The Wolf has been arrested. So where to from here?

Dear Sydney,
We’ve woken up to the news this morning that the fellow amongst us formally known as “The Wolf” has, finally been put into his cage. Beyond his most ardent followers, most of us have taken a moment to stop and breath. Could this be the tipping point for us? Could this be the one arrest that breaks open the fragile façade of consent that has enveloped the community. The cover that hides the true darkness that we know exists but need to deny because it will force some serious introspection about what it is we do?
It’s safe to say that I am not the biggest fan of the way consent is conceptualised within kink. I find the cheap words vile and the calmness that surrounds the absolute cognitive dissidence nauseating. Victim blaming quickly followed by the paternalistic defence that proudly proclaims the need to do, while systematically refusing to acknowledge that those that do are responsible for their choices that fulfils their needs. Intentional blindness and blind obedience.  A cultural refusal to acknowledge the difference between the fantasy in our minds and the experiences we choose.
I’ll admit I gave the air one serious high five when I read my news alert this morning. I’m not at all upset that this man, who one report stated is “understood to have legendary status amongst Sydney’s online BDSM community according to a police source” is now on strict bail until his court appearance in December.
But I am preparing for that overwhelming devastation that will come once his fan gaggle collects themselves and begins their militant campaign of support. Anyone else convinced that will be using a few of the suppositions and tactics of camp Trump 2016, but instead of “locker room banter” it will be “BDSM”? I know it will come. You know it will. Because that is how kink works! I’ve seen it before. I saw it with his (alleged) child victim. I’ve seen it with other victims regardless of whether or not kink is apart of their assault.
But there is something else that I do know.
This is front page media news! Print, digital, radio, morning TV, women’s media. It is going to go “viral” so to speak. And thank-freaking- god!
This perpetrator saturated Fetlife with his recounts of his actions. He wrote books about them. His cheer squad wrote passionate defences of him and outlined his behaviour towards them. All of which now creates the peripheral framework for this case. He put it out there, the police will now use it.
Our community chose to enable this by becoming passive enablers. And yes, I consider myself as being a part of this! How many times have I encountered something which I knew needed addressing but was so fatigued from trying so many times before and just closed the tab on my computer? I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only feminist who feels this fatigue. Who feels so overwhelmed that they check out and go binge watch Outlander and pretend, for a few hours that this shit doesn’t happen!
I live in Sydney! This fucking animal preyed (okay I’ll add another allegedly here) on a child the same age as my daughter and has been accused of another rape, with police urging other victims to come forward! So yeah, this one is a bit closer to home for me. I took what I knew to the police in January and have sat here ever since waiting for this. Waiting for the police to knock on his door. Hoping with crossed fingers that, one day soon, he will be forced to account for his choices.

I just didn’t know there are more victims! I should have known, his patterns of behaviour, his addiction to the feedback loop he’s created through social media, the sloppy yet aggressive way he has created this animalistic caricature of himself and his, dare I say it, pathological posse of female devotees. They all come together to create an individual who sees himself in the third person. As someone not like you and I. Someone who has given himself permission and who acts within the validation of outsiders. Who can disconnect from the humanness of himself and others. I’m not going to label this, but anyone with the slightest understanding of the psychosocial components that created this will know what he is!
I read one commenter, in a vain hope I’m assuming, invalidating his arrest by claiming that this is nothing more than the police showing their bias towards kink. Let’s get this one out of the way. This was KINGS CROSS, the alternative mecca of the Southern Hemisphere. The most popular Kink club Hellfire is located within the Kings Cross police area. They are not some country cop shop, but inner city, community engaged and diversity – including sexuality aware officers.
It’s not about the aesthetics. it’s not about what this looks like, how “violent” ones actions may seem to an outsider. Although objective perceptions of BDSM will form a part of any jury’s considerations if the case proceeds to trial. What matters, right now, is that his victims subjective experience of her interaction with him meet her and now the law’s, measure of sexual assault. What matters right now are HIS choices. HIS actions. What HE understood (Mens Rea). What HE did (Actus reus).
Because let’s remember his whole MO is to render his victims passive in order to conquer them by his “alpha” superiority. We’ve all read his writings. We know how he chooses to present himself. He’s the absolute alpha who can drag women into his assumed nirvana bliss whenever, however he decides. And this. This attitude. These choices. THIS is what has landed the puppy in the dog house! It is what he did to her, as opposed to what they did together. The moment he chose to step outside the mutuality of the interaction and into his idealisation of himself; that, is when he crossed the line from kink to sexual assault causing actual bodily harm.
And here’s what I know:
The police have created a “Fact Sheet” within which they have created a narrative of events based on the known circumstances of the offence (sexual assault) and the aggravating factors (actual bodily harm). That is that on the 21st of August at (an undisclosed) Kings Cross hotel Liam Murphy, 41 raped X, aged 21, twice and attempted to rape her once.
These are the known facts as they are right now. Due process, right up until a verdict is handed down (as far as I understand it) allows for these charges to be negotiated between the DPP and the defence. These charges can be changed.
I’m not a lawyer, but I’ve spent years researching and writing about consent and the law in NSW. I’m not an “expert”, the law is complicated and there is a reason that lawyers get paid the amount they do! Interpreting and creating argument is something that I wouldn’t know how to competently do. But I am confident enough in my understanding about these few points to put it here.
Sexual assault comes from the nonexistence of consent. It is deliberately removing personal agency. Consent in my State, so the State within which this case exists, is present within a sexual interaction when a person “freely and voluntarily agrees to the sexual intercourse” {NSW Crimes Act 1900 – SECT 61HA].
Actual (as in actual bodily harm) – doesn’t actually have a definition within the Statute. But there are “typical” examples of injury caused (through unlawful actions of another). These range from scratches and bruises through to psychological harm.
Common law however has found McIntyre v R (2009) that injury… “[N]eed not be permanent, but must be more than merely transient or trifling — it is something less than “grievous bodily harm”, which requires really serious physical injury, and “wounding”, which requires breaking of the skin”
Actual bodily harm uses ordinary meaning, that is an injury is assumed to interfere with the health and comfort of the victim. He may have done the exact same thing to a dozen other women, who found her overall experiences of his actions pleasurable. But this woman found them to have a negative effect, she has deemed them something that has caused her to have interfered with her overall health, wellbeing and comfort.
The other thing I want to mention is “recklessness”. R v Bloomfield (1998), Blackwell v R (2011) the prosecution has to prove that the accused intentionally and recklessly assaulted the victim AND as a CONSEQUENCE of that actual bodily harm was a result.
I’m not going any further into the legal aspects of this case. Luckily for me the Downing Centre Court is about 500 meters from where I am so I can attend the hearing on the 6th of December. But I will state this –
It is all too common (and I would be pretty certain that this will apply here as well) within both answers to accusation put to an accused and as a formulated defence within trials for the accused to admit sexual activity but assert that there was consent. So the question is can or should the existence of BDSM (as a prescribed social acronym depicting particular non-heteronormative sexual behaviours) be enough to definitively argue that consent exists and that the accessed actions were in fact lawful and not the intentional infliction of harm?
As the statutory and common law interpretation of what consent varies considerably across jurisdictions, there is insignificant consistency to create a common language to define precisely what is and isn’t within the boundaries of proscribed and approved behaviours. There is way too much geographical and so jurisdictional variation to lay any claim to BDSM being an absolute defence to the harm created through ones actions.

 
There is no doubt that BDSM adds additional complexity to what is already a multidimensional and difficult experience of victims. When you consider that BDSM has, until recently remained on the peripheral of mainstream sexual understanding, can we really assume that those invested in what they do will supplant what has been accepted as consent for what is consent in the rest of the world?
There is, outside of BDSM, plenty of criticism “grey area” if you like, surrounding the line between consent/agreement and mere compliance. Sex and rape. Interpretation of behaviours and understanding the wants of others.  If this line is blurred within case of sexual assault that seem straight forward, then the complexity must be exacerbated by adding elements of BDSM to the context of the crime. So, no the existence of BDSM cannot, as far as I’m concerned, defend ones understanding of harm and the occurrence of harm caused by our choices/actions!
No matter how kinky you might think you are, no matter how much you’re showcased on K&P and if you’ve reached the peak of Fetlebrity status you live in the real world! The real world that, the last time I checked, does not have an asterisk in the Statue enabling those of us who fuck a tad differently to our neighbours to act outside the law!
Because I am SICK & TIRED of men like this using BDSM as a justification for their criminal choices! BDSM, for me and for a lot of us, is a healthy and safe sexual manifestation. Something that allows us to explore our bodies and our relationships in ways that work the best for us. BDSM is not a get out of gaol free card. BDSM does not excuse you from your choices any more than religion excuses a man who chooses to shoot an abortion clinic.
So where to from here –
We need to reframe BDSM and fast! We need to exclude men like Murphy from our communities and distance ourselves from their choices! We need to make consent central to everything and focus on the actions and the intentions of those that do before we start interrogating those who are having it don’t to.
BDSM is not violence and it is not assault! It is a means of playing with sensation, language and behaviours in order to gain sexual and relationship satisfaction. THAT IS IT! You can kinkwash it all you like but the bottom line is that BDSM is not a means of causing harm to another. BDSM is not “illegal”. Causing harm to another person is illegal. Using behaviours and props, language and imagery commonly assumed to be BDSM within our intimate relationships is NOT illegal. Choosing to sexually assault someone where there is harm experienced by your victim is illegal.
Look, I get the need to be transgressive and to be seen as extraordinary! Brene Brown explains our culturally ingrained fear of being considered ordinary really well. She explains in Daring Greatly that it is our fear of ordinary that creates this new surge in narcissism (– it’s a must read!) I get that, for some, sex and relationships are the only stage within which they can become more than just another shmuck. BDSM allows us a platform in which “othering” ourselves and creating something more is hero worshiped.
Being motivated by your shame-induced fear of ordinary (seriously you HAVE to read Brene) might make you a Fetlebrity. But it won’t make you immune from the consequences of your choices.
And it’s these choices that need to be the catalyst for the next step.
We need to start asking questions like
“What made you think your choices were okay?”
“How did you know that what you did was exactly what they were asking for?”
“When you chose to do X how certain were you that you were doing what was asked of you?”
We need to start focusing our attention onto the actions and choices of those who are choosing to use BDSM as a mirror from which they deflect their responsibilities. Those who think that they can do as they please, those who are validated by others and those who are enabled by websites and businesses to continue unchecked.

Men like Murphy do not “do” kink, they use kink as a defence. And that, no matter how much you word game it cannot be okay!

Yours sincerely
Someone who is pissed!
 

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21 thoughts on “The Wolf has been arrested. So where to from here?

  1. I read that he has a Wife and a 10 year old kid… now im not a betting man, but Id bet that his lovely ‘wife’ may not have been privy to the last 2 decades of his fet life? Now that is an interesting situation… do you think she knows now?

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    • I read that too! I’ve read that she was on his Fetlife profile, but have also read that she knew nothing.
      It’s possible he did all of this without her knowing. He (apparently) had a seperate SIM card and always used hotel rooms with his victims, I mean kinky conquests.
      I’m in Sydney and actually work a block away from the courthouse so will be there on the 6th of December for his mention. Who knows what will come out; but if the reports about his financial situation are right, he’ll buy some top notch defende barrister and be able to weave his story his way!

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  2. Jennifer,

    Thank you immensely for your essay on the stark differences between healthy kink and predatory sexual behavior. I’ve been struggling with self-blame, shame, and PTSD since my time with Liam Murphy and your words make me feel wholly supported.

    Much love from miles and miles away,
    Ann*

    *Definitely not my real name

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    • Dear Ann,

      Thank you so much for reading my writing.
      I am so so sorry that the choices of this man have cause you so much harm.
      I’ve hesitated writing anymore about this, as I didn’t want to take a story that’s not mine away from those it belongs to. But now I’m glad I posted this.

      I was in the court room with him on the 6th, will be there on the 30th, and there everyday I can be. Please know you are supported and thought of. I can’t take away the harm he caused but I can let you know that you are sedn, believed and held in love.

      Sending you so much love.
      xxxxx

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    • Hi there, As far as I’m aware there is a delay in the forensic processing of the technology that the police seized. What this means, I have no idea. In saying that Murphy has been able to by the most expensive defence barrister in our State. So I’m going to assume that the lull in the prosecution is a by product of being able to buy his way out of this.

      I wish I had more for you, I’m sorry I don’t. And while I have hope that this is a good sign – that the DPP is just dotting all of their I’s and crossing all of their T’s before they nail his ass, I’m not holding my breath for the maximum sentenced to be handed down.

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  3. Thank You very much for the update. I hope that there is justice in this case, and that money does not speak louder than truth. It is sickening that the only people who win in these cases are the lawyers. I am watching this with interest but also not feeling very confident about the outcome.

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  4. His next court appearance is April 27, so I guess we will find out what comes next then.

    The harm Liam choose to inflict needs to be punished. Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be as black and white for many. I’m feeling that lack of confidence right alongside you.

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    • Thank you so much for keeping me into date. I am also feeling rather pessimistic about the outcome. Will you please let us know what happens on the 27th. I really hope it is nit dismissed. It just is not fair.

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    • Hi there,
      How are you doing?
      Unfortunately I don’t have an update. I wasn’t able to make it into the courthouse on Thursday. But I understand that the matter was mentioned again, with regards to the brief of evidence. Which means that a committal date should be set soon.

      As soon as I hear anything else I will post it for you.

      I hope you’re well
      xx

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    • Hi Anne,

      I was in court for his appearance on Thursday.
      The case has been adjoined for another 2 weeks. There are parts from the brief that are still missing; something to do with the forensics being done on a laptop.
      He has been charged with another 10 counts. Now, I’m not absolutely positive about what. They talk in a lot of numbers & legal jargon that I just don’t understand! But what I know is that these charges relate to ”filming”. There is also a charge relating to using property (I can only assume this is the laptop) in the commission of a crime.

      I hope you’re well.
      xx

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      • Hi Jennifer,

        I’ve battled to put this behind me, and I’ve made tremendous strides. My life is finally good again. But your posts give me the only updates that I can get my hands on. Even though I get scared that this will someday arrive on my doorstep and I’ll have to revisit it again, I can’t deny that my soul needs to know what happens. I thank you for giving me this.

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      • Hi Ann,

        I often find myself thinking about you (and his other victims) when deciding what to post (not only here but on Fet). I wonder how you are doing with the, seemingly, information blackout and uncertainty about what is happening.

        I am so happy to know that your life is coming good again. And I can understand why you need to know this. Powerlessness comes in many forms & a lack of information is certainty something that can cause us to feel powerlessness in our own world – especially in the private world of our experiences and thoughts/feelings around them!

        To be honest with you I am frustrated! I am frustrated that there are so many people who claim to be outraged at his actions & yet, when it comes to put an action behind those feelings – we get nothing! I sit in that courtroom hoping that one other person will show up, to sit there and be visible to him, so that he can see that there are people who see & believe his victims. I’ve felt that, maybe, this is for nothing. And then I read that this is giving you something!

        Thank you for being open to this, I can’t imagine what you’re going through!

        I am always an email away if you need an ear
        xxx

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  5. PS, He told me once that he went to college for film. This does not surprise me. It combines two of his favorite things: power and film.

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  6. I just wondered if there is anything new on this case? I have searched but can not find anything else or new? Do you know when he is appearing in court? obm

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