Why I Quit Blogging For More Than A Year

It became an awkward question for me. I would see people out in the community and constantly get asked why I had stopped blogging. As the founder of SheInTheCLE – a blogging platform site for women – it was a bit strange. I had been an active blogger on LinkedIn and She In The CLE, and it helped shape my personal brand.

But then June 1, 2016 rolled around and I published a blog on LinkedIn– and my world shifted. I wrote the blog quickly after attending an event about gender equity at the City Club of Cleveland. It was an important discussion around the pay gap issue, but I was a bit disheartened at the turnout – it was basically all women. So, I quickly drafted a blog when I got back to work restating the obvious – that we need to engage more men in these conversations if we really want to change anything.

About two hours went by before my phone started blowing up and my emails were pinging uncontrollably. Finally, a colleague of mine popped her head into a meeting and said that I should check my LinkedIn and that my husband was trying to reach me.

If you know me, you know I don’t back down easily, and I certainly don’t scare often. It takes quite a bit to shock me. But what happened on LinkedIn that day – a platform for business professionals – shook me. And I am still not the same because of it.

Here are some excerpts of the comments that clogged my feed (all of which I assume have been deleted by the authors):

“I have never hit a woman – but if I ever saw you I would punch you right in the face.”

“Domestic violence is typically wrong but women like you deserve to be beaten. Regularly.”

“I hope you get gang raped in a side alley.”

Deep breaths. That’s what I told myself. My boss at the time strolled in and asked if I was doing okay and I nodded and said nonchalantly, “It comes with the territory.” I didn’t entertain much conversation about it. I hadn’t had time to process it.

I wanted to absorb the sexual and physical assault threats that were just blatantly thrown out on a public channel, attached to real names and real companies. People who were so furious with me about a short blog that they cavalierly posted something that could easily be attributed and could potentially be prosecuted in a court of law.

The next morning – without telling anyone what I was planning to do – I replied to each of those three men with the same comment.

“Thank you very much for your insight. It’s important that we hear from all sides on topics of gender equality. Because you serve as a representative of your company, I have tagged individuals from your company’s HR department in this reply so they can use your comments in future recruiting and marketing materials.”

And with that – I tagged as many people as I could find from each person’s HR department. One gentleman worked at a very large public company, and I was able to find more than 22 people with the title of HR from his company.

I felt better. I smiled and thought “That will show them.” I re-entered my daily work schedule of meetings. And then I saw one notification pop up on my phone screen from LinkedIn – and it read, “You vindictive bitch. You will pay for this.”

By the time I got back to my desk to see which one of the gentlemen had replied, all of the comments were taken down by the authors – and so were my replies.  All traces of the threats were gone. Just like that.

I wasn’t surprised. I figured the men either got spooked quickly or their companies had stepped in. I smirked.

Then the comments came from the people in my life. My husband called to remind me that one of those men lived one state over, a short two-hour drive from our house and that another lived less than four hours away. He asked if I thought about what someone was capable of if they lost their job over this, and if I had worried about my own safety or the safety of my daughter – who was often alone in the house after school.

I also had two other men ask me if I had thought someone deserved to lose their job over a quip they wrote on a social channel.

The outrage I felt right then and there was hard to explain. I remember going into the bathroom stall at work and letting silent tears stream down my face. It wasn’t sadness. It was flat out anger. And not at my husband or the others. But at the world.

Why did I have to be careful about my response? Why did I have to worry about my safety? Why did I have to be quiet out of fear that someone would harm my daughter?  What kind of messed up world did we live in where MY ACTIONS were being questioned – not those who threatened to beat me or hoped that I was raped in public?

I stopped talking about it. Wouldn’t entertain the conversation. I did call two of the businesses later that week and found that two of the men were fired. But at that point – there was no satisfaction. Because somehow, I started to feel like the villain.

And just like that, unknowingly – I became less vocal. Less me.

One year quickly passed where I didn’t really write anything – except a quick announcement about a venture fund aimed at helping small businesses. I kept my opinions out of the public domain. I grew more and more silenced. I started entertaining quiet comments in my head like “It’s not worth it. Keep it to yourself.”

I disconnected.

Fast forward to today. I was scrolling through Facebook and saw a friend post an image that made a joke about rape. And with that, the comments starting building highlighting other known sexual or violent predators like Bill Clinton, R. Kelley, Chris Brown, Bill Cosby and more. The likes and laughing emojis were running rampant, and I quickly remembered that rape, sexual assault and violence against women are often still seen as laughing matters.

My stomach dropped. Where was the old me that would never have been okay with this?  What had happened to her?

The real me knows we all have a role to play in changing this narrative. We all have to join and expand the conversations until these sentiments about women no longer exist. And I had willingly left that conversation because my safe, little bubble of a life had popped open and a threat was tossed my way. As a founder of a blog platform that was created to give women more of a voice and a platform – I had become a hypocrite. I have sat so many times with women encouraging them to find their voice and somewhere along the way, I had lost my own.

So today was a game changer. I made a promise to myself that I will no longer be silent. I will no longer scroll and ignore. I will talk about what happened to me on LinkedIn (which is nothing compared to what I have seen so many other women experience online). And I will continue to engage in important conversations on and offline about equality and other social issues.

Sorry I was gone for a bit. It won’t happen again.

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Amy Martin

Amy Martin is an avid conversationalist and insomniac (averages about four hours a night) who craves engagement online and off. She's often blogging or speaking about ways to develop your personal brand to companies and leaders in Cleveland. When she isn't focused on her day job, she is running her own consulting agency, Hyperthink! She is passionate about mentoring other women and hugging her kids (who are too old to appreciate the affection) and she resides in Westlake with her husband, who still cannot fully explain what she does for a living. Amy is usually smiling and has an awkward obsession with "Murder, She Wrote" and incredibly unrealistic mystery shows.

47 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Amy, I am so very proud of you. Your voice is your power. You’ve taken that power back from the cowards who tried to silence you. Thank you for putting yourself “out there” again. This world needs a voice like yours! Love you!

  • Wow! I’m so sorry that you had to endure that. It is never okay for anyone to threaten another on any level. Glad you’re back!

  • My favorite entry thus far . . . kudos to you for finding your voice again. Please know you are never alone, I am always on your side.

  • Thank you for returning to a very important platform for you to support all women and those good men. It is very sad commentary on our current climate to have such aggression as you have experienced from ignorant people. I wish you the ability to always speak up and out for what you believe in.

  • You are one heck of a voice!!! I am so sorry this happened to you. You’re a true example of determination! Thanks for sharing. 🙂 xoxo

  • Thank you for sharing. Your actions are admirable, and your account of them is written so well. Thank you for doing the important work of holding men accountable for their harassment. I think many women have had the experience of being silenced (in my life, people from church bullied me into silence for standing up for myself, saying that my actions were “sinful”). But I think it is a normal part of the experience of being an opinionated, vocal woman in a world set against women. I look forward to hearing more from you!

  • Amy, I’m so sorry you had to experience that. Many women (myself included) will share their opinion on a topic and are attacked (violently) by men (and sometimes women as well) because of what we have to say. You didn’t deserve to be treated in that way and to feel unsafe about how you presented your comment.

    There needs to be something done about how men and women address their feelings online. We discuss online bullying when it comes to teens but no one wants to address that adults are just as bad. Assaults online are NOT ok. I’m glad those men lost their jobs! They need to be held accountable for their actions.

    Also, I’m glad you’re at a place where you feel safe enough to not only share your story but to return to blogging.

  • It boggles me to realize the consequences of such a harmless but important blog post. Sorry you had to go through what you did, but happy to see you’ve come out stronger and more determined as a result. Keep on blogging!

  • Amy,
    I’m so happy and proud of you for sharing your story. And if any of those men worked where I was in HR, I would have fired them without question. Threats (in person or online) cannot be tolerated, full stop.
    Please keep blogging, you are awesome.
    Hugs!

  • Thanks for sharing your story! This is all too common, and men so easily dismiss it as just trolls who should be ignored. I’m so sorry your family had to face real threats against your safety, and sorry that you had to weigh that against being honest about your opinions in public. I’m glad you’re back to blogging!

  • Thank you so much for sharing your experiences, and for continuing to speak up. You certainly didn’t deserve the abuse visited you—and those men deserved to be fired for that conduct. Glad you are back; I look forward to the next piece.

  • I think calling yourself a hypocrite is a bit harsh. You had a reaction to a threat. The men got what they wanted in a way, for a year, in that they silenced you. But not before you called them out (good job!). There is nothing wrong with taking a break. Being a woman is tiring. Being a person of color is tiring. It’s not hypocritical to take a break from what you have built, especially when faced with threats from idiots. Glad to see that your back and that cleveland.com highlighted it in an article. Women and esp. women of color deserve safe spaces to have their voices heard.

  • We need more people like you to inspire other women to voice themselves unapologetically. I remember the countless days of feeling like a villain in situations like this. I appreciate this article and I STAND WITH YOU 🙂

  • What you went through was horrific, and you did the right thing. You took time to process the trauma, to think things through and to reassert your strength and conviction. Those threats felt real! Nobody should take them lightly.

  • Thank you, Amy!!
    This kind of silencing had to stop. Thank you for being brave and speaking out. Thank you, also, for allowing yourself time to think, and self care. You’re not a hypocrite.

  • Amy-I’m so sorry for what you went through, I didn’t know! I’m so glad you are back, you know you have my support! I know you are a strong women with lots of support all around you!

  • I’m so sorry you had to deal with all of that. I went back and read your post on LinkedIn. I can’t even believe what you wrote would ignite such fury! Very well written. Welcome back!

  • Amy, it’s distressing enough that some men are so threatened that they think these sick things, let alone post them on social media. I was not aware of your experience until today, but am glad you’ve rediscovered your powerful voice. And if there is a roll for your male allies, I’m ready and know many others who will be as well.

  • It’s so important to teach digital etiquette. How dare those men speak that way and even worse, hide behind their screens? Actions have consequences. Thank you for teaching this.

  • What in THE hell?
    While I’ve never had to deal with that craven nastiness, your words struck a chord in me. I’m a writer in the public eye and I realize without even noticing it that I’ve also been weighing carefully what I choose to say out of a quiet unease. I didn’t even realize I was doing it. I’ve taken on a defensive posture without even knowing it.
    No more.

  • I re-read your original blog post trying to spot what exactly caused the disgusting comments from the men who threatened you. It was well-written, concise and certainly not inflammatory. Maybe the #MeToo movement will squelch future responses like this. I hope so. Welcome back.

  • The silence you engaged in, and the experience of losing your voice is something I can relate to. Being in a bad marriage with a person who was abusive- and not knowing how to get out of it caused me to lose my voice for a bit. I am glad you found yours again. I am rebuilding and finding mine as well.

  • Wow! Just wow! You are brave AND a great writer. Loved that you let companies know who their employees really are. It is shocking that men can write these threatening things with impunity. Makes you wonder if we’ve made any progress at all. Glad you’re back. You have a voice and you know how to use it.

  • I went back and reread your original “trigger” article. It’s just as true and valuable now as it was a year ago. I can’t imagine why it triggered such masculine hate; I saw it as an equal criticism of women and how they formulate these discussions. Anyone who sees the whole picture should understand that men, women and otherwise gendered people are all on this planet together, and we are all trying to make it within the same U.S. economic environment. Discrimination towards any subset of our workforce hurts the economy for us all in obvious and subtle ways. We all need to keep our focus on the big prize — an equalized, motivated, successful workforce that drives profitable businesses.

  • Thank you for opening up about such an important issue. So sorry you had to go through that horrible experience, but so glad you are back and better than ever. And you are so right, gender equality can’t happen to the extent that it needs to without male champions and sponsors. We all need to raise our voices.

  • You GO, girl! Without women like you, there is no progress. No moving forward.

    I thank you. My daughters thank you. Women thank you.

    Keep on keeping on.

  • Kudos Amy. Kudos for your brilliance, insight, authenticity, courage and vision that inspires all of us around you. Never be afraid for you my friend have a fierce wolf pack around you, willing to support and protect you 24/7.

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