Abusive Relationships…’even’ in Vegan, Animal Rights, Buddhist, and Anti-Racism Sp

Photo of me during a week of stress that I eventually realized was from abusive interactions with ‘colleagues’ engaged in social justice/animal rights. Major bags under those eyes.

Abusive relationships are incredibly exhausting and repetitively traumatizing— whether it be one’s mother, romantic partner, boss, work colleague, friend, or teacher. Particularly horrendous are the ways in which the abuser is able to narrate to themselves that THEY are the victim. Not enough empirical data and other forms of professional research you provide them that PROVE they are acting abusive rarely, if ever, will convince them that their behavior is ABUSIVE. From professors I have had, to work colleagues, to supposed ‘friends’, abusive relationships are more than Hollywood’s stereotypical depictions of some [usually white] guy wearing a sleeve less t shirt beating his spouse or children. I’d like to find more information about narcissistic abusive people who are ‘charming’ and are well hidden in what would be considered more ‘ethical’ spaces like religious organizations, animal rights venues, social justice organization, etc.

My mind was always confused when I’d encounter what SHOULD be an ‘ethical’ and ‘compassionate’ person but they seemed ABUSIVE… but how could they be “wife beater guy” when they were Buddhist monks, or vegans who would die on the front lines for non-human animals, or were in the anti-racism movement for decades fighting against white supremacy?

I am still blown away by when I wanted to tell a Buddhist priest about a well known Buddhist guru. This guru had a well known history of sexual misconduct and I wanted to reveal the identity to the priest. The priest kindly asked me not to reveal the identity since he didn’t think it was productive. I guess I’d ‘hurt’ the Buddhist movement if it was revealed who he was. It was 5 years ago but still, I can’t believe I believed that it was the moral thing to do; to protect the abuser because this Buddhist priest suggested that revealing this person’s identity was pointless. And this Buddhist guru still continues to do his work and have ample amount of support and students. (Can you say spiritual bypassing?)

Hollywood narrated a completely different image of abuse to me as a child and late teen, so I didn’t have the holistic literacy to understand continuums and spectrums of abusive patterns.

And growing up in a culture of the USA in which carceral and corporal punishment are the NORM for controlling and abusing people (check out Discipline and Punishment as well as info about carceral societies), I didn’t realize it was embedded in many of my closest relationships. I had internalized that I must deserve to be physically and emotionally ‘punished’ for not doing what the abuser said I should do. For not being what they wanted me to be in order to fill some deeply troubled hole in their insecure soul.

It wasn’t until I started reading about the intricacies of abusive relationships and narcissist abusive traits in the past year (for my book project) that I realized that what I had and continue to experience throughout my life’s relationships (colleagues, schoolmates, friendships, etc) have been incredibly abusive and have left deep scars on my psyche that I didn’t even know were there. I had no idea I was traumatized by these relationships/interactions because I was never given the literacy tools to know that that was what was going on. It’s one big mind-fuck.

As I write my memoir/activist book Black Mama Scholar, and look over 30 journals I have filled the pages in, I can’t believe how many– mostly white people and/or men who constantly abused and gaslighted me while I tried to engage in social justice, vegan, and anti-racism work…. as well as the colleagues in earlier stages of my tech.com (early 2000s) life as a quality software engineer that were abusive and then turned it around to make it as if they were the victim by me simply being their in THEIR epistemological/physical space as Black, feminist, and woman.


Below is my upcoming event and information about my latest book project which, for the first time in my life, incorporates humor into the serious topics of Black feminism, veganism, food ethics, and Black motherhood.