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Ex-Enabler Bassist Amanda Daniels Speaks Out on Victim Shaming and Why She Didn’t Go Public with Abuse Accusations Sooner

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abler amanda and jeffThe back and forth between Enabler frontman Jeff Lohrber and ex-bassist Amanda Daniels that caught the metal world’s attention last week — in which Daniels accused Lohrber of physical and emotional abuse during her time in the band and Lohrber, of course, denied those accusations — and all the coverage and opinions that followed have been a lot to digest. These types of issues are all too often swept under the rug in the metal world, an industry that has always been and continues to be completely dominated by men. Our own personal ties to this situation make it even more difficult to approach.

But there’s one part of it, more than any other, that’s been rattling around the inside my brain ever since I read it. The following comes from Amanda’s second post — her response to Jeff’s statement — and I think it really cuts right to the heart of the matter (my own emphasis added):

There are some lambgoat comments, some of which are surprisingly supportive. Most of these I know I should ignore, the ones calling me insane, the ones full of victim shame, the ones claiming I’m airing dirty laundry, creating drama, or being vengeful because I got kicked out. (I QUIT!), or the one saying this is a publicity stunt. But there are a couple in there that ring true, and a couple of things to respond to. Like all the people saying I should have left the first time anything happened, that I should have immediately called the police, that I should have sought medical attention. I want to discuss these things and all the reasons that victims stay with their abusers and do not seek help, but at a later date. That is a huge and vast psychological topic and I want to give it proper attention.

The only reason there’s any so-called “controversy” here at all is because of exactly these kinds of questions lobbed Amanda’s way. Implied, but not stated, when someone asks an alleged victim why they didn’t call the cops when it first happened: “You’re a fucking liar, bitch.”

And it’s precisely these issues that are at the crux of the disconnect between victims such as Amanda and those who doubt they’re telling the truth. The questions Amanda has been getting — about the police, about leaving, about getting medical attention — are ones asked of sexual abuse victims all too often, and, frankly, they’re insulting to those victims’ intelligence. Are we really insinuating that these women are all too fucking stupid or meek to have taken these seemingly simple, common sense actions? Surely they must’ve thought to do all of those things but for some reason chose not to, so surely it must be more complicated than that.

As Amanda says, the reason victims stay with their abusers is a “huge and vast psychological topic.” She mentions some of those reasons in the above excerpt — people calling her insane, victim shame, being accused of vengeance for tangential issues (being kicked out of her band, even though she wasn’t), and, in today’s world and given Amanda’s status as a known musician, having all of those things play out in a very public forum in front of hundreds of thousands – even millions — of people. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. And, of course, every individual situation is different, and each victim has their own reasons specific to that situation.

So I’m very happy to see that Daniels has followed through on her promise to elaborate in an in-depth interview that Kim Kelly — whose name should be quite familiar to MetalSucks readers — published for Noisey. Daniels’ own reasons range from extreme threats:

Did he ever apologize for the things he had done?
Yeah, he apologized, but he apologized to the point where he was suicidal over it and it got really awkward; he showed remorse in the manner of like holding it over my head.

… to the practical…

How long were you guys together before he started being abusive?
That’s what I’ve actually been trying to remember, the first things that happened. I think the first physical thing he did directly towards me was to spit in my face, and that happened about three years in. Things happened very slowly, kind of in a progression, where one day you look at your life and see what’s happening—like, how did it get so bad, you know? But it started with stuff like that, little instances to the point where you could be like “What the fuck, don’t do that. Stop that.” And then it spiraled slowly out of control from there. Before that, it was broken dishes and broken furniture and stuff like that. The first time I remember it being really bad was when we toured Europe in 2013, and I had bruises on my arms. I remember obviously being incredibly angry and upset, and it was kind of like “Do I leave? Or do I tour Europe in two weeks?” I didn’t want to not do all of those things I worked on and was planning on doing. There’s a lot of backlash because I chose to stay—a lot of victim-blaming and shaming and all that.

That’s bullshit.
Yeah, but I believed a lot of it for a long time.

That is the worst thing to see in a situation like this, strangers on the internet shouting about how “she should have left.” 
Yes, it’s easy to say. Those people have no comprehension and no understanding of what it’s like being in that situation. Our lives were completely intertwined in multiple ways; not just at home, but in what my passion was to do in life.

… to how it would affect other people close to the situation…

And now [former Enabler members] are going to have it follow them, because they played in Enabler, and that’s that band with that guy, and now these innocent people are tied to that.
They’re tied to it, yeah, and they have no choice in it, you know? And it was also the thing he used to appeal to me to not even talk about it publicly, like, “Do you really want to ruin it for everyone that’s involved? You’re not the only one that put time and effort and work into it, blah blah blah,” and then I’d feel bad, like, “Shit, I don’t want to ruin it for people, they didn’t know what they were doing.” But everyone who’s reached out to me has said, “Don’t feel bad, it’s not your fault.”

… to the psychological…

Is there anything else you wanted to add?
There’s a lot of stuff I could say right now. The other side of me doing this is that domestic abuse happens way more than anyone ever wants to think that it does. It could happen to anyone; it could happen in the least likely of circumstances; it could happen anywhere. It can be incredibly difficult to get out. It can be incredibly difficult to leave. I guess something I would say to anyone that is in a position similar to the one I was in is that no matter what your reason is for staying, in the end, it’s never worth it. Nothing is worth your personal well being and your personal health.

… to presumably a hundred and one other reasons she doesn’t go into here. And, with the exception of that last one, those were all reasons very specific to her situation and only hers. In other words, the reasons someone might not speak out are intricate and subtle — and likely different for everyone — and for someone to question why no police were called sooner (etc) not only demonstrates startling ignorance, but is completely reductive of the complexity of the issue and the intelligence of the victim herself.

Please read the entire interview with Daniels at Noisey. She also talks about how and when she decided to leave the band, other incidents involving Lohrber, what the reaction has been since she put up the initial Tumblr post, if she’s pursuing any legal action against him and more.

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