Cassie’s Statement

I’ve been sitting in front of my computer for over 2 hours trying to type this, and I’ve restarted it more times than I can count. Behind the rainbows and colorful art pictures, I am a person with a lot of trauma and abuse in my history, and a lot of things that I actively work every single day to put behind me, overcome, and not dwell on.

This is not a direct letter to any specific person. It will mention multiple people, and it is a little long. Please also understand that I am still trying to process a lot of the last few months, and working through stuff so that you can heal takes time. 

I want to be very clear that throughout all of this, my singular intent has been to create a safer space within a community that I love. I came forward about the sexual harassment I experienced from Matt Hayward not for “attention” or “drama”, but because I believe he should be held accountable for his own actions, and because I want to make other people feel safer. 

There have been so many women who experienced similar things that I did because of Matt. This was not a one-time instance. There are screenshots to corroborate that this was something that went on to many women over the course of over a year and a half, both before and after it happened to me.

Some of these women found it to be as upsetting and hurtful as I did, and some did not. That is normal, and that is okay. We all operate at different levels of feeling okay with certain interactions. It is not for me or for you to tell anyone how to feel about a situation like this: each person involved decides how they are affected by themselves, and it is incredibly important in situations of harassment and abuse that you allow them the time and space and support they need to come to terms with these things, and to really understand how they are impacted. It’s also important that you then listen and support them in whatever way you can, because it’s so, so hard to speak out about these things.

If you find yourself judging me for interacting with Matt after the harassment occurred, I gently suggest that you do research into the psychology of abuse victims, and people who suffer harm at the hands of others through sexual harassment and trauma. My reactions and behaviors are not unusual or suspicious. They are not indicative of any lies told, or any dishonesty. I have absolutely nothing to hide or be ashamed of in my reaction to an experience I should never have had to endure to begin with.

 


 

Since coming forward, there have been multiple side situations that have happened, with arguments, public posts, etc – I’m not going to go through all of that here, because if you’re reading this, you’ve likely been paying attention. It’s been exhausting for me, and I know it must be exhausting for a lot of the people following it, too. I’m going to be direct in the next few paragraphs, and speak on certain things for the first time since this whole thing began. After these statements, I would sincerely like to put this behind me so that I can move forward.

I did not previously accept the public apologies issued by Kelli Owen around the time of first coming forward back in late June / early July. I felt those apologies were more for public appearance than for me, and I was deeply hurt.  I was a newer follower of Kelli’s, who really only got to know her after the Bronzeville payment issue – something I blindly supported her during, believing completely that authors should be paid for their work. In June, when I felt that her reaction to my statements was not supportive, I felt upset and felt betrayed. 

Many mutual friends continued communicating with and being friends with Kelli, and I did not have an issue with this. Those that chose to take the side of the man who sexually harassed me were blocked. We all have lines to draw, and that is mine. There are different levels to mistakes people make, and I try to be an empathetic person. My primary issue, again, through ALL of this has been the problem of sexual harassment, and making it clear that women should be supported when they come forward about poor treatment.

More recently, when a fake account started commenting in defense of Kelli, I did think that it was her, and stated so in my comments / liked comments that stated that. I am absolutely willing to admit that I was wrong in this, as Brian Keene has since come out to confirm that he spoke with the actual person behind it, and they are not Kelli. For this accusation, I do apologize to Kelli – I hope it’s understood that this was not coming from me trying to be malicious, but due to what I experienced just a few weeks prior with the fake screenshots and multiple other accounts trying to tarnish my reputation, and the way we discovered who was behind that. I would like to formally admit my error here, so that any tarnishing done to any other reputations from this particular bit of the situation may be undone. I, too, make mistakes. I try my best to learn from them. I am not owed forgiveness for this, but I though it was important to include in the only official/full statement I plan to make, and for Kelli to know if she reads this.

I did read the apology posted by Kelli today. I appreciate it, and do feel that it is genuine. It is and has always been my hope that everyone involved – whether directly, or just on the outside looking in and watching it all – can learn something from this on how best to support victims, whether you have experienced it personally or not. I cannot speak on behalf of the other people impacted that she is apologizing to, and as I said, it’s up to everyone individually to accept or not for themselves, but for myself, I accept it, and do not think of Kelli as an evil person.

 


 

Regarding the situation with Sadie, this is a bit more sensitive for me, as it’s incredibly fresh. As I mentioned in my public posts, this situation and the post yesterday that Sadie shared publicly with her 10k+ followers was extremely triggering and traumatic for me. I know that I don’t owe my personal information to anyone, but I have been a survivor of sexual abuse since I was 3 years old, with repeated offenses going into my teen years. I choose not to discuss or focus on my past in a majority of my posts and interactions, but parts of my childhood were incredibly unpleasant, and horror has ALWAYS been the only reliable escape from reality that I have. Having these wounds and this trauma reopen over the summer in this community that had previously been a safe place for me has been exhausting and upsetting to me in ways that I can’t fully explain.

After that blog post was made, which included my personal information – social media handles, name, and photos of me – I was attacked by several anonymous / fake accounts, ALL created either in August or June of this year. I am not accusing Sadie of being any of these, so I want to be very clear so that nothing here can be misconstrued. I also do not want to make it seem like I am implying that Sadie intentionally made her post with the intent for that to happen – because I don’t think that was the case, either. Like Kelli, I do not think Sadie is an evil person. I completely acknowledge that she works hard, and has done a lot to promote horror.

What I will say is that Sadie holds a lot of power and influence in this community and online, and sometimes a person with that much power may not be fully aware of how harmful something like a public post can be – to ANYONE, but especially to a smaller account, or to a victim of abuse or harassment. Sometimes someone with that much power can be hurt, and lash out. Sometimes someone who does not have a lot of experience with harassment themselves can find it hard to empathize, or fully put themselves in the shoes of the person hurt, and it takes some personal work to read, research, and learn so that we can be better advocates and allies. Sometimes people who do good things and are nice to some people can also do harmful things and not be nice to others. We are all HUMANS behind these screens, and HUMANS ARE FLAWED. We are complex, we are multi-faceted, and we sometimes don’t do the right thing. 

I am glad that post was taken down. I appreciate that gesture a great deal, and believe it shows that Sadie has been receptive to whatever feedback was given by other people who saw and were hurt by that. I am thankful to the people who shared informative links, comments, and posts in an attempt to highlight how harmful the narrative of “they should have said something earlier” can be, whether that harmful impact is intended or not. 

Something very important to understand is that sometimes we hurt people without intending to, and the pain and hurt that other people feel is valid and real, despite the fact that it was never our intention. This is hard, because it means we have to sometimes stew in bad feelings like guilt, or not get the resolution of making amends. But it happens, and it’s a part of life, and it’s important that we acknowledge it so that we can grow stronger as people.

Regarding Sadie’s statement this morning, I have read it and I’d like to address a couple things overall, but would like to state that for the record, I accept the apology for making that harmful post yesterday. I know that admitting you have made a mistake – especially publicly, in front of so many – is not easy, and I appreciate that this follow-up gesture was made. I have no intention of rejecting this apology, or Sadie’s attempt at creating more peace among us. While it might have been easier to just delete the post and move on, she chose to post a follow-up, and I acknowledge and appreciate that choice.

Considering the above, I also cannot accept an apology on behalf of anyone else who has been hurt. There have been other posts and other situations mentioned that are not related to me or this that haven’t been addressed in the retraction, and there is a lot of pain within our community right now. I would like to gently suggest to Sadie that this same kind, empathetic gesture of peace and the choice to admit that we make mistakes sometimes be extended to others, if she is truly wanting to create peaceful atmosphere overall for everyone, and not just for me as the person being very vocal right now. I do not know if there are more reach outs or posts intended for the future, but I do know that I am not the only person who has felt hurt, and I am not the only person that deserves acknowledging.

We ALL share this space, and this community, and we ALL do what we can to contribute to it. Sometimes those contributions are positive and helpful, and… sometimes they aren’t. We need to all, as a whole unit, every single person on every single side with myself included, be open to being wrong about things sometimes. We will fuck up, we will make mistakes. We need to own up to these things, and it’s so important to accept that sometimes, the people we’ve fucked up to will not want to move forward with us – and that is okay, and that is their right, and we should not harbor them any ill will for choosing that for themselves. It doesn’t mean they won’t heal or are malicious or are hateful. 

Regarding the offer of coloring book purchases that Sadie made, this is appreciated. Very respectfully, as much as I do truly appreciate this gesture, my follower count isn’t as much of a concern to me as the safety and support of women and the overall issue that I’m concerned the rest of this has taken attention away from (re: coming forward last June). 

If Sadie is open to it, I would greatly appreciate it if, in lieu of purchasing additional coloring books for a giveaway, a donation could be made to an organization of her choice that supports women who have suffered from sexual abuse or harassment.

While I accept both of these apologies and appreciate that they were made, I am also asking for the time and space to heal and move forward. I hold no ill will to either of the women mentioned above regarding my personal situations with them, but I am not ready to communicate directly, and do not know when or if I will be. I am still feeling the emotional effects of the last 24 hours and everything that the day – and the last two months – has stirred up. I hope this is seen not as me attempting to draw out drama or negativity, but simply as an attempt at self-care and healing. Being kind to myself is not always my first priority, and I am finding that I need that now more than ever.

 


 

The horror community has shown me a great deal of kindness, support, and strength since I joined it a couple of years ago. It isn’t always perfect, but I do believe that a majority of those within it are good at their core. That doesn’t mean drama won’t happen and unpleasant things won’t sometimes pop up, but it does mean that, if we try, we can heal and move forward stronger than before. That’s what I’m trying to do, and that’s what I wish for us all.

Thank you,

Cassie

 


Small edit just to add some clarification on something I’ve been asked: None of the above issues involved the Night Worms review team; many of the folks on that team have been supportive to me both with the Matt Hayward situation, and more recently, and many of them are good friends to me even still.