Suicide Prevention By Committee October 7, 2012 5:16 PM   Subscribe

I'm disappointed in the quality and tone of advice to the OP in this question, and I think mefites need a reminder that these scenarios aren't telenovelas or group therapy sessions. The stakes for you as a commenter are very low, but to the poster they are extremely high.

My comment, in which I urged people not to twist the narrative the OP presented into one that was more fitting with our expectations of the scenario, was deleted. I'm disappointed in that too, because I think that when we get to the point where we're literally changing the OP's words so that they fit the advice we're giving, we are no longer treating the problem that's been set before us. However, situations involving suicide involve the utmost of delicacy, which is why (to my understanding) these threads are moderated far more heavily in the first place, and rightly so.

There are some useful questions/comments in the thread, but I can't help feeling that the sum total is maybe more harmful (or at least very confusing) than helpful, and I wish there was a way we could do this kind of thing better, if we are going to do it at all.
posted by hermitosis to Etiquette/Policy at 5:16 PM (282 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

I agree. Speculating that the OP's husband is going to try to kill her or harm their children is really not helpful to anyone.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:22 PM on October 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


Wow. That is some wild speculation, particularly when it's presented as a probability and not an outside possibility.
posted by Glinn at 5:24 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I do not love the question or the thread, and I sort of regret that I didn't step on the murder theorizing right away (and just left a note hopefully heading off further developments along those lines.)

I'm not seeing what you are with that specific response, hermitosis - it's not particularly unusual or out of line to attempt a reframe given the OP's previous question, and it seemed like reasonable advice to me.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:32 PM on October 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Speculating that the OP's husband is going to try to kill her or harm their children is really not helpful to anyone.

I don't think it needed to be said over and over, but it's not so outlandish. Men quite commonly hurt their wives and it hadn't seemed to occur to the OP that there's two parties for whom the life insurance might "pay out" after a suicide.
posted by gerryblog at 5:32 PM on October 7, 2012 [32 favorites]


I think that when we get to the point where we're literally changing the OP's words so that they fit the advice we're giving, we are no longer treating the problem that's been set before us.

Can you be more specific about which answer(s) you are talking about?

In that sentence you linked saucysault's answer - is saucysault's answer the one that is bothering you? Saucysault didn't make any speculations about the husband trying to kill the OP, she took at face value that the husband was suicidal. I also thought that was a very high quality answer, by the way.

Can you explain why that answer bothered you? Or if that wasn't the answer that bothered you, which one was?
posted by cairdeas at 5:33 PM on October 7, 2012


Yeah...I read the thread, made my small contribution and I'm smelling what your stepping in.

I'm not okay with suggesting that if someone researches the legal implications of suicide that they might be planning a potential murder, and I'm interested in reading any studies or reports that suggest that, or, if none exists, a good explanation as to why someone would suggest that.
posted by roboton666 at 5:35 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


is saucysault's answer the one that is bothering you?

Saucysaults was sort of the straw that broke the camel's back for me, after growing more and more uncomfortable throughout the thread. We're telling the OP not only what to do, but what to think about her own relationship, based on the barest of facts, and when there is already a professional involved.
posted by hermitosis at 5:37 PM on October 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Saucysaults was sort of the straw that broke the camel's back for me, after growing more and more uncomfortable throughout the thread.

Okay, which answers were making you uncomfortable? Who did you feel was telling the OP what to do and think? It's really hard to have a discussion about whether an answer was problematic without knowing which ones you're referring to.
posted by cairdeas at 5:40 PM on October 7, 2012


Seems to result from a bad combination of younger age + desire to dramatize by many posters. If they only knew the potential consequences of what they suggest...
posted by Kruger5 at 5:41 PM on October 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm gonna say it, 50 favorites and counting on a comment that suggests the husband might be plotting murder? Based on zero evidence? WHAAAA?!?

He's more likely contemplating suicide because he knows he's fucked up, can't figure out out how to fix himself, loves his wife and family and can't figure out out to get out of the mess. He probably thinks the money is more useful than his life.

Occam's razor people!
posted by roboton666 at 5:45 PM on October 7, 2012 [15 favorites]


We're telling the OP not only what to do, but what to think about her own relationship...

Don't AskMe questions usually involve telling the OP what to do and/or think?
posted by John Cohen at 5:47 PM on October 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


It's really hard to have a discussion about whether an answer was problematic without knowing which ones you're referring to.

Funny, having next to no information hasn't seemed to impede anyone from commenting so far.

As others have pointed out, even presenting the possibility of a Coen Brothers-style murder plot is pretty reckless. I also think that the advice to immediately flee with the children is incredibly presumptive. There are many lives here to consider, and probably more possible outcomes than we can imagine. Deciding to only counsel toward the handful that make sense to me as a random person off the top of my head is maybe fine in recipe advice threads, but could have real consequences in situations like this, if the OP decides to latch onto my answer for whatever reason.

And I can only pray that the OP is better at hiding her internet history than her husband is... shouldn't this question be made anonymous at the very least??
posted by hermitosis at 5:48 PM on October 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Truth is stranger than fiction. It's a possibility however low the probability might be. Has it happened before? I'm sure it has. Is it the most likely scenario? Doesn't seem so. But one never does know. Think the current moderator intervention is fine.
posted by nickrussell at 5:48 PM on October 7, 2012


I'm gonna say it, 50 favorites and counting on a comment that suggests the husband might be plotting murder? Based on zero evidence? WHAAAA?!?

I don't think it is unreasonable at all to suggest that the husband might be considering some sort of violence against the OP. As it stands, in the US, the lifetime risk factor for a woman to be the target of domestic violence is around 22-25%. Currently, the top risk factors that increase a woman's likelihood to become the target of domestic violence are poverty, unemployment, disability, age, pregnancy ... and leaving or planning to leave her relationship.

This is not some far out, random fluke of a thing that might happen to the OP like getting hit by a clown car. This is something that happens to 1 in 4 women.
posted by cairdeas at 5:50 PM on October 7, 2012 [46 favorites]


What if the asker of the question is planning her suicide, and intends to set up her husband for murder by leaving an internet trail while also preventing the pay out of life insurance?

Think about it.
posted by Jehan at 5:51 PM on October 7, 2012 [30 favorites]


As others have pointed out, even presenting the possibility of a Coen Brothers-style murder plot is pretty reckless.

I don't see why. She knows her husband and can decide if it's preposterous. And if it makes something click for her and keeps her safe, then lucky for her that someone said something.

I agree that the thread started to spiral off into a silly place, but what's the harm in saying it once? Again, men quite commonly harm their wives; it's not as if the very idea of domestic violence is absurd or something.
posted by gerryblog at 5:52 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jehan wins this round...
posted by roboton666 at 5:52 PM on October 7, 2012


Cairdeas: Why not just say that, then?
posted by roboton666 at 5:53 PM on October 7, 2012


This is something that happens to 1 in 4 women.

What is, being murdered by someone so they can cash in your life insurance policy? Because that is what people have been suggesting in the thread.
posted by hermitosis at 5:54 PM on October 7, 2012 [28 favorites]


Is it likely that OP's husband is planning to murder her? Probably not since the evidence is nonexistent. Is it, however, probable? Of course, especially since women do in fact get murdered in relation with getting a separation or divorce. Desperate men can do horrible things.

Anyways, OP seems to be handling the situation fine so far so maybe we should give her more credit and not impose some self-censorship.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 5:54 PM on October 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is not some far out, random fluke of a thing that might happen to the OP like getting hit by a clown car. This is something that happens to 1 in 4 women.

By 'this' you mean domestic violence in general, not dastardly premeditated murder plots, right? Cause otherwise that nimber seems mighty high
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:55 PM on October 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


cairdeas: This is not some far out, random fluke of a thing that might happen to the OP like getting hit by a clown car. This is something that happens to 1 in 4 women.

hermitosis: What is, being murdered by someone so they can cash in your life insurance policy? Because that is what people have been suggesting in the thread.


No, becoming the target of domestic violence as a woman living in the USA. I honestly am a little stunned you're trying to frame the risk of domestic violence as something wacky, stupid, and ridiculous for women to be concerned about.
posted by cairdeas at 6:00 PM on October 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


"On average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in this country every day. (Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report, Intimate Partner Violence and Age of Victim 1993-9, October 2001.)"

Again, not saying that murder is the likely scenario here but it does happen frequently enough that mentioning the possibility isn't unwarranted.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 6:00 PM on October 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


By 'this' you mean domestic violence in general, not dastardly premeditated murder plots, right? Cause otherwise that nimber seems mighty high

Yes, that's right.
posted by cairdeas at 6:00 PM on October 7, 2012


"On average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in this country every day."

In 2005 in the US (the most recent year I could find a specific number for), 1181 women were murdered by a husband or a boyfriend.
posted by cairdeas at 6:03 PM on October 7, 2012


I like that this dastardly plotter left the evidence precisely where a suspicious wife would be looking to keep track of him. But wait! Perhaps it's a complex double bluff!
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:07 PM on October 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I like that this dastardly plotter left the evidence precisely where a suspicious wife would be looking to keep track of him. But wait! Perhaps it's a complex double bluff!

It has happened.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 6:13 PM on October 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


cairdeas, I'm not going to continue this willfully dense domestic violence derail with you. Domestic violence is not what was being warned about in the thread.

Even then, gently broaching the subject would be one thing, but that is not what we had, or even currently have. This extreme scaremongering is the concern, in which the OP is painted as the potential victim of an insurance fraud murder, and her children need to be evacuated at once. All because of a single internet search result she found.

The thread has thankfully been cleaned up a bit, but it's still problematic considering the TOTAL LACK of evidence that this plays any role in the OP's problem, and if these dire alarm calls are the kind of "domestic violence" warnings you're comfortable offering to people in a crisis, then you are exactly the kind of person I've directed this post toward.

The OP stated more than once that there is a counselor involved who is familiar with their situation. This is the person who knows how much danger the OP and her husband are likely in. That person's thoughts and the OP's are the only ones that really matter for the time being. Instead of using your imagination to brace the OP for the most outlandish possible outcomes, use your imagination to protect a person in a terrible situation from reading something that might make them question the advice of real people who know what the motherfuck they're talking about.
posted by hermitosis at 6:14 PM on October 7, 2012 [16 favorites]


cairdeas -

This isn't doubting your numbers, but I have an interest in crime statistics and normally rely on the FBI's UCR or the CDC's WISQARS mortality index. The FBI in 1995 didn't (apparently) keep track of relationship between victim and killer. According to WISQARS, the number you state accounts for about 1/3 of female homicide victims overall in 1995.

I'm sure this is a LMGTFY kind of thing, but I'd love o know the source for your number.
posted by timfinnie at 6:18 PM on October 7, 2012


hermitosis, what's the harm supposed to be? The OP is a grownup; if the advice is outlandish and not applicable to her situation she can decide that.

If the OP were my friend and contemplating leaving her husband, regardless of what she and I thought we knew about the husband, I'd advise her to make sure her children were someplace safe and that she herself were someplace safe when she told him she was leaving. Even though this sort of domestic violence is rare, it's definitely common enough to be prudent about it.

That a man facing divorce (and, in his case, what he might perceive as public humiliation when people find out the reason this happened) might react violently is not some absurd, impossible notion, to be found only in our silliest and least realistic fictions.

I really don't understand the outrage.
posted by gerryblog at 6:21 PM on October 7, 2012 [17 favorites]


It is odd that this thread is becoming about the violence women unfortunately have to endure as justification for bringing it up the AskMe thread.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:23 PM on October 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


It has happened.

I would argue there's a rather large difference between "the police found it after going through a lengthy and in at least one case half deleted history on a possibly private computer" and "left as the last item on the computer I share with my wife who doesn't trust me."

The difference between leaving something buried in the filing cabinet versus on the kitchen table really...
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:23 PM on October 7, 2012


That a man facing divorce

Who on earth mentioned divorce? Oh right, WE did.

The couple are separating to work on their problems, there was some sense of hope in the original question (at least on the husband's part) that reuniting might be possible.
posted by hermitosis at 6:25 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd like to imagine a reality-based community...
posted by roboton666 at 6:25 PM on October 7, 2012


Who on earth mentioned divorce?

She said she wanted a separation. Don't be dense.
posted by gerryblog at 6:25 PM on October 7, 2012


How is that dense? Couples try separation all the time, sometimes it results in divorce, sometimes it doesn't. This couple hasn't even done more than TALK about separation so far.
posted by hermitosis at 6:27 PM on October 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


In a question about anything as delicate as suicide, details matter. And not just the ones that instantly spring to mind based on the last episode of CSI or The View that you watched.
posted by hermitosis at 6:29 PM on October 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


A man whose wife asks for a separation is quite obviously facing divorce. "Facing" doesn't imply certitude, it implies possibility.

I'm sorry I sniped and said you were being dense, that was rude. But you're definitely being needlessly pedantic.
posted by gerryblog at 6:29 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Who on earth mentioned divorce? Oh right, WE did

I think you're kinda pushing it. Most of the same advice is given for both, and many people view one as a step to the other.

Were the edit window a little longer we could all go back and change the word "divorce" to "separation" with little change to content in the thread.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:31 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


She said she wanted a separation.

This is what the OP wrote, emphasis mine:
After walking around angry for months with no real emotional "improvement" in my desire to be intimate with him we discussed separation last night. He was comforting, said he would support me, that our children need a happy mother, that this might be our only chance at me getting some space and loving him again. We said we would work to figure out the logistics of it all and I cried a lot.
The couple discussed separation, with the clear idea that it would measure to see if she would regain her trust and love of him.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:34 PM on October 7, 2012


The murder possibility popped into my head as I read the question, though I can't articulate why. I really don't think people are sitting there thinking "What's the most absurd response I can think of to this question?"
posted by hoyland at 6:37 PM on October 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


Oh and of course the last bit, it is not unusual for people (including possibly the asker) to use the word separation as a synonym for divorce. Although as per Brandon that doesn't seem to be the case.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:38 PM on October 7, 2012


The couple discussed separation, with the clear idea that it would measure to see if she would regain her trust and love of him.

And if she can't? What happens then? The other side of the "if" in your reply is a divorce.

So when hermitosis writes "Who on earth mentioned divorce? Oh right, WE did," that strikes me as absurd overspecification of the scope of the question.
posted by gerryblog at 6:39 PM on October 7, 2012


In a question about anything as delicate as suicide, details matter. And not just the ones that instantly spring to mind based on the last episode of CSI or The View that you watched.

I'm curious why you keep bringing up telenovelas and The View as where people concerned about the OP in this situation must be getting their concern from. Only stupid women would be concerned about something like this? Only stupid Hispanic women would be concerned about something like this?
posted by cairdeas at 6:39 PM on October 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


And speaking of jumping to conclusions!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:40 PM on October 7, 2012 [12 favorites]


Hey, I watch The View too. Are you saying men can't watch The View? What are you trying to say?
posted by hermitosis at 6:40 PM on October 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Wow, I am so sorry I wasted my time here.
posted by cairdeas at 6:41 PM on October 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm curious why you keep bringing up telenovelas and The View as where people concerned about the OP in this situation must be getting their concern from. Only stupid women would be concerned about something like this? Only stupid Hispanic women would be concerned about something like this?

Seriously? I feel like you are bringing the ridiculous to this thread. Hermitosis is going on about stupid hispanic women now?
posted by kbanas at 6:42 PM on October 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Hoyland: I hold us all to a higher standard. The first inclination should always be tested a few different ways. If it holds, make the case and present the supporting evidence.
posted by roboton666 at 6:42 PM on October 7, 2012


And if she can't? What happens then? The other side of the "if" in your reply is a divorce.

Look, you wrote she asked for separation. She didn't, the couple discussed it, divorce hasn't been mentioned by the OP.

That's my only point here. If you want speculate about what else is going in that relationship, that is your right, but I don't think it helps the OP.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:43 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, I am so sorry I wasted my time here

Indeed. The time you spent implying that only stupid women and stupid Hispanic women watch CSI was completely wasted.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:43 PM on October 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


Look, you wrote she asked for separation.

What I wrote is that the husband of the OP is "facing divorce," which is true. It's an issue now because hermitosis ignored everything else I said in response to his earlier comments in the thread in order to nitpick what seems to me to be a self-evidently correct restatement of the situation.

Are we going to have a conversation about the AskMe, or are we going to bicker about what words mean until the mods close the thread in disgust?
posted by gerryblog at 6:50 PM on October 7, 2012


1000 murders per year makes it worth mentioning? This is a 300,000,000 person country. It's a much less wild guess to suggest cancer and cholesterol screenings -- and it's still just as irrelevant.
posted by michaelh at 6:54 PM on October 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I strongly suspect that cairdeas has come after me so strongly in this thread because of some ridiculous back-and-forths (public and private) that we've had in the past, which is a shame because I think in general she gives pretty good advice in AskMe.

It's actually a shame either way, because I think any frequent AskMe participant could stand to step back from this mess of a thread and see where the helpfulness ends and the group storytelling exercise begins. Trying to remain aware of this occasional aspect of our community has made a big difference in how (or whether) I comment. Raising that awareness was my main purpose in posting this thread.
posted by hermitosis at 6:57 PM on October 7, 2012 [11 favorites]


Honestly, something about the post really triggered a ton of alarm bells, and I think the same happened for quite a few other people, because it is just not normal for a spouse to suddenly start researching insurance policies in tandem with suicide right after apparently agreeing to reconcile with their partner. Honestly, who does that? I still think that it's the OP's husband who views the OP as suicidal (and not some kind of murder plot in the making), which none of us can know for sure, and I don't like that the husband got all offended when the OP asked him about what was going on. Something is just really off about all of this. If anything, I think the kids should stay with relatives so these two can focus on going to a counselor and sort out whatever the hell's been going on so they can get back to being a proper team again.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 7:05 PM on October 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


Metafilter: none of us can no for sure
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:07 PM on October 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Though it made me uncomfortable, the idea totally popped into my head as I read the question too. Women are sometimes murdered by their husbands/partners at the point of relationship breakdown. It happens in real life, all over the world—not just in telenovellas and Coen Bros movies. I didn't leave a comment about it in the AskMe thread because I didn't want to a) be weirdly alarmist; and b) trigger an unpleasant Meta thread in which I'd have to defend myself. But when someone else posted the idea, I was kinda relieved it had at least been mentioned, and favourited the comment. I know of two nice, unremarkable, middle-class women in my (very, very) extended social network who were murdered by their nice, unremarkable husbands just at the point when separation was being discussed, so even aside from crime statistics and news stories about family annihilation, it's on my radar. I'm not saying the OP is in danger, but it's not like it doesn't happen.
posted by hot soup girl at 7:08 PM on October 7, 2012 [20 favorites]


Thanks, Joseph Gurl, I caught that just as I pressed post. Honestly, I swear I passed English when I was younger. I swear.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 7:08 PM on October 7, 2012


The people who are mostly worried about the OP's safety are the ones who really ought be advocating for making her question anonymous, since her username contains identifying info and her account is most likely to be easily traced from the home computer which she and her husband so fatefully share.
posted by hermitosis at 7:12 PM on October 7, 2012


What if the asker of the question is planning her suicide, and intends to set up her husband for murder by leaving an internet trail while also preventing the pay out of life insurance?

What if the asker's husband is having an affair with a massage parlor massager who has a Metafilter account and is setting them both up in order to cover up a political conspiracy involving a Senator up for reelection, unpaid gambling debts, a military contractor, a pharmaceutical company, an acne drug that causes chronic and embarrassing flatulence, and, tangentially, a life insurance company? Think about it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:16 PM on October 7, 2012 [23 favorites]


I do have to say that I am completely baffled about the murder thing. It obviously has rung a great big bell with the community at large, but to me it seems like such a low probability event as to be ridiculous.

I object to the answers based on the fact that people in the world have enough stupid things to be scared of. They can fear spider bites or going down in a plane or being killed by terrorists. Hell, telling this woman that her husband may be planning to kill her and make it look like a suicide is about as useful as telling her that the car that just flashed its headlights is full of gang members who are going to kill her as an initiation ritual. Yeah, I'm sure it has happened on occasion but really I don't need my mailbox full of dire warnings from my well meaning aunt.

Which maybe should be our criteria for AskMe answers. When someone asks for advice about a car, "Don't get an SUV because gang members hide under them and stab people's ankles" should be off the list. When asked about Macys vs Nordstroms for kids clothes maybe we could skip "neither because people will abduct your son and put a hat, wig, and new clothes on him to smuggle him out the door." And for god's sake when they ask Mac vs PC could we leave the Good Times virus out of it?

I realize that people supporting this answer are every bit as well meaning as my aunt, but I would submit that you have likely done the same amount of research that she does before sending these little fear bombs out into the world.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:17 PM on October 7, 2012 [12 favorites]


hermitosis, do I understand correctly that you posted to that thread and urged people not to warp/distort the information provided by the OP? And that the moderators then DELETED your concerns but left the posts predicting murder scenarios in place?
posted by 99percentfake at 7:27 PM on October 7, 2012


I think we agree that the asker needs a professional (beyond the current councellor) to step in at this point. That was the main point of both my comments in that thread.

If you read both her questions and previous comments she repeatedly mentions her husband blaming her, avoiding responsibility for his actions. In the pull quote she clearly felt she was at fault for not trusting someone that had proved repeatedly to be untrustworthy -and- over a period of months had shown he was not willing to work towards gaining her trust back. That belief that you are responsible for someone else's actions is like manna to someone prone to suicidal threats as a means of manipulation.

That he was able to hide his cheating for years speaks to someone pretty experienced in being deceptive and putting himself first. Then he "accidentally" leaves evidence that he is thinking of suicide (but the good, selfless type that "leaves his family better off", giving the impression he really always has put his family first). That made me immediately suspect manipulation - not murder.

Maybe the husband is really in distress and needs a professional to help him through his distress. Or maybe he has escalated his pattern of shifting responsibility to his wife - claiming "I'll kill myself if you leave me!" is pretty sterotypical emotional abuse that keeps a lot of people in unhealthy relationships. Hence, my advice to get a professional involved and take a big step back so the professionals can work without her accidentally interfering in their work. And giving the OP space and energy to work on her own distress.

If there is emotional abuse happening in the relationship then the current couples councellor is actually now (unwillingly) part of the problem. A couples councellor is not suitable for an abusive relationship where the abuse outside the sessions prevents the sessions from being a safe space. Already the OP has mentioned her husband was dismayed she discussed his search history with two other people - isolation is common motif in abusive relationships too. I would worry the OP's husband would also minimise the distress he is causing her (by making her worry about his suicide) in a joint session, or try to convince her to "not make a fuss" about it.

Clearly this is a very upsetting situation for the OP, one she recognises is outside her ability to cope alone and my heart goes out to her and her children. I hope she finds help for herself, and her relationship with her husband, whether as partners or co-parents, improves.
posted by saucysault at 7:27 PM on October 7, 2012 [14 favorites]


What if the wife takes her children in a panic and hides. What if the husband wasn't actually planning an insurance fraud murder, but this leads a troubled but reconcilable marriage to a bitter end. What if their children grow up with acrimonious parents because their mom listened to a bunch of idiots on the internet.

OR

What if we stopped allowing the kinds of questions where any random yahoo who paid $5 can give reckless advice to vulnerable askers--who feel like they need to turn to the internet as their best resource.
posted by danny the boy at 7:35 PM on October 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


hermitosis, do I understand correctly that you posted to that thread and urged people not to warp/distort the information provided by the OP? And that the moderators then DELETED your concerns but left the posts predicting murder scenarios in place?

In the thread I didn't mention the murder stuff at all, I only addressed my comment to saucysault's, and then sort of to the rest of the thread in general.

I really didn't mean to make this a call-out of what you posted, saucysault, but I'm glad you fleshed your thoughts out here because I think this is all reasonable to consider.
posted by hermitosis at 7:36 PM on October 7, 2012


A man, a plan, a Senator, a military contractor, a pharmaceutical company, an acne drug, a life insurance company: AskMetafilter.
posted by emumimic at 7:37 PM on October 7, 2012


You know, it's perfectly possible to bring up the subject of domestic violence in a question like that without being alarmist. There's nothing stopping any of us from asking questions of the OP for clarification and bring up the subject gently, without making too many assumptions, or scaring the shit out of her.

I don't answer a lot of questions on Ask, but reading the threads I feel sometimes that folks are trying so hard to be helpful in their answers that they don't necessarily think to ask follow-up questions before answering.
posted by zarq at 7:42 PM on October 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


That thread was very, very strange to watch unfold. I have no idea how to have helped it go more right.
posted by ead at 7:54 PM on October 7, 2012


because it is just not normal for a spouse to suddenly start researching insurance policies in tandem with suicide right after apparently agreeing to reconcile with their partner.

i think it's very normal, after a stressful situation, to want to distract yourself on the internet. i could definitely see him feeling like shit, and with a morbid curiosity, researching that without thinking through the consequences or remembering to delete the history.

FWIW, most life insurance contracts state that the death benefit will not be paid if the death is a result of suicide within a few years of the contract being signed.
posted by cupcake1337 at 8:02 PM on October 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I really didn't mean to make this a call-out of what you posted, saucysault,

Thank you hermitosis. May I make the gentle suggestion that you do not then make the sole comment link in your quite long post to a comment you "did not mean to make this a call-out of" in future?
posted by saucysault at 8:08 PM on October 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Months before my dad left my mom, his internet history showed his plans and emotional affairs. It was a shared computer that was in a common area. He thought she was too dumb to find it. Just because it was easy to find doesn't mean he meant for her to see it. If he did intend she find it, i agree that in conjunction with his past behavior and reactions, it seems manipulative at least and abusive at worst.
posted by nadawi at 8:17 PM on October 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


The hatred of men on this site frightens me. Cortex recently taught me that the point here wasn't to do the right thing, but to get along. I'm afraid, but I'm convinced that I can't help Mefi. I guess I can pray for a safe outcome.
posted by stubby phillips at 8:25 PM on October 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I strongly suspect that cairdeas has come after me so strongly in this thread because of some ridiculous back-and-forths (public and private) that we've had in the past, which is a shame because I think in general she gives pretty good advice in AskMe.

I would like to tell you something very sincerely. It is very important to me, personally, that domestic violence is taken seriously, that the risk of domestic violence is taken seriously and people are aware of how prevalent it really is, and it doesn't become something that people are ridiculed and group-shamed for bringing up as a possibility. The reason I care about the topic, and talk about it, is not that "i want to persecute hermitosis" or "ridiculous back-and-forths with hermitosis," but because I spent my childhood in a home with daily domestic violence, and because I was also in once in a relationship that ended with me being lifted completely off the ground and thrown down a set of stairs by my boyfriend.

I came into this thread ready and willing to talk about the thread you asked us to talk about. I asked you which comment you considered to be problematic. Then I gave a brief, dispassionate, and sincere explanation of why I thought it was reasonable to suggest in the thread that the OP might be at risk of domestic violence.

You responded by calling me "willfully dense" and calling my statement about domestic violence risk a "derail." Then you made a really snide dig about how I shouldn't just say what springs to mind from watching The View. A blatant dig at my gender that I quite honestly would have never expected from you.

It is a shame, because this thread could have been done way better.
posted by cairdeas at 8:33 PM on October 7, 2012 [61 favorites]


In the thread I didn't mention the murder stuff at all, I only addressed my comment to saucysault's, and then sort of to the rest of the thread in general.

Fair enough. I would just say several of the answers to that question left a lot to be desired. And I don't know you from a hole in the wall, but that thread could have benefited from some of the level-headedness you have shown here.
posted by 99percentfake at 8:36 PM on October 7, 2012


Oh stubby, take your ludicrous misandry fantasies off to your blog or the men's rights forum you so clearly belong or something. You sure manage to post a lot on a community that terrifies you...

On-topic, I thought that thread was structured in a way almost guaranteed to spark a debate off, when married to the adamantine certainty that most answerers bring to questions.

I tend to agree that the tenor of many answers was not especially helpful. So it goes with ye olde human relationships category sometimes. A little less reflexivity would certainly help a few mefites, as would an understanding that someone's real life question and anguish is not like discussing Sookie's antics on a television forum, and it saddens me to see sometimes that OPs and their situations are clearly being reduced to morality plays with which community members can establish their own personal mores and ethics, with a sideserve of speculation.

But then, it rarely happens at this level, even in human relations questions, so I dunno if there is (ironically) "an" answer. I personally wouldn't recommend that someone in a delicate space ever post a question to askme, esp not anonymously or as-good-as. Sure it works out sometimes, but you never know what one arrant word or sentence can produce.
posted by smoke at 8:37 PM on October 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


smoke, i guess you're right. i probably should go away.
posted by stubby phillips at 8:43 PM on October 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


There are bunches of murder-suicides out there, and bunches of murderers who planned to commit suicide after but didn't, and bunches of would-be suicides who claim they never intended murder, but meant only to kill themselves in front of the person they ended up murdering.

I have no idea what percentages those scenarios represent, but if that thread had not brought up the possibility of murder, I think it would have failed badly.
posted by jamjam at 8:45 PM on October 7, 2012 [13 favorites]


all alcoholics started with milk.
posted by cupcake1337 at 8:51 PM on October 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


roboton666 writes "I'm gonna say it, 50 favorites and counting on a comment that suggests the husband might be plotting murder? Based on zero evidence? WHAAAA?!?"

You can turn off favorites in your profile settings and it completely eliminates this source of GRAR!!!! You still see them on your profile page but the numbers don't show up under comments. I've been using the site this way since the great November experiment and it is much less stressful.

nadawi writes "Just because it was easy to find doesn't mean he meant for her to see it. If he did intend she find it, i agree that in conjunction with his past behavior and reactions, it seems manipulative at least and abusive at worst."

Or maybe the guy watched Bulworth and was wondering about the feasibility of the plot. Users sure are hanging a lot of weight on the occurrence of an internet search. I google stuff like this all the time without having any intention of doing the thing I'm finding out about; I just like to know how stuff works.
posted by Mitheral at 9:09 PM on October 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Seriously, bulworth? That seems a much bigger stretch than anything suggested in the thread.

It's not users who are putting the weight on the search, it's his wife and mother of his children who was worried enough to ask the green. I trust she knows him better than we do.
posted by nadawi at 9:23 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think it is unreasonable at all to suggest that the husband might be considering some sort of violence against the OP. As it stands, in the US, the lifetime risk factor for a woman to be the target of domestic violence is around 22-25%.

But by this logic it would be appropriate to post something along the lines of "are you sure he isn't planning to murder you?" in every single question which involves a potential breakup. Which seems patently ridiculous. You might as well write a "don't get murdered!" macro and post in in all the relationship questions.

Using a lifetime risk factor for all forms of domestic violence as the basis for the murder plot speculation does nobody any favors; no the OP, not the husband, and not any of us reading the answers.
posted by Justinian at 9:29 PM on October 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


I came into this thread ready and willing to talk about the thread you asked us to talk about. I asked you which comment you considered to be problematic. Then I gave a brief, dispassionate, and sincere explanation of why I thought it was reasonable to suggest in the thread that the OP might be at risk of domestic violence.

I responded to your first comment very reasonably, but when you started on about how it's "really hard to have a discussion about whether an answer was problematic without knowing which ones you're referring to," when there were already several problematic comments being discussed, it struck me as unnecessarily condescending, and/or, at the very least willfully dense. I do not feel like you were discussing in good faith, which was sort of obvious to more eyes than my own by the time you painted me as hating on everyone's abuelas.

Then you made a really snide dig about how I shouldn't just say what springs to mind from watching The View. A blatant dig at my gender that I quite honestly would have never expected from you.

I didn't mention you or address that comment toward you, so I am confused by how you read this as a "blatant" anything. It's also not the first time you have accused me of attacking your gender, which by the way pretty rich considering my personal life, my career, and my participation in feminism threads on this site. Clearly a male who questions your motives or thinks ill of your contributions must be a misogynist? Right then.

As I said above, I often watch The View (and have actually even been to a taping of The View), so I don't really get how I'm "blatantly" digging at anything other than maybe loud, pandering arguments which are maybe not as relevant or artfully presented as they could be.

I hate it when people talk about the "race card" or the "gender card" because it's usually an excuse to not have to open up your perspective to what someone else is saying. You play these cards over and over though, and when I dismiss them it's not because I am insensitive to women or don't want to check my privilege. It's because I think you're making noisy ass of yourself, and maybe if you stop talking for five minutes someone else can come along and make the same point, only better, in half as much space.

You sort of have to trust others in the community to do that sometimes. For example, I had made this post and everyone disagreed with me, I would have been irritated but I'd have had to admit it was just a "me" thing and bowed out gracefully -- regardless of, for example, how many suicide close-calls I'd had on my hands in the past. But it seems that some people shared my concerns, or at least thought it was worth discussing. You aren't interested in discussing anything, because you have your own agenda to present (we've been there before), and you are going to steer things in that direction until we are either all in agreement with or sympathetic to you, OR exposed as insensitive misogynists.

Forgive me for not wanting to play that game.
posted by hermitosis at 9:29 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whoa, smoke...the "ludicrous misandry fantasies" phrase seems a bit under the belt. Is there something I am missing about stubby's commenting history? I know the grey isn't for the faint hearted, but that just seems unnecessarily conversation stopping. Which seems to have worked, since the account seems disabled.

I doubt any of us, you included, would like to be spoken to with such a tone of derision.
posted by anitanita at 9:50 PM on October 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


You can turn off favorites in your profile settings and it completely eliminates this source of GRAR!!!! You still see them on your profile page but the numbers don't show up under comments. I've been using the site this way since the great November experiment and it is much less stressful.

I'd favourite this comment, but who'd even know.
(no seriously, everybody, turn off favourites! This site is absolutely infuriating to look at with a score telling me which comments are popular)
posted by Chuckles at 9:54 PM on October 7, 2012


The hatred of men on this site frightens me.

What the fuck
posted by to sir with millipedes at 10:14 PM on October 7, 2012 [29 favorites]


This thread is also very strange to watch unfold. Like the topic is meta cursed.
posted by ead at 10:15 PM on October 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


I really don't think people are sitting there thinking "What's the most absurd response I can think of to this question?"

Ooooh, I do this.

But I don't generally type what springs forth into the comment box.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:16 PM on October 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


good riddance
posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:24 PM on October 7, 2012


AskMe ( and threads in general) go off the rails because people comment on the previous comments, not the OP. This is simply because you have to scroll past all the comments to get to the comment box. It is like a game of telephone, facts appear, suspicions are raised tentatively and then somehow become etched in stone, people tease out edge cases and extremes to make a point.

I can see how people could think that men who are the subjects of AskMes get uncharitable treatment. I don't think it is true though, I think people simply side with the OP in most cases. Not all cases of course, but enough that the times people don't side with the OP it turns into a total shit show, like fedora guy and banjo guy and trunk cookies and mysterious orange substances, and become part of MeFi lore.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:31 PM on October 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


The hatred of men on this site frightens me.

I do NOT sense disproportionate hatred of men on this site. I think everyone sort of hates each other equally, which is a sort of novel balance to encounter. If you're used to boyzone internet, then you're rarely confronted in these ways. If you're more used to feminist safe-space internet, then you're used to a certain inclusive quality of discourse and an appreciation for people's feelings.

We are in a middle place that is sort of awkward for lots of people. It's a place where we have to be mindful of what we say to each other, but where our special snowflake feelings aren't necessarily that important.

I definitely think that we have got to avoid an "if you disagree with me, that means you've got a problem with ALL OF US" attitude creeping in from just about any camp.
posted by hermitosis at 10:33 PM on October 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Please don't call me a "noisy ass," hermitosis, or any other names. I did my best to engage your concerns with sincerity, and yes, I did speak my piece on this topic, because you asked for the thoughts of the site. I really, really don't think I deserved that torrent of vitriol for that, but if that's what you wanted to say, so be it.
posted by cairdeas at 10:50 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think you've each made your positions on the post itself clear, and it's now time to stop the public fight with each other.
posted by taz (staff) at 10:56 PM on October 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Intimate partner violence is super-common - 36% of women and 29% of men have experienced rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime, and 5.6% of women and 5.3% of men have experienced one of those in the previous 12 months (National Intimate Partner Violence Survey Executive Summary, 2010, pdf, p.2). With the understanding there's some apples-and-oranges issues, that's about as common as the 3.9% of adult females and 3.5% of adult males who had seriously thought about suicide in the previous 12 months (National Survey on Drug Use and Health data, 2008-2009, Crosby et al., pdf, slide 13). So as long as we're wondering whether OP's husband is seriously thinking about suicide based on his google history, we might as well ponder whether he means to stalk, rape, or hurt her based on the fact he's her intimate partner. (And yes, we could also contemplate whether she means to hurt him, or whether he thinks she will.)

This is the stuff of telenovelas, yes, but so are a lot of things that happen commonly (shouting, death, unfortunate eyeshadow choices).
posted by gingerest at 11:02 PM on October 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


So as long as we're wondering whether OP's husband is seriously thinking about suicide based on his google history, we might as well ponder whether he means to stalk, rape, or hurt her based on the fact he's her intimate partner. (And yes, we could also contemplate whether she means to hurt him, or whether he thinks she will.)

Yes, I agree that these things are interesting to ponder, but they are maybe not useful to say out loud to a person who is struggling through the very early stages a crisis, unless there is evidence to warrant them or you are in a position to offer more meaningful support.

I accept that a lot of people's minds went there, and I also accept that AskMe is basically a public forum where a whole spectrum of responses (constructive or otherwise) may accrue. I guess I no longer believe that we as a community should be turned loose on questions like this one, and I feel terrible for anyone sitting up trying to pick through the responses and determine who is worth listening to.

While you're up, taz, I guess I'll go ahead and also come right out and ask why that question hasn't been anonymized for the sake of the poster's safety.
posted by hermitosis at 11:17 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


We don't arbitrarily anonymize posts when the OP hasn't requested it. If it seems to us that someone is not thinking clearly and has revealed identifying info in a fraught situation, we might (I have) deleted posts,with attempts to communicate with the OP to talk about the situation.

I'm not seeing identifying information for the OP (except perhaps to the husband, which would be the same info under a sockpuppet name, which this seems to be, or under "anonymous")... am I missing something?
posted by taz (staff) at 11:23 PM on October 7, 2012


Sooooooooo...yeah, that was kind of weird.

I feel really badly for the OP, because, gods, she just wanted some help in knowing what to do. And now...this. Ugh.

The potentials ranging from idle curiosity to craven manipulation on through to dire violence towards self or others clearly incited heightened emotions in some, and they weren't able (or willing) to dial it back enough to give warning without raising alarm, I guess? I only know what's been recorded here, because the thread has definitely been cleaned up a lot based on some of the things referenced here that aren't there now.

Even with some of the things that remained, there's still some cloudiness in even restrained responses based on the high emotional content of the topic(s) involved. I think I might have fallen prey to some of it in reading nickrussell's comment.

My takeaway on this is to read that type of question very carefully (even comments, especially follow-ups), then think and re-think if the answer I'm giving is calm, serious, and accurate. And, if I can't manage all three, to reconsider commenting or at least edit until what I have is as useful as can be.

And it is confusing to have the comment linked in the call-out not be an example of what was being called out, so I do hope that's taken into account if this ever comes up again.
posted by batmonkey at 11:26 PM on October 7, 2012


I'm going to reprint gerryblog's comment, with a little editing to take out references to other mefites, because I think it is the right one here:

what's the harm supposed to be? The OP is a grownup; if the advice is outlandish and not applicable to her situation she can decide that.

If the OP were my friend and contemplating leaving her husband, regardless of what she and I thought we knew about the husband, I'd advise her to make sure her children were someplace safe and that she herself were someplace safe when she told him she was leaving. Even though this sort of domestic violence is rare, it's definitely common enough to be prudent about it.

That a man facing divorce (and, in his case, what he might perceive as public humiliation when people find out the reason this happened) might react violently is not some absurd, impossible notion, to be found only in our silliest and least realistic fictions.

I really don't understand the outrage.



I read a weird and tragic story today about a 17 year old boy that shot his sister and mom for no reason, and then called 911 to report his crime. I'm still kind of amazed about the murder/suicide in Jennifer Hudson's family, and that happened a fews years ago and went through the courts already. Women get murdered by "loved ones" all of the time. As a female, I don't need stats or anecdata to tell me I'm more vulnerable to random or personal violence than most men. That's obvious.

People flip out and do weird things.

The advice to be open and tell was GREAT. After that, the mods did their job well.

There's nothing to see here. Moderation on AskMe worked as designed.

The End.
posted by jbenben at 11:28 PM on October 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


taz, it's the info identifying the asker to the husband that I'm concerned about. It hadn't occurred to me that this might be a sockpuppet account for a more experienced user. If it is, then maybe the OP has weighed the risk. If it's just a less experienced poster, then I basically think it's not so wise/safe in this case to have such an unmistakeable line drawn between her username and her real life identity in a case like this, and I wonder whether the OP has even considered that, or knows that anonymizing after the fact is an option.

I get that you don't anonymize without a request, I just didn't know whether there had been any contact at all between mods and OP, or whether I should suggest it in a comment in the original thread.

(Although, I guess now it seems best that I stay miles away from the thread.)
posted by hermitosis at 11:40 PM on October 7, 2012


Sorry, I meant "sockpuppet," as in specifically "no identifying info" – I have no idea if this user has another Metafilter account. But I'm still confused about what you are seeing that would make the post more identifiable with the user name (as opposed to "anonymous"), which doesn't have any identifying info attached to it?

What is the unmistakeable line drawn between her username and her real life identity that wouldn't exist in exactly the same way if it was posted by anonymous? Except for number of children? The details of the post itself would be the same to the husband with either a no-info user name (as it is now), or anonymous... but with a user name the OP has the option to reply in-thread. (Also, the OP knows the meaning of "OP" which suggests familiarity with the scene.)

But at any rate, many times people do suggest anonymization in threads, and that's always perfectly fine.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:52 PM on October 7, 2012


I doubt any of us, you included, would like to be spoken to with such a tone of derision.

Forgive me, when someone's hurling about words that are in effect chauvinist persecution complex - on metafilter - my temper grows short. It was an unproductive, sensational comment on a topic that's well and truly hashed out here. In that sense, I feel that saying this site has an unparalleled "hatred" of men, is ludicrous, is a misandrist fantasy.

I hope that when I project my internal difficulties onto the site in such a histrionic and unhelpful manner that I, too, get taken to account. Indeed, being called ludicrous is getting off lightly, imho. I'm an easy-going guy for the most part, but false victimhood like that gets my goat.
posted by smoke at 11:53 PM on October 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


It's probably not a major concern, but if she were to ever leave her account logged in, then her activity would be easily searchable to anyone who opened MetaFilter on her computer. If the question was anonymous, the question and followup comments wouldn't appear on her profile at all.

I mean, her previous question is pretty personal too, but not nearly as immediate.
posted by hermitosis at 12:03 AM on October 8, 2012


Yes, I agree that these things are interesting to ponder, but they are maybe not useful to say out loud to a person who is struggling through the very early stages a crisis, unless there is evidence to warrant them or you are in a position to offer more meaningful support.

It does seem pretty extreme to seriously suggest the hackneyed plot out of any given Lifetime movie-of-the-week, right out of the gate. Especially given the fairly clear context provided in the question, which leaves no impression that the husband is violent with or intends violence against her or the children. Maybe that advice is useful in another question where the context is different, but perhaps not here.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:09 AM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ah, I see what you are talking about now, hermitosis. Yeah, this is a danger for anyone who might leave their account logged in on a non-private computer. Again, though, without a request, we don't just anonymize.

As for the question, I think that suggestions to get professional help involved, to alert others, and to keep oneself and kids safe are all perfectly fine responses to a situation that threatens any sort of violence, including possible suicide. It's not necessary to present catastrophic imaginary scenarios or confidently assert that because of X mentioned, then something is definitely Y. As always, calm and measured is the way to go.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:22 AM on October 8, 2012


I was kind of surprised that the murder suggestion was so favorited (I favorited it too, but as a bookmark, because I'm bad at browsing on my phone). But, a some longwinded thoughts that I think are leading to the more-heat-than-light going on in this MeTa:

1) I was just reading about Hugo Schwyzer and his decision (attempt) to kill his girlfriend while they were high on drugs because he thought he couldn't save her from her own "ruined" life. It sounds completely idiotic and melodramatic, but these are thoughts that some men have at messed-up times in their lives. (Like, during a break-up or divorce.) I have been in relationships where men have taken away my agency right out of my hands because they had guilt or "knew best." From the outside, it sounds bizarre and straight out of a cheap novel, but I know it happened and the emotional punch is there when I think about it.

2) In the past I have dated several men I would have called gentle, loving, and family-oriented, who scared the living daylights out of me when we broke up. From grabbing and hitting me, to libeling me, to generally trying to degrade me in public to my family and friends. It makes sense to me that women would read the OP and feel strongly triggered, especially in combination with the guy's lack of honesty and integrity in other arenas. I agree that such concern was a worthwhile contribution, but it did seem like it was a little blunt when it could have been more of a suggestion. In the end, though, it's really only useful if the OP thinks it is, whether it was blunt or not.

In other words, it's possible that some commenters might have felt triggered and jumped to a conclusion that wasn't totally present in the question. But on the other hand, there's a reason so many women feel triggered by the threat of end-of-relationship violence. It happens all the time. And there's something weirdly intimate about finding someone else's search results-- it feels like being in someone else's head without them knowing, and can be quite shocking or spooky. I think if it had been me, the following events would have occurred: 1) my safety alarm would have gone off, 2) I would have felt ashamed and silly that my safety alarm had gone off, 3) I would still worry in the back of my mind and jump a bit at loud noises. Funnily, this is the same sequence of events as when I think about going back to a guy's place after a date, where the threat of something like date rape is more likely. Women just develop these senses to fend off worst case scenarios, which are frighteningly common, even if not "likely." I've worried about being murdered by an ex before. I have no idea how likely it was. Most people get creeped out when someone's following them on an unlit sidewalk at night. You hear about muggings like they're just statistics, you hear about men killing their girlfriends/wives like they're just statistics. It's difficult to know.

Also, as a person who really doesn't feel herself on either (any?) side of this thread, referring to telenovelas and The View definitely comes off as a bit "hysterical women watching their soaps." Which is really, really hard to hear when you've been accused of being hysterical about violence which has happened to you in the past. When my first ex-boyfriend started calling me a "slut" in front of my professors and colleagues (which alienated me from my department and led to me eventually transferring), I confronted him and asked him to stop, and his friends mocked me for being a hysterical feminist hectoring psychobitch for months. I felt like terrible things were done to me and there was nothing I could say about it that wouldn't be belittled and used against me. I believe that you didn't necessarily mean "stupid women" in those terms but I'm just saying in case you didn't think about it from that point of view. It's a really, really, really touchy subject.

Also this thread is totally weird, but it's making me a little sad, because I think people jump to the assumption that talking about domestic violence is alarmist and goofy when it's really extremely common and I don't know many women who haven't experienced it or seen it in their families. Maybe there's a disconnect between murder and lesser domestic violence.

In conclusion, I think people will have very very different reads on whether this was appropriate depending on their own experience, and the experience of being abused and threatened is sadly common among women. I understand the surprise when it's not a concern on your radar, and the suggestion comes out of the blue-- it sounds like drama. But "triggers" are real instinctual fear responses, and it seems uncharitable to attribute drama-mongering motives to the commenter. And murder-suicides aren't just a hack plot, and end-of-relationship violence can come out of the blue. It may have been an extreme suggestion, and I don't know what the thread looked like before moderation, but the truth is none of us really know what the OP's marriage is like and if someone is contemplating suicide in any sense it may or may not be an extreme situation.

(Also if the OP is worried about suicide, it might make a lot of sense to keep the kids safe somewhere else, just saying. In general if he seemed unstable it might be wise advice for the time being.)

Yeah sorry for the word vomit, but this is something on MeFi in general which I've thought about. As a woman, I don't bring up stuff like this for kicks or to bash men, I usually bring it up because I've been actually traumatized and feel surging empathy for someone who might be in a similar situation. Because it is exceptionally hard to find justice in these situations (think: rape trials, trying to get a revenge sex video off the internet, &c.), I would really appreciate it in general if people would not assume malice. It's an emotional subject, it's hard to feel emotionally stirred by these kinds of things, and it's hard to try to defend yourself without feeling deep hurt and trauma out of the real experience of being abused or exploited and then ignored.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:26 AM on October 8, 2012 [58 favorites]


Maybe there's a disconnect between murder and lesser domestic violence.

Maybe? The fraction of people, men or women, who have experienced some form of domestic violence is relatively high, on the order of 1 in 3. The fraction of women who have been murdered by a partner is on the order of 1 in 100,000. So, yeah, we're talking about a four or five order of magnitude disconnect.

I guess I would just ask the same question again; what's to stop "be careful you don't get murdered" from being an answer to any question involving a potential breakup if we use the logic you proposed?
posted by Justinian at 12:36 AM on October 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I mean mentally, people don't seem to think of them as being on any kind of spectrum. Battered women are often threatened with murder, some of them are murdered. It seems like a spectrum, not like a freak event that only happens in Lifetime movies, or doesn't happen at all. (I am not implying that the OP is battered, I am just explaining what I mean by the sentence you quoted.)

The question wasn't just about a divorce, it was about the OP's concern that the husband was going to kill himself, or was potentially manipulating her into thinking he was going to kill himself. When I have been in end-of-relationship scenarios like the ones I described, these were exactly the kind of weird, frightening and possibly manipulative things that led up to outbursts of violence like being hit, pushed, threatened or restrained. Murder is an extreme explanation, and I don't feel like campaigning on either side of "good or bad answer," but I really sympathize with the fear response that seems likely to have motivated the original comment.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:44 AM on October 8, 2012 [13 favorites]


Having lived in a house where regular domestic violence took place, I was in constant fear that the woman in question would be murdered. She could have easily been "accidentally" murdered by some of the more extreme instances of violence. That's what I meant about the unwarranted "disconnect." I don't know the psychology behind domestic violence vs. premeditated murder of a spouse, but I have been in enough situations with "desperate" men where it all becomes a very confusing, terrifying grey area.

My point is precisely that there are specifics of this question that made my heart rate rise, whereas other divorce questions have not. The 1) dishonesty, 2) concern with suicide, and 3) what seemed like the OP's sense of fearful confusion were familiar to me in terms of a situation about to boil over.

I guess I should clarify that I don't think the OP being murdered is a likely outcome, but the OP being concerned for her safety and the safety of her children is not at all outlandish in my opinion, and people seem to be conflating the two. Saying "really, murder?" makes sense to me, but people are definitely implying that it's irresponsible to say things like keep your children safe, or don't blame yourself for not being able to trust him.

initially he was defensive, directed anger at me, and denied realizing what he was doing was wrong

The fact that he was possibly gaslighting her (he didn't know erotic massage parlors were a bit outre?) and was defensive and angry are not great signs either. Some posters seem to think the question was totally neutral or about a bittersweet ending relationship, some see patterns of manipulation and violence that have happened to them in the past. A bit of a Rorschach test.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:58 AM on October 8, 2012 [13 favorites]


hermitosis - can i ask why you're so adamant that we protect her from her husband finding out she posted the question? also how does that square with your complaints about people jumping to (in your mind) outlandish conclusions while you're trying to convince mods to take actions on her behalf that she hasn't made any indication she wants? i don't mean this to sound accusatory. i'm really sort of lost in some of your comments here.
posted by nadawi at 12:59 AM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Actually, I didn't really realize that it's the original MeTa here which is conflating these issues, and I think that's why this thread is weird and touchy. Saying that the suggestion of murder and the concern for the OP's manipulation (i.e., you don't need to learn to trust him, he needs to earn your trust) are from the same font is kind of likely to lead to bad misunderstandings, and subsequent comments have seemed to reinforce the muddle.
posted by stoneandstar at 1:05 AM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is there evidence OP is battered? This is an honest question. Do we know why he was angry in the past? Do we know it wasn't justified? Is there a reason to suspect he was violent?

When OP says,

He was comforting, said he would support me, that our children need a happy mother, that this might be our only chance at me getting some space and loving him again

Is he simply lulling her into complacency so he can get a chance to strike?

There is a lot being assumed here. I appreciate many people here have had bad experiences inter past but what are the similarities with what the OP is going through?

I think the motivation to make the question anonymous is to prevent random friends and relatives from finding out he was visiting "erotic massage" places and may now be contemplating suicide. OPs husband finding the question, being driven further down some kind of shame spiral would not be good either.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:09 AM on October 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Without at all denying the seriousness or prevalence of domestic violence, I'm somewhat nonplussed at the prominence it's received in this thread when the Asker has not mentioned anything about domestic violence whatsoever in either of her questions.

I mean, the points re: domestic violence may be tremendously valid, but I think we've wandered off the farm quite a ways, and I don't know that there's a lot in the questions she's asked that really warrants presupposing domestic violence?
posted by smoke at 1:10 AM on October 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I thought I was missing a whole boatload of history about the OP.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:12 AM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


jbenben writes "As a female, I don't need stats or anecdata to tell me I'm more vulnerable to random or personal violence than most men. That's obvious."

I'm not sure what you mean by more vulnerable but males are the victims of violence at about the same rate as females [1MB PDF relevant stats in table 2] with men generally nosing out the higher rate.

In fact looking at table 2 you can see that with the exception of sexual assault and simple assault with minor injury men are victimized at a higher rate than women (and the simple assault rates are very close: 2.4 vs 2.5) in all categories. Sexual assaults of all kinds from threats all the way up to rape make up less than one half of one percent of all victimizations.

Men are somewhere around 4x more likely to be murdered.

Those numbers are for the US though the statistics are proportionally similar for Canada but of lower magnitude.
posted by Mitheral at 3:21 AM on October 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


In the first place it is very obviously a red flag that someone is researching the effect of suicide on life insurance payouts immediately after discussing marital separation.

One possible catastrophic outcome is that the person doing the search is contemplating suicide. Another possible catastrophic outcome is that they're looking into the feasibility of murdering the departing spouse for the insurance money.

The less catastrophic interpretation is that the husband wanted the OP to find the search history in order to manipulate her. His failure to cover his tracks could also be explained by an assumption on his part that she's too dumb to find it, or by his being too dumb to hide it.

As far as I can tell, these are the possibilities. The possibility that the husband might be thinking about killing the OP for the insurance money is unlikely, but it's not so unlikely that it never happens. It looks that much less unlikely when you consider that the person doing the search has shown a pattern of deception, sleazy cheating (in ways particularly likely to be a drain on his finances), and blaming others. The fact that this is happening at a juncture in a relationship when a woman is known to be at highest risk of violence - when she is leaving - makes it seem still less unlikely.

The less improbable idea we're being asked to consider, is that the husband is in a state of emotional devastation and planning to kill himself while ensuring the children's financial future. That idea is hardly less melodramatic or "telenovela" than the murder idea, but I think the OP still has to allow for the possibility. You can make anything sound stupid if you want to, and I've seen the craziest possible interpretation turn out to be the right one enough times in life that I would never scold someone for bringing it up.

What all of these possible interpretations have in common, though, is that they can be neutralized by telling a third party about them. If the OP tells the counsellor that she found this in her husband's search history, it's the fastest path to getting a possibly suicidal person the right kind of attention from people qualified to handle it. It also nobbles any putative dastardly plans he might have been brewing, including (one hopes) plans to manipulate the OP.

What I do think is irresponsible about the thread is people telling the OP to run around hiding weapons, taking this action, or taking that action, instead of acknowledging that she's not qualified to handle this and has done the right thing by consulting someone who is.
posted by tel3path at 3:34 AM on October 8, 2012 [15 favorites]


The less improbable idea we're being asked to consider, is that the husband is in a state of emotional devastation and planning to kill himself while ensuring the children's financial future.
Someone's already mentioned Occam's Razor way back up there somewhere. This seems to be far and away the most likely situation. For men that have been raised to see themselves as a provider to the family and are then faced with being involuntarily removed from that role, coupled with the belief that their family no longer wants them to fulfil that role, the future can look very bleak. In fact, it's understandable (if somewhat irrational from the outside) to end up feeling that the only way you can discharge your responsibility as a provider is to remove yourself in such a way that your family is provided for after you're gone. I'm not justifying in any way his previous behaviour because it's clearly and totally unacceptable. But put that aside for a moment and put yourself in his shoes right now and suicide is the path he is almost certainly considering. In that frame of mind, it makes perfect sense to find out how much care you need to take to ensure that a finding of suicide doesn't result so that your family will not be robbed of the parting gift of financial security.

This is a touchy subject here, for sure, but to assume that he means to directly harm his wife and/or children because of a single search that, if it means anything beyond a spur-of-the-moment depression-fuelled speculation, indicates some thought of self-harm is, at the least, not very helpful. This guy needs help and his wife may be the only person alive who knows to what extent he needs it. Sure, keep yourself and the kids safe but, please, don't suggest that it should be the only response.
posted by dg at 4:31 AM on October 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Catching up on this thread after sleeping, I'm struck in taz and stoneandstar's comments how the advice that was derided as "incredibly presumptive" -- "to immediately flee with the children"! -- is reasonable advice even if one brackets entirely the possibility of other-directed violence and focuses entirely on the possibility of suicide. If their father is suicidal, maybe the kids belong at a relative's or friend's house until the situation is sorted out. The children would surely be "harmed" by his suicide, too, much more so if they were present to witness or discover it.

I think this was probably a difficult AskMe to moderate but the mods have done a fine job keeping it focused and appropriate under the circumstances.

But by this logic it would be appropriate to post something along the lines of "are you sure he isn't planning to murder you?" in every single question which involves a potential breakup.

I would have no problem with that as a standing policy, and, in fact, if you read breakup threads you'll find some variation of "make sure you, your loved ones, and your property is safe" is mentioned in nearly every one of these threads. I think we have different senses of the Pascal's-Wager-style calculation of probabilities and risks here. Domestic violence is very common in times of relationship stress, including from men who have never been violent before. I see a lot of potential benefit and absolutely no harm from taking the time to mention this.

Maybe once they've gotten Clippy up and running to police the edit window, he can help here too. "It looks like you're breaking up with someone..."
posted by gerryblog at 4:34 AM on October 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is a touchy subject here, for sure, but to assume that he means to directly harm his wife and/or children because of a single search that, if it means anything beyond a spur-of-the-moment depression-fuelled speculation, indicates some thought of self-harm is, at the least, not very helpful. This guy needs help and his wife may be the only person alive who knows to what extent he needs it. Sure, keep yourself and the kids safe but, please, don't suggest that it should be the only response.

Who has done this? Maybe I've missed the most offensive comments in the AskMe thread but all the ones I've seen there and here have designated violence directed at the wife as a low-level possibility. I haven't seen anyone suggesting it was definitely what was going to happen, or even that it was the mostly likely outcome.

The only absolutism I've seen has been from the other direction -- that the possibility a man in crisis might direct violence against his separating spouse is so self-evidently ludicrous that it's bad, to the point of misandry, to even mention it.
posted by gerryblog at 4:39 AM on October 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


The less catastrophic interpretation is that the husband wanted the OP to find the search history in order to manipulate her

Or that it's a combination of things; he could be genuinely considering suicide, while also using the idea (consciously or not) to manipulate the OP into staying.

That possibility is why I'm surprised to see the murder suggestion and the 'don't blame yourself' points conflated in this thread - and if I'm remembering hermitosis's deleted comment correctly, it explicitly addressed the second (in saucysalt's comment) rather than the first. The OP blamed the breakdown of the relationship on her inability to trust him, rather than his untrustworthy behaviour. It's hardly twisting her words and changing her narrative to say 'bear in mind that the breakdown of trust is on his hands here, not yours', especially when there's a possibility she might be being manipulated into calling off a separation she wants.

I don't think murder is a likely possibility here either. But it does happen, as does violence that stops short of murder, and suicidal thoughts plus recent/imminent separation can be a risk factor for that. It isn't bad advice to the OP to make sure she and her children are safe, and it's a somewhat uncharitable reading of the community to assume that people who heard alarm bells ring in that question were doing so from their experience of telenovelas rather than their experience of real life.
posted by Catseye at 5:05 AM on October 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


Some of my best friends watch The View.
posted by Egg Shen at 5:31 AM on October 8, 2012


Now I'm wondering if I should routinely scrub my search history. I've looked up some pretty weird stuff over the years.
posted by ODiV at 6:17 AM on October 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


stoneandstar: In conclusion, I think people will have very very different reads on whether this was appropriate depending on their own experience, and the experience of being abused and threatened is sadly common among women.

That is very true. One of the changes that has happened in my years of reading MetaFilter that I most appreciate is increased sensitivity around the issue of domestic violence. I agree, incidentally, that addressing that issue was the responsible thing to do in this particular AskMe thread. My advice to a friend in a similar situation would be: "Get out of the house, take your kids, let his family know that you think he might be suicidal."

The original question is a mix of various heavy, emotional issues. I've had a close family member commit suicide and been in the position of rescuing a friend who attempted suicide. I can't speak for others, but when I read that question, it felt like a hand came out of my guts and closed its fist around my heart. One of the weird things you have to deal with sometimes when a close family member or friend has committed suicide is people speculating out of the blue whether they were murdered. Seeing those early comments raising that issue made it feel like that fist was squeezing hard.

I know that this isn't a rational response. But I do wish that the community mores would shift a little bit further towards being careful and sensitive around the issue of suicide.
posted by Kattullus at 6:23 AM on October 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


As the OP, my interpretation of all of the "likes" for Feisty's comment were that people were liking it in a "oh I hadn't thought of that- good point" kind of way- not that all of them like it because it was the most obvious answer (which it obviously is not). That being said, the thought had never occurred to me and even if there were only a .00001% chance of that being the reason for the search, I found the comment appropriate and designed to be helpful. The reason for the overwhelming number of likes (I think) was that it was a somewhat succint and witty- ooh I didn't think of that- kind of response and people were clicking for that reason.

Thank you for our helpful and well thought out responses. I don't know how to post anonymously but frankly didn't see the point anyway as the only thing I have used this account for was to ask marital issue questions that I really wanted strangers thoughts on- a forum like this is helpful when you are facing issues that feel a little too personal to discuss with friends- and where you also really want honest and varied responses. We do speak with therapists as well so don't worry- no one here is taking the most extreme post in the thread to heart and acting upon it.
posted by momtothreedc at 6:33 AM on October 8, 2012 [50 favorites]


Justinian: "But by this logic it would be appropriate to post something along the lines of "are you sure he isn't planning to murder you?" in every single question which involves a potential breakup."

gerryblog: "I would have no problem with that as a standing policy"

Wow.
posted by Bugbread at 6:35 AM on October 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


The OP is a grownup; if the advice is outlandish and not applicable to her situation she can decide that.

Just coming in late to say that this is definitely my feeling. We have to assume that our askers are grownups. These situations are difficult precisely because not only is suicide a very touchy issue bringing out some very strong responses from people who otherwise might not have a reason to respond in-thread, but that there might be plausible other scenarios that some people feel are more and less plausible and so the thread becomes a battleground about arguing with other posters about their plausibility, and feeling like someone's well-being might hang in the balance.

This is why we don't approve any anonymous questions about suicide and why questions like these become very difficult for users and for mods. Thanks for your response momtothreedc.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:57 AM on October 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


I love the updates, this guy was probably just feeling down and curious and now several relatives think he's either suicidal or a murderer or both
posted by MangyCarface at 7:09 AM on October 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think the callout of saucysault was unwarranted.
posted by Area Man at 7:19 AM on October 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Bugbread, my point in the rest of the comment you don't quote is that it's already the de facto state of affairs, and for good reason.
posted by gerryblog at 7:20 AM on October 8, 2012


referring to telenovelas and The View definitely comes off as a bit "hysterical women watching their soaps."

If these were the only two ways I'd framed the matter, maybe I'd see your point. However, in the same breath as these, I also referred to group therapy and CSI. In other words, a range of comparisons. I don't think there's any case whatsoever for me going out of my way to pick on women.

It's like there are people here who only hear in dogwhistles.
posted by hermitosis at 8:07 AM on October 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


s there something I am missing about stubby's commenting history?

Yes. Very much so.
posted by elizardbits at 8:09 AM on October 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


However, in the same breath as these, I also referred to group therapy and CSI.

I don't want to pick on you, because I don't think you really intended to give this a sexist frame, but the concept of "therapy" is itself pretty feminized, and the primary audience of CSI (not exactly known for its cool-headed commitment to realistic plots) is also women.

I think Catseye's point that it's "a somewhat uncharitable reading of the community to assume that people who heard alarm bells ring in that question were doing so from their experience of telenovelas rather than their experience of real life" is something good to think about.
posted by gerryblog at 8:15 AM on October 8, 2012 [9 favorites]


I'm glad to hear from the OP here, I'm glad that she has made her own sense out of this hash.

gerryblog, how people react when they hear alarm bells is just as important as the fact that they hear them in the first place. I know it's hard to see it now because there's been a lot of cleanup, but there was a LOT of weight thrown behind the murder/violence derail.

If "therapy" is now a considered a gendered term/concept, then I can't relate to any of you anymore. Frankly this whole mess has really polluted my faith in the AskMe community as a resource for anything more intense than playlist or recipe gathering. (Apologies in advance to those who will read that latter as dismissive of women, who are historically more commonly associated with cooking.)

I've got better things to do with my time.
posted by hermitosis at 8:37 AM on October 8, 2012


gerryblog: " I don't want to pick on you, because I don't think you really intended to give this a sexist frame, but the concept of "therapy" is itself pretty feminized, and the primary audience of CSI (not exactly known for its cool-headed commitment to realistic plots) is also women."

I feel like you're really reaching here. And I'm finding the way you're aggressively attacking hermitosis by nitpicking every damned thing he's said in the worst possible way, rather disquieting.
posted by zarq at 8:50 AM on October 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


I've got better things to do with my time.
posted by hermitosis at 4:37 PM on October 8 [+] [!]


Nooooooooooo
posted by HandfulOfDust at 8:52 AM on October 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


hermitosis has disabled his account. *sigh*
posted by zarq at 8:56 AM on October 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


And I'm finding the way you're aggressively attacking hermitosis by nitpicking every damned thing he's said in the worst possible way, rather disquieting.

It wasn't my intent -- I was trying to disspell exactly that reading of my comment with the introduction "I don't want to pick on you, because I don't think you really intended to give this a sexist frame" -- and I'm very sorry he disabled his account. I hope it's only temporary.

I hope that "you're" who was aggressively attacking hermitosis includes other people, because I don't feel as though that reflects my sense of my own participation in this thread, which (aside from flaring up earlier over being nitpicked) has not been offered in a spirit of anger.
posted by gerryblog at 9:01 AM on October 8, 2012


Sometimes, it's good to say your piece or offer your advice and walk away from a thread.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:05 AM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


gerryblog: " It wasn't my intent -- I was trying to disspell exactly that reading of my comment with the introduction "I don't want to pick on you, because I don't think you really intended to give this a sexist frame"

The way I read your comment, you were implying that his use of supposedly sexist language (intentional or not) made his other points invalid. Which yes, is similar to what cairdeas tried to do above. I didn't mention her comment in response to you because I believe she's left the thread. But for whatever it's worth, I felt it was uncalled for.

Domestic abuse and violence are topics which are very important to me. That's one of the reasons why I try to speak up in threads where they're raised. If I thought for a second hermitosis was trying to dismiss or attack people for speaking from such experiences, I'd have spoken up. But knowing his history on the site, I'd be pretty surprised if he'd done so. And this post seemed reasonable to me, even though I disagree with him that the topic shouldn't have been raised in the thread.

Looking at the post, the idea that "only stupid women" watch The View, CSI and telenovellas was obviously not hermitosis' point. Casting this post as if it contains some sort of unconscious sexism or misogyny is truly unhelpful. The idea that we have an obligation to act responsibly and reply to questions posted at AskMe with minimal dramatizing and maximum objectivity, seems pretty reasonable. He further asked that we make an effort not to unnecessarily scare the OP.

because I don't feel as though that reflects my sense of my own participation in this thread, which (aside from flaring up earlier over being nitpicked) has not been offered in a spirit of anger."

You didn't seem angry to me.
posted by zarq at 9:49 AM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks for saying more zarq. I hear what you're saying, and I'll think about it.

I personally read hermitosis as expressing a significant amount of contempt for other members on the site, both in the way he framed this post and then in the way he discussed it. I thought the references he was throwing in to degraded media forms (telenovelas, The View, etc) was of a piece with that. And furthermore (here I suppose we disagree) I think cairdeas has a point that all his examples really are all coded female, which is to say, imagined as "excessive" and "emotional" rather than "rational" and "objective" -- but, whether or not I'm right about that, perhaps you're right that focusing on this was an uncalled-for ad hominem for which I can now only apologize in hermitosis's absence.

My intent, such as it was, was to simply point back to Catseye's very good point about reading and discussing the things other people say charitably rather than uncharitably. (Yes, I can see the irony.) I was't trying to poke a finger in his eye.

I honestly don't think I behaved badly. But I'm definitely regretful that he left, and that I was the last straw (however light or heavy) before he did it.

Now's probably a good time to take Brandon Blatcher's advice and walk away from the thread. Sorry to contribute to a flameout, to whatever extent you think I'm guilty of it. I hate them.
posted by gerryblog at 10:02 AM on October 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


I think the advice to the OP that she perhaps should consider another, more sinister reading of the situation was delivered in a fairly low-key, unsensational way. And unless I missed some deleted comments, no one followed up with any over-the-top advice of the, 'OMG HE'S GOING TO KILL YOU GET OUT OF THE HOUSE NOW' variety. There was simply another reading of the situation—one which had clearly occurred to several people, and which despite its extremity, yes, does actually happen to real people in real life—which was offered to the OP in a relatively restrained way. And the OP, it now appears, took the advice in exactly the way it was intended. So, weirdly, I think this callout is much more overly-dramatic in tone than the comments it's complaining about.
posted by hot soup girl at 10:17 AM on October 8, 2012 [9 favorites]


I just had an idea. Related to the concept of 'priming,' that is, exposure to certain statements or ideas affects human cognition.

'not-A not-A not-A, but, A E I O U and sometimes Y.'

The negation of the A is introduced, leading the reader to fixate on A, which was the opposite of what was intended through the disclaimer of 'not-A.'

Also, it has been my experience that people will toss out a perfunctory 'not-A,' to cover the 'A' they didn't bother removing from their original statements. If 'A' is truly not intended, better to re-write or re-phrase to make that as clear as possible.

People, I've found, don't do negation well. Better to rephrase with affirmative/positive statements (I don't mean in the 'good' sense - instead, mimimize the use of 'not,' et al.)

This probably came out as a mush of words, I am still considering this idea.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:40 AM on October 8, 2012


exposure to certain statements or ideas affects human cognition

One of the reasons AskMeFi is both fascinating and baffling.

Q: Why did this painter paint a pipe? Please answer in English.

A: Ceci n'est pas une pipe.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 10:47 AM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I do not want hermatosis to leave and I feel he has made many great contributions to this site. I do think you need to be ready to take some heat, calmly, anytime you start a Metatalk thread -- I don't like it, but that is the way things still seem to be -- and I don't think it is helpful in any way to call other members of the community "willfully dense" or a "noisy ass" when they are disagreeing with you in your Metatalk thread. These personal insults do bother me, even on MeTa; they only promote bad feelings and create an unproductive atmosphere where we are all out to score points off each other.

I don't really think hermatosis behaved well in this thread at times, but I appreciate that he raised this issue sincerely and with thoughtful concern, and I do hope he returns.
posted by onlyconnect at 10:49 AM on October 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


This whole thread has made me very sad.

I am glad to see that the OP was, as many of us assumed, adult enough and self-aware enough, to take the responses to her question as food for thought, and not as a call to flee in terror from a possible madman. What has gone on in this discussion, however, has truly surprised me. I did not expect this level of anger at each other to come from what looked (to me, anyway) like a reasonable attempt to think through the OP's original question from all angles.

The flameouts and personal attacks seemed to me as though folks were not reading each other's comments generously. We have different life experiences and that means we bring different perspectives to these questions. The anger just seems to be uncalled for. I hope the folks who have left come back, as I have appreciated their perspective on topics for which I have had no experience.
posted by blurker at 10:50 AM on October 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's like there are people here who only hear in dogwhistles.

On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog.

Hermitosis was one of the best users here, for years. I'm sad he's gone and I wish he'd return. He's worth a hundred of the sort who pushed him into quitting.

Also, I was crossing a street once and he whizzed by on his bicycle like a dream on two wheels. So fast! I'll miss him.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 11:04 AM on October 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Jesus, another one!

Is this something the mods are keeping track of / concerned about? The ratio of MeTas-to-flameouts? Is it changing over time? I am new here and maybe the intake rate of interesting new folks matches it; but it seems like this has been a particularly bloody summer + fall.
posted by ead at 11:26 AM on October 8, 2012


The OP of the thread in question has weighed in to indicate that she does know to take the advice offered for what it is - she's not suddenly convinced her husband is trying to murder her - and the person who started this Metatalk has chosen to leave Metafilter. All that seems to be left at this point is finger-pointing in a thread that was already weirdly acrimonious and shirty, even for Metatalk. Maybe it's time to wrap this up?
posted by DingoMutt at 11:29 AM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


ead: Is this something the mods are keeping track of / concerned about? The ratio of MeTas-to-flameouts? Is it changing over time? I am new here and maybe the intake rate of interesting new folks matches it; but it seems like this has been a particularly bloody summer + fall.

FishBike, cortex and me were wondering about that last winter, but as far as we could tell from available data, participation-falloff had a pretty constant, and very low, rate.
posted by Kattullus at 11:33 AM on October 8, 2012


Hermitosis, PLEASE come back!

You are a voice of reason and calm on the site that I would sorely miss if you were gone. Even when we've disagreed, I have never felt that you were dismissive of me personally, and you have changed my mind simply by clearly laying out where you were coming from so that I could see the "other side" more empathetically.

Mods, I hope you know by now that I admire you and think your job is incredibly tough.

I am dismayed, though, that none of you called out the domestic abuse derail in this Meta for being completely despite the point when discussing the AskMe in question!

Yes, domestic abuse happens, more often than we would like. Per year, over a million people in the US undergo some form of domestic abuse. Including, obviously, some members of this site. There are also almost THREE million car accidents every year in the US.

Did anyone mention that to the OP* of the question? Anyone suggest she watch out for being run over or hit by another motorist? Of course not, because nothing the OP wrote mentions her driving history.

Neither does she mention any history whatsoever of domestic violence in her relationship.

Cairdeas, I am so sorry you were a victim of domestic abuse. I'm sorry for any of you who have experienced that personal hell.

But in this, as in all AskMes, if you are so personally invested in your own history that you cannot offer advice relevant to the specific situation, you are not the best person to answer the question.

And, no matter how compelling it might be for you to tell your story--because I get that talking about these issues is a part of healing--you are doing the OP a disservice by using her question to do that.

Please pass those questions by.




*Who, from her follow-up here, seems to have a very reasonable and measured response to the thread, thank goodness!
posted by misha at 11:37 AM on October 8, 2012 [10 favorites]


Hermitosis, PLEASE come back!

I can't get the link to work, but go look at Hermitosis's most favorited comment. Hmm...

If 500 people favorite this comment, I'll disable my account.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 11:52 AM on October 8, 2012


That was from a long time ago. It was funny, and he switched to a different hermitosis account, but then revived the original. Unrelated.

It's nice that we always get these nooo don't go type of comments, but people take breaks. It's ok. People do come back.
posted by danny the boy at 11:55 AM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


hermitosis has disabled his account. *sigh*
*sigh* indeed. What an appalling shame. I doubt that this thread was the only reason for his action, but if this was the straw that broke the camel's back, it's somewhat understandable. Hermitosis brought up an issue here that he was genuinely concerned about and did it in a pretty straightforward but non-accusatory manner, which is not as usual here as would be ideal. He was unfairly attacked as a misogynist based on other people's views that certain words have some gendered meaning when they don't and there was no indication that such meanings were intended. Not even when you look sideways. What a shame. Seriously.
posted by dg at 11:59 AM on October 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


He's worth a hundred of the sort who pushed him into quitting.

Really, this sort of thing is not going to improve the situation. hermitosis is a good guy, I like him and hope he decides to come back, but I'm also surprised that he even closed his account in the first place and am mostly hoping he's not having to deal with some extra stressful stuff out in the real world or something. But people can step away if the need to—whether for a moment or for a while or for good—and that's their call, and as much of a bummer as it is to see someone you like wander off it's really not good to reduce that dynamic to Guy A Is Great, Other People Are Worthless.

Mostly if people can just kind of cool off, take a step away from this for a bit if they need to, that'd be for the best.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:04 PM on October 8, 2012 [27 favorites]


I'm gonna say it, 50 favorites and counting on a comment that suggests the husband might be plotting murder? Based on zero evidence? WHAAAA?!?

There's not zero evidence. There's this:

Has your husband exhibited other signs of suicidal ideation?

i don't believe he has exhitibed any other signs


For you to say "He's more likely contemplating suicide because he knows he's fucked up, can't figure out out how to fix himself, loves his wife and family and can't figure out out to get out of the mess. He probably thinks the money is more useful than his life" indicates that you are projecting a lot of your own mindset and speculation onto the husband.

Occam's razor people!

Occam's razor indeed. When people's behavior doesn't add up in a way that makes sense, it's logical best practice to look for some undisclosed factor that would make all of their behavior fit together rationally. Your version of Occam's Razor seems to be more about accepting things at face value, and that's not really how the principle works.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 12:18 PM on October 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's possible to take a break from MeFi/AskMe without taking the very public option of disabling your account.
posted by tommasz at 12:53 PM on October 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Misha, unless it was deleted, cairdeas didn't post a response in the original thread. If you read her original comments here they seemed pretty fair and measured to me, at least until the OP here called her "willfully dense." She did not read to me like someone with a chip on her shoulder trying to read into things that weren't there, just defending the possibility of contemplated violence against the wife. Then insults were thrown and things got personal. Just my opinion, fwiw.
posted by onlyconnect at 12:54 PM on October 8, 2012 [13 favorites]


It's possible to take a break from MeFi/AskMe without taking the very public option of disabling your account.

The interesting thing there is that often people quietly disable their account, then others look at their profile page and announce in the thread that so and so has disabled their account.

Humans are strange beasts.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:01 PM on October 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Is there evidence OP is battered? This is an honest question. Do we know why he was angry in the past? Do we know it wasn't justified? Is there a reason to suspect he was violent?

His heavy dishonesty about cheating, combined with anger, defensiveness, and potentially contemplating suicide are all elements that make this situation seem volatile. I would never insist that DV is taking place here and you all just aren't looking hard enough to see it, or anything. But there are various elements that add up, and the worst thing about DV is that it can really blindside you and leave you feeling invalidated and not knowing what to do. That is why people find it so important to raise the possibility, I think. It is treating the OP like an adult, and she seems to have appreciated it.

Why do we have to tiptoe around the possibility of DV, especially when we mention it because we've been in situations that resembled the OP? That seems to have been hermitosis's overriding point-- not only that the murder possibility was melodramatic and irresponsible, but that saucysalt's response was irresponsible, and bringing up DV in a sensitive situation was irresponsible. Most people who have been involved in a DV situation know that the suggestion of DV is not a wire to the brain that makes women into crazy overreacting fools. It's an extremely valid answer. Looking at a situation that might boil over, and then adding in concern with suicide-- to me, my response would be concern for the OP and her children. I don't think that's irresponsible.

It's like there are people here who only hear in dogwhistles.

My entire point was that these are not so much dogwhistles as actual triggers when you've been abused/exploited. And I think mentioning that they are ways of making women feel stupid and invalidated is a worthwhile point, whatever your intentions.
posted by stoneandstar at 1:03 PM on October 8, 2012 [11 favorites]


What is our responsibility to report things to the authorities? I assume there is some general policy regarding when to report things but when does it come into play? when would the mods feel compelled to report something? Would they ever hand over billing info without a warrant?

In the unlikely event we suspect someone may be killed we are going to need to report it no?

In the much more likely event that we suspect someone may kill themselves we will also need to report it, we dont want to be 4chan, gawking and lulzing it up while people OD on streams.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:21 PM on October 8, 2012


when would the mods feel compelled to report something?

Our current policy when something like this comes up is to direct the person towards resources better capable of helping - the There Is Help page is what we usually use.

The thing about reporting is that we don't have billing information as such. Paypal, to the best of my knowledge, doesn't give us actionable details. We *might* have a name that looks plausible and a self-reported general location, at most, and that's not enough to be of use to, say, the police. In a previous job, where we did have a credit card address, standard policy was to call the police in the billing zip code on every single suicide threat, and we all felt pretty good about that, but Metafilter doesn't have that kind of access to make that an option.

We delete all suicide threats or questions that seem to be trending in that direction, both to avoid well-meaning but harmful responses and internet lulz issues (and also because people freak out and want to Do Something, and there is, as I said, not a ton we have the ability to do.) It's not the best possible situation, but we have to muddle along with the tools we have.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:32 PM on October 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, the OP said she had contacted a counsellor, which was adequate reporting for the situation she was in. Suggesting more than that would be the kind of overreaction that I believe drove our comrade away.

When you have been abused and exploited you do get "triggered", but you also get very good at spotting trouble brewing in human form.

Of course, it doesn't help to be good at this if you can't use it without being accused of overreacting, or without facing overreactions from others. The idea that the community might have a duty to tell the authorities that a poster said her husband did an internet search, is just silly.
posted by tel3path at 1:34 PM on October 8, 2012


FWIW, neither of the two women I know of who were murdered by their husbands were beaten during the marriage. (Not that anyone knows, anyway.) However, both of the husbands had a secret, highly compartmentalised aspect of their lives exposed or discovered by their wives just before the murder—one was compulsively visiting prostitutes; the other had massive business debts no one knew about. In the case of the first husband, he later claimed the murder was a suicide gone wrong (he'd taken her out on their boat, intending, he says, to drown himself in front of her, then decided to kill her first, and then changed his mind about the suicide). So you can see how the OP's question made my hair prickle a little.

I can imagine that, for people who have encountered the idea of spousal murder only in fiction and tabloids, the idea might seem cartoonishly far-fetched. I wish it were so.
posted by hot soup girl at 1:35 PM on October 8, 2012 [14 favorites]


What restless_nomad said. This is a hard question and one that pretty nobody running a non-crisis-management website is in a position to have great answers for. It's also something that has essentially never come up except in the territory of a couple of troubling suicidal-thoughts situations. We do our best to make it clear from moment one that this site is not a crisis service center and to encourage folks who do seem like they might be in legitimately bad situations to contact someone capable of providing trained, professional assistance.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:38 PM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cool, thanks. that all sounds more than reasonable to me.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:43 PM on October 8, 2012


When I have been in end-of-relationship scenarios like the ones I described, these were exactly the kind of weird, frightening and possibly manipulative things that led up to outbursts of violence like being hit, pushed, threatened or restrained.

A few years ago a woman I know ended a long marriage for reasons that sound much like the OPs. He sneaked around, didn't respect her, dismissed her etc. He talked about suicide but in the end other people ended up dead. No hint of violence in their relationship ever, never threatened anyone, everyone thought he was a nice guy. So yeah, it happens and my mind went there too reading her question. If his thinking is so disordered he's considering a fuck you suicide, its valid to consider what else he's thinking.
posted by fshgrl at 2:22 PM on October 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Okay Elizardbits, then I suppose this is part of the challenge of subconversations held in a public forum. That I imagine that several of us in the community don't know what prompts the vitriol that Smoke shared was a response to some previous action on Stubby's part. I briefly looked at Stubby's commenting history, and must just not be getting it.

But that also isn't my point.

Your comment - coyly noting that I, and perhaps others, are "very much so" missing something isn't has helpful as answering what was a pretty sincere question - which is asking what it is that we're missing.

Look, I don't particularly note any significant amount of hatred for men on this site either. What I am noting is an example of where we as a community state that respect for others is a central principle until we decide we don't particularly care for the posting history, perspective or communication style of the other person. Being triggered by someone else's comments shouldn't preclude our efforts to attack the person's points on their merits.

Because I'm still thinking that neither you, nor Smoke, or anyone else on this site would appreciate being spoken to derisively, even if in an effort to 'correct your wrong thinking'.

I still think we can disagree with each other, respectfully. And if so, I respectfully suggest that being right isn't an excuse to be derisive.

Apologies for getting off topic. Not sure I have anything else to say, but am happy to listen to anything via memail, if anyone else has anything to say about it. I don't particularly like it when people drop something particularly contentious in a thread and then disappear, so I'm trying not to be that person.

Anyway, thank you (and smoke) for reading.

---------------------------

As for the topic on this thread: I think that part of the contention is a classic probability vs consequence disagreement.

For some, the probability of violence seems low, so any mention of it on the part of the responders when the OP doesn't mention it seems inflammatory. For others, the consequence of that possibility, regardless of how small, is what is important. If there is even a tiny chance that the OP or her family are in danger, it is important to say something.

My sense is to wonder if it would have changed the dynamic any if more information was included about a wider range of possibilities along with what is indeed a worst case scenario. Sort of a...."there are a couple of possibilities that could be going on here. One is that the person is seriously thinking of self harm. Another is that the person is thinking of harming you. Another is that neither of these things is happening. Here are some thoughts about all of them....." sort of response.

But sometimes people don't have time for that sort of detail, so we all short hand it. Some short hand it discussing the one thing that is most probable (the occam's razor choice) and others the one thing that might be less likely, but most damaging (the hit by lightening choice). It seems to me that in discussions like this one side always thinks the other is dramatizing, and the other, discounting.

In either case, I think the good news is that everyone in that thread seemed to be trying to help. That should count for something.
posted by anitanita at 3:16 PM on October 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


As a friend of someone who recently committed suicide and a relative of a woman who's husband should be placed in a rocket and pointed at the sky, I can see both the positions here. To me, people can respond how they want as long as its an honest good faith response, I think (seeing as im here preaching today) that along with self linking, it's another thing about mefi that is best respected and I hope this is the case.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:23 PM on October 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


"I think cairdeas has a point that all his examples really are all coded female, which is to say, imagined as "excessive" and "emotional" rather than "rational" and "objective"

Wait, if you think that someone is being excessive and should be more objective, what kind of example are you allowed to give? Any example is going to be of something imagined as excessive and insufficiently rational, that's what makes it an example of excess and irrationality.
posted by Bugbread at 3:29 PM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Regarding weather it's wild and crazy to bring up murder as a possibility: it's not.

I'm not an expert, but I am working towards a police career, including a lot of class time taught by longtime police veterans, and one specific course on family violence taught by a retired officer with many years of experience as an investigator.

One of the standard tools that police and shelters use to assess the danger to a victim of domestic violence (or intimate partner violence/IPV) is some variety of a questionnaire. The questions asked will be things like:

"Has your partner ever threatened to kill you?"
"Which of following things do you fight most about?"
"Are there weapons in the house?"

And so on. Each answer gets a numerical score, the higher the cumulative score, the more likely it is that the victim's life is in danger. I don't mean this in a sort of froofy, anecdotal way: we have really great statistics on the IPV that ends in murder because, unlike day to day IPV, murder is almost always reported or discovered. There's almost always a body. So researchers have gone through these cases and figured out what the patterns are that increase the probability of murder. Two questions where affirmative answers score very high are:

"Are you and your partner separating?"
"Has your partner threatened to hurt himself?"

Any victim advocate or shelter worker that hears a "yes" answer to those two questions will be worried. They would be substantially more worried if there was a firearm in the home, if the victim was pregnant, and/or if there were a history of violence. But those things are certainly not necessary.

This isn't scaremongering or fictional TV or anything else, this is just the data that accumulated around a lot of corpses. A majority of women murdered by intimate partners are killed attempting to separate, and a partner threatening suicide is an increased risk factor.
posted by kavasa at 3:49 PM on October 8, 2012 [40 favorites]


the tv shows mentioned seemed really female to me and the defense of "oh i want to a taping of the view" seems like he should have been even more aware that it's a typically female audience (same as soaps). i don't think he intended it to come off how it did to some, but i also don't think he wasn't understanding at all and doubled down when people tried to point it out. that led to people trying to explain their point of view and it quickly got heated on both sides.

i wish hermitosis hadn't closed his account - i think he's a valuable member of the community. i will admit that this whole thread i've sort of been scratching my head because it seems like his reactions were over the top while accusing people of being inflexible and dramatic. i feel like there might be something more than this thread, and potentially outside of metafilter, that has contributed to this. i wish him all the best and i hope he returns if it's something he wants to do.
posted by nadawi at 3:51 PM on October 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also holy shit misha did you just ask someone to not answer specific questions? Seriously?

That is extra very not your prerogative.
posted by kavasa at 3:52 PM on October 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Wait, if you think that someone is being excessive and should be more objective, what kind of example are you allowed to give? Any example is going to be of something imagined as excessive and insufficiently rational, that's what makes it an example of excess and irrationality.

There are plenty of things like that that are coded male. (CSI may be one in many people's minds, arguably, though as I said the viewership is actually mostly female.) The WWF. Sci-fi. Football. Fox News.

We don't have to get back into it, but it was noticeable from my perspective as someone who reads and decodes texts for a living that all of the examples actually chosen for use in the thread have been coded female. What does The View have to do with the scenario under discussion? Is The View a soap opera? Do they talk about soap operatic plot lines on The View? I was under the impression it was a fairly conventional news and discussion show whose sole distinguishing feature is that it is hosted by all women. It doesn't make sense in that list, except to gender the discussion between a rational, objective male perspective and a histrionic female one. It's dismissive. And in a thread that's literally seen survivors asked not to participate in relationship discussions on the site on the grounds that they can't see beyond their own experiences, as if questions of domestic violence aren't generally applicable to a wide swath of the population, yes, I think it's appropriate to take five seconds to look askance at the examples. YMMV.
posted by gerryblog at 3:55 PM on October 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think it may be worth considering that perhaps The View is coded differently in certain milieus. I imagine the viewership for The View is very different in some places. I just think we shouldn't privelege one coding over another. I'm being serious here, I've never met a woman who watches The View. I thought the audience for The View was gay men.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:03 PM on October 8, 2012


I think cairdeas has a point that all his examples really are all coded female, which is to say, imagined as "excessive" and "emotional" rather than "rational" and "objective"

Is a comparison to a notable rational and objective woman coded male?
posted by michaelh at 4:09 PM on October 8, 2012


That's a perfectly fair objection, Ad hominem, and to go further it's not as if this is a test of hermitosis's soul or something. If I'd opened this thread I might have reached for soap operas too, and probably Nancy Grace besides. And if someone had pointed out the gendering of those examples I'd have been embarrassed. No one is perfect and certainly not in every utterance. It's something we can talk about.

But the general tone of some in this thread has been to talk down to women and disregard their experiences in favor of "objectivity," and I'm not sure how we can have an adult conversation about that without talking about the words people use to do it.
posted by gerryblog at 4:13 PM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


CSI is coded female, though? Really? That absolutely boggles my mind.

Not as a challenge, though, but as a sincere question, gerryblog: What show(s) would you find acceptable as examples of excess and insufficient rationality?
posted by Bugbread at 4:17 PM on October 8, 2012


I gave you four examples in the last comment. But the point being made is not "choose better shows" but "don't call your interlocutors stupid." Telling people they can't tell the difference between a soap opera and real life is treating them with contempt out of the gate, and choosing soap operas, group therapy, and The View as 3/4 of your examples makes it pretty clear (to me) what demographic you imagine is on the other side of the discussion. Misha makes the same move in asserting that the problem here is survivors of domestic violence who can't see beyond their experiences and so shouldn't speak. I'm not in that category, and surely there are other people like me who weirded out by the details in that question without being in that category. We'd be better off if we didn't begin by dismissing people who disagree with us as hopeless cases. That's what Catseye said better than I've managed and what I wanted to point to.
posted by gerryblog at 4:25 PM on October 8, 2012 [7 favorites]

Not as a challenge, though, but as a sincere question, gerryblog: What show(s) would you find acceptable as examples of excess and insufficient rationality?
I am not he but: when you're starting the conversation from a point of "those people are being excessive and irrational," that's not a great place.
posted by kavasa at 4:25 PM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Modern police procedurals tend to be fixated to the point of obsession on the punishment of people who hurt women. Is it so strange to think that such shows would appeal to women in significant numbers? The one that really surprised me was horror; I'd had no idea the audience for horror was mostly women and still don't know quite what to make of it.
posted by gerryblog at 4:31 PM on October 8, 2012


ead writes "Is this something the mods are keeping track of / concerned about? The ratio of MeTas-to-flameouts? Is it changing over time? I am new here and maybe the intake rate of interesting new folks matches it; but it seems like this has been a particularly bloody summer + fall."

Flameouts used to occur a lot more often. And heck this wasn't even a flameout; the user just quietly closed their account. If we get half a dozen people threatening to cut their hands off then we'll have some serious flameout action.

tommasz writes "It's possible to take a break from MeFi/AskMe without taking the very public option of disabling your account."

Well sure and it's possible to quit smoking cold turkey the first time you try; and about as likely.

kavasa writes "This isn't scaremongering or fictional TV or anything else, this is just the data that accumulated around a lot of corpses. A majority of women murdered by intimate partners are killed attempting to separate, and a partner threatening suicide is an increased risk factor."

It's important to keep perspective on the possibilities though. If you assume 10 million relationships end every year in the states (probably a gross underestimate considering there are over a million divorces every year) then 99.999% of relationships end without anyone being murdered.
posted by Mitheral at 4:58 PM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you assume 10 million relationships end (etc)
Not only is there not really a need for assumptions here - again we have good data - this is irrelevant. It simply is not out of line to say: "hey, these are significant risk factors for violence, up to and including murder. You should look for professional help to make sure that you feel safe and are safe."

That's the whole point of the application of probabilities to the real world: using past experience to take steps to avoid becoming another statistical point.
posted by kavasa at 5:06 PM on October 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


If googling something = seriously considering something, I would have a whole lot more animals stuck in my bum.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:17 PM on October 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


We don't have to get back into it, but I have to beat this horse one more time! I wish you'd all lay off it already. Saying it over and over doesn't make you any more right.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:22 PM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is all a bit confusing.
posted by subbes at 5:25 PM on October 8, 2012


Well sure and it's possible to quit smoking cold turkey the first time you try; and about as likely.

I'm sure you'd find that there are quite a few inactive members who have not canceled their accounts. I would guess more have just stopped reading/commenting than have pushed the big red button.
posted by ODiV at 5:27 PM on October 8, 2012


Sorry, obviously funnier in my own head.
posted by Mitheral at 5:38 PM on October 8, 2012


Ah, didn't realize it was just meant as a quip.
posted by ODiV at 5:43 PM on October 8, 2012


gerryblog: "I gave you four examples in the last comment."

Sorry, I had totally misparsed your preceding comment. Now it makes much more sense, and my question is incredibly redundant.

While you're right that WWF, Fox News, and Football are examples of excess emotion and insufficient rationality (though I don't really get the Sci-Fi tag. Star Wars, sure, but on the other hand, 2001), I guess I should have said "excess emotion and insufficient rationality in imagining dramatic murder scenarios", because that's what the examples were being used to highlight. That said, I realize now that the answer to my question has already been provided, many times in the thread: Coen Brothers movies. That is (I hope) sufficiently male-coded to use as an example?

gerryblog: "Modern police procedurals tend to be fixated to the point of obsession on the punishment of people who hurt women."

I always thought of that as appealing to the male viewership's "men are protectors of women" ideals. Like the whole "tough guys getting angry when people talk badly about their mothers or sisters" thing. Now that I know the majority viewership of CSI is female, I'll probably see that aspect of the show in a different light.
posted by Bugbread at 5:52 PM on October 8, 2012


"Sci-fi" is the bad stuff. The good stuff is "SF." -certified expert
posted by gerryblog at 5:55 PM on October 8, 2012


I don't want to drag up the commenting history of a user whose closed his account, but suicide has been a topic that hermitosis has written about a few times through the years and in this thread. I don't think there's any reason to look far beyond his stated desire that people would be more careful around the subject to explain his emotions.
posted by Kattullus at 6:24 PM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I really hope the break is temporary.
posted by gerryblog at 6:45 PM on October 8, 2012


Argh just saw hermitosis disable his account. That's sad. He is very funny and usually reasonable. As the mature response from the AskMe OP here shows, folks know what they are getting from the internet, which often includes a large amount of irrational bullshit. AskMe mostly has less than everywhere else, except on certain subjects, and trying to argue people out of believing that they are saving someones life through overheated hyperbole is bound to fail by definition. I wish herm hadn't made this thread. Sometimes its better to just let people be wrong and trust the OP can distinguish useful answers from paranoid noise. Sometimes it's better to just not make the Metatalk thread y'all.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:46 PM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's the whole point of the application of probabilities to the real world: using past experience to take steps to avoid becoming another statistical point.

This sounds good but it isn't what is happening. People are very bad at evaluating risks. That's well known. People worry about very low probability events way out of proportion to how much time they spend worrying about and preparing for much higher probability events. And that's what we're talking about here. It's like if somebody asked whether they should take their kid to Six Flags or Cedar Point and the answer was "You should be careful your child doesn't get kidnapped and murdered at the park."

The husband actually committing suicide is a much higher probability event than an incredibly rare movie-plot fake suicide attempt. And, no, the fact that somebody knows somebody somewhere where such a thing actually happened doesn't change the relative probability of these events. That's why it's called data and not anecdote.
posted by Justinian at 6:54 PM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Justinian, did you miss kavasa's comment which actually discussed the data that professionals use to assess situations like these? Your assessment of the probability and risk here is wrong.
posted by animalrainbow at 7:05 PM on October 8, 2012 [9 favorites]


Here's an article on the methods used when assessing these kinds of situations.
posted by Kattullus at 7:17 PM on October 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


animalrainbow: Show me the data in Kavasa's post that refutes what justinian is saying.
posted by roboton666 at 7:20 PM on October 8, 2012


I found the Danger Assessment for intimate partner homicide for women.

Threatening suicide is A warning sign, but according to the Assessment, the OP has a very low likelihood of being murdered. Unless there are facts we don't know such as her husband abusing crack,threatening her with a weapon, or being drunk "every day".

Intimate partner homicide is the number 1 cause of death for African American women 15-45 and seventh leading cause of premature death for women overall.

Seriously, if I were a women with a male intimate partner I would break it off now, even considering that breaking it off may just increase the risk.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:20 PM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


See?! You put an edit option on Mefi and then the whole place goes to crap :-)
posted by roboton666 at 7:25 PM on October 8, 2012


Well, there are a few things being discussed, and Justinian is saying a few things, so it's probably better to be a bit more specific.

Literally, Justinian is only talking about the specific "murder wife and frame it to look like a suicide" possibility, while kavasa's comment is about the whole spectrum of domestic violence. And, technically, her husband hasn't threatened suicide, she just found it in his browsing history. If it was placed there to intentionally find, then it was a threat, if it was just failure to use Private Browsing mode in Firefox, it wasn't. So that's a hard judgment call.

So, on face value, Justinian's assessment of the probability and risk is entirely correct.

That said, what's being discussed isn't just "is he going to kill her and stage it like a suicide", but "might he be violent towards her". Along that line of discussion, Kavasa's comment is much more germane. The determination of probability, in that case, is very strongly influenced by the intentionality of the suicide search result discovery.
posted by Bugbread at 7:33 PM on October 8, 2012


Ad hominem: "Threatening suicide is A warning sign, but according to the Assessment, the OP has a very low likelihood of being murdered...Seriously, if I were a women with a male intimate partner I would break it off now, even considering that breaking it off may just increase the risk."

Wait, how do those two go together?
posted by Bugbread at 7:34 PM on October 8, 2012


Completed suicide rate, 2009, per 100,000 US standard population: 12.0 (source)

Intimate homicide rate, 2005, per 100,000 married or divorced people aged 20-44 (source):
white female spouse or ex-spouse victim: 1.02
black female spouse or ex-spouse victim: 3.02

Still apples and oranges because one has an all-ages denominator and the other has a married-young-to-midlife-adults-only sex-stratified denominator but that at least gives you a ballpark so you can fight about interpretation of facts instead of fighting about factually uninformed generalizations.
posted by gingerest at 7:35 PM on October 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wait, how do those two go together?

I'm just a worrier, even a very low risk of being murdered by my husband would be too much for me. As for breaking it off increasing the risk, I'm guessing my male intimate partner would not be happy and my risk of being killed would rise dramatically.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:44 PM on October 8, 2012


Rise dramatically In the short term that is.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:48 PM on October 8, 2012


Cairdeas, I am so sorry you were a victim of domestic abuse. I'm sorry for any of you who have experienced that personal hell.

But in this, as in all AskMes, if you are so personally invested in your own history that you cannot offer advice relevant to the specific situation, you are not the best person to answer the question.

And, no matter how compelling it might be for you to tell your story--because I get that talking about these issues is a part of healing--you are doing the OP a disservice by using her question to do that.

Please pass those questions by.


Hey, Misha? I didn't answer the question. I did not post at all in the AskMe thread that this callout is about. You just called me out really harshly for something you totally imagined that I did.

To be honest though, I am not het up about any of that, and I am completely fine with it if you have a problem with something I say or do and tell me so. I'm not gonna hold it against you.

But for fuck's sake, in a reaming about why my experience of and thoughts about DV makes me a bad person to answer AskMe questions, please don't pepper it with snide, faux expressions of sympathy for trauma you think I might have and my "healing." ( a la "And, no matter how compelling it might be for you to tell your story--because I get that talking about these issues is a part of healing--you are doing the OP a disservice"). Good grief.
posted by cairdeas at 9:08 PM on October 8, 2012 [33 favorites]


gerryblog: "Thanks for saying more zarq. I hear what you're saying, and I'll think about it.

No problem. Thanks for listening. Sorry it's taken me so long to respond. I decided I needed to walk away from the thread for a little while, and thought it safe to do so, after you said you were too.

I personally read hermitosis as expressing a significant amount of contempt for other members on the site, both in the way he framed this post and then in the way he discussed it. I thought the references he was throwing in to degraded media forms (telenovelas, The View, etc) was of a piece with that. And furthermore (here I suppose we disagree) I think cairdeas has a point that all his examples really are all coded female, which is to say, imagined as "excessive" and "emotional" rather than "rational" and "objective" -- but, whether or not I'm right about that, perhaps you're right that focusing on this was an uncalled-for ad hominem for which I can now only apologize in hermitosis's absence.

OK.

My personal opinion is that in this specific case, the "coded female" argument is a red herring. That's not to say that it can't be / isn't valid in other cases. It totally can. But (and this was mentioned above,) theoretically, just about any example offered to describe people being overly-dramatic could be interpreted as a coded attack against women, because women are classic/traditional targets (both in real life and even more pervasively, linguistically) when such accusations are made. Considering that being called a sexist a pretty damning accusation to make, shouldn't the person making the accusation make sure the addressed examples and context are specific enough to leave no room for doubt?

In a situation like this I think it would be analogous to saying that calling someone "cheap" is automatically an antisemitic slur, because Jews are the usual target for that accusation. The foundation for the slur seems too general and open to interpretation to be appropriate.

I don't know. Perhaps I'm wrong about it all. But in his place, I know I've preferred it when people haven't jumped down my throat for expressing something inelegantly.

My intent, such as it was, was to simply point back to Catseye's very good point about reading and discussing the things other people say charitably rather than uncharitably. (Yes, I can see the irony.) I was't trying to poke a finger in his eye.

OK. I do agree with her point, too.
posted by zarq at 10:04 PM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey zarq, just to reply to what you are saying:

But (and this was mentioned above,) theoretically, just about any example offered to describe people being overly-dramatic could be interpreted as a coded attack against women, because women are classic/traditional targets (both in real life and even more pervasively, linguistically) when such accusations are made. Considering that being called a sexist a pretty damning accusation to make, shouldn't the person making the accusation make sure the addressed examples and context are specific enough to leave no room for doubt?

Using The View as your "example offered" is about as overt as it gets because the entire point of The View, and the reason why the show was created in the first place, was to have a show that was all about "the views" of a variety of women. The show was *titled* to be a reference to female views/point of view.

From Wikipedia: The subsequent opening credits for the show ... explain the show's premise: "I've always wanted to do a show with women of different generations, backgrounds and views: a working mother; a professional in her 30s; a young woman just starting out; and then somebody who's done almost everything and will say almost anything. And in a perfect world, I'd get to join the group whenever I wanted..."

If you were going to make a gendered dig at someone about where they must be getting their opinions from, in 100% sincerest honesty, I cannot think of a more overt example than saying they were getting them from The View. Until we get a show called The Vagina Show for Women, the View is going to be the most overt one.

But zarq, I'm also going to have to disagree with you that we shouldn't say we think something is sexist "unless there is no room for doubt." That would pretty much tie our hands against ever objecting to anything sexist ever in life, because as we see over and over here, no matter what we are objecting to, there are ALWAYS people who think there is room for doubt or we're misinterpreting things or making too much of them.

I also think there's a pretty huge gulf between saying that someone is doing something sexist, and labeling them a sexist person. There was just an article that made the rounds pretty widely these past few weeks about the bias in science against women, not only from men but from other women. I doubt all those male and female scientists are "sexists," but they can still do sexist things at times
posted by cairdeas at 11:13 PM on October 8, 2012 [10 favorites]


I’m just surprised that someone didn’t suggest she kill him preemptively, from the way it/this is going.
posted by bongo_x at 11:17 PM on October 8, 2012


misha: “Cairdeas, I am so sorry you were a victim of domestic abuse. I'm sorry for any of you who have experienced that personal hell. But in this, as in all AskMes, if you are so personally invested in your own history that you cannot offer advice relevant to the specific situation, you are not the best person to answer the question. And, no matter how compelling it might be for you to tell your story--because I get that talking about these issues is a part of healing--you are doing the OP a disservice by using her question to do that. Please pass those questions by.”

cairdeas: “Hey, Misha? I didn't answer the question. I did not post at all in the AskMe thread that this callout is about. You just called me out really harshly for something you totally imagined that I did.”

Er – look, I don't have a dog in this race, and please keep in mind that I say this as someone who has argued with misha myself on occasion:

(1) misha did not say you answered the question; and

(2) that wasn't a 'harsh callout' or even a callout at all.
posted by koeselitz at 11:58 PM on October 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also, since this is "group therapy" and I'm burying hatchets here:

sgt.serenity: “As a friend of someone who recently committed suicide and a relative of a woman who's husband should be placed in a rocket and pointed at the sky, I can see both the positions here. To me, people can respond how they want as long as its an honest good faith response, I think (seeing as im here preaching today) that along with self linking, it's another thing about mefi that is best respected and I hope this is the case.”

I totally agree with what sgt.serenity says here. (Except maybe the self-linking thing.) This is a real thicket of brambles, I agree, not simple at all. That's one reason it's a good thing that many answers are available in ask.metafilter. It is true that data shows people are a lot more likely to kill themselves than others; but that absolutely doesn't mean harm to others should be ruled out. One problem in the conversation above is that we've talked a lot about whether one should worry that a partner is suicidal or homicidal; but that simple dichotomy doesn't make much sense to me. Psychologically, I think propensity to self-harm and propensity to abuse others are often (not always, but often) related. And even in cases where the statistical risk is small, we're talking about life and death. Hurt feelings or even some paranoia until the next session with a professional psychiatrist are a price worth paying to make sure you're safe.

Just my two cents, anyway. Sorry to see hermitosis go, but I disagree with this callout, and I think it's better that we all get these issues straight for this community than that we wring our hands about the "loss" of members who are grown adult human beings who we ought to feel are free to do what they choose.
posted by koeselitz at 12:25 AM on October 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


The problem is just the ambiguous "you". It can mean "you" (singular), "y'all", or "one".

Koeselitz, I assume you're interpreting misha to have meant:

"Cairdeas, I am so sorry you (Cairdeas) were a victim of domestic abuse. I'm sorry for any of you (Cairdeas and others) who have experienced that personal hell. But in this, as in all AskMes, if you are ("if one is") so personally invested..."

Cairdeas, I assume, is interpreteing misha to have meant:

"Cairdeas, I am so sorry you (Cairdeas) were a victim of domestic abuse. I'm sorry for any of you (Cairdeas and others) who have experienced that personal hell. But in this, as in all AskMes, if you (Cairdeas) are so personally invested..."
posted by Bugbread at 12:45 AM on October 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


It sounded like hermitosis had some thoughts about what it would mean to respond sensitively and cautiously to the original question and other situations involving suicide (beyond just not mentioning murder). I would have liked to hear that discussion.
posted by salvia at 12:49 AM on October 9, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yes. The first option seems much more plausible. And I should say – I think misha was being pretty strident in her plea that people not let personal feelings get in the way of good answers. Heck, I think there were plenty of insulting undertones there, and I understand why cairdeas didn't like it much. That's probably worth unpacking. I just I think it's pretty clear that misha didn't mean it as a callout.
posted by koeselitz at 12:50 AM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Sorry, that was a response to Bugbread, not you, salvia.)
posted by koeselitz at 12:51 AM on October 9, 2012


Maybe there should be a rule that no-one can comment more than three times in any Meta thread. Experience suggests that things tend to deteriorate after that, however good the intentions.
posted by Segundus at 2:02 AM on October 9, 2012

that wasn't a 'harsh callout' or even a callout at all.
I guess you're using some sort of definition of callout that I wouldn't share. I don't see how the term isn't applicable to misha's post. Really though that's getting into semantics. For me the important bit is that misha was absolutely, completely, unequivocally in the wrong making that request. Even if we just ignored the fundamental meanness of her reasoning, what she said was "you have a lot of experience here - I think that means your perspective is bad."

That just doesn't make sense. We might want to discourage answers from people that are inexperienced - for certain I'm not going to be giving anyone car repair advice - but experienced answerers are exactly what we want.
I’m just surprised that someone didn’t suggest she kill him preemptively, from the way it/this is going.
Get a grip. This is why the reaction against "this place hates men" was so strong: because it's such a ridiculous thing to say. Advising someone that she's at increased risk and she should have a plan for her safety is not a big deal.

The asker of the original question should know what other things to look for that would increase her risk (husband making verbal threats against himself or her, husband purchasing a firearm, etc) and what she could and should do if she feels unsafe. Maybe she could keep a small bag packed, if she wants to go to a relative's house she could get a key from that person, she could memorize the route to a shelter, whatever. Small steps she could take that could save her life. But you mention this stuff and the MRA crowd loses their shit and starts weeping about "misandry" because they care more about their own wounded pride than they do about preserving human life.
Considering that being called a sexist a pretty damning accusation to make
"You said a sexist thing" is not the same as "you are a misogynist."

Justinian, your post has mostly been addressed by others already, but I'll also remark that you're conflating two unrelated things: methods used by professionals to evaluate and reduce risk are not the same as local tv news fearmongering. And you need to stop nattering about whatever madeup nonsense that is with movie plots or whatever. There are two relevant facts (separation and husband's possible suicidal ideation or threat) that increase the asker's risk, full stop, end of story. Again, she should have a plan and she should know what else to look for, that's it.
posted by kavasa at 5:20 AM on October 9, 2012 [15 favorites]


Justinian, did you miss kavasa's comment which actually discussed the data that professionals use to assess situations like these?

Not Justinian, but... a lot of things are being conflated here, going back to cairdeas's comment that brings data for the whole spectrum of DV violence to bear on a question of whether it's likely the OP's husband is researching a plan to kill her, stage a suicide, and take the insurance money. Which is the "Coen Bros" scenario that hermitosis objected to... and the chances that this is what's going on with the OP's husband are in fact vanishingly small. For cairdeas on the basis of this objection to accuse hermitosis of trivializing domestic violence was really quite an explosive and uncalled for leap.

The fourth and fifth comments in the thread were:
...In the chance he is serious, you must consider it is not his suicide he is researching.
and
...My first thought was premeditated murder as well.

If a comment had said, "Please be aware that a threat of suicide can be a danger to all around, and make sure that you and the kids are safe," and hermitosis had objected, then cairdeas would have a point. That is not what was said. kavasa's data about partners who threaten suicide is not relevant either to the comments as they were made in the thread, because in the scenario being posited the partner is not suicidal at all but coldbloodedly homicidal. Which, of course, if that were the case, the OP would be in danger. But that is the kind of case that makes national news, not the kind that makes up most cases of domestic violence.

Oops, on preview....
Advising someone that she's at increased risk and she should have a plan for her safety is not a big deal.

I think, kavasa, the kind of warning you are suggesting would be appropriate is not the kind of thing hermitosis was objecting to.
posted by torticat at 6:05 AM on October 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


On the issue of staying out of certain types of threads, I believe that it is fairly standard advice here that if certain issues trigger you to the point that you are reliving trauma as you type or in general your response will be so self-involved as to be unhelpful, you might want to consider staying out of those types of threads. Particularly if they make you inclined to respond in a heated way. I may be doing a bad job of describing this advice, but to me it is good advice intended to keep the community on an even keel and pointed away from flameouts.

I do NOT think cairdeas merited this advice from a member; probably this advice should never be given out by a member rather than a mod, and as I said above I thought cairdeas's comments here were totally in line anyway, certainly at least until the OP insulted her. For a while up thread cairdeas was getting piled on for suggesting that The View and therapy etc. were gendered terms. Though the tide has turned now, I believe that that feeling that cairdeas had overreacted (with which i do not agree) and hermitosis's exit are what misha was reacting to.

Down with insults, flameouts, and piling on!
posted by onlyconnect at 6:24 AM on October 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think, kavasa, the kind of warning you are suggesting would be appropriate is not the kind of thing hermitosis was objecting to.

I agree, and it's worth remembering that the original AskMe thread was kind of a wreck before the mods got to it. I mention this in my first few comments in this thread, that the AskMe was genuinely heading to a silly place, even though I personally think it was appropriate to mention the possibility that he'd become unhinged once just in case it clicked something for her.

What quickly happened in this thread, though, was that the conversation started to go much further than hermitosis's original suggestion for caution and care. The very idea that the husband might act violently was declared silly and unspeakable on the grounds that it probably isn't what's going on, we had no evidence, etc. And this is strange to those of us who think domestic violence should be talked about more, not less, in places where (whether to the OP or to some future reader) talking about it could potentially help. It doesn't have to be the full and only focus of that thread, either in he's-going-to-fake-your-suicide! form or just here-are-some-risk-factors-for-violence form, but the idea that it shouldn't be mentioned at all is totally backwards from where I'm sitting. I think that's where things got heated / went off the rails.
posted by gerryblog at 6:24 AM on October 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


cairdeas: "Using The View as your "example offered" is about as overt as it gets because the entire point of The View, and the reason why the show was created in the first place, was to have a show that was all about "the views" of a variety of women. The show was *titled* to be a reference to female views/point of view.

We're not just speaking about The View. We're also speaking about his references to telenovelas, CSI and group therapy. Despite gerryblog's explanations, the latter two still do not seem like gendered insults to me, which is why I referenced them specifically in my response to him. Since I'm not Latino and don't have any sort of cultural reference to understand the telenovelas comment, I simply ignored it.

You took hermitosis' example and escalated it (twice: 1, 2) by reframing what he was saying as "only stupid women watch the View." He didn't say that. I don't think he was implying it, either. Certainly not intentionally. He also did not expand on what he had said in a manner which was disparaging to women.

He did say he felt commenters in the original thread were drawing inappropriate conclusions, when the evidence being presented in the FPP did not support them. He said they were being "incredibly presumptive," "reckless," and "scaremongering."

If you were going to make a gendered dig at someone about where they must be getting their opinions from, in 100% sincerest honesty, I cannot think of a more overt example than saying they were getting them from The View. Until we get a show called The Vagina Show for Women, the View is going to be the most overt one.

I'm not really sure I agree that referring to The View as melodramatic is a condemnation of women. But I admit I could be wrong, too. That's why I didn't mention the show in my response to gerryblog. And it's why I focused on the fictional television drama (CSI) that had also been brought up. Which by definition clearly uses drama for effect.

But zarq, I'm also going to have to disagree with you that we shouldn't say we think something is sexist "unless there is no room for doubt." That would pretty much tie our hands against ever objecting to anything sexist ever in life, because as we see over and over here, no matter what we are objecting to, there are ALWAYS people who think there is room for doubt or we're misinterpreting things or making too much of them.

Sorry, that's not what I meant. Let me clarify:

I do not think we should refrain from ever "objecting to anything sexist ever in life."

In an ideal world and if especially someone appears to be a "first time offender," I think it would be better to try to ask reasonable, non-inflammatory questions of them and begin a discussion, since someone who might not understand that what they have said is offensive. Rather than going on the attack from the get-go. This gives folks the opportunity to clarify what they meant, in case we're misinterpreting their intent. Which happens a hell of a lot around here.

That said, of course we don't live in an ideal world. And I'm as guilty as anyone else around here of attacking immediately, rather than calmly asking questions. But over the past year or more, I've been making a concerted effort to be conscious of it and temper my comments, because I would really rather have constructive conversations with people than beat them over the head.

When hermitosis said that he didn't understand how what he had said was sexist, we had an opportunity to talk to him about it. My impression in this situation is that even though you posed your responses to him as a question, by taking what he had said and reinterpreting it in the worst possible way, that wasn't an invitation towards clarification or further discussion. While I agree with many of the other points you made in this thread, I don't think that escalation was great.

I also think there's a pretty huge gulf between saying that someone is doing something sexist, and labeling them a sexist person.

Perhaps. Honestly, I don't think it's all that huge. If you say, "That's racist" to someone, the conclusion they're going to draw is that you're calling them a racist, and defend themselves accordingly.
posted by zarq at 8:32 AM on October 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you say, "That's racist" to someone, the conclusion they're going to draw is that you're calling them a racist, and defend themselves accordingly.

Another example: if you say "I'm not going to continue this willfully dense domestic violence derail with you," they're gonna say "you responded by calling me 'willfully dense'".
posted by 0 at 8:50 AM on October 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


me: “... that wasn't a 'harsh callout' or even a callout at all.”

kavasa: “I guess you're using some sort of definition of callout that I wouldn't share. I don't see how the term isn't applicable to misha's post. Really though that's getting into semantics. For me the important bit is that misha was absolutely, completely, unequivocally in the wrong making that request. Even if we just ignored the fundamental meanness of her reasoning, what she said was ‘you have a lot of experience here - I think that means your perspective is bad.’”

The semantics matter, though. Mostly, I think this is a practical issue, to be honest. It's kind of pointless to accuse someone of calling you out harshly when that person clearly doesn't believe they've called you out at all. It doesn't further a discussion, and it only serves to escalate conflict.
posted by koeselitz at 9:28 AM on October 9, 2012


Remind me to start begging for a built-in grammar check now that we have an edit window, because just... damn. That comment is pretty incoherent in spots. Sorry about that.
posted by zarq at 9:29 AM on October 9, 2012

Rather than going on the attack from the get-go.
This is the really classic "be nicer all the time regardless of what you're responding to" sort of fault-placing I can't really get behind. When someone says something homophobic/sexist/racist/whatever, the onus is not on the respondent to be unfailingly polite in response; remember that the original mark has generally already crossed the courtesy line, regardless of the speaker's intent or knowledge of that fact.
Perhaps. Honestly, I don't think it's all that huge. If you say, "That's racist" to someone, the conclusion they're going to draw is that you're calling them a racist, and defend themselves accordingly.
That's on them. Although it would be great if the injured party could always have the presence of mind to deescalate the situation by means of careful euphemisms, it's simply not realistic to expect that to happen or blame that party when they don't. If the conversation has already crossed over into impolite territory, the crosser has at least as much (and IMO more) responsibility to fix that.

Stated differently: saying something racist is always worse than saying "hey that was a racist thing to say".

koeselitz - I mean I'm with you that semantics can be important sometimes, but in this case a disagreement over what "call out" means is distracting from "was misha right or wrong to do it," and in this case she was wrong. And once more, it's not solely or mostly the respondent's responsibility to deescalate things.
posted by kavasa at 9:35 AM on October 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


And now that I've taken care of some moving chores and had some lunch cereal I'm going to play some XCOM. Nyah!
posted by kavasa at 9:36 AM on October 9, 2012


kavasa: "This is the really classic "be nicer all the time regardless of what you're responding to" sort of fault-placing I can't really get behind. When someone says something homophobic/sexist/racist/whatever, the onus is not on the respondent to be unfailingly polite in response; remember that the original mark has generally already crossed the courtesy line, regardless of the speaker's intent or knowledge of that fact.

That's not what I said.

I'm suggesting that we treat people who make a single sexist reference that is open to interpretation as if they are capable of learning from that single mistake, and try educating them rather than initially beating them over the head by taking what they said and interpreting it in the worst possible way.

I did not say that we should be "unfailingly polite in response." I didn't say we should be "nicer all the time regardless of what [we're] responding to." I quite clearly did not say that. Did you even read my comment? Because you seem to be trying to twist what I did say into an argument I didn't make.

That's on them. Although it would be great if the injured party could always have the presence of mind to deescalate the situation by means of careful euphemisms, it's simply not realistic to expect that to happen or blame that party when they don't. If the conversation has already crossed over into impolite territory, the crosser has at least as much (and IMO more) responsibility to fix that. Stated differently: saying something racist is always worse than saying "hey that was a racist thing to say".

I have no problem with people calling out racism.
posted by zarq at 9:56 AM on October 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Could we all just take a moment give another look to Jay Smooth's excellent instructions for this sort of thing?

Indeed that thing hermitosis said was kind of sexist. Whether he meant it like that, is a sexist deep down in his heart, or as he says just really likes The View is pretty immaterial to that point. That said, while I think the [--that thing hermitosis said was sexist--] conversation we should have been having is vital and should in no way be brushed aside by hermitosis' history here, the [--that hermitosis person is sexist--] conversation we just had is pretty shitty and absolutely should be brushed aside by the character of hermitosis' long history here. Indeed, hermitosis does clearly love The View, and I suspect has a lot more love for women's television than almost anyone in this thread regardless of gender or lack therof.

In the question, Intimate Partner Violence does seem like it was a good and valid thing to warn the OP about. There were real warning signs in the question that are non-obvious to those who don't know them. That thread and this one seem like great places for education about those warning signs but at the same time like poor places for blaming people for not recognizing them. This whole conversation seems to have pretty clearly gone really badly and I hope that, as we talk about everything else, we can think about how to have them better in the future.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:08 AM on October 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


But you mention this stuff and the MRA crowd loses their shit and starts weeping about "misandry" because they care more about their own wounded pride than they do about preserving human life.

Oooh, harsh words! I think you hate men!

Kind of a fucking reach, huh? This is exactly the same kind of reach that you and others have been making in this thread, accusing people of not caring about domestic violence towards women or that suggesting that The View might be melodramatic is an attack on all women. Hermitosis made it crystal clear that a major problem was not that people were warning of the possibility domestic violence, or the possibilities of suicidal ideation but that they leapt full force into some "Double Indemnity" murder shit. It has been repeated time and again that warning of the possibility for domestic violence would be appropriate in that thread, but not the whole "My first thought was premeditated murder as well," scare-mongering.

The fact that you and cairdeas, for example, have ignored this in favor of making the most insulting narrative possible toward people you disagree with seems to indicate that perpetuating a struggle session towards a user who closed their damn account is more important than ensuring that warnings of possible domestic violence in AskMe are the most calm and helpful warnings they could be.

On preview:
This is the really classic "be nicer all the time regardless of what you're responding to" sort of fault-placing I can't really get behind. When someone says something homophobic/sexist/racist/whatever, the onus is not on the respondent to be unfailingly polite in response; remember that the original mark has generally already crossed the courtesy line, regardless of the speaker's intent or knowledge of that fact.

The fact that you think you believe that it is self-evident that hermitosis was saying sexist things and you can respond to him as you see fit is absurd. That people cannot consider an ambiguous statement ambiguous is why we have full on leaps into accusing hermitosis of thinking only "stupid Hispanic women" care about domestic violence. Could his examples have been sexist? Perhaps. But considering cairdeas was already accusing hermitosis of think women's concerns of domestic violence "wacky, stupid and ridiculous" before his examples even came up leads me to believe that she's more interested in accusing people of sexism than actually getting into the guts of his statements. Just because you see sexism or racism doesn't mean you you have license to say whatever you want.

That's not calling out sexist statements. That's staking a claim as the most ideologically pure and slandering anyone who you believe disagrees with you.
posted by Snyder at 10:22 AM on October 9, 2012 [9 favorites]


Although it would be great if the injured party could always have the presence of mind to deescalate the situation by means of careful euphemisms

Hey, just to be clear on this, the comment that referenced The View was addressed to gerryblog, not cairdeas. Why cairdeas took it as gender-based dig at all much less a personal dig at her I am not sure, but hermitosis denied this and it's pretty clear he had been speaking in response to gerryblog.
posted by torticat at 10:25 AM on October 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


What I have been taking away from this, correct me if I'm wrong here, is people seem to be saying that it is sexist to be more concerned that the guy might actually kill himself rather than kill his wife.

Anyone concerned at all he might off himself and this is not some attempt at gaslighting or a murder plot?

The question is fundamentally about the mental state of a man, would not men have an insight into how a man might react if his wife left him?

I am all for prevention of violence against women but according to the intimate partner murder assessment there are actually very few warning signs in this case. I'm not attempting to silence any women who see warning signs that the people who put together the Assesment did not, but there seems to be room for other viewpoints here.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:51 AM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


kavasa: “But you mention this stuff and the MRA crowd loses their shit and starts weeping about ‘misandry’ because they care more about their own wounded pride than they do about preserving human life.”

That is kind of putting it strong, isn't it? I wouldn't associate hermitosis or anybody else here (except for Mr 'metafilter hates men' up there) with the MRA. I think I agree with the other stuff you're saying, I just thing this part is a little harsh.

Snyder: “The fact that you and cairdeas, for example, have ignored this in favor of making the most insulting narrative possible toward people you disagree with seems to indicate that perpetuating a struggle session towards a user who closed their damn account is more important than ensuring that warnings of possible domestic violence in AskMe are the most calm and helpful warnings they could be.”

And this is reading the worst possible reading into kavasa's comment. The only thing this "seems to indicate" is that this is a heated discussion, and in heated discussions people tend to start seeing personal attacks in the comments of those they disagree with. In fact, this is a case in point.

I think everybody involved here is coming to this with an honest desire to see justice done and a thoughtful perspective and also a personal emotional connection to the subject. In fact, if a person didn't have an emotional connection to this subject, they'd be pretty insensitive to some important issues. But because we have an emotional connection, it's hard not to feel a bit threatened when people challenge stuff that's really important to us.

Still, I think this is a pretty good discussion, and I'm glad for it.
posted by koeselitz at 11:41 AM on October 9, 2012


ad hominem - i think we're all talking past each other at this point and nothing will really come from this. from my perspective what i see is people (mostly women) saying that her being the target isn't outlandish and should be considered along with the other possibilities and then the other side (mostly men) are saying that it's so remote a possibility that it's irresponsible to even speak it out loud. the gender split is interesting, but maybe muddies the waters and makes it harder to discuss.

the part that confuses me is the side who is saying it's outlandish and fear mongering are then accusing the DV worriers of being hardline about it and not allowing for any other possibilities. to me, the people arguing against the possibility of violence towards the wife are the ones who are strongly not allowing other viewpoints. this is also the way i'm seeing people talk about hermitosis being attacked - like a mob came after him and he stood like job or jesus, never swiping back. but from my perspective, he was giving as good as he got and things got heated and he seemed unwilling or unable to dial it back and discuss what was actually bothering him.
posted by nadawi at 11:41 AM on October 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ad Hominem that is quite the straw man. No one has suggested that answers that do NOT address potential other-directed violence are wrong or out of place. No one. On the contrary the argument is that answers addressing that possibility are ALSO relevant - against Hermitosis' accusation of being overly melodramatic.
posted by Salamandrous at 11:44 AM on October 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


from my perspective what i see is people (mostly women) saying that her being the target isn't outlandish and should be considered along with the other possibilities and then the other side (mostly men) are saying that it's so remote a possibility that it's irresponsible to even speak it out loud

Ok, I don't want to speak for anyone else, but I think the concern is that we might scare the shit out of OP, causing her to flee in terror, giving her husband one more reason to kill himself.

I don't know what the hell I would do if someone I lived with, and had kids with, suddenly started acting like I wanted to kill her.

Ad Hominem that is quite the straw man.

That is just my feeling about it. I told you guys to correct me if i was wrong. The way it seems to me is that Hermitosis was concerned that our actions here may drive OPs husband further towards suicide. If he believes that the man may try to kill himself isn't he obligated to tell us to shut up?

I think everyone here has the best of intentions, some of us may be worried for OP and some of us may be worried that her taking the kids and rushing out of the house out of a possibly unfounded fear may drive him closer to the edge. Nobody here wants to see either of the hurt.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:53 AM on October 9, 2012


people seem to be saying that it is sexist to be more concerned that the guy might actually kill himself rather than kill his wife

Where are you seeing that in this conversation? I haven't seen anyone get shut down or called sexist for expressing concern about the husband; one of the things the original thread did did well was to tell the poster to take this seriously by contacting professionals and getting him help, and nobody seems to have contested that here.

None of us can know what the poster's husband is thinking, and there are lots of potential outcomes: maybe he's suicidal, maybe he's depressed and needs professional help immediately even though he's not actively planning suicide, maybe he's using the idea of suicide to manipulate his wife into staying, maybe he's serious about suicide but still using it in a manipulative way by leaving his search history for his wife to find, maybe he's thinking she's suicidal, maybe he'll harm himself, maybe he'll harm her. ('Planning premeditated murder' is on the outside of the probability spectrum, sure, but it occurred to somebody as a possibility and the OP didn't seem to find it offensively unhelpful that it was raised.)

I suspect the reason this has been such an emotive question is because so many of us have been affected in some way by at least one of these hideously painful things in our own lives. None of us wants to feel like our own experiences are being dismissed as ridiculous or unrealistic or unfair, especially when there's someone asking for advice on the subject and we don't want them to be misinformed.

This is obviously a horrendously painful situation for the OP and her husband both, and I really hope they both get through it fine and find a better brighter place on the other side.
posted by Catseye at 11:54 AM on October 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think the concern is that we might scare the shit out of OP, causing her to flee in terror, giving her husband one more reason to kill himself.

ok - sure, maybe at the top of the thread (which i still sort of feel like isn't giving the wife enough credit in being an adult), but at this point we know how she reacted to the advice, which seems really measured.
posted by nadawi at 11:59 AM on October 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


to me, the people arguing against the possibility of violence towards the wife are the ones who are strongly not allowing other viewpoints.

Bullshit. No one argued against the possibility of domestic violence. People argued it might not be the most likely outcome, or that premeditated murder is unlikely and should not be considered the most obvious outcome, but no one argued it should not be mentioned.
posted by Snyder at 12:03 PM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Where are you seeing that in this conversation? I haven't seen anyone get shut down or called sexist for expressing concern about the husband

With all due respect, if someone thinks it is irresponsible to give OP advice that may cause harm to the husband, and says "don't give that advice" and is attacked as trying to silence women, it seems that way to me.

ok - sure, maybe at the top of the thread (which i still sort of feel like isn't giving the wife enough credit in being an adult), but at this point we know how she reacted to the advice, which seems really measured.

Which is very very lucky in this case. We have all seen AskMes where the poster would freak out .
posted by Ad hominem at 12:05 PM on October 9, 2012


Which is very very lucky in this case.
well, all we can do is discuss the thread in front of us instead of imaginary threads that might happen or could have happened in the past. there's a lot of context to this question, and in that context raising the possibility of harm towards the wife doesn't seem hysterical.

Bullshit.
like i said, i think we're all talking past each other. we see this thread differently and i don't know a way around that.
posted by nadawi at 12:09 PM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


well, all we can do is discuss the thread in front of us instead of imaginary threads that might happen or could have happened in the past. there's a lot of context to this question, and in that context raising the possibility of harm towards the wife doesn't seem hysterical.

Good point. I just see Meta as a sort of post-mortem of what can be done differently to balance concerns in the future. I'm not interested in refighting any battles, just figuring out what we can do in the future to address everyone's concerns.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:14 PM on October 9, 2012




I mean, the murder scenario IS domestic violence. Is that where this is breaking down, and we're talking past each other, as nadawi said?
posted by gerryblog at 12:23 PM on October 9, 2012


I think you might be right. Perhaps people don't consider a for-profit murder plot to be the same as an abuser killing his wife in a fit of rage, even though premeditated murder may involve a violent act.

I think everyone would agree an abuser killing his wife in a fit of rage is most certainly domestic vilence.

So we are dealing with two things here. A murder plot, and a "crime of passion" where the husband flies of the handle and kills her.

Can we all agree it is not very likely that OP's husband is premeditating murder for insurance money?
posted by Ad hominem at 12:34 PM on October 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


if someone thinks it is irresponsible to give OP advice that may cause harm to the husband, and says "don't give that advice" and is attacked as trying to silence women, it seems that way to me.

I'm not sure if we're reading the start of this thread totally differently, then, because to me it looked like the argument about gender and sexism came about because of the telenovela/CSI/The View thing.

But like I said, it's a really touchy thread for a lot of us. I don't think it's at all inappropriate to say "guys, consider that by telling the OP to leave the house, you might increase the risk of her husband harming himself" (if that's what's happening in the thread and that's what you believe), but nor would it be inappropriate to say "guys, consider that by telling the OP to call off the separation due to this, you might be risking her mental and physical safety." There just isn't a perfect answer to this, which is why I think the best answers in the original thread were the ones telling the OP to seek professional help ASAP.
posted by Catseye at 12:37 PM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think we all do agree that it is not very likely that OP's husband is premeditating murder for insurance money. It is, however, not completely unlikely, as a number of us with personal or professional experience have tried to point out, only to elicit hysterics and disproportionate emotional responses.

The risk that the OP might freak out seems to have been nothing but projection.
posted by tel3path at 12:40 PM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can we all agree it is not very likely that OP's husband is premeditating murder for insurance money?

I may be wrong, but I think every person on the "go ahead and mention murder!" side of the argument has explicitly said this.

So I guess now we can just solve the domestic violence / premeditated murder category mismatch and be done with this whole sorry affair.
posted by gerryblog at 12:43 PM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


You may be right. It may have been derailed from the start by The View.

The risk that the OP might freak out seems to have been nothing but projection.

We can't really predict the future, but I can't help but worry we won't always be so lucky. It isn't really my place to worry about this anyway but MeFi has had a string of professionals leave over what they consider to be harmful advice in Askme. That may or may not be the case here but it is sad to see people leave.

I may be wrong, but I think every person on the "go ahead and mention murder!" side of the argument has explicitly said this.

Well, I think people rightly or wrongly got stuck on statements that he might be looking up her insurance benefits, not his own. That would imply he was going to fake her suicide.

At the very least, it is good to know there are people on the webs that care enough to argue this for days and days. Thanks MeFi.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:50 PM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


to me, the premeditated murder thing was in the same category as immediate suicide - which is to say, something that possibly existed in the realm of fantasy for a man who was feeling desperate. the outcomes can be harm to himself up to and including suicide, harm to her or the kids up to and including murder, a manipulation tactic, or merely a fit of morbid curiosity/escapist fantasy.

i think anyone who approached "he's totally just about to kill you, run away with the kids to a foreign country!" or "he's totally just about to kill himself, get him committed against his will immediately!" were in the wrong and could stand to dial it back. i think most everyone on all sides were saying "here is something in a range of possibilities and the worst case scenario is pretty bad, so be mindful."
posted by nadawi at 12:53 PM on October 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Cairdeas, I wasn't calling you out at all. I was stating as a general rule of thumb not to answer a question you are too emotionally invested in to be relevant with your answer. Which you didn't do! THE ONLY reason why I mentioned you by name is because you shared your own experience in this post as a justification for others to bring up domestic violence in THEIR answers.

I'm sorry it came across as snide to you, but I sincerely think talking through issues is part of the healing process and understand the need to do that. Again, I was only saying that AskMe is not the place to work through those issues.

Thank to koeselitz for explaining it better than I did.

kavasa: Also holy shit misha did you just ask someone to not answer specific questions? Seriously?

That is extra very not your prerogative.


NO, I didn't, kavasa. I said this, exactly:

I'm sorry for any of you who have experienced that personal hell.

But in this, as in all AskMes, if you are so personally invested in your own history that you cannot offer advice relevant to the specific situation, you are not the best person to answer the question.

Notice the ANY OF YOU there. I bolded it to make it easier to see my transition from using "you" to refer to one specific user, to using the plural "you" to refer the userbase as a whole.

Do you have a problem with me stating that anyone who cannot offer relevant advice on a specific question should skip that question? That anyone who turns a specific question into a different situation entirely because of personal issues they haven't worked through is doing the OP of that question a disservice?

If so, please explain your position rather than misstating mine.

And also why you NOW feel I, or anyone, can't even ask others not to do something here, as your position on that has changed and it feels hypocritical of you to call me out on that.

[I'm sorry to get so damned specific and pedantic here. I have seen it happen more and more lately on the site that someone who disagrees with another user misstates that user's stance. Sometimes, it is just an honest breakdown in communication. In many cases, though, it is a deliberate debating tactic. So now I feel like I have to be really specific just to protect myself against the possibility that's what's going on.]
posted by misha at 1:10 PM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Misha, I defended you from further pile on above, but I do think your comment to cairdeas was out of line, and I DID read your use of "you" to be directed at cairdeas PLUS anyone else that is doing what you thought she did.

I thought when you wrote your comment you were under the impression that cairdeas had answered the AskMe, and I thought that was why you favorited my comment explaining that she had in fact NOT answered the AskMe.

To me, your comment reads, "cairdeas, I'm sorry that you experienced trauma. But if you (or anyone else here) are unable to offer relevant advice to an AskMe because of past trauma, don't answer the question." It is one of those classic "I'm sorry, but..." constructions. If you did not mean to caution cairdeas against answering questions about DV, to me that "but" makes no sense.

I understand it may not be what you meant, but to me, that is how it read, fwiw.
posted by onlyconnect at 1:38 PM on October 9, 2012 [9 favorites]


Metafilter: Ad Hominem that is quite the straw man.
posted by batmonkey at 2:11 PM on October 9, 2012


Ok, I don't want to speak for anyone else, but I think the concern is that we might scare the shit out of OP, causing her to flee in terror, giving her husband one more reason to kill himself.

I don't know what the hell I would do if someone I lived with, and had kids with, suddenly started acting like I wanted to kill her.


To me, the likelihood that the OP is so unbalanced that she would, with no evidence of any aggression, gaslighting, or violence from him whatsoever, take the view that he was going to kill her and act accordingly (hysterically) is very very very very low.

On the other hand, what would you do if someone you lived with and had kids with suddenly started acting like they were going to kill you? As in, hit you, threatened you, or threw you down the stairs? Because this actually happens all the time.

In other words, I find hermitosis' initial point (minus the mention of saucysault's comment) valid, in that he probably wasn't going to kill her, and that kind of advice really should have been thoroughly thought out. But this thread has had many instances of dismissal of the very possibility of domestic violence in a situation where the "experienced" can see warning signs, were the OP concerned in that direction. I think concern for children in a situation with a potentially suicidal parent is valid under any circumstances. I just think that the concern for the husband here can't go much further than "get professional help for him" (very important), but doesn't leave out the possibility of the OP possibly needing safety. (Which is only "overemphasized" because women in DV situations often need a great deal of support.)
posted by stoneandstar at 2:26 PM on October 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


misha: “I'm sorry to get so damned specific and pedantic here. I have seen it happen more and more lately on the site that someone who disagrees with another user misstates that user's stance. Sometimes, it is just an honest breakdown in communication. In many cases, though, it is a deliberate debating tactic. So now I feel like I have to be really specific just to protect myself against the possibility that's what's going on.”

No, misha – I think this is a whole lot simpler than you're making it.

In my experience it's actually quite rare for people to misstate their interlocutor's stance as a deliberate debating tactic. Why? Because that requires you to be dispassionate about it. It requires you to set aside your own emotions and pick among the possibilities to choose carefully the worst possible interpretation of your opponent's argument. And dispassion is actually quite rare in discussions like these, in large part because the participants are self-selecting – we're naturally people who care about the subject. That might happen in political debates, maybe; but it's rare in conversations that people choose to have with each other.

What's actually happening here is a mundane, simple, forgivably human thing:

Relationships where children are involved, the potential for suicide, and discussions of separations are all pretty huge things – things that we're all likely to have personal feelings about. And because of how central these things are to all of our lives, those personal feelings really become more than just personal feelings – they're convictions we base our lives on, and it becomes pretty damned important to make sure that these things are taken seriously. So when other people say things that imply that they're willing to dismiss these deeply-held convictions of ours, it often makes us assume the worst about their message as a whole and where that message is coming from.

I'll just say that I've seen that from everybody in this thread, I think. Including myself. It's natural in these debates for this to happen.

The best way to deal with it isn't to "protect" oneself by being pointed and precise, I don't think. The best way to deal with it is rather to accept and understand that everybody here is in good faith and is saying what they believe. I don't say that that's simple or easy, and I don't claim to be an expert; far from it. That just seems to be the only way to proceed here, is all.
posted by koeselitz at 2:33 PM on October 9, 2012 [7 favorites]


you shared your own experience in this post as a justification for others to bring up domestic violence in THEIR answers

People who have experienced DV are usually quite attuned to it and sometimes alert and good at spotting it while others aren't. I don't think this is really a situation where the emotionally invested need to be told to sit it out. No one who suggested DV was adamant that it was definitely taking place or anything. I think the murder suggestion was the only one that could have possibly resulted from too much emotional involvment. But DV in general, yes, people should definitely bring it up. I know of very few (no) situations where a woman was made too empowered by concern about imaginary DV. If the concern here is that posters will make AskMe's, hear advice about DV, and then use it deviously and manipulatively to destroy men... that's making more of an assumption than picking up on some warning signs and making suggestions about self-care.
posted by stoneandstar at 2:34 PM on October 9, 2012 [7 favorites]


I think this sub-argument (that has leaked profusely into the larger MeTa) about whether it's fair to bring up domestic violence when there are no explicit signifiers of it is also a result of the fact that domestic violence is pretty unimaginable when you haven't experienced it.

I remember once telling a boyfriend about an ongoing domestic violence situation that was happening in my family when it related to something he was sharing with me. He just kind of nodded and went on with his story. Later, when he found out the details, met the people involved, and realized what was actually happening, basically all he could say was, "Holy shit." And repeatedly state his confusion with the emotional dynamics in play ("why didn't she leave," &c.), until he eventually internalized some of the difficulties and grew to understand and sympathize (and talk about DV a lot more in general). Because it's often very opaque to people who don't have first-hand experience with it. (And, sadly, ignorance about it can lead to unwitting reinforcement of the situation.)

So yes, more consciousness raising. And listening when it comes to this whole underworld of domestic violence and control if you haven't experienced it is so appreciated.
posted by stoneandstar at 2:44 PM on October 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


stoneandstar writes "
People who have experienced DV are usually quite attuned to it and sometimes alert and good at spotting it while others aren't.
"

I wonder how much of this is exchanging Type II errors for Type I errors.
posted by Mitheral at 5:10 PM on October 9, 2012


Justinian, did you miss kavasa's comment which actually discussed the data that professionals use to assess situations like these? Your assessment of the probability and risk here is wrong.

Of course I did, and it isn't. It's indisputable that the statistics show that the man in question is more likely to kill himself than to be involved in some sort of CSI fake suicide plot. It's just math. The suicide rate for adult men in the United States is more than 20 per 100,000. The murder by intimate partner rate for adult women is somewhere around 1 per 100,000. The rate for fake suicide conspiracies is massively lower. That's a huge disparity, you can't handwave those numbers away or claim I'm the one doing faulty risk assessment, and it is bothersome when we can't agree on basic facts because they are inconvenient to one side of a discussion.

But it seems the discussion has moved again to some sort of argument over who can or should answer questions which I don't have any interest in wading into. If someone wants to give advice and feels they can be helpful they should go for it.
posted by Justinian at 5:28 PM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


stoneandstar: “People who have experienced DV are usually quite attuned to it and sometimes alert and good at spotting it while others aren't.”

Mitheral: “I wonder how much of this is exchanging Type II errors for Type I errors.”

Probably a lot. Those who have experienced domestic violence tend to know first-hand that Type II errors cost much more than Type I errors. Whereas sometimes I think those who have not experienced domestic violence are often lured into the comforting notion that the price for Type I errors is the same as the price for Type II errors – they might say to themselves, 'well, it'd be terrible if she was being abused; but on the other hand, it'd also be awful to cause embarrassment and hurt by bringing up the possibility with her if she isn't being abused.'

When the price is the same for Type I and Type II errors, it makes more sense to go with the statistical likelihood – and statistically, though domestic violence is very common, more common than people generally realize, it's still more likely that abuse is not going on. So rationally it makes sense in that case – one should not bring it up.

The problem is that domestic violence is far worse than 'embarrassment and hurt,' particularly in this case. If we were talking about reporting someone to the police, then there might be something to talk about; but we're just strangers on the internet, and while I don't want to trivialize AskMe too much, people need to know coming into this that off-the-wall advice is totally a possibility. Given the fact that we're just talking about comments on a web site, yes, there is a possibility for embarrassment and hurt, but it's miniscule compared to the potential damage domestic violence of any kind can cause.

So, to refine stoneandstar's point a little – or maybe to modify it to fit my own perspective – it's not so much that people who have experienced domestic violence are more 'attuned' to it; I think it's more that they know the cost more intimately. Take a typical person who's experienced domestic violence and a typical person who hasn't; if they see a guy getting visibly enraged while watching a football game on television, they both would probably agree that that could be a sign that he's got a violent side and might have abused his partner. The difference is that a typical person who hasn't experienced domestic violence will often say something like: 'sure, that's a distant possibility, but it's statistically less likely, and anyway bringing it up with her would be embarrassing to her and might harm our friendship.' Whereas a typical person who's experienced domestic violence will often say something like: 'yes, those are possibilities, and it is true that statistically it is less likely that there is abuse here, but it's worth it to talk with her about it because the stakes are very high.'
posted by koeselitz at 5:49 PM on October 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's just math. The suicide rate for adult men in the United States is more than 20 per 100,000. The murder by intimate partner rate for adult women is somewhere around 1 per 100,000.

The problem with the back-of-the-envelope calculations that have populated the thread is that they assume suicides and homicides are randomly distributed over the population. They're not. And a woman whose partner is in crisis (and, in this case, apparently suicidal) is known to be at a much elevated risk for violence over a random adult woman, for the reasons that have been elaborated upon at length above -- just as his risk factors for suicide are also significantly elevated above any random man's. This is a point that's been made over and over here, and continually ignored with this constant return to raw, abstract statistics. We know much more about this couple than that they're "adult man" and "adult woman."

That again is not to say it's likely that she'll be hurt or murdered by her partner, or definite -- obviously not -- just that it's not such a low-probability event that it's totally absurd to mention it in the course of a full thread of wide-ranging advice.
posted by gerryblog at 6:06 PM on October 9, 2012 [8 favorites]


Justinian - I refrained from saying so in so many words above, but that single order-of-magnitude difference could readily be attributed to differences in estimating the denominator. It's NOT cut-and-dried that, in the US, the likelihood a middle-aged man will kill himself is so much greater than the likelihood a middle-aged woman will be murdered by her spouse that there is no point to discussing them in the same set of circumstances.
posted by gingerest at 6:56 PM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wait a minute guys, that is certainly reasonable and good, and I completely and totally agree but is that what we are discussing here?

The original thread says in no uncertain terms "premeditated murder" and " you must consider it is not his suicide he is researching."

What are the stats on premeditated murder plots.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:54 PM on October 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Fair enough. I really can't guess at prevalence of premeditated murder plots or even murder fantasy.
posted by gingerest at 8:21 PM on October 9, 2012


I was actually hoping someone would have stats on first degree murder at their finger tips.

For the record, seeing that intimate partner homicide is the number one killer of African American women between 18-45 really opened my eyes. To say that this is way way way too common is an understatement, it is unconscionable.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:30 PM on October 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


koeselitz, I agree with what you've said, but I also really did mean what I said-- that people who have been in houses where domestic violence has taken place often can spot the non-intuitive tells better than someone who hasn't. Obviously second-hand information and research can aid as well. When it happened in my household there were a lot of things that had nothing to do with violence (and nothing, ostensibly, to do with control) that preceded the violence.

I would definitely agree that in most cases concerning domestic violence, Type II errors are worse than Type I errors. But especially on AskMe, where there's very little risk of making someone "uncomfortable" the way you might in a real life friendship, and a very good likelihood that dispassionate, written advice might lead to the hypothetical OP's lightbulb moment (I've seen this) or her independent research on a topic she didn't previously have any vocabulary for.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:10 PM on October 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I do agree, stoneandstar – although domestic violence for me was a subject of years of denial, not something I could more easily identify, quite often those who are experienced with and who really confront domestic violence for what it is are much more attuned to recognizing it.

And also I agree that making people uncomfortable in AskMe is a small risk. That was kind of what I was getting at – and honestly I think the risks of bringing up even crazy possibilities are pretty low; as they should be. AskMe doesn't come with a warranty. This is just advice from strangers. That freedom allows us to be a bit more direct, I think.
posted by koeselitz at 9:51 PM on October 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wait a minute guys, that is certainly reasonable and good, and I completely and totally agree but is that what we are discussing here?

The original thread says in no uncertain terms "premeditated murder" and " you must consider it is not his suicide he is researching."

What are the stats on premeditated murder plots.


This is the thing for me; domestic violence is really common, living in a Hitchcock thriller is not. Using the number of people killed by intimate partners to estimate the likelihood that someone is planning on staging your murder to look like suicide/gaslighting her into committing suicide is crazy. I think the chance that he's using threats of suicide in an abusive/controlling fashion is way higher (higher enough to be worth mentioning), but it was the outlandish mystery plot that a lot of people in that thread were going to, not the plausible scenario.

I get that one feature of AskMe is the chance for people to give unexpected advice that people didn't know they needed, but that's no excuse to completely divorce your advice from reality.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 4:26 AM on October 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


Bulgarokotonos, you're right. I would be hard pressed to find an IPV homicide this year, within the last six months or so, within 50 miles of where I live, where the killer tried to claim life insurance on the victim's death.

I mean, what do you think, that this couldn't have happened because you saw it in the movies so it can't be real? Because this guy is just Joe Bloggs down the street and doesn't look like a movie star at all?

Though I grant you, if it were a totally humdrum everyday occurrence it wouldn't have made the news. But still.
posted by tel3path at 5:02 AM on October 10, 2012


hermitosis, I'm sorry you got chased away and I hope you decide to come back.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:09 AM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry hermitosis left too, and I also hope he decides to come back, but as far as I know he wasn't "chased away" but chose to leave because the subject matter was beyond his ability or willingness to cope with.
posted by tel3path at 5:21 AM on October 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


Bulgarokotonos, you're right. I would be hard pressed to find an IPV homicide this year, within the last six months or so, within 50 miles of where I live, where the killer tried to claim life insurance on the victim's death.

I mean, what do you think, that this couldn't have happened because you saw it in the movies so it can't be real? Because this guy is just Joe Bloggs down the street and doesn't look like a movie star at all?

Though I grant you, if it were a totally humdrum everyday occurrence it wouldn't have made the news. But still.


Sure, sometimes stuff that looks like a crazy movie plot happens in real life, but you know what, the vast majority of the time it doesn't. People are really, really, bad at judging probabilities in part because that crazy stuff sticks out more. Sometimes improbable things happen, but it's still no good reason to live your life on the assumption that improbable things are happening to you, because in the overwhelming chance is that they're not.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:25 AM on October 10, 2012


I know, Bulgarokotonos. That's what I said.
posted by tel3path at 5:26 AM on October 10, 2012




I moved in the last six months, actually, so to do the experiment right I'd probably have to find an IPV homicide this year, within the last six months or so, within 50 miles of where I used to live, where the killer tried to claim life insurance on the victim's death. Since I've only come up with a case from five years ago and a case still being investigated, after a few minutes of looking, I've got to declare the search a total loss.
posted by gerryblog at 7:07 AM on October 10, 2012


Yeah! I mean if it were really a thing, insurance companies would have some kind of process and be ready for any putative shenanigans.
posted by tel3path at 7:27 AM on October 10, 2012


I would like to unread that first link by gerryblog. Not clicking on anymore "killed my family" links.
posted by onlyconnect at 7:31 AM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, perhaps people would prefer to take it as read that those links go to relevant stories.

The point is that whatever your gut -- or your misapplication of average annual crime statistics to particularized cases -- might tell you, this is really not so outlandish a scenario. It was worth mentioning, if not worth spinning out into the primary focus of the thread.
posted by gerryblog at 7:37 AM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Respectfully, I think it is somewhat beneath Metafilter's standards to use the argumentation tactic of googling to find a random example of a rare occurrence that boosts your point and using it as a way to proclaim "SEE, SEE I was right and you're wrong!". I realize that one of the examples above was qualified with an "I understand that this is not common"-type remark, but in that case, it does lead to the question of why then try to use such an example at all, since nobody has argued that such events NEVER happen, just that they are infrequent enough to be statistically highly improbable.

I mean, by that logic, I could use the David Westerfield case as a justification to jump into any "How can I get my child to sleep in her own room?" question with a firm "DO NOT DO THIS AT ANY COST, NOT WORTH THE RISK!" derail, since, after all, it is not absolutely 100% impossible that some statistically improbable, horrific, worst case scenario might occur, so hey, might as well give the parent the warning.
posted by The Gooch at 8:48 AM on October 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think if the OP had said "My husband is impulsive and has a gun. I am going to ask him for a divorce. I am concerned he may commit suicide," then nobody would have had a problem with anyone who pointed out that she could be in danger herself and referred to the DV/murder statistics and advised her of how to keep herself safe. The discussion is about a different scenario that nobody has convincingly argued is plausible enough that it makes any sense at all to 'protect oneself' from it, particularly when there exist more plausible scenarios where the OP 'protecting herself' might lead to a man's death.

I would point out in addition to what The Gooch just said that in at least two of the cases gerryblog linked to there was no attempt whatsoever to pass the murder off as a suicide, and in the third it is not at all clear that the victim's partner even knew she had a life insurance policy.

Pace my username, I am not a man, btw.
posted by Acheman at 9:13 AM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Look, neither I nor tel3path was trying to argue that these examples proved this very rare event was actually super common -- see every other comment I've left in this thread. It was just a cheeky demonstration that intimate partner murders are not such wildly improbable events that they aren't worth talking about.

In terms of The Gooch's example, this really is a case of the same conversation happening over and over, so let me just make my point about this use of statistics one more time and then I'll bow out. The child in your example is still an "average child" -- we know nothing special or additional about this child, and so it's perfectly appropriate to go to the average statistics to reassure someone that nothing bad will happen.

But the couple in this AskMe is not a random couple; we actually know quite a bit more about them. And the people with experience, expertise, and training in this field have pointed out that there are genuine risk factors described in the situation that would give them pause in their professional capacity. That's different, just as it would be different if (say) risk factors for SIDS were described in the separate-room-sleeping child scenario you pose.

To offer my own example:

* If I tell you I'm very afraid of contracting a rare genetic disease, it would be appropriate to tell me that the incidence of this disease is only 1 person in 100,000, and that it's prohibitively improbable that I have it.

* If I start naming symptoms of the disease that I'm currently experiencing, you're probably still saying "Look, this disease is very rare," but at some point you're also telling me that maybe I should go to a doctor just to be sure.

* If I tell you my parents and both my siblings have this disease, going back to "But the incidence of this disease is 1 in 100,000! You almost certainly don't have it!" is no longer an appropriate use of the statistics. You know far too much about me and my risk factors now. Instead, the conversation needs to be about doctors, testing, treatment, consolation, and so on.

I haven't seen anyone argue we're in the third case. But I have seen well-informed and sometimes specially trained people in this thread saying we're somewhere in the second case. And all anyone has argued in this thread is that briefly telling the OP to take care for her own safety as well as her husband's is not inappropriate given the described circumstances. She offered risk factors that pull her away from "average adult woman" and into a more specific category.

I hope my behavior in this thread hasn't been widely perceived as hostile, dickish, or trollish; it's come, as I'm sure everyone's participation in the thread has, from a desire to make MetaFilter better.

Come back soon hermitosis.
posted by gerryblog at 9:37 AM on October 10, 2012 [13 favorites]


The Gooch: “I mean, by that logic, I could use the David Westerfield case as a justification to jump into any ‘How can I get my child to sleep in her own room?’ question with a firm ‘DO NOT DO THIS AT ANY COST, NOT WORTH THE RISK!’ derail, since, after all, it is not absolutely 100% impossible that some statistically improbable, horrific, worst case scenario might occur, so hey, might as well give the parent the warning.”

I agree that there's no point in googling crazy outliers. And I can see how a screaming all-caps answer would be disruptive, yes. I also would agree if your point is that trolling just to prove something or mock the question is against the rules. However – if it's not in all-caps, and it's not trolling, why is that a derail, and what's wrong with it? The point of AskMe is to offer answers. There is no demand that all answers must be correct and must be vetted by some review board before being submitted.

My general feeling here is that the community can go two ways: we can either cultivate a sense that people are free to give whatever advice they sincerely believe is helpful, or we can try to take responsibility for what happens to askers and for what they do with our advice. I don't think we can do both. And I think the cultivation of an open environment where people feel free to give their best answers is probably the best route to go.
posted by koeselitz at 10:25 AM on October 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think that if the OP had said she found a search about insurance and suicide in A. Average Male's search history - say, she went to the library and the guy who used the terminal before her had done the search - and had come to us and asked if said guy was at risk and whether she should do anything - we'd all say she was wildly overreacting. Hear hoofbeats, think horses.

However, this isn't A. A. Male but the OP's husband, who has a history of deceptive behaviour with financial implications (cheating at massage parlors) and has apparently been investigating other kinds of deceptive behaviours with financial implications (killing someone, if only himself, for the insurance money). Furthermore, he's done this right after the OP has asked him for a divorce, which theoretically ratchets up the risk levels in the OP's household. Hear hoofbeats, think horses, unless you're on a zebra farm at the time in which case, maybe zebras.

Yet I haven't see anyone complain that mentioning the theoretical risk of suicide is likely to put the idea of suicide in the husband's head when he was probably just researching his answer to a forum question or something. If it's provocative and wrong of her to have the thought that he might try to do her harm as opposed to harming himself, shouldn't she also have refrained from taking the actions she's already taken, namely confronting him about the cheating at massage parlors and refrained from asking for a divorce? That's what this is probably all about anyway, isn't it?

And the action the OP could appropriately take in response to the thought that he might manipulate her, or kill himself, or kill her, is to tell someone who is qualified to help - reducing all three threats and points inbetween while simultaneously increasing the availability of appropriate help for the husband, should he choose to use it.

Anyway, this is indeed just having the same conversation all over again, and if you ask me the conversation itself is somewhat insane because all the guy has actually done is Google life insurance vs suicide and all anyone here has actually done is state their interpretations of that, not offered to lend the OP a submachine gun or given her the name of a contract killer, which are forms of advice I'd definitely consider closing my account over.
posted by tel3path at 10:55 AM on October 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry you got chased away

You know, even when "the feminists" lose another account to another flamewar, I hope the rest of us don't use the "chased away" verbiage, because it is awfully self-pitying.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:46 AM on October 11, 2012


However "self-pitying" you think it is, I am sorry that hermitosis closed his account, and don't think he's anything remotely like the misogynist bigot that cairdeas and gerryblog made him out to be.

Pile-ons fucking suck, and I hate it when people I like are are targeted by them.
posted by nangar at 10:31 PM on October 11, 2012


However "self-pitying" you think it is, I am sorry that hermitosis closed his account, and don't think he's anything remotely like the misogynist bigot that cairdeas and gerryblog made him out to be.

What I said, at the very start of my comment: "I don't want to pick on you, because I don't think you really intended to give this a sexist frame." Suggesting that a person is using gendered metaphors that they might reconsider isn't calling them a misogynist or a bigot. I know that tempers are hot around these issues on the site right now, but this is really not an accurate reflection of what I said or what I think.
posted by gerryblog at 7:57 AM on October 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


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