I’ve tried to avoid doing this, hoping that by ignoring my mother’s attempts to intimidate and harass, she would stop. But it’s reached the point where I feel I must warn people about her. I also want to stand up for myself:
Nothing I’ve written about my mother is defamatory, and I’ve not breached any copyright in the use of any photos.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve given quite a few written and verbal interviews. I’ve been very careful with how I’ve written and spoken about my mother and have used phrases like, ‘fraught relationship’ and ‘that is how I felt about my childhood’.
My mother has contacted some of the people who’ve published these interviews, saying that my answers are defamatory of her and requesting they be removed. I want to reassure readers that every word I’ve written about my mother is true.
I also want to reassure readers and everyone who has kindly hosted me on their websites that I would never put anyone in jeopardy of a defamation suit. If my mother contacts you saying anything to the contrary, please do not be alarmed. Her threats are empty. Please forward her correspondence to me and I will deal with it.
PAST HISTORY OF SIMILAR BEHAVIOUR
Over the past few years, my mother has contacted a number of people in response to comments on my blog or Facebook page. Her messages and emails have been threatening and intimidatory, usually alleging defamation and offence to her. Ironically, they’ve often been defamatory of me.
After a particularly intimidatory letter to a friend, in March 2016 our lawyer wrote to her and told her to ‘cease and desist from this behaviour’.
I have instructed our lawyer to write to her again.
As a child I was physically, verbally and emotionally abused by my mother, as were my siblings and my father. I grew up in a home filled with violence and fear, at her hands.
In 2014, I wrote about my childhood on this blog. I wrote explicitly about my mother’s violence, her gambling, her inability to manage money and her lies. I also wrote about the events of 2011 and 2012, when, despite everything she’d done to us in the past, my husband and I stepped in to help her and my father. At the time, my father was in the final stages of his dementia and my mother had an advanced cancer for which she’d not sought treatment for over a year. That series of posts starts here or you can just read the final summary post here.
Despite threats from my mother, these posts remain on this site because they are not defamatory. They tell the truth. They can be corroborated by eyewitnesses, including by my surviving sibling and other relatives and friends who’d witnessed my mother’s violence towards us as children. They can also be backed up by witnesses to her gambling, by my husband and children in more recent years, and by documents about the bankruptcy, sale of my parents’ properties and court records. My mother has treated other members of her family badly over the years, and they have also removed her from their lives.
I wrote these posts because, in 2013, my mother had commenced a defamation action against my husband and me. The writ was for emails we’d sent to family and a handful of close family friends in 2012. Those emails were the first time I’d ever told others in detail about what had really gone on in our family home. My husband and I wanted to defend ourselves against my mother’s lies about us, one of which was that we’d stolen her money.
It is also worth noting that since July 2014, when mediation failed, my mother has done nothing to progress that defamation action in the courts.
I’ve written other posts about my mother and my childhood on this blog over the years (see here, here, here and here). There are many, many more incidents I could write about but that would require returning to that period of my life, and I no longer feel the need to. I’ve written down the bones of my past and that’s enough for me. Writing my novel has played no small part in the healing process, as has finding a counsellor skilled in childhood trauma. I now view my life as enriched by all my life experiences, good and bad, happy and sad.
When I first started writing in 2010, the only story I wanted to tell was my own. The inspiration for my book came from my childhood experiences: a good girl who’d been abused by her mother. My novel evolved into a much bigger and better story than that, but that was how it began.
So when people ask me about the inspiration behind my story, I tell the truth. And I tell the truth about my childhood. I won’t be silenced anymore. If my mother doesn’t like what I write, she doesn’t have to read it.
PHOTOS AND COPYRIGHT
Lastly, my mother has also claimed copyright to photos I’ve posted on others’ websites and requested their removal. She has no copyright to the photos and she was informed of this in the letter our lawyer sent to her in March 2016.
My mother gave permission for me to make digital copies of the family photos when she loaned them to me for that purpose in 2011. I returned the photos and sent her a link to the website on which I’d shared them at the time. I’ve had my father’s slides since he gave them to me more than 18 years ago.
I know how frightening my mother can be, and I feel awful for those who’ve been contacted by her. I hope this post helps reassure anyone who may have been worried legally, and please know that I am taking steps to stop future harassment.
I don’t want to spend much more time on this issue, as I have a deadline and I need to return to my writing!
I’ve turned off comments on this post, but please feel free to contact me privately.