Healing 2

[cw emotional abuse, animal abuse]

If you are experiencing or have experienced emotional abuse please reach out to those around you. There is nothing shameful about this experience, despite what our (my own included) self-talk says to us.

This is absolutely not our fault.

Insofar as I can tell this person who targeted me actively targets people with specific traits, and said targets tend to fit the following approximate typology:

  • intelligent (ideally with the support of a strong mentor/mentor group),
  • research interest or focus in media analysis (specifically comic book, video game, and film analysis),
  • empathetic,
  • previous experience/s of abuse,
  • previous experience/s of mental and/or physical illness (but usually both),
  • a love for dogs (yes, actually).

This person with whom I was in an abusive relationship has an established pattern of abusive behaviour. Approximately, in my experience and based on the experiences of others who have shared with me, it goes…

  • perform reluctance at becoming friends,
  • disclose that their previous friend/friend group was traumatizing,
  • ask you to remove said people from your life,
  • be hyper-critical of you/your work one minute and unbelievably supportive the next (ie. display grooming/honeymooning behaviour),
  • lie to you about what others (including mentors, faculty advisors, friends, etc) are saying about you,
  • ingratiate themself into any current social group you have,
  • further attempt to isolate you from said social group,
  • if there is a dog involved they will abuse/neglect said dog and blame you for it/attempt to convince you that you’re the abusive/neglectful one,
  • stop speaking or elsewise communicating with you over an extended period of time,
  • will threaten you into not speaking with them (ex. I’d hate to think of what would happen if…, I value our relationship so much I’d hate for something to happen if you don’t do x/y/z…, etc),
  • when confronted with their behaviour will double down on their actions,
  • will proceed to yell or scream that you’re actually the abusive party (in my case it was on National PTSD Day, and they accused me of talking about my symptoms too much/accused me of yelling back at them and further triggering their behaviour),
  • will either then repeat the cycle or remove themself from your life almost entirely,
  • “almost” entirely because you will then become the traumatic and abusive one, which may further isolate you.

It is my belief that this person is required to be the most intelligent, most physically and/or mentally ill, and the most cared about person in any room. Negative attention is still attention, and many of us have felt/did feel guilt for not being able to support them and provide the attention to them they appear to require.

While this is a very bare-bones post I already have abouts 1400 words written in a pseudo-memoir form explaining my specific experiences. Until or if I post my abuse narrative I am comfortable with people reaching out for clarification with the understanding that I may not respond. Thank you.

Note: I don’t really know where to go from here in order to have myself feel safe again. With that said I want to stress that I don’t believe punitive justice helps anyone, and that in order to make actual change transformative justice is necessary. I am absolutely not sharing my experience in the hope that this person is punished for what they have done to me and others, but rather I am sharing in the hope that this person gets the help they need. This is in order to aid them in not repeating this pattern of abusive behaviour moving forward, and to thus not abuse others in the future.

If you’d like to learn more about what transformative justice is/looks like please read the Transformative Justice Handbook. While the focus of the handbook is on childhood sexual abuse, in my opinion as a victim of CSA as well as other forms of interpersonal and systemic abuses it’s laterally relevant to most–if not all–situations of abuse.



[cw emotional abuse, bullying]

As some of you know I’ve recently found myself out of an emotionally abusive situation with someone who I considered to be:
– a supportive fellow student
– a considerate roommate
– a generous best friend
– a loving zucchini

It’s hard for me to admit that not for the first time in my life I have tolerated, accepted, and enabled emotionally abusive behaviour against myself. In fact it wasn’t until I reached out to a former mutual friend of mine and theirs that I discovered the behaviour which I wrote off as one-off things and bullying I was deserving of/one-off situations between this person and others spurned on by their maladaptive coping mechanisms were actually parts of a LONG pattern of abusive behaviour. In looking back our near-2 year friendship I can say that every moment and situation I can recall only served to either further ingratiate themself into my life, or to elsewise further/exert their control over myself or someone else.

I honestly don’t know if or how I could ever share all of the small incidences which built this pattern of abuse, but I’d like to share an email I sent to this person near the end of our relationship in hopes that it showcases my own experiences of the last few weeks particularly:

[name redacted],

While things have been becoming difficult in our home for a few weeks, this last week has been especially so. I am writing this letter to you not because I am angry, but because I am truly scared and deeply saddened by the events of this past week. While I understand that you are currently struggling with your symptoms of mental illness, due to my own experience of mental illness I am not able to support your actions any further. In such a short time I have exhausted all of my energy and patience due to the way in which events have transpired, and I am writing this to you now as a last-ditch effort to save our roommate arrangement. As such I’m pleading with you to please read this entire letter and take it into consideration.

I am sorry for belittling your pain and your experiences with [personal information redacted]. It was never my intention to do so, but I understand and appreciate that my actions have affected you nonetheless. Moving forward I will not be speaking to you regarding my experiences with chronic pain or PTSD. I will remove my assistive devices (canes, walker) from shared spaces as soon as is possible, and will keep my therapy reminders in my room only. I will additionally not share or comment on any posts, Tweets, etc you make on social media regarding your symptoms or experiences of mental or physical illness.

I do not trust that Sushi [my dog] is safe in your care, and as such will continue to keep him in my room at night, and whenever I leave the house and anticipate strangers (to him) will be here. I will additionally be installing a lock on my door. That said: dogs are not meant to remain kenneled for longer than 4-5 hours at a time, and because of that I have missed out multiple times on spending time with my friends and family. This is unacceptable. Moving forward I need at least 24 hours notice if people are coming to the house so that I can make appropriate arrangements for him, and subsequently plan my own life accordingly. I will additionally provide that information to you in kind.

When we moved in together we shared with one another that being yelled at was a mutual major trigger. While I dissociate when I’m being yelled at and appear to be passive and calm, in the aftermath I have experienced panic attacks and nightmares–as well as increased episodes and severity of dissociation–as a direct result. The dissociation specifically is difficult for me to deal with, as currently it is rendering me uncommunicative whenever you’re in a room with me. There is absolutely no reason I should feel this scared (or scared at all) to live in my own home, and thus this kind of behavior is unacceptable. If you ever, under any circumstance, yell at me again I will be giving you 48 hours to pack and move your things.

To summarize my feelings of the past week into bullet points:

  • I have lost any and all trust in our relationship.
  • I feel lied to and disrespected.
  • I feel unsafe and trapped in my own home.
  • I am experiencing increased symptoms of my own mental illness.

I genuinely hope we are able to find a way to make our roommate arrangement work out, and that you take my words into consideration.


Not everything was bad with this person, and in fact so much of it was actually fantastic and supportive that it made it that much easier to ignore/explain the red flags, and is also the reason I gave this person the benefit of the doubt in my email. In speaking with my therapist I now know that this is a common tactic in emotional abuse: by making things seem good on the whole it becomes easier to control others. Never before have I been scared by the adage, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

I’m so sorry for everyone who has been affected by this person’s behaviour. Especially, however, I am so sorry to anyone who was also affected by this person’s behaviour in my time as their friend, because I now realize I enabled this abuse toward you by believing their lies and excusing their behaviour. I can only hope that you eventually find healing.

No one deserves this.

Note: I don’t really know where to go from here in order to have myself feel safe again. With that said I want to stress that I don’t believe punitive justice helps anyone, and that in order to make actual change transformative justice is necessary. I am absolutely not sharing my experience in the hope that this person is punished for what they have done to me and others, but rather I am sharing in the hope that this person gets the help they need. This is in order to aid them in not repeating this pattern of abusive behaviour moving forward, and to thus not abuse others in the future.

If you’d like to learn more about what transformative justice is/looks like please read the Transformative Justice Handbook. While the focus of the handbook is on childhood sexual abuse, in my opinion as a victim of CSA as well as other forms of interpersonal and systemic abuses it’s laterally relevant to most–if not all–situations of abuse.

Edit: Also I cannot thank the people in my life enough for their reactions over the last few days. Especially though I’d like to thank my parents, my therapist, my suppotters, and my professors/mentors for their kindness and tact. My gratitude knows no bounds.

A day in the PTSD life…

I wrote this on my Facebook a few days ago, but figured it would be appropriate here!

[cw explanation of PTSD symptoms]

Hey friends as many of you know I was diagnosed with PTSD in January. Because June is National PTSD month and June 27th is National PTSD day (in the States, but we can recognize it up North here too) I wanted to give y’all a bit of an idea of what my day-to-day is like living with PTSD. Right now I have some other health issues going on (that I’m hoping to gain some more insight to with an all-day-test-day this Friday!), and that definitely informs how my PTSD symptoms present. A lot of the time people want mental and physical health to be separate beasts, but unfortunately that’s not always the case. Because of that I’m not going to specify which symptoms inform which, as I don’t see that as a useful way to metric things.

But without any further preample: A Day In The Life! (this is actually taken from a few days, but none more than a week ago because my memory is shot lol)

0000 Been in bed for 2 hours, still awake. Had a rough convo with a friend and I can’t stop thinking about a single phrase they used, because it’s a phrase my abuser used to use.
0100 Having bouts of dissociation that roll into a panic attack that roll into dissociation and back again. I feel unsafe at night to begin with, but it’s especially bad when I’ve experienced a trigger.
0200 Still not asleep. I might try playing an app game, watching a YouTube video, or petting Sushi but they’re only temporary distractions.
0300 I honestly begin wondering how expensive it would be to replace my door with something that locks. In fact, I wonder HOW MANY locks I could possibly fit on the same door. I’m handy! I can install a bunch!
0400 FINALLY I fall asleep. Unfortunately I experience nightmares every night, and night terrors more often than not, so falling asleep is more bittersweet than anything else.
1600 I wake up! I’m still absolutely exhausted!
1700 I need to go pick up prescriptions (because I’m totally that person who anti-med people warn you about, and I take a fuck tonne) and lo there’s one of my major triggers at every pharmacy. Because of that I’m going to make sure I spend some quality time with Sushi before I leave the house (he’s a relaxing guy!), and this is usually when I decide to do his brushing/walking/etc.
1800 Shocking to no one the pharmacy trigger is still there, but despite my best prep I’m still caught having a panic attack in public. Because I could anticipate this would happen I’ve already mapped out where the closest bathrooms are in case I start crying in public.
1900 If I have the money I’ll grab myself a Starbucks or something for the way home to distract myself from the fear of having a panic attack in public. If I’m broke (like I am right now because I can’t work lol) I’ll flip through Sushi pics.
2000 Maybe I eat, maybe I don’t. Because I’m nauseated pretty much always my appetite is shot, so sometimes I forget.
2100 This is usually when my limbs get too heavy to move, so I’ll go lay down with an audiobook. If it’s been a trigger-heavy day I’ll re-listen to something I’ve heard a few times before so I can anticipate my reactions.

And then it repeats the next day!

I tried to pick situations that are fairly standard/average, so even though I’ve based this mostly off of yesterday/today for those in-the-know you’ll see that I’ve actually made this hypothetical day a lot easier than the last few days have actually been lol I hope this gives a bit of an idea of what PTSD can mean though (for me, anyways).

Wanna help me save up for my service dog? https://www.youcaring.com/briealmoireabhtetlock-1120298

Remember: not all disabilities are visible. Be kind.

QGCon 2018 (Revised) Application

A bit late, but in light of my revise-and-resubmit re: my original proposal here’s my revised presentation proposal for the Queerness in Games Conference 2018 as it was submitted April 14th, 2018:

To track the flow of information within archaeogaming, I have created a proto-ontology of archaeogaming as it may be perceived through a queer interdisciplinary lens. In an effort to express ideas in an accessible and interdisciplinary way a short explanation of both what archaeogaming is and does as a crux of archaeology and gaming will be provided alongside an explanation of the ontology-as-method approach taken by this project. This project began as a mind-mapping exercise, and the ontological method which has since been applied will be explained through that progression.

In order to facilitate this work, I have taken terms from the bibliographies of several texts and created a series of connections between these terms and an edited Canadian Archaeological Association ethics statement. Additionally, I have taken terms from the instructional manual of an early Pokemon game to demonstrate one of the ways in which this ontology may be put into practice. As this project works to identify potential sticking points and holes within the current practice of archaeogaming, I have come to this project through a lens of queer studies and discourse in order to showcase said sticking points with reference to a more established field of study.

As I have already presented this project at Currents (the Macewan University Anthropology, Economics, and Political Sciences Undergraduate Conference) as of March 3rd I have a good understanding of how to structure time for a 20 minute presentation:

  • 5 minute archaeogaming explanation
  • 3 minute ontology explanation
  • 12 minute project talk (including explanation of future work to be done with this project)

The map described in the above abstract may be found at: https://twitter.com/mxmoireabh/status/951213232416411649

The Ethics of Interpretation and Academic Practice: Article Review of “A Sexist View of Prehistory”

Disclaimer: This post was written as part of my ANTH 320: Archaeology of Gender requirements in Fall 2016.

“A Sexist View of Prehistory,” written by Brian Fagan, is a well organized article in a compare-and-contrast format, with two secondary sources. While both sources are archaeologies of gender, they apply radically different approaches, and in this way they may be considered to be diverse if not in direct opposition. This being said, Fagan’s arguments as to the in/validity of each source could have been enhanced by additional sources. Fagan does make good use of descriptive analysis for the limited use of sources, however, and provides clear and detailed descriptions of each source as well as perceived boons and faults. A single image is provided by the author (in addition to a number of very delightful, and frankly huge, advertisements), however it is quite small, and is only of the cover of Marija Gimbutas’ Civilization of the Goddess as opposed to a figure or example from within the book. While technically appropriate, the article is not in any way enhanced by the image.


Fagan presents Gimbuta’s Civilization—and concept of a Goddess cult in general—as a popular trend of thought as opposed to an interpretation supported by archaeological evidence. Gimbutas, Fagan claims, uses only a vague interpretation of motif to generate grand inferences about neolithic and Bronze Age figurines and pots from Central Europe. Although these inferences are based in very little actual evidence they have been latched on to by the general public and academics alike, though Fagan doubts if many of them are archaeologists themselves. By way of contrast Fagan offers Christine Hastorf’s “Gender, Space, and Food in Prehistory” as an example of research rooted in contemporary archaeological practice. Fagan summarizes Hastorf’s research as being a study of the Sausa (Andean maize and potato farmers), having taken into account human remains, ecofacts (ex plant remains, seeds, etc), space distribution (ex compounds; kitchens, patios, etc), and ethnographic accounts. Fagan explains that Hastorf specifically examined the changes in diet, communal space, and gendered space post-Inkan conquer, as Sausa population groups changed after the Inka took control (A.D. 1460).

With regard to language use, in describing Civilization Fagan tends towards using more “flowery” prose-like speech in descriptions of Gimbutas’ work and adherents. Such speech is not used in describing Hastorf’s work. In isolating such language to descriptions of Gimbutas, Fagan tends to come off as biased by way of belittling Gimbutas’ work. While I am unaware of the cultural context of this article with reference to the socio-academic archaeological climate of the early-1990s, as an aged piece Fagan’s argument could have been strengthened by keeping a singular tone throughout the entire article. This being said I am not entirely sure if such a change matters in this context, considering how aggressively Fagan tears apart Gimbutas’ methods regardless.

In considering the course objective I believe this article does contribute to my ability to meet said objectives, as it provides summaries of differing interpretive methods for discerning gender in the ancient past, and forces me to consider the consequences of an archaeology of gender on anthropological and archaeological theories. Interpretive skills of some form or another are a necessary component of archaeology, and a comparative analysis of two different methods interpretation such as this is invaluable in highlighting differing standards of practice. As I appreciate the open-learning format of ANTH 320, in moving forward from reading this article I decided to the time to re-read the Archaeological Institute of America’s “Code of Ethics,” (AIA), and the 2012 American Anthropological Association “Principles of Professional Responsibility” (AAA). Although neither are specifically relevant to Gimbutas’ situation, they are both texts with which I have previous knowledge and thus seemed most appropriate for review. In doing so I cannot help but come to the conclusion that while I do not agree with Fagan’s tone in writing on Gimbutas’ Civilization I agree that at best Civilization is at best a very public interpretive misstep, and at worst an ethical misstep with far-reaching consequences. Moving forward I am interested in learning more about archaeological and anthropological ethical standards so as to better inform my position in situations such as this. Additionally, I am interested in learning more about ethical standards cross-communally (ex intercontinentally, etc). Although archaeological and anthropological ethics and standards of practice are topics which have come up in-class on occasion in my near-3 years of university I could likely count those occasions on one hand, which considering the effect ethical faults may have on people/s seems woefully inadequate in hindsight.

Politely: I believe that the purpose of this article is to describe the inadequate nature of Gimbutas’ approach to neolithic female figurines (and other artefacts), and to showcase an alternate approach by which gender may be studied through archaeological practice. Perhaps more realistically: Whenever an article addresses a single author as the source of a perceived problem in academia it can come across as “academic pummeling”—that is to say that because the author who is being addressed cannot immediately respond (and, due to the nature of publishing, they may never be given the opportunity to respond) it can seem as though Academic A is given an unfair advantage over Academic B in a “battle of words.” This is not to say that I condone Gimbutas’ position, but rather that the method in which Gimbutas’ position is being challenged marks the nature of academic publishing as a medium as being (generally) unilaterally discursive. Even if the medium as an entity is not to be considered in such a way, the genre of academic-on-academic derision is one which has existed through time and into contemporaneous publishing practice.


AAA. (2012, November 1). Principles of Professional Responsibility [Web log post]. Retrieved November 16, 2016, from http://ethics.americananthro.org/category/statement/

AIA. (2016, January 8). Code of Ethics (2016) [PDF]. Archaeological Institute of America. Retrieved November 16, 2016, from https://www.archaeological.org/sites/default/files/files/Code%20of%20Ethics%20(2016).pdf

Fagan, B. (1992, March/April). A Sexist View of Prehistory. Archaeology, 45(2), 14-15, 18, 66. Retrieved November 16, 2016, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/41766076