Intimate Relationship Abuse

Warning Signs of an Abusive Personality: Rather than detailing how Thadeaus exhibits almost every single one of these, we’ll simply present the list under the auspices that you either already have your own examples of how he does so or would in short order if you or someone you were close to chose to interact with him.

Regarding Thadeaus: The following statement originally circulated exclusively as an email in March 2009, and is available to download as a pdf.

You may already associate the name Thadeaus with abuse if you’ve been around NYC for a while. You may be under the impression he has had some problems with women and relationships, but that these problems are not serious. Maybe you view them as personal issues that do not concern you. Maybe you think you don’t know enough about the situations, or maybe this is the first you’re hearing of them. Abuse is often perpetuated in a private or hidden way, so it is critical that these issues are addressed. To sustain our projects and movements, we must integrate mutual aid and support into the rest of what we do. This announcement is one effort to address abuse and enable more informed decision-making. –Some of the information below may trigger difficult emotions and/or memories. Please consider reading this when you are in a safe place and/or have someone available to talk to.–

Thadeaus Umpster is associated with the In Our Hearts network (now defunct), the ‘Brooklyn Free Store’ at his former residence (destroyed by fire in 2011), and ‘Grub’ dinners at ‘The Awesome Bed & Breakfast’ (136 Lawrence St., Brooklyn) and has repeatedly returned to Occupy Wall Street despite being asked to leave on a number of occasions.* When he DJs (commonly at Times up! events), he uses the name Suggested D.

Thadeaus exhibits patterns of abuse and manipulation in both working and intimate relationships. However, his attempts to manipulate and control others seem to be more severe in intimate relationships. Over the years, people who have worked with him on projects or dated him have experienced this abuse. Many have attempted to engage him at first and then cut off communication due to his response (or lack thereof). He has a history of framing himself as the victim when issues with his behavior are brought up. He often demands examples, and then ridicules or argues against them.

The abusive behaviors he has repeatedly exhibited over the years include:
verbal abuse (including manipulation through guilt-tripping, badgering and lying),
physical abuse (invading personal space, destruction of personal property, restraining and manipulating others bodies), and
sexual abuse (withholding critical information about risk factors and violating safer sex agreements).

Requests have been made of him by survivors and he has not respected them.
– One survivor asked him to warn young or new female activists that he has a pattern of mentoring and then entering into manipulative relationships with those in that category.
– Another survivor asked him to address his abuse patterns via counseling, to not communicate with her at all, and to not play a volunteer coordinator role in projects (i.e. not mentoring or setting up that type of power dynamic between himself and others). While it does appear that he has been to some type of counseling, he has not respected the other requests.
– Years back, he was asked to leave a benefit event for a survivor support collective because he was making someone at the event feel uncomfortable. He refused to respect the request. He argued that he was entitled to stay because he benefit was using a PA that he contributed to purchasing. A meeting/mediated discussion was arranged by a community group to address his response. At the meeting he was defensive. He brought an arsenal of friends to aggressively defend him.
– Recently, he was asked to avoid the public venue portion of John Bosch while a show was happening. The touring band that made the request (members of which were friends of his) prioritizes playing in safe spaces. He refused, argued for hours, and ultimately acted aggressively towards them.
– When he was going to attend the Earth First! Organizers’ Conference in 2008, the coordinators asked him to prepare a statement about his abuse history for an accountability circle that at least one other attendee with an abuse history would also make a statement at. He did not attend the conference.
– More recently, when he was asked to respond to some of these requests, he began making arrangements for a mediated discussion on his own terms. People engaged with him about arranging a discussion. However, due to his lack of acknowledgment that he has been abusive, there is currently no formal accountability process in progress.

Denial and manipulative communication seem to be his mode of response to all of these requests. He has privately acknowledged some of the problematic behaviors he exhibits, including guilt tripping and manipulating people. Despite such acknowledgments, he continues to argue aggressively and frame himself as the victim when he is confronted. He currently refuses to publicly acknowledge any abuse.

With many repeated acts of abuse, how has Thadeaus more or less avoided community action? One factor has been the lack of information about his history. This allows him to discredit accounts of his abuse as rumor or isolated incidents that can be justified. Another factor is his ever changing circle of friends and associates. When he alienates one person, he moves on to others.

The damage done to individuals and the community as a whole needs to be addressed now. What integrity do we have as a community, if we fail to take action? And what can we do, if he will not come to the table as an accountable partner?

A temporary policy has been established. Thadeaus will not come to events at certain “safer” spaces. The spaces in NYC that agreed to these terms are: The 1087 Loft (1087 Broadway, Brooklyn), ABC No Rio Punk Hardcore Collective (156 Rivington St.), The Boneyard (1410 Lincoln Pl., Brooklyn), The Brecht Forum (451 West St.), C-Squat (155 Avenue C), The Fort (1414 Lincoln Pl., Brooklyn), John Bosch (744 Willoughby Ave., Brooklyn), Propensity House (93 Montrose Ave., Brooklyn), Red Roots Community Art Space (2407 3rd Ave. #3R, Bronx), and The Stolen Sleeves Collective (538 Johnson, Brooklyn). Additionally, he is not welcome at any Left Turn events or the Really Really Free Markets at Judson Church.*

This list is not meant to prevent anyone else, including friends or co-members of groups he is involved with, from coming to these spaces or putting on events. That is, groups he is involved with are welcome to throw events at these spaces. This list is also not meant to prevent Thadeaus from working in such groups. However, for only the few hours of the event, Thadeaus is asked to stay away.

This is clearly not a solution, but a piece of a broader strategy to carve out a safer space in our larger community. Pending an accountability process, designed by his community and any survivors who want to be involved, this ban will be lifted.**

Again, you have the right to make an informed decision about how you choose to interact with Thadeaus. You also have the right to ask him to leave spaces or situations where you don’t think it’s appropriate for him to be.

As a community that values safety, it is important that his history is disclosed to everyone who it’s relevant to. You have a right to talk about this situation to others and sensitively inform people if they don’t know. We are interested in what is best for everyone involved (including Thadeaus). We want him to develop a sincere understanding of his patterns of abuse and take responsibility for his behavior.

It is the opinion of the authors that a survivor does not need to disclose their identity to be heard. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this message, feel free to contact the SurvivorSupportNetwork[at]gmail[dot]com. If you choose to forward this message, please do so in full without editing.

*This is updated from the information that appeared in the original email and is current as of September 2011.

**Considering the behavior Thadeaus exhibited in 2009 yielding the dissolution of the accountability process, this seems to be no longer a likely option.

download this as a pdf

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