A guest post by brad/futuristguy.
Today marks the four-year anniversary of what turned into a five-plus-month lawsuit by Charles O’Neal and Beaverton Grace Bible Church (BGBC) against Julie Anne Smith and four other defendants.
He alleged defamation (in part because Julie Anne posted negative online reviews of him and his church), he wanted a jury trial, and he sued for $500,000. Instead, he was Anti-SLAPPED when the defendants alleged this was a frivolous lawsuit meant to silence them; he lost his case via a decision from a judge; and, as the losers of the case, he and his church had to pay over $60,000 to cover all court costs and the defendants’ legal fees.
I got in touch with Julie Anne last week because I remembered this milestone was coming up. We’d known each other from almost the very day she was served the lawsuit papers – February 22, 2012. As she quickly reached the end of her rope and reached out for help from people in the survivor community, we connected through a mutual friend. I ended up tracking her unfolding story and eventually archived the research on it, because I had a hunch it would turn it to be useful.
Anyway, I’d been thinking about Julie Anne’s experiences and the impact she’s had as a result – especially through her Spiritual Sounding Board social media: blog, forum, Facebook page, and @defendthesheep Twitter account. Sometimes it’s good to just stop and take stock. So, in an email thread, I asked her this: “JA — maybe you can respond when you get a chance and share how many people have gotten in touch with you since the trial, and number of posts you’ve done, and total comments.” She wrote back with the following:
I’ve never kept track of how many people have gotten in touch with me. There were hundreds (close to 500 as I recall after the story went viral). I responded to each one and it took several months. I figured if they took the time to reach out to me, the least I could do is respond back. (And I type fast.)
There are currently 66,339 comments posted (I’ve deleted some along the way – darn trolls), and about 920 posts.
Someone once said they don’t consider themself an activist, but as someone who is pissed off.
I’m pretty sure that’s partly what an activist is – someone who is pissed off and then chooses to do something about it. I am one angry ginger 😉 I use sarcasm and joke around a lot to keep my sanity. And I vent to key support people when I need to. Blogging is not easy stuff.
Indeed, it isn’t easy. It’s a lot of work to put together posts that make a difference, moderate comments, respond to inquiries from those who are hurting. And if statistics are one indicator of connection, then it’d be intriguing to know what else has happened. I did some additional research and found out a few facts about this site’s statistics. Julie Anne mentioned 920 posts – and they happen to be posted in 169 categories, with a total of 1,006 tags to help in search processes. Looking at her top 100 most viewed articles:
- The top 27 posts have over 10,000 views each. (The top 11 all have over 20,000 views each.)
- The next 43 posts have between 5,000 to 9,999 views each.
- The next 30 posts have between 3,791 and 4,999 views each.
There’s no doubt that Julie Anne and Spiritual Sounding Board have played important roles in abuse survivor communities – in less than four years, the SSB home page has had 942,838 views (an average of 650 per day for the last four years). Won’t be long before SSB gets to the one million hit mark.
Where some survivor blogs address one specific leader, organization, or situation, Julie Anne’s covers a wide range of theologies, institutions, and issues where there is apparent abuse of power by religious leaders. In the Spiritual Sounding Board private forum, survivors can find support from people who “get it” about what they’re facing and are willing to help them recover from the trauma. On the Facebook and Twitter pages, they’ll find links to related issues and stories elsewhere on the net.
But really, who would’ve thought that a lawsuit that seemed meant to intimidate and destroy, instead sparked resources to comfort and edify? Thanks, Julie Anne, for investing yourself in finding a redemptive edge within a destructive situation, and thereby bringing light and hope to many … You.Rock.
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Spiritual Sounding Board – 942,838 hits on the home page as of the morning of February 22, 2016.
Top 11 posts, 20,000 to 53,000+ views each:
- Christian Domestic Discipline (Wife Spanking): A Personal Story, and a Closer Look at Patterns Connected with this Abusive Practice
- The Christian Patriarchy Movement’s Dark Secret of Wife Spanking
- Calvary Chapel Pastor Bob Coy’s Story of Moral Corruption Leads Calvary Chapel Members to Share Their Personal Stories
- Wife Undermines Her Husband’s Authority in Front of Children, He Disciplines Her
- Doug Phillips Resigns from Office of President at Vision Forum, Discontinues Speaking Engagements
- Compelling Evidence that Vision Forum Inc. is Closing, Liquidating and Doug Phillips “Show” of Repentance Revealed
- Supporting Survivors of Doug Phillips’ Apostasy
- Bill Gothard’s New Program/Ministry: Total Success Power Teams
- Doug Phillips: “Disowns” Former Vision Forum Executive Assistant to President, Peter Bradrick, Calls Him “Destroyer” When Confronted about Sins
- Former Long-Time Harvest Bible Chapel Elder Dave Corning Accuses Pastor James MacDonald of Abuse of Power, Lack of Accountability
- Six Homeschool Brothers Arrested for Alleged Sex Abuse against Younger Sister