May 2011 “Letter of Ownership” for Abuse
Following Chad Walter’s abuse of his partner during the relationship of August 2010 to April 2011, an accountability process was established for Walter in his immediate community. To satisfy the disclosure portion of this process, the survivor asked that Walter write a statement that he would then share in a meeting with his immediate community. At this stage Walter was giving the appearance of participation in the accountability process. The survivor was concerned that Walter would manipulate the narrative and minimize his abusive behavior as much as possible if he was allowed to simply give a free-form verbal account. As a result, the survivor requested that Walter create a written statement, which she would then look over and edit, in a process mediated by Walter’s support team, until a final draft was hammered out to both parties’ satisfaction. The survivor also provided Walter with concrete examples of his abusive and destructive behavior that she wanted him to address in the statement. Walter submitted this first draft to his accountability team the day before he called the disclosure meeting, leaving the survivor unable to add substantive input as to the document’s content due to time constraints. Walter omitted several key incidences that he was asked to disclose and distorted certain events. The “fight” in front of the survivor and Walter’s son, for example, was actually Walter beating up a frail homeless man in a Safeway parking lot for no reason (an event the survivor did not ask him to recount). In effect, Walter sought to meet the minimum criteria set forth by the accountability team and the survivor to avoid social consequences, but did so in a way that minimized his abusive behavior and saved face as much as possible. He also ignored the survivor’s request of adequate time and proper editing to make sure Walter was telling the story the way it actually happened.
Despite the problem of the survivor’s inability to make edits and give feedback before his disclosure, Walter did (at least in the beginning) admit to his abuse of the survivor in this letter.
Walter’s story has changed, and he is now flatly denying that he abused the survivor or any of his previous partners. We offer this letter in Walter’s own words as proof that Walter’s denial of his abusive behavior is a lie. The survivor’s own account of the abuse she faced from Walter is here.
From Chad Walter, 5/18/2011:
In order to acknowledge how I abused [name], this is an attempt to point out how I did so. In regards to the kinds of abuse I exhibited, it’s important to acknowledge that it was not a single-issue, but manifested in many ways.
The underlying issues were from my perspective of wanting more control over [name], and I often felt powerless and attempted to shift the power back to myself. Financially I made comments about ‘if she wanted to keep the heater up so high that she needed to contribute more to the bills, etc.’ to put guilt on her and try to maintain some level of control. The same guilt was a common theme with her as I used it in multiple ways. I would use guilt to keep her from friends that I perceived as not liking me, or that I was threatened by emotionally and sexually. I also used it in reference to our particular organizations to keep her from interacting with hers as much.
I minimized her past experiences with trauma, even regarding it as less than my own experiences in some ways. I minimized how scary and mean I was or tried to turn it around on her, or blamed her, to make myself feel better. I denied having hurt her and scaring her emotionally and physically. At times I maintained a posture that showed my willingness to be violent, I closed in on [name] to show how I wasn’t afraid of her, and in doing so scared, intimidated, and threatened her. I controlled the interactions she had with certain friends, and eventually ended up threatening one of her male friends. I threatened him indirectly, but the trust between he and [name] was severed, even when she defended me to her other friends about it. The way I handled the situation with him was in an attempt to push him away and control their interaction to the point that I wanted him to be afraid of me. This happened and as a result I hurt [name] as well. That entire process is something that I identify as abusive to not only [name], but to some of the people around her.
There was one instance where there had been a great deal of tension at [name]’s workplace, prior to the weekend she had off. On Tuesday before I drove her to work (which was another way I attempted to hold things over her head) I made comments about the way she was dressed and how much makeup she was wearing. I accused her of trying to dress up to smooth things over with her boss or to kiss his ass. I identify that as having been humiliating to her I’m sure, and my son witnessed my actions as well.
I controlled how she interacted with members of her group in an attempt to shadow my insecurity about them. I would badmouth them to her which put her in an impossible place. I made it so that she felt like she couldn’t talk to me about almost anything because I was so reactionary to the majority of what she had to say that I’m sure she felt even more isolated and alone. I did so especially when she was attempting to offer some kind of insight into things that I didn’t want to hear, or that were uncomfortable. More often than not, I shut down emotionally and if that wasn’t enough I used anger to push her away or deflect what she was saying to me.
The night I relapsed I put a lot of my personal trauma on her and expected her to fix me. When she couldn’t I used anger to, again, deflect what I was doing. Instead of focusing on myself I took it out on her, even when she did try to comfort me. I pushed her away from me, hit things, broke things, headbutted the wall and demonstrated how scary I could be by intimidating her. I even took a stance showing that I wanted to fight her. When she accused me of not being the feminist I claim to be, I stood up and took up more of her space, and even said how I hoped my son could hear me standing up to her, when in fact I was creating a hostile and dangerous environment for him as well; while demonstrating a terrible way for men to act. I was showing him that violence is an acceptable means for resolution. There was another instance where I got into a fight with someone in front of [name] and my son. I know that this must have been a scary experience for both of them and recognize the damage I’ve done in acting that way.
I acknowledge that [name] feels that I used sex as a way of controlling her as well. I recognize that she feels that I withheld it along with affection to maintain some kind of power, and accused her of cheating on me with one of her friends. I was so emotionally disconnected that I had no idea how unhappy, scared, angry, lost, and a variety of other emotions, she was. In several instances I viewed her as all the women that I had perceived as hurting me in my past, and treated her like she was the one that was trying to hurt me. The abuse didn’t end in our relationship. A few of my close friends even tried to talk to me and I refused to hear what they had to say, even though it was coming from a place of love and concern. I projected my emotions onto those around me and used them against [name], blaming her for what I was feeling or demeaning her when she couldn’t ‘fix’ me. Toward the end of the relationship I was so numb emotionally that our interactions were systematic at best. I didn’t even realize how hurt she was, to the point that she got up in the middle of the night to cry so not to disturb me, almost every night. When I learned this, my immediate reaction was resentment for her not telling me how hurt she was, but I now realize that I was so controlling and shutoff emotionally that she didn’t feel like she could cry around me. This is an example of my emotional abuse.