On Scott Lynch and Elizabeth Bear
I was groomed and abused by Scott Lynch and Elizabeth Bear for several years.
For a long time, I never wanted to talk about this in public. I didn’t want anybody to know about this. I only began rethinking yesterday and I was still considering what to do about it, but…
...Apparently I don’t have that luxury anymore. Additionally, I’ve recently heard some new information about their abusive behavior towards other people--young women, usually baby writers who do not have established careers, girls they had mentorship relationships with--and frankly SOMEBODY has to be brave enough to speak up first, or these young women will continue to be hurt and intimidated into silence, just as I was.
This is terrifying to write. I’m afraid of career repercussions, for one. I’m also alarmed at the potential threat to my physical safety: Lynch and Bear live 15mins away & know how to get to my house. I spoke to my roommate about comfort levels with me speaking out, and we have prepared for the possibility that they could confront me in person.
So. I was 25, and completely unpublished. Lynch was 37, Bear was 43 -- both respected writers with long-established careers. I had a close friendship with Lynch, and I considered both of them mentors.
And then Lynch started flirting with me.
I had a bit of a hero crush -- who wouldn’t? -- and I was flattered by the attention. I felt special. (Looking back on it now, I am horrified about it. I was significantly younger, and there was a HUGE power differential.) He asked me to go out with him, and he lied about having an open relationship with Bear. I said yes, conditional on Bear being okay with it and me having an opportunity to talk to her first. When she found out, she was--understandably--furious.
I was horrified. I didn’t want to be the reason for them breaking up, so I did everything I could to keep it from happening. I felt responsible for it, and they did nothing to reassure me that I was not responsible. If anything, I was dragged further and further into things, with no regard paid to my personal boundaries. Even at that point in time, I realized that my career and reputation could be ruined if either of them--more powerful, more secure in their careers, more experienced--decided that I was expendable. It was ugly, and it was hard, and I was scared, even then, of what would happen if I mishandled things, so I let myself be used and pressured and exploited and made to feel small. All the while, Lynch was grooming me--persuading me to stick around, to get even closer to them, to divulge private information (such as my sexual history) to *both* of them, and convincing me that he was optimistic that Bear would one day be okay with us seeing each other, if only we could be patient and caring with her, if only we could convince her that we loved her and wanted the best for her, eventually she would come around and see that it was safe.
Lo and behold: Bear at some point decided that maybe an open relationship was something she could do after all--I only wanted to appease her at that point, and I desperately didn’t want to upset her, so I hesitantly moved forward with it. I thought it was a good thing. I thought it was progress. I thought that it meant that our collective relationship--and their relationship with each other--was healing. Lynch and I “dated” for one month, and it ended mutually when it became clear that their relationship was not healing, and that the situation was taking a huge toll on Bear’s wellbeing. At every point, all I wanted was for these two people I cared about to be okay.
My caring continued to be exploited at every step, and my boundaries continued to be disregarded even by myself. That’s what grooming and abuse does to you--it fucks up your ability to even NOTICE when you have a need that’s being ignored or when a boundary is being violated. From house-sitting for them for four months to working 30+ hours over the course of a weekend to make their backyard DIY wedding happen, I moved heaven and earth to try to make them happy. That was my 2016.
After they moved into their house and got married, Lynch was still visiting me at my house--even though these visits were very uncomfortable and awkward for me (and, presumably, for Bear as well). In February of 2017, I got my first book deal. The day after I got the offer, he was over to see me for our monthly lunch and, being very excited and still considering Lynch a confidante and a mentor, I told him about it. I said, “You can’t tell anyone yet, it’s SUPER SECRET, we haven’t announced it yet, don’t tell anyone.” He went home and told Bear immediately--a violation of both my professional privacy and my personal trust.
The *next morning*, I had a vicious email from Bear in my inbox, abruptly ending all association with me and saying that she was going to ask Lynch to limit his association with me, and…
I was GENUINELY afraid of her and the power she had. I was terrified she’d spread rumors about me being a homewrecker -- I was young and pretty and redheaded, after all. Surely anyone would have looked at me and thought, “Hm, homewrecker? That’s actually plausible.” I always knew she and Lynch had the power to ruin my writing career.
I talked about these concerns with DongWon Song, who was my agent at the time, as well as Lynch’s (and still is). I told him briefly about what Bear had said and expressed my worries--I didn’t tell him about the sexual aspect of my relationship with Lynch, as I didn’t feel comfortable divulging that to someone with whom I had a professional relationship. DongWon basically just shrugged and said that there wasn’t really anything to do, and that it wasn't worth causing drama over. He gave me no professional advice, did not ask any questions. I felt completely dismissed--I recognize that he had a professional responsibility to think about the well-being of both me and Lynch as his clients, but he had no such obligations to Bear, who he did not represent. He didn't even disinvite her from his supposedly 'clients-only' slack chat. (Why is Bear in his clients-only Slack chat when he doesn’t represent her? I still don’t know, and I didn’t bother asking, because I seemed to be the only person uncomfortable with her being there. Former agent-siblings, if you’re reading this: If you ever wondered why I wasn’t more sociable in the Slack? This is why. It was an incredibly hostile environment for me and I was re-traumatizing myself every time I attempted to interact in there.)
I eventually, finally, managed to hit my limit. I cut off all communication with them. I walked away, I got out.
That should have been the end of it. It was not.
When I was working on a project last summer (TWO YEARS after I blocked them), one of the other contributors was approached by a close friend of Bear’s who wanted to provide a warning about the sort of person I am:
This is not the only time this has happened. I know of at least three other friends/acquaintances who abruptly ended their association with me. Two of them explicitly told me it was because they trusted Bear’s word over mine. They also seemed to shrug off Lynch’s treatment of me, and saw nothing creepy about an older male author manipulating, lying to, and entering into an unethical sexual relationship with a young fan.
I feel sick as I’m writing this. My hands are shaking--I’ve been crying and feverish all day. I was fully prepared to never talk about this in public. Even now I’m desperately afraid that no one will believe me, that this will hurt me more than it helps anyone else.
Except that I can’t keep quiet about it, because there ARE other people who have needed help.
Over the last five years, I have heard about four other women--all young, baby writers who were delighted to have professional and creative mentorship--who have been mistreated by Lynch and Bear.
If I know about four of them, I can only assume there are others I don’t know about. When I thought I was a one-off incident, I was willing to shut up and keep quiet--don’t cause drama, it’s not worth it, it’ll blow over and they’ll leave you alone. But they haven’t left me alone, and it’s not a one-off. It is a pattern of reprehensible behavior that has been going on for YEARS.
Earlier today, Bear posted an open letter to her male colleagues who are being accused of abuse and harassment. This is one thousand percent what’s known as “projection” (and also “hypocrisy”):
Women abusers can be especially difficult to pin down, because they work very hard at wrenching the narrative around to to “Actually, *I’M* the victim here, and the person accusing me is the REAL abuser.” Bear did this very thing to me when we were still in the thick of the situation: There were times I hesitantly tried to speak up and set a boundary, and she told me that I had no right to “play the victim card”, that I wasn’t owning my agency or taking responsibility for my own actions or the ways that I had hurt her. She’s doing the exact same thing now, as evidenced by the first screenshot in this post--I do not know who she has lied to, or who she has manipulated, or who I can trust. But she is clearly, obviously, gathering her supporters in preparation to spin the narrative into something that puts me at fault.
I was 25, and when the worst of this went down, I had no power at all. I trusted them, I admired them, and I looked up to them. I considered them dear friends and mentors. I deserved better than this.
So here we are. Now you know. I don’t know what doing this will cost me, but I will update this post as necessary.