Legal But Harmful Institutional Tools of Conformity and Control
Part 6B. Four legal-system tools (defamation lawsuits, non-disclosure/non-disparagement agreements, non-compete clauses, and church membership “covenants” that are legal contracts). Includes brief examples, plus a longer case study from The Village Church and its membership covenant.
A note up front: I am not a lawyer. The descriptions in Part 6 come from my work in research writing, and represent my lay person understanding of technical concepts involved. The following topics are here to inform readers about tools that may be built into agreements or covenants you may be asked to enter into.
If you are in a situation of interaction to resolve issues with abusive individuals or institutions that caused or covered up damage, I strongly recommend that you consult a lawyer for legal counsel.
We will look at the following four tools. They may be stand-alone actions/items, or part of a larger agreement or contract.
- Defamation lawsuit.
- Non-disclosure/non-disparagement agreement (NDA).
- Non-compete clause.
- Church membership “covenants” that are legal contracts.
All of these tools and tactics have something to do with control of information and investigations. The net effects include stopping information that could come from victims, and skewing information that gets to the public. In the big picture of things, these tools are ultimately harmful both to the individuals and institutions involved, and do not serve the common good either. Continue reading
Part 6. Legal-System Tools and Resolution Processes
That Prioritize Institutions Over Individuals
Having looked at different ways people integrate their beliefs and actions about abuse, we will now focus in on specific means that promote institutions instead of protect individuals. We need to do this because not all facets of so-called “investigations” or “reconciliations” are geared to serve survivors and the vulnerable by: (1) finding the truth, (2) rectifying the sources of abuse, and (3) dealing justly with the consequences.
Some tactics actually silence victims. Others effectively limit liability to individuals and organizations involved with abuse. Some purported resolution processes ultimately fail to prevent future abuse because they do not dismantle current systemic abuse.
This post describes common legal-system tools and resolution processes encountered by abuse survivors, and analyzes how these favor institutions instead of individuals. It offers frameworks, short examples, and case studies for evaluating the destructive net impact of these methods on survivors in recovery. It also lays out a better way forward with an alternative path of “truth-finding before reconciliation.” Continue reading
Part 5 – The Contours of “Watchblog” Communities
5 – The Contours of “Watchblog” Communities. In a recently filed defamation lawsuit, James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel labeled the people he’s suing as “attack bloggers.” Are they really just attacking him for reasons of revenge – or are they simply attempting to reveal individual and institutional actions that have harmed people whom the church should have helped, and shine a light on the ideologies that drove them?
Blogs have become a significant source of investigative information for survivor communities. So, they have sometimes been called “watchblogs.” But are all sites that engage in exposés of reported abuses actually survivor-friendly? What are the contours of blogging among survivor communities – along with subcategories and the distinctives of each? How does blogging relate to various types of abuse, and what are important patterns and trends that we see among them? This post maps out contours of the wider watchblog communities. Continue reading
Part 4 – Investigations and Integrations
4 – Investigations and Integrations. For nearly eight months, I’ve been trying to figure out a concept framework that helps organize what I’ve been learning about what constitutes an “independent investigation” into a situation of abuse. This is a significant concern in survivor communities, because not every person or organization that says they’re for “independent” investigations really are. And the results for abuse survivors who end up in some kind of non-independent investigation often find themselves with buyers remorse later.
My resulting framework looks at five different system integration points for investigations. It profiles the purpose, mission, values, and vision that each integration point naturally produces. It also considers what differences in paradigms can mean in terms of constructive or destructive impact for abuse survivors. Continue reading