Abuse in the O
Written by Grace
All abuse in the O was the result of the O members ceding all power to the O leader The O was not a democratic centralist organization; there was no democracy. Once power was ceded, the leader was able to abuse it. The following is a listing of the various forms of abuse and exploitation. It is not complete. It raises the question, one that could be asked in any organization – how did any of this advance the O’s political agenda?
Sexual Exploitation and Abuse
- Sexual misconduct with O women. The leader had the ‘pick’ of O women to have sex with. While there is no evidence of him forcing himself on anyone, the power relationship made it unlikely that he would be refused. The leader would often begin with a new sexual partner after their previous relationship had been broken up by the leader.
- Two pseudo-marriages with O women after previous relationships were broken up. One child with each woman
- A long term relationship with an O woman ‘in the interest of her development, to enable her to have sex without being ‘emotionally attached’. This woman suffered symptoms of a rape victim. Again, after a relationship break up.
- Casual sexual encounters with several other O women.
- Proposed sex with other O women, again posing that sex with him would be different because of his revolutionary purity.
- Power over O members’ reproductive lives. The leader decided who should have children and when. He also had power over other aspects of members’ reproductive lives.
- At least one set of members were denied permission to have a child
- At least one member was directed to have an abortion
- Many members were directed when to have children, were placed into partnerships for that specific purpose
- One member left the O rather than have an intrusive medical procedure. She was allowed to return only after agreeing to proceed with it. She cried during the procedure.
- Power over O members personal sexual relationships
- All members in personal sexual relationships were directed to separate from their current partners. (Exceptions anyone?)
- Members were assigned to engage in sexual relationships with specific partners by the leader. These were called TSR’s or Tactical Sexual Relationships.
- Members who engaged in sex without permission were severely criticized.
- One arranged O couple were directed to go to a porn movie.
Abuse of Children
- Separation from Parents
- Children were separated from one parent when couples were split up
- Some children were separated from both parents
- An adolescent girl, separated from both parents, was assigned male roommates.
- One set of parents were directed to give up their child
- One 11-12 year old child, after separation from her parent, repeatedly asked her “contact” if she would get birthday presents. She was criticized for being greedy. On her birthday the “contact” gave her a brick wrapped up like a present. When she cried on opening it, she was told that was to teach her not to be attached to material possessions. And then was given her real present, a typewriter - so she could learn a useful skill.
- Especially in the beginning, children spent most of their time away from their parents while the parents were engaged in O work.
- Physical Abuse
- Spanking, slapping, and shaking were tolerated.
- Money from O Members under false pretenses
- Especially while the leader was raising funds for his legal defense, money was requested under false pretenses and never repaid
- Lack of transparency, accountability for how money was spent
- No accountability for the use of money generated by O programs
- No accountability for the use of money that O members paid in dues
- Exploitation of Labor - both members’ labor and the labor of program employees
- Physical attacks on O members and others
- Use of violence in warehouse seizure and subsequent battles to seize coop stores.
- Physical attacks encouraged on ‘enemies’
- Member attacked when leaving the O
- Destruction of property
- At least one set of members had everything in their home including personal items stolen after disobeying O directives
- Truck destroyed
- At least one member’s home was vandalized
- One member’s journals written over many years were destroyed
- Boxing matches
- Members directed to have boxing matches with each other to ‘raise the level of struggle’. Some matches resulted in physical injuries
- Boarding or paddling
- Members dropped drawers and were paddled with boards for misdeeds
- Slapping was a ‘method of correction’ for misdeeds.
- Isolation, breaking all external ties with family and friends
- No contact with family allowed. Family had no way to contact members. This held even when there were important family events, births, marriages, deaths.
- Contact with friends made before the O was not allowed.
- Members were frequently moved from household to household, from one set of members to another making it harder to build relationships.
- Social behavior among members was criticized, focus was to be only on work.
- Deceit, gas-lighting
- Use of criticism as a weapon
- Setting members against each other, divide one into two
- Shunning of former members who left the O
- Members (only women that I know of) were directed to stand naked in front of groups criticizing them.
- Members were sent out to clients, banks, attorneys, project donors other organizations with ridiculous proposals, propositions. And then severely criticized when the proposal failed.
- Members ridiculed over things they had no power to change (looks, class position, history)