Brent, a warning
Edit: Since publishing this, Brent has left California.
Edit: I wrote up a model about how this type of cult functioned. Consciously or not, Brent used drugs, the requirement of submission, threats of disownment, illegality, and promises of enlightenment. Feelings of indebtedness were encouraged. Seeing outsiders as threats was encouraged.
Content warning: Abuse, extreme BDSM
I do not condone violence or threats of violence. Do not punish friends of Brent; I do not condone that.
While you can figure out who I am by asking any of the involved parties, please do not use my or the name of other victims on public media — If necessary, call me Persephone or something. I have done my best to stick to facts. I am not acting out of anger or desire for revenge. If you need to contact me, email firstname.lastname@example.org. I will probably have another person filter all messages.
This is relevant to the rationalist community as a whole. As a community, we have failed to react to Diego for several years until his bad behavior was beyond justifiable. In the meantime, people have been hurt. This is a failure. It reflects poorly on all of us. We need a mechanism to stop people like Diego from coming into the community, and we need a mechanism for exiling those that have have slipped through and go on to cause harm. It is very serious to recommend exiling anybody, and I do not recommend this lightly.
Brent has caused tremendous harm to me and a number of other people in the rationalist community and beyond. The people targeted by Brent are young women roughly between 18 and 22 that have some aspect of submissive personality. I do not think that Brent should be tolerated in the community any longer.
I was 19 when I entered the rationalist community. Brent was 40 when we met each other. I moved into the same house as Brent, dated Brent for 2 months, and then lived with him for a year and a half after.
Brent had the impression that I subconsciously enjoyed BDSM and was the type of person who would deny liking it but really did. This was my first encounter with serious BDSM. I felt pressured to do many BDSM scenes that I did not enjoy, which instead caused me suffering. Even now, I get triggered seeing certain BDSM tools and things reminiscent of those scenes, like ace bandages or restraints in a bedroom.
With Brent, I did acid and MDMA for the first time. Some of the explicit agenda around me taking MDMA was to restore subconscious faith and attraction in him, which did not work. I came away from this with the story that I was pressured into taking MDMA by Brent.
Brent has extreme depressive cycles. For about 5 months I spent around an hour a day with Brent attempting to provide him with emotional support.
At one point, Brent felt I had lost faith in him. Brent put me in a situation where the frame was that I could sign a contract (A “24/7 Slave Submission” contract) giving Brent my total autonomy for a week, or lose Brent as a friend and mentor. I signed the contract, under duress, and quickly became despondent, sleep-deprived, and unhappy to a level that culminated in me repetitively harming myself with a stun gun in my bedroom. To this date, those 36 hours have been the most painful in my life.
Brent did not nullify the contract after that, but stopped enforcing it. The morning after my self harm he had me take MDMA again as an attempt to undo the pain and forgive him. This did not work completely, but I stayed in the same house as him and tried to forgive him.
Later, I had no income and rapidly declining savings. I was paid by Brent to have sex with him. What happened was painful and emotionally costly, and I feel like I was taken advantage of due to huge gaps in knowledge, agency, and economic advantage.
The emotional trauma and turmoil surrounding my living situation was one factor that led to me dropping out of college.
Since those incidents, for the year after when I lived with him, Brent has tried to get me to forgive him and reframe the trauma as smaller than it was. Because of this, I didn’t realize how badly I was hurt. My pain, panic attacks, and PTSD symptoms were me not being reasonable and not being forgiving. Once I realized the extent to which he had hurt me, I left.
This is a pattern. T was another housemate who had dated Brent a year before I had. She has since then gone on to publicly describe Brent as a person that has done abusive things and gaslit her. I do not want to be part of a community that both knows this has happened and continues to accept and protect this person. I do not want further victims.
I want it to be common knowledge that Brent has caused serious emotional trauma multiple times. It does not look like this will stop in the future.
Do not invite Brent to events. Do not introduce Brent to new, impressionable members of the community, especially if they are female. If you see someone about to join Brent’s orbit, show them this post.
(I may add stories here from those who have first-hand experience with Brent. Send them to email@example.com)
Warning 2: (I referred to them as “T”, they use their name purposefully and knowingly): https://medium.com/@mittenscautious/warning-2-153ed9f5f1f3
Warning 3: They were there at the time. The author of 2 and 3 are in a relationship at this time. https://medium.com/@mittenscautious/warning-3-8097bb6747b1