Survivor Liaison: Load-Balancing in Coming Forward

When we first wrote the Medium post, we had no idea how many people would reach out to us about their experiences with Scott Lewis, and how difficult it would be to manage all the emotions that surfaced as we tried to keep on top of messages while doing the emotional labor of processing our own experiences. To more efficiently get through this, we’ve assigned a non-survivor to help us manage the day-to-day operations associated with this process.

Right now our primary objectives are to continue unpacking the blame and shame that we internalized as a result of our experiences, and to determine constructive avenues for addressing the harms Scott Lewis brought us individually and collectively. One of the things we’d like to do is to more clearly flesh out the scope of the damage. The many messages we’ve received from you have helped us begin this process. Thank you for your courage in sharing your stories.

We’d also like to thank the many supporters who have reached out, especially those offering to perform emotional labor and provide assistance in recovering the money that many of us loaned to Scott Lewis. As mentioned previously, we are discussing ways to address the many harms we experienced, among ourselves and with other survivors who continue to come forward. If you’re willing to help with any of the legwork to make this happen, or have any ideas, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

In order to load-balance during this process, we’ve accepted the offer of a fellow member of the science communication community to assist in managing a lot of the work of responding to messages of support and media requests, and help us and other survivors find and access resources to begin making sense of our experiences and working through them. Her name is AV Flox and we’re calling the role she’s filling that of Survivor Liaison.

AV is not a survivor, she is not one of the authors of the first Medium post, and she doesn’t know the identities of the original authors. AV got to know Scott Lewis in 2013, who used his connection with her to isolate one of the victims who has come forward following the publication of our initial post. AV’s experience with Scott Lewis mirrors that of many of those who have spoken up about his frequent disparagement of survivors in an attempt to control the narrative of his abuse. She’s no longer in contact with him and has been vocal in her solidarity with survivors. AV has experience in talking to vulnerable populations as a result of her work, and has been involved in support in instances of abuse in other communities.

Beginning today, AV will have access to the e-mail accounts we’ve created in order to more quickly answer messages. (We reached out to all those who wrote to us prior to making this decision to ask their permission to make their messages available to her and removed the e-mails of those who declined or failed to answer before the end of this weekend.)

Aside from communicating the needs of survivors to those wishing to give us support, as well as ensuring that these efforts center survivors and don’t put us at risk, AV will make herself available to survivors to listen and direct us to resources. Please note that AV is not a mental health professional, but she can help you locate one that specializes in this type of interpersonal harm.

You can reach AV through the SLAbuseHelp@gmail.com e-mail address. She’s on Twitter as @avflox (her DMs open), on Facebook as /anaiis (she checks messenger requests frequently), and on Google+ as +AVFlox (Hangout does not do a very good job of getting message requests across, the volume of notifications she gets on this network prevent her from seeing all private posts to her or instances where she’s been tagged into a conversation. If you do not hear back from her on this network, please consider e-mail or another avenue). She can make available other methods of private communication if these are preferred. As before, your messages about this situation will be treated as confidential unless you give explicit permission.

As we’ve found, coming forward; engaging with supporters, detractors, and members of our community who want to “stay neutral” and avoid “drama”; mapping potential threat models facing us and others who have come forward; and waiting to see what happens next are incredibly draining and emotionally labor-intensive things. Our hope in doing this is to ensure that we and other survivors do as little emotional labor around this as possible, and get as much help as we need.

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