Recently I had an experience that for me summed up what can happen when you're openly deceptive, yet behave like you're a person of integrity. A few days before Hurricane Nate I met a new taxi driver here in Tamarindo.
We've become known enough in the community that some taxi drivers know where we live and openly shout up how much to take us to our beautiful house named after a local bird. Most are nice people, you get in the car, you hand over the money and chat while you're on your way.
What happened was one day at the taxi stand by our house we were approached by a driver we'd not used before, Gus. Gus quoted us one price so we climbed into his lovely and cleaner that most taxis car. We hadn't gone more than a half mile when Gus turned to us and said that because it was suddenly raining the fare would now be double. Usually when one tries to pull a bait-n-switch like this we demand he pulls over and we get out. That day we were in a hurry, but my husband Jim argued with him a bit before acquiescing to the inflated price. We swore we would never use him again because he'd tried to hustle us.
The very next day Jim and I were grocery shopping at the Mega Super by our house. Jim was dealing with the cashier while I was bagging our stuff and transferring it to the shopping cart. When I turned to put a third bag in the cart there was Gus at the cart, telling me that he would be taking us home. I said no, I'd already arranged a ride with my favorite driver Annie, thanks but no thank and turned back to keep bagging. When I went to put the fourth bag down I saw Gus rushing out of the store door holding my other three bags. He took my bags, put them in his cab and refused to give them back. I told Jim what was happening and we both agreed in the store that after this ride we'd avoid Gus and he was due for a serious karmic realignment from what we'd seen.
On the way home that second ride with Gus I warned him again about the steep drop off on either side of our paved driveway and he waved me off. But mere seconds after Jim and I got out of the car Gus tried to turn around by driving right off our driveway and down into an 18 inch drop off, popping a tire and scraping up his car badly. Jim and I shrugged and said the same thing at the same time “Karma”
Gus demanded we pay for his tire and trouble, and while we expressed sorrow for his troubles Jim pointed out that we warned him and we don't own the property that damaged his car.
We see Gus around still, but we never ride with him, even preferring to walk from the supermarket with full bags instead of use his service. He grins and shouts out 'Mi amigos!' when he sees us, even offering discounts, but we still don't use him. He showed us very clearly who he is during those two rides and who he is happens to be a person that resorts to guile and something less than truth.
If you observe people they will eventually show you who they are. Even the baddies, although it might take you awhile to figure out which are crooked evil users or severely damaged people who thrive on hurting others. We were lucky with Gus. His intentions were easy to read and quickly determinable.
Sometimes in recovery and survivor groups it's just not that easy to pick out the manipulators, or the ones grappling to be the top authority, the gaslighters, the gossips and the ones who turn out to be rotten to the core.
In the last few days I've seen a couple of people in recovery circles be outed for manipulative toxic behaviors. One of them a man using his status as a blogger to groom and take emotional and sexual advantage of women. That's pretty bad, yes indeed, but it was the reveal of the other writer that is much worse on the scale of damage wreaked on unsuspecting people.
Yesterday one of my friends who's suffered at her hands was brave enough to step up and say she would put up with no more after this writer's husband issued what seems like a threat in a private message. She spoke out and the dam burst. Many more people than I ever dreamed had been victims of this lady came out with their own tales.
I'm not going to talk about the tales of others, but I do seek to document the damage done by this person. I actually more feel pity for her at this point because her actions cannot possibly be those of a happy fulfilled individual.
The writer I am talking about is Libby Anne of Love, Joy, Feminism. Yeah, the same writer trained and launched by Vyckie Garrison of No Longer Quivering. I was around NLQ in those early days when Vyckie was encouraging and launching new writers among the Quiverfull second generation escapees. Somewhere I have the chatroom transcripts from those early days stored in one of my hard drives with the other documents from No Longer Quivering.
Libby Anne showed her true colors eventually with NLQ and Vyckie too, but there were red flags from the beginning that we all missed. Shortly after Libby Anne garnered some small publicity she conveniently forgot who had helped her at the beginning, completely failing to ever thank Vyckie, or mention her help at all. Libby's narrative evolved into one of her own heroism of escaping, rising above and bravely forging on solo to speak for all the other 2nd Gen.
During my time before taking over the day to day posting duties from Vyckie Garrison at NLQ I didn't have a lot of interaction with Libby Anne. I did what I still do towards those that work in recovery in some fashion, felt supportive, wished the best of, and tried to encourage the work. Thought it was odd she ignored everything Vyckie helped her with at the beginning and suspected a lot of what she wrote about her children and relationships was possibly not true, but it was none of my business. I didn't determine who wrote for NLQ.
Vyckie had this to say on Facebook about Libby Anne:
Honestly, they're like a pool of piranhas ... and their bullying has incapacitated the spiritual abuse survivor movement. When I realized the extent of their zealotry, I truthfully just gave up and moved on because I no longer feel compelled to work things out with tyrants at the expense of my own happiness.
She could have steered "Libby Anne's" devotees in a healthy, productive direction and HA had the potential to make a genuine impact for the benefit of all the kids being homeschooled in QF homes today and in the future, but she chose to use her influence to capitalize on their worst tendencies. Together, they've become exactly what they say they hate - abusers.
It's too bad ... because we had a good thing going and a lot of Christian fundamentalists were waking up and getting themselves and their kids out. Not so much anymore
Stupid innocent me, in recovery myself, suspecting little, but being behind the scenes supporting the site and what needed to happen. It was not long after I took over administration of NLQ I felt a distinct frost between myself and Libby Anne.
Eventually I did notice that Libby Anne borrowed ideas and content from many other sites without crediting any of them. I wasn't pleased, but this was one of Vyckie's proteges, so I said nothing, just filed this away as another indication of who she really was inside. Another indicator that she wasn't much like she was attempting to project.
After a few more years I went through a pretty dark time emotionally, dealing with a situation with my adult daughter that distressed me greatly. She was involved in relationships and behavior I did not approve of for a married woman with children. Especially since some of the behavior was happening right in front of my grandchildren. In my distress I wrote about my daughter and her situation in this blog, my personal blog, a blog where I do link to NLQ but mostly do not share the posts on NLQ.
In the middle of this Libby's friends started attacking me. I got ugly threatening messages and emails. If I recall correctly Libby Anne contacted Vyckie demanding I be removed from admin of NLQ because of my words on my personal blog. I had to be interviewed by the mods of another organization we helped launch to determine if I should be tossed from the board. I resigned from several board positions because of the rancor.
The attacks were pretty relentless, I cried every single day while this was ongoing as some of her supporters contacted my children and tried to drive a wedge in between us. It was unrelenting and heinous. Eventually I started forwarding everything to my attorney and discussing the possibly of suing as well as contacting the media company we both were affiliated with to inform them of the doings of her fans.
The thing about all of this is that she claimed to others that she had nothing to do with the harassment I was experiencing, but someone sent me screen caps where she was indeed talking up how 'horrible' I was. People that manipulate others into doing their dirty work so that they can appear Simon-pure are worse than those that actually carry out the actions.
But here is the thing. We're human, we're all human and make mistakes. We muddle through life trying to do the best we can, while frequently doing the wrong things. The problem happens when those wrong things continue and repeat.
When a recovery group starts focusing down and demanding absolute perfection to a set of rules set by the leader, demanding everyone in the group be focused on 'purity' they're no different than the damaging cult that they all left. You're just exchanging one horrible mindset for another. This is not freedom and it's not recovery.
My daughter and I moved past that bad time quickly. She learned I am sometimes right about human behavior and I learned that she has a deep capacity for changing her life for the better. We're closer now than we've ever been and I'm extremely proud of her growth, as well as knowing I need to talk to those I love when I have a problem with their behavior instead of staying mostly silent and ranting about it to others. I learned a lot from that bad time.
After Libby Anne and pals started leaving me alone, finally, mercifully, they moved on to others. Here's just a few of the things that happened.
- A very recovery-oriented former pastor ran afoul of them by something he said and they came very close to completely ruining his online reputation.
- A writer struggling with sexual addiction issues had his children contacted by them and they attempted to drive another family apart.
- Another person found themselves tossed from the very organization they founded. If that wasn't bad enough now Libby Anne claims publicly in interviews and media that she is the sole founder of that org.
- Another writer dedicated to recovery from evangelical cults found herself harassed and maligned even to the national organization she volunteered for, ending up leaving the org.
- Several ex homeschooler organizations were blown apart and those dedicated people working to ensure that homeschoolers had options for recovery were marginalized and run off.
- Libby and pals attacked Vyckie Garrison over remarks on Facebook before angrily demanding their stories be removed from NLQ.
- ….and there are many more stories I've heard, a trail of people hurt.
Let me state this again – People will tell you by their actions who they are. Are these the actions of a good person, a compassionate woman or a good leader? Let's examine the evidence.
- Does not show any thankfulness or gratitude for those that helped and supported her.
- Possible theft of intellectual property and borderline plagiarism.
- Takes control of groups or organizations started by others and claims she founded them.
- Leads witch hunts against others and spreads false information of those disagreeing with group.
- Possibly encouraging others to contact minor children to tattle on the parent.
- Gaslights people she dislikes.
- Manipulates others into doing those unpleasant things so she can accomplish her goal and deny any responsibility.
- Pretense of innocence while denigrating others.
A different list than Gus the cabby, but just as revealing.
Recovery is not recovery if you use it to bully others into doing everything your way. You are just wasting time, resources and hurting others trying to recover.
I know I've waited a long time to tell my story, but for a long time I didn't realize I wasn't the only one. Now I just want to make sure no one else is taken in, used and tossed aside by that group. I've moved on and am living the happiest life ever on the beach in Costa Rica. That is revenge enough, living well.
I hope that those hurt heal and the bullies get the type of inner healing they need. This just needs to stop.