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We Helped Our Friend Leave Her Abuser - Now He's Suing All of Us

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. If you or someone you know is in trouble, help is available. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.

In 2022, we helped our friend Alli leave her marriage after she suffered from both emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her husband. It took a village, but we all came together to help her escape. Now she’s healthy, happy, and safe.

After Alli left her ex, she began to speak publicly about his abuse. We supported her decision to do so: Her ex is a prominent member of the human-rights community in Washington, DC, and we believe that abusers should be held accountable even if professionally they work as progressive advocates. In fact, it may be even more important to hold abusers accountable if, by day, they publicly proclaim to defend human rights.

Feminism, equality, and treating people with dignity aren’t values that can be shed when we’re off the clock.

At first, Alli’s ex admitted to what he did and even wrote Alli a detailed written apology. But recently, he hired an experienced defamation lawyer and filed a lawsuit claiming that all of us—including Alli—defamed him by speaking about his emotional and physical abuse. He is requesting $1 million in compensation, plus punitive damages. And he even wants a court order forcing us to disavow what we’ve already said and to stop speaking out in the future.

This has become an increasingly common tactic: Subjecting domestic violence victims to legal risks and hefty fees, and forcing them to spend months or years defending their right to speak and heal. And this time, he’s going after several women instead of just one.

Now, we need our village to show up again.

We’re already starting to fight back. We are represented by experienced First Amendment lawyers, Greg Lipper and Rebecca LeGrand , from a litigation boutique in Washington, DC. They already have filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit under the D.C. Anti-SLAPP Act : A law designed to prevent what are known as Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, which are used to muzzle speech. To learn more, you can read our revised motion to dismiss to Alli's abuser's amended complaint. This confession letter that he wrote admitting to his abuse is referenced in both the amended complaint and our motion to dismiss.

(Trigger warning - some of this may be hard to read/process.)

This case has just started. Even though our lawyers don’t charge mega-firm rates, our legal fees are adding up. Alli’s ex has already extended the process by filing an amended complaint. Even if our lawyers are able to get this complaint fully dismissed, that process will take several more months; if the complaint is not dismissed, the case could go on for years. That’s why defamation lawsuits are used to silence victims. Few victims can afford to defend against a case like this one, even if eventually the case is thrown out of court.

That’s why we’re asking you to help us fight back against this bully and his lawsuit.

He thinks we’ll be quiet, but we want you to help us be loud. We will not be silent!

He thinks we’ll submit to his demands, but we need you to help us stay strong and continue to defend ourselves.

Anything you can pitch in helps us cover our legal fees and continue to defend against the lawsuit. And anything we don’t spend on our legal defense, we will donate to an organization helping survivors of domestic abuse, Survived and Punished . If the court grants our Anti-SLAPP motion, Alli’s ex may even be required to reimburse some or all of our legal fees; if that happens, we’ll donate any surplus funds as well to Survived and Punished.

Although right now we can’t speak in more detail about the court case, we’ll share brief updates and links to court filings. You can find them on Tiktok, Instagram , and Twitter (X), so you can stay up to date with the latest info, and so other survivors can learn about the process in a case like this one. We and our lawyers are fighting hard to get this case thrown out soon, but if the case goes on longer, we need to be ready to keep fighting for as long as it takes.

50% of proceeds from all Feminist Cringe purchases in the month of October will be donated to Emily, Alli, and Gabi's defense fund.


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