Addressing The NE OBLIVISCARIS Shitstorm And The Culture Of Abuse

Addressing The NE OBLIVISCARIS Shitstorm And The Culture Of Abuse
It’s pretty safe to say that unless you’ve been in North Korea on holiday the last couple of weeks, you would have noticed the absolute shitstorm that was the Ne Obliviscaris controversy. IPHYB originally broke the story of NeO kicking out bassist and longtime member Brendan Brown after allegations of domestic abuse became public, with the band citing ‘irreconcilable differences’ as the main reason behind the split.

Many people incorrectly assumed IPHYB broke the news based off numerous Facebook comments on various threads concerning the matter. It’s important to note that while it’s entirely fair for people to have made that assumption, considering there was no mention of IPHYB actually being in direct contact with the alleged victims, this was not the case at all.

The news originally came to our attention after speaking with some of the alleged victims of Brown. They expressed sadness and frustration at the fact that Brown was able to continue on in Ne Obliviscaris, reputation untarnished, after he allegedly caused many people both physical and emotional pain. The alleged victims were extremely cautious of going public themselves for the fear of intense backlash from Brown, Ne Obliviscaris, and their fans, and IPHYB made the decision to take it on and bear the brunt of any incoming shade from going public. IPHYB took these allegations to the band and published the story, with the band ultimately making the decision to remove Brown.

After the story broke, it was communicated by a member of Ne Obliviscaris they were not aware of the allegations of abuse, stating that if they had known sooner then he would have been removed from the band long ago. Several claims were then made by several ex-girlfriends and a close relative of Brown that at least one member of the band was aware of the alleged abuse prior to their decision to part ways. IPHYB published a follow-up article addressing these claims, calling for a boycott of their Patreon account in order to take a firm, zero-tolerance stance against domestic abuse and anyone who chooses to enable that behaviour.

Following this article, mountains of shit hit an industrial-sized fan. Fans of NeO were unhappy with the call to boycott, accusing IPHYB of engaging in little more than a smear campaign to try and discredit the band. After Ne Obliviscaris dismissed the notion that anyone in the band was aware of Brown’s alleged abuse prior to his removal via their official Facebook statement, and threatened IPHYB with legal action, we made the decision to take down the article in question. While I stand by my decision to publish the article and stand by my decision to boycott the band, I understand that it was irresponsible from a legal, and perhaps moral standpoint, to imply that the band had prior knowledge of the alleged abuse. To expect our readership to blindly trust IPHYB was a misstep. I apologise to anyone that felt we were embarking on a witch hunt based on little more than hearsay and Facebook comments, but we would have never decided to take on the story if we hadn’t been in direct contact with the alleged victims. Yes, there were claims made by various victims of Brown’s alleged abuse that we were in contact that at least one member of the band did know, but in the interest of not letting this devolve into a game of he said/she said, I accept the statement from Ne Obliviscaris that not one member of the band were aware of Brown’s alleged abuse, aside from the violent altercation between Brown and his mother as detailed in Brown’s official statement.

One important thing to address in all of this are IPHYB’s motivations for running with the story. Many people accused us of publishing the story for “the clicks” or for “the money”, with little to no regard for the issue of domestic abuse itself. For the record, we absolutely, categorically, and wholeheartedly dismiss these claims, not least for the fact that we literally don’t make any money. Even worse than that, however, were the dozens of fans of Brown and Ne Obliviscaris that accused IPHYB of fabricating the entire story. While we have made every effort to keep the victims out of the public eye, throughout this ordeal a few have decided to engage publicly in the interest of not having their name tarnished by Brown. Due to the sheer hate and volatility shown towards the victims by fans of Brown on his official statement, we’ve made the decision to uphold the privacy of those involved. Those of you close to the story know who they are, and if you finish reading this article and you still have doubts, then message us via our Facebook page and we can discuss it further. Please see a statement from one of Brown’s victims below, and I surely hope this will allay any fears over the veracity of the original claims.

What so many of us went through was heinous, and it’s so hard to know where to start with describing the sickening events that took place throughout the duration of my relationship with Brendan. He’s a master of manipulation, and being the naive, hurt, confused young woman I was, well… I was an easy target. It started with seemingly innocuous things, constantly checking up on me, convincing me to cut people out of my life because they were ‘no good’, you know… The things that made me honestly believe he had my best interests at heart. It didn’t take long for things to escalate, because even amongst the controlling behaviours and my inability to see I was being manipulated, I still put my foot down and did things I wanted to do. That didn’t last long, though. He started becoming even more controlling, demanding to go through my phone, and accusing me of lying to him and trying to hide things when I tried to say no, forcing me into sexually compromising positions… There are so many things he convinced me to do of that nature that still make me feel sick to this day. I never wanted to do them, but NOT doing what he wanted was further proof that I didn’t love him as much as he loved me, and that the women he’d dated before me, who’d been ‘willing’ to do these things, were better than me, he loved them more, but wanted to love me just as much, etc… And I convinced myself that I enjoyed it, because it was what he wanted. He extracted deeply personal information from me, by telling me that I could trust him, however the second I showed any hesitation in telling him about my innermost emotions and experiences, he’d bludgeon his way to the information he wanted by accusing me of being dishonest by intentionally keeping things from him. And, naturally, once he had this information, he used it as further ‘proof’ that I was an awful person, that I was damaged, broken, mentally ill. I could not possibly count the amount of times the words ‘I’m sorry’ came out of my mouth. He systematically dismantled my support network, spreading vicious lies about me and telling people that I was crazy and damaged, all while playing good samaritan, telling people he loved me anyway, and that he was trying to fix me. He tried to control my creative outlets by insisting that I work with him exclusively on any endeavors I was pursuing, and when I’d express interest in working with others, it was thrown back on me like I was a horrible and deceitful person for doing anything that excluded him. That I was trying to ‘cut him out’. He found reasons to attack anything and everything I did, even ruining employment opportunities for me by convincing himself I was sleeping with my boss, which resulted in me quitting to ‘prove’ how dedicated I was to him. Once I was financially dependent on him, all hell broke loose. I was basically housebound, as he wouldn’t ‘allow’ me out to spend time with people. People he was absolutely certain were bad influences, people he was absolutely certain were trying to ruin our relationship. The same damn people who would have helped me see that I was sliding down a really, really slippery slope. I was missing payments on things, I couldn’t pay my rent, I was broke, I couldn’t work, I couldn’t ask him for money. No matter what, I was completely fucked. Subjected to his abuse, day after day, in a position where I could not escape it, I became an absolute shell of who I actually am. I was admitting to, and apologising for things I hadn’t even done, all in the hopes of avoiding another violent interrogation, however when I did, it just ‘proved’ to him how bad a person I was, and he became enraged and violent anyway. The amount of crockery and furniture that he destroyed during these arguments is unbelievable, and so many times he’d draw back his fist as if he were about to punch me… However, in the face of all of that, he still convinced me that he loved me, we had something special, and that he’d never ‘actually’ hit me, it was just that I made him so crazy, because he loved me so much. And I was convinced he wouldn’t, until he did. I answered my phone one night at his place, and started speaking to a male friend of mine. He went berserk. That night was one of the most twisted, disgusting nights of my life. He beat me bloody, tore piercings from my face, dragged me around his apartment by my hair, smashed glass and held it to my face, made me sing for him, licked my blood from my face, made me watch videos of him having sex with his ex girlfriends, all while spouting ‘See? THIS is what love is. You’re a joke, you don’t know how to love, you’re so broken and twisted inside, YOU made me react like this, YOU bring this darkness out in me, this is ALL YOUR FAULT.’ I ended it immediately after I was sure I’d gotten away safe, and then the harassment started. The harassment, in and of itself, disgusted me. What absolutely broke my heart was the realisation that it wasn’t just Brendan doing it. So many of his friends involved themselves, trying to do everything they could to ruin me and protect him. More manipulations. It was little more than schoolyard bullying, taken to a heinous and terrifying extreme. It got so bad that I had to reach out to the two women Brendan had dated before me, and ask them for help and advice on how the hell I could deal with it. I am so lucky, and so thankful that these two women were strong and kind hearted enough to do everything they could to help, even taking me out for coffees and giving me a shoulder to cry on. Two complete strangers offered me more love and assistance than a multitude of ‘friends’. I will never forget their absolute empathy and face to face support during a time where I felt I had none.

People almost always question why victims don’t come forward with their stories immediately, and here’s the kicker — I did. I tried to tell people. I was furious that a person could do these things to so many women and get away with it. And just like right now, people stuck their fingers in their ears and closed their eyes, because they didn’t want to hear it or see any proof. Blame it on people’s general attitudes towards domestic violence, blame it on his supreme manipulation skills, god knows he’d done enough damage to my reputation and credibility to ensure no one would listen when I openly spoke out about what he’d done to me and others. I was too scared to go to the police, because he’d told me previously that he had a two year suspended sentence hanging over his head for assaulting his mother. I know I should have, I know I should have been strong enough to be able to say ‘Well, fuck you. You did this, you need to be held accountable for your actions.’, but unless you’ve been in that position yourself, no one can imagine how utterly hopeless it feels being in a situation that requires support and strength, when your name is already mud and almost every single person you thought you could rely on is shunning you, and trying to protect themselves and their endeavors from a threat of bad blood from a bigger player in the scene. After realising I had barely anyone left, and being constantly harassed on every front imaginable, I simply didn’t have the fight left in me to not only go through the trauma of a court case, but to be ‘that’ chick, the one who sent the aspiring musician to jail, the ‘crazy ex’ who had this poor guy locked up for what would have been played down to be a toxic relationship. And god only knows what would have happened to me had I gone through with it, and he’d gotten away with it yet again. I guess we’ll never know.

I still struggle to articulate how disappointing the general public’s perception of victims is. It’s this disgusting catch-22… Victim has no support, so they don’t have the strength to do anything about it. Nothing gets done about it, so no one offers the victim their support. It’s so much harder when the perpetrator is a public figure, because people simply don’t want to acknowledge or accept that someone they admire is a piece of shit. It hurts people to see these things, and if I’m perfectly honest, it’s the most standard and cowardly way for people to behave when they’re seeing and hearing something that disrupts their conceptions. It’s so much easier to just shrug it off and say ‘nah, it’s not true’, and find ANYTHING to back up that claim, whether it be a simple word of mouth style ‘ignore her, she’s crazy’, than to accept that people are really, really hurting at the hands of someone that they want to like.

I wish I could tell any victims of domestic violence who are reading this that it eventually stops hurting, but it doesn’t. You just learn to cope with things in more constructive ways. I regret not being strong enough to stand my ground and make him pay for what he did. I regret not being strong enough to stand my ground and actually DO something that would have ensured multiple women after me didn’t have to go through the same abhorrent, crushing and damaging experiences that I did. I will say though, no matter how much they make you feel like you have no one left to support you, no matter how crazy and unstable they make you feel, no matter how many ties to support they seem to cut, it’s simply not the case. There are always people who will listen to you, who will help you, who will support you and who will protect you. Two complete strangers and a close friend who lived over 1000 km away were my lifelines, and that was enough to prove to me that people care, and help me start picking up the pieces of myself to put back together. It’s so crucial to reach out. Even if it hurts. Even if it scares the hell out of you. Talk to people. Seek help. Seek protection. Seek love.

You will always deserve happiness. Always. And believe me when I tell you that no one can EVER take that from you.

Now, back to why we decided to run with the story. Perhaps most frustrating of all were the claims from clueless fans of Brown and Ne Obliviscaris that IPHYB were trying to engage in some kind of twisted social justice campaign to virtue signal to social justice warriors. You only have to jump on our website for all of two minutes to see for yourself why these claims are entirely ludicrous.

As long as I’ve been involved with IPHYB, I can’t recall a single article where we’ve engaged in the ever-popular rhetoric of ‘social justice’. In fact, we have often copped intense criticism from said social justice warriors and the wider branch of left-wing political ideology for being heartless, anti-social justice shitbags. We’ve written many somewhat controversial articles tackling issues such as aboriginal/white relations in Australia, and once even published an article about a video that infamous conservative and Infowars reporter Paul Joseph Watson made about pop music. While I think Paul Joseph Watson ultimately fails just as hard as the social justice warriors by adhering to a particular political narrative over plain old logic, this should be enough to understand how we feel about social justice warriors. They fucking suck balls, have dangerously dumbed-down debate and reduced healthy dialogue to a shit-fight in semantics for the better part of a decade. We knew that by publishing the story we would alienate some of our more rationally minded (and conservative-minded) readers, and this was a informed risk that we chose to take on. Furthermore, judging by how popular our article about Ne Obliviscaris launching their Patreon campaign was and the positive commentary directed at the band when we published it, we also knew that we were opening ourselves up to hate from diehard fans of Ne Obliviscaris, who were undoubtedly also fans of IPHYB. There was never going to be any personal or financial gain from publishing the story about NeO, rather a loss, and we still chose to run with it. Why? Because domestic abuse and the culture of acceptance has to stop. Enough is enough. I’ve seen too many incidents of sexual assault, domestic abuse, and physical and emotional torment to put up with it any longer.

When I talk about the culture of acceptance, I’m not talking about outward displays of congratulation. I’m not saying that every time someone has been found to have committed an act of domestic abuse that their peers are patting them on the back exclaiming “Well done for punching that chick, dude!”. What I’m talking about is the culture of giving someone a “pass”.

Keep in mind that this is a general statement regarding domestic abuse and in no way relates specifically to the situation with NeO. Reasonably good people do shit things every day. If a friend of yours is found to have committed an abhorrent act, such as domestic abuse, your natural reaction is to try and reconcile that behaviour with that person. You may understand that while they have done something horrible, it doesn’t make them an inherently horrible person. We often think to ourselves something along the lines of “He’s not a bad guy. I understand that what he did was bad, but I can see that he’s sorry. Why should I abandon my friend just because he did this one thing?”, and you’d be forgiven for doing so. However, in my opinion, this is the exact toxic and damaging attitude that we need to address. Until we take a firm, zero-tolerance stance, in every context against domestic abuse, we will never make any progress. As long as people think they’ll be accepted by their peers even after committing a completely avoidable and despicable act, the culture simply will not change. I urge you, if ever in this situation, to take a hardline stance. Do it for the victims of abuse who are silenced and questioned time and time again, and why so many feel apprehensive about coming forward with their stories. To put it clearly, if a friend of yours is found to have been abusive or violent towards their partner — or anyone else for that matter — then urge them to seek help immediately. Explain to your friend that while you understand they’re not the devil incarnate, they need to similarly understand that this kind of behaviour is never okay.

You only have to look at the comments on Brown’s official statement to see this in practice. Countless people are commending Brown on his ‘bravery’. Countless people are using the claim that Brown was allegedly abused by his mother as justification for his actions. To be clear, there is never any justification. The only time for violence is to defend yourself from violence, once all other avenues have been exhausted. Violence is never okay. Yes, it’s horrible that Brown has claimed he was abused as a child, but I can simultaneously feel empathy for Brown for having been abused as a child and also know that it’s not a justification for his acts of violence.

In conclusion, I’d like to share a statement from Départe frontman Sam ‘Disho’ Dishington. Disho has been an integral part of bring this story to the public eye, and his efforts throughout are to be commended. He has used his influence as a prominent member of the heavy music scene to try and enact meaningful change, and the work he’s done for the victims in this ordeal is truly inspirational. Disho articulated exactly how I feel about this whole incident, and there’s something incredibly valuable to be gained from reading. Please check it out below.

This last few weeks has been chaotic to say the least – anyone following the Ne Obliviscaris saga can attest to that. Unfortunately in the wake of all this I’ve been left with some pretty saddening realizations.

The first being a confirmation of what I already knew about domestic violence in our culture. That being that it is damn near impossible for domestic violence victims to make themselves heard, much less believed. The fact of the matter is, multiple women, ex-partners and otherwise, came forward confirming that this man abused them, either physically, psychologically, or both. And despite the testimony of at least half a dozen girls, accompanied by screenshots where Brendan Brown was seen talking about making them bleed, breaking them down, and leaving them with bruises, too many people put their fingers in their ears and sang a sad tune of decisive ignorance. It’s no wonder conviction rates for domestic violence are so low, because how can these people, emotionally exhausted and damaged as they are, expect to find any sort of real justice in the legal system if they can’t even find it amongst their peers. It’s truly heartbreaking to see that even though they’re now shouting their pain from the rooftops, so many of you still refuse to hear it. It’s disgusting.

What’s even more disgusting, and it makes me feel physically ill to even talk about it, is my second realization – if you’re talented, if you’ve got fans, you can get away with anything. Even physically and psychologically abusing multiple women. Brendan Brown returned from his self-imposed social media exile with the intention of destroying his victims so that once again they would fear him enough to keep quiet. That much is blatantly clear by his first comments on my previous post about this issue. He came in, guns blazing, with what he believed to be ‘damning proof’ that one girl in particular was a liar, a drug addict, and a slut, who should not be trusted. Screenshots from messages where HE was telling HER what a terrible person she was, which proves absolutely nothing except that his MO hasn’t changed over all these years. In an even more sickeningly brash move he posted a message screenshot that seemed conveniently cut off at the bottom. I recognized that I’d seen it before and I asked the girl in question to send me screenshots of the rest of the message, and lo, there he was mere sentences later in the same message talking about ‘tasting her blood’ and ‘breaking her’. Blatant and vicious manipulation in its purest, most disgusting form. When he realized his technique was no longer working he very quickly changed his tune. You can see it on the thread, he went from attack mode to ‘woe is me it’s not my fault’ in the blink of an eye. He then messaged me directly asking me what I wanted him to do, to which I reiterated the points of my previous post – understand what you did, acknowledge it, admit it, apologize, and get help. He then proceeded to use this olive branch as a template for another sickening attempt at mass manipulation, and it worked. He made something that looks at a distance like he was doing what I’d suggested, but wherein he admitted nothing and claimed it wasn’t his fault, he wasn’t to blame, and once again shirked every ounce of his responsibility for his reprehensible actions. And the worst part of it is, so many of you lapped it up. You opposed the girls coming out about his abuse with your fingers in your ears screaming ‘Evidence! Prove it! You’re lying!’, but the moment he claimed that he had been abused you all held hands and hugged it out, without a single question. One person’s testimony, no screenshots, that’s it, and you took it as gospel.

The truth of the matter is, regardless of his upbringing and the validity of his claims, his choice to abuse multiple women, multiple times, over many years, was his choice alone. No one forced his hand, he acted on his own. The responsibility lies solely with him. Tell me, if his parents came forward and said ‘we only abused Brendan because we were abused as children’, would that make it ok? No. It would not. And yet so many people have blindly accepted his blatant shirking of responsibility and hailed him as some sort of perverse, violent hero to be praised and adored. No. This is simply not good enough. This is the exact reason domestic violence victims so rarely come forward. Honestly, the realization of this disgusting public response has brought me near to tears on multiple occasions. While you stand there worshipping at the altar of a violent, manipulative sociopath, his victims are trampled underfoot along with the reality of what really happened. Crushed in a sickening wave of sycophantic ignorance.

To his survivors, I’m truly sorry that you had to relive all this damage again only to be faced with such a heartbreaking result. I only hope that you know now that you don’t have to carry this on your own. I support you, my band supports you, and the many other people who have been willing to speak up for you support you. This is no longer your private burden, we want to lighten the load and help you carry it.

And Brendan Brown, I hope you see this. Hear my promise mate – this is not going away. We will not forget what you did, and we will not be manipulated into silence.

Addressing The NE OBLIVISCARIS Shitstorm And The Culture Of Abuse
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