posted there done? What harm could it do? These types of questions are certainly valid to explore and it may be that you've been right all along, but if you don't do more than just throw a tantrum about how we as a community suck, you're not going to get anyone else to agree with you. And not because no one is going to agree with you but because we haven't been afforded a chance to agree with you because we don't know enough about your reasons behind the statements. I might agree with you. I've agreed with you before, but I can't possibly come around to your way of thinking if you don't tell me why I should consider it.
posted by zizzle at 8:32 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


zarq, my comment had little to nothing to do with you individually. I really don't care about people who didn't comment. That's pretty standard--you don't have anything to contribute to an askme, don't comment, that is good. That's not what I'm talking about.

The OP was treated awfully in that thread (and to some extent, in here). Called names, accused of being abusive, a troll, told that she is misusing the site, attention-whoring, stupid, getting off on the responses, highly manipulative, out of line...

I am sick of going through the comments in here and I can't see the comments that were deleted but there's more where that came from. And yes, a lot of the worst comments were deleted but she already saw them.

People seem to be getting defensive of us as a community, like, how dare she imply that we're not the best, smartest, and most helpful community ever!!! It is ridiculous to get defensive and self-congratulatory like that in the context of this post.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 8:54 AM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


That's pretty standard--you don't have anything to contribute to an askme, don't comment, that is good. That's not what I'm talking about.

OK, that's fair.

People seem to be getting defensive of us as a community, like, how dare she imply that we're not the best, smartest, and most helpful community ever!!! It is ridiculous to get defensive and self-congratulatory like that in the context of this post.

Agreed.
posted by zarq at 10:17 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


No, I do not have a history of abusive relationships.

You don't need a history. One abusive relationship is plenty.

And we KNOW he's not 100% jerk. If he were, leaving would be easy and all of us know it's very, very hard.

But some of the other posters are right- the reason people are so agitated is that they've seen people lose so much so often.

When you're in a relationship like this, you don't have the emotional bandwidth to do justice to your own growth, your relationships with friends, family, your job, or, when you're a parent, to your kids. Your boyfriend will ALWAYS be the person who needs the most from you. It will never end. And unless he's working diligently, pro-actively, consistently on his own issues, this is as good as it will ever get.

If he really is working on his issues (and don't they always!), give him a chance to prove it. Tell him you'll give him 3 months- 12 weeks- to show he's sincere and dedicated. Your job is to be his friend. Not his therapist, not his entire support network, not his nurse. Part of a "sincere effort" means gathering these things on his own.

And during those 3 months, find some good friends and family who love you and support you to hang out with. You need to recharge your batteries, too.

If you're like me, you'll discover those 3 months are going to be as hard for you as they are for him.

I end up "addicted" to being someone's savior, and to thinking about HIS problems and how to better HIS life instead of my own. Also, drama feels more real, in some way. The intensity of it, though I deplore it in the moment, makes regular life feel flat. For a lot of us, it's a drug in its own way.

Good luck, sweetie. Lots of have been there. I am guessing a lot of ARE there. It's painful to watch it play out and I am guessing it's breaking your friends' and family's hearts to see you in pain, with no end in sight.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:01 AM on April 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


People seem to be getting defensive of us as a community, like, how dare she imply that we're not the best, smartest, and most helpful community ever!!! It is ridiculous to get defensive and self-congratulatory like that in the context of this post.

That's fair. I'm only specifically responding to the fact that she stated that we didn't "get" her post. A lot of people did and tried to respond. Some people didn't. We don't have a 100% success rate, that's for sure, but the idea that AskMe as a community failed to grok her situation is an accusation that I think is somewhat ridiculous, if the implication is that somewhere there's a community of people on the internet - who you can poll on things in this manner - that will have a better take on the situation. (Maybe there is and I don't know about it, but I know that AskMe is a really great resource for a lot of things and as people have said, a lot of times AskMe has gotten people the kind of help that they wouldn't have been able to get on their own.)

It seems like the people who have legitimately tried to help are being overlooked. Yes, there's a lot that we have to learn about the bad behavior that went on in these threads - we can always strive to be better as we are a group of humans who are by nature imperfect - but to say "we" dropped the ball is just as false as to say that we totally solved her problem. Maybe we weren't as helpful as we could have been, but this isn't black and white - a lot of people responded in good faith trying to reach out. I know some who did so via MeMail rather than in thread (because they told me about it) to avoid the ugliness, but the point is, that ChucknPaintbrushes asked for help and people here tried to provide it.

I don't think we deserve a pat on the back, that's what we're supposed to do, I'm merely defending AskMe from this accusation of total fail. I don't think we did. Yes, we can get better, but no, we didn't "drop the ball" either.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:11 AM on April 23, 2010


that we will treat her as a person with inherent worth no matter what she does or "allows" to be done to her

I have not read the rest of this thread (as much as it pains me to admit), but I wanted to highlight this, a thousand times over. If you are a troll, this will get boring quick. But if you are a confused, drama-seeking young woman whose life has handed her any of a number of fucked-up circumstances that make you think this relationship might be ok, then it cannot possibly hurt.

Speaking as a (not so) young woman whose life handed her a number of fucked up circumstances, hearing people tell me that what I accepted as normal was not normal helped. Not immediately, but tremendously.
posted by jeoc at 6:09 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Straightener, personal attacks that you've been dropping in this thread completely devalue your contributions here. The anger you exhibit toward other posters--as I see it--closes off potential positive answers. I'd like to make it clear I am speaking only of my own feelings here, and while your words could not have been directed at me, I hesitate offering any advice gleaned from over 35 years of living with my partner, for fear of being on the receiving end of the type of closemindedness that insists that only a practicing expert can be of any help in "x" situation. Paraphrasing here, so please don't bother saying you didn't say that, exactly.

One area you are completely wrong about is the value of the collective answers of the community. Particle Swarm Optimization theory--the set of theories that explain the "wisdom" of the hive mind in making decisions doesn't depend on the community thinking it is wiser or better equipped to answer a question. In fact, as I see it, the answers of people who have been in similar situations tend to arrive at the best solution.

Not that we are as smart as insects, we still, collectively, are giving god advice. Nothing binds ChucksandPaintbrushes to take any of the advice. From what I've seen, she has done a pretty good job of ignoring the majority of the advice offered. Your telling people to "fuck off" is really not helping anything.
posted by beelzbubba at 7:34 PM on April 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


The saga continues with yet another AskMe by ChucksNPaintbrushes -- one in which she moderates back-and-forth with those who are trying to answer helpfully.

Is it common for AskMe to be so moderated by the asker of a question?
posted by ericb at 10:01 AM on April 30, 2010


*one in which she moderates back-and-forth (like in the other two) with those who are trying to answer helpfully.*
posted by ericb at 10:03 AM on April 30, 2010


Yeah I'm sort of looking at that and deciding what to do. Usually we don't do much if someone is overmoderating their own thread if we're not in there deleting comments but yeah that's a bit unusual and problematic.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:11 AM on April 30, 2010


It reads to me like a simple misunderstanding of what the site is for - like she's answering people because she feels like she should. The thread ericb linked reads like someone's livejournal post in which the convention is to reply to each comment.

That's not even touching the substance of the posts, it just feels like she's misinterpreted the function of Ask and read "community website" to mean "talking forum."
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:18 AM on April 30, 2010


It seems like she doesn't have anyone to talk to about this stuff, for whatever reason.
posted by Think_Long at 10:20 AM on April 30, 2010


The new question is chatfilter garbage and should be deleted.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:22 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I think grapefruitmoon has it. She feels like she's in a conversation and has to answer people's comments.
posted by gaspode at 10:32 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


This new question seems in bad faith, considering that last week we all spent our time saying: you've asked, we've answered, now don't ask the same question again. It's like she has basically found a backdoor to ask the same question again under a different guise.

If not bad faith, then a lack of understanding about how the site works.

Either way, the utility of the question as it is phrased is pretty low.
posted by greekphilosophy at 10:35 AM on April 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


The utility for us maybe. I think that both last week's question and this week's are helping her loads. She wouldn't even be asking this week's question if she hadn't considered the possibility that some of the advice in the previous thread applied to her and should be heeded. Or at the very least, she's faking it until she makes it. Good on her, that's awesome.

Agreeing with others about slight misunderstanding of site norms though.

And to that end, cut her some fucking slack. It's not the end of the world if somebody talks too much at a party or drops their drink in the bean dip. She's got other things on her mind and is looking for help, not the hive judgment on how her site behavior should be moderated. Gently correct and lets move on. She doesn't really need to feel bad about that too.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:48 AM on April 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


I mean, when you think about it, it sounds like she doesn't have people to talk to about this stuff. And then she comes here and there's sooo much perspective and sharing and advice. Hell, I'd be chatty too. It's exciting and scary and there's all this response from smart people of all walks of life. And a fair amount of judgment to boot. Do you remember how overwhelming this place is when you asked your first anonymous or interpersonal question? How some of the answers stung and stayed with you for days? People you don't even know who's words ring in your ears, using the voices of other people from your past and possibly your future? It gets in there, even if you try to ignore it. The least we can do is be a bit more compassionate. Girl's on a journey. Aren't you too?
posted by iamkimiam at 10:54 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hi, I'm new here and I just posted in that thread and then read this. Oops. Hope I didn't post anything too bad, but in response to iamkimiam's post above: I understand what you are saying and girlfriend needs to talk, etc. but aren't there specific rules to the use of AskMe? Isn't it supposed to be a place to ask a specific, focussed question and get specific, focussed answers? I mean it's AskMe, not ListenToMeWhineAboutMyCrappyBoyfriendButHe'sNotReallyThatBadEvenThoughHeHitsMeAndIsMen-tallyIll. It's not meant to be talk therapy, right? Plus, as I pointed out in my last response on that thread, her question is more or less unanswerable. Is buddy in her class flirting with her? There is no way we can answer that question, especially given the very vague and benign nature of his supposed "flirting", so the question itself is, by definition, "chatty".

Just my "noob" 2 cents.
posted by 1000monkeys at 11:36 AM on April 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


I saw the question, saw the username, thought about flagging it & moving on--but even that required more from me than I was willing to expend on chatfilter.
posted by beelzbubba at 1:19 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just to be clear, I'm not arguing for the chattyness or even the post itself...there's problems with both. I just think the manner and intensity in how we're trying to address it might be a bit overwhelming.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:51 PM on April 30, 2010


Just to be clear, I'm not arguing for the chattyness or even the post itself...there's problems with both. I just think the manner and intensity in how we're trying to address it might be a bit overwhelming.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:51 PM on April 30


Gotcha, thanks for clarifying :)
posted by 1000monkeys at 2:03 PM on April 30, 2010


They are both fine posts. Relax. We're not running out of room. If you don't like them don't read and answer them.

Is buddy in her class flirting with her? There is no way we can answer that question, especially given the very vague and benign nature of his supposed "flirting", so the question itself is, by definition, "chatty".

Yes, we can answer that question, and I (among others) did.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 2:35 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, we can answer that question, and I (among others) did.

Well, we can give our opinions on whether or not we think he was flirting with her, but they aren't going to answer her question--he either is or he isn't and only he knows if he was flirting. All we can give her is our speculation (which I did).

It's not a big deal, and it won't bring the site crashing down, but it's good to clarify what the rules are so that other new people (like myself) know what is and isn't acceptable, and it's good to see how consistent the "rules" are. And given the posting history, it makes one wonder if her questions are really "legit" AskMe questions or just another attempt to approach her situation with her BF and try to get different answers. Obviously, she's confused because she seems to defend him one moment and then try to justify leaving him the next. *shrugs*
posted by 1000monkeys at 3:06 PM on April 30, 2010


They are both fine posts. Relax.

Actually, this is the third post by the same user (under two different usernames) -- each being made weekly for the past three weeks.

The same issues have been addressed and rehashed with the same advice now three times. As well, the user continues to engage in the same "back-and-forth" with others who are giving advice -- often challenging them with a tendency to ignoring what is being suggested/proffered. This is why there has been a running MetaTalk (this one) on this user's behavior, leading some to feel that AskMe is being abused and/or the user does not really understand the purpose of the subsite.

Please take time to read the previous posts, as well as this new one -- April 14 || April 22 || April 29.

Rinse and repeat!

It's getting exhausting and is being considered by some as 'chatfilter.' Same issues, same advice and dialogue.

I think the best advice is for the OP to find someone in real life with whom she can discuss and re-hash (over-and-over) her thoughts, feelings and concerns.

AskMe is likely not the most productive forum for her getting 'answers,' as she continues to take issue with much of the advice being offered.
posted by ericb at 4:52 PM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


If it's exhausting you can always just back away from the keyboard. Good grief. Metafilter HAS moderators and I'm certain they're aware of the situation.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:58 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Metafilter HAS moderators and I'm certain they're aware of the situation.

One is, as above:
"Yeah I'm sort of looking at that and deciding what to do. Usually we don't do much if someone is overmoderating their own thread if we're not in there deleting comments but yeah that's a bit unusual and problematic."
posted by ericb at 5:02 PM on April 30, 2010


The poster does not have to take your advice

It is not a requirement of askmefi

The question is subjective, yes, but askmefi allows subjective questions
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 5:45 PM on April 30, 2010


This thread, and the two preceding it, were extremely frustrating. From her last response:
Alright. I get that you're trying to be helpful; thank you. However, I've seen enough (not so much in this thread but in the other one where I'm being discussed) to know this format is going to do less helping than just causing a problem. I think it's outright hilarious that posting replies is "so far out of the norm" that it's "shocking" everyone. Oh my goodness, my posts need to moderating because...oh...I have a response to something. I'm not being sarcastic either; hopefully you're not reading it that way. In any case, I'm starting to see how this site works. People ask a question and just wait for x amount of people to respond. Doesn't matter that they may have comments they'd like to add as others make their own comments. Doesn't matter that you might have more to say than what the original question was since someone brought up some point. If that's how you get questions answered in life...well, good luck with that.
I just get the feeling that not only is the communicative style of this community not really working for her, but she doesn't really like us very much. The posts feel prickly and defensive and unproductive and make me really, really not want to comment or even try to answer the inevitable question that will come next week.

It's rare that an askMe question makes me feel really cruddy and uncomfortable, but this one does. I suppose I just won't respond next week, but it just feels kind of toxic to the goodwill of the community.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:03 AM on May 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


At this point it's been clear that she's been informed what the general site rules are and how people are viewing her responses. We very rarely delete comments from the OP of a particular question, but we'll do so if they're being sarcastic or shitty towards commenters. She says that her last comment wasn't sarcastic, so taking her at her word, we can see where this goes from here. Hopefully if she doesn't like the way we do things, she can leave or she can adjust. Either one is okay from my perspective.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:16 AM on May 1, 2010


Aaaaand she just broke up with her bf, so she did listen, and did take the advice in her second AskMe.

It's ok. She just hasn't been assimilated yet.
posted by iconomy at 1:15 PM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


She just hasn't been assimilated yet.

That sounds...ominous.

posted by scody at 4:12 PM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


It is.
posted by iconomy at 5:21 PM on May 1, 2010


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