To our valued readers, contributors, and community members:
Today I write to you on behalf of Stigma Fighters’ Board of Directors and our CEO, Sarah Fader, to express our most deeply felt apology for any offense that was caused by a recent article published to our blog, “MeToo? Probably Not.” Your feedback is valuable and your feelings are valid. Allow me to assure you: you are heard. We want to take this moment as a lesson and also as an opportunity to refine our mission at Stigma Fighters, and to clarify for our community members what Stigma Fighters means to us.
First and foremost, we want to reiterate that our mission at Stigma Fighters is to raise awareness of mental health issues by amplifying the voices of those who are living with mental illness, in order to fight back against societal stigma that harms us all. We are passionate about other social justice and awareness campaigns, such as the phenomenon that has come as a result of #MeToo. We understand that this long-overdue conversation about violence against women, misogyny, and patriarchy has had positive, transformative effects on many. In no way do we wish to impugn or insult this movement’s creators or participants.
Secondly, we wish to say that the opinions, thoughts, and feelings shared in the article written by Sarah Smith are raw, emotional, and entirely personal. Our primary mission at Stigma Fighters has been to provide a platform for people living with mental illness and trauma to share their most authentic self with readers, in hopes that they can inspire others whose experiences are similar to their own. We do not censor or filter the articles written by our volunteer contributors. Therefore, it is important to state definitively that the opinions held by our writers are theirs alone, and articles published to our blog do not necessarily reflect the thoughts and feelings held by our organization.
That being said, we also recognize that certain opinions and beliefs do not have a place on our blog or in media in general. Hate speech targeting marginalized communities or victims of abuse, for instance, ought never be given a public platform. When the above article was presented to Stigma Fighters leadership, we knew it would be controversial, but we failed to anticipate the feelings of invalidation and criticism that it would cause in our readers. We at Stigma Fighters categorically disagree with the comparison or ranking of one’s traumatic experience against another’s, a phenomenon of horizontal violence referred to by some as “the Victim Olympics”. When we published the article, the unintentional message to readers was that we implicitly endorsed the author’s message, which in and of itself was written in a way that was misleading about the point that the author was trying to make. This was an oversight on our part, and we apologize. In the future we will endeavor to screen submissions more carefully, and to work more closely with authors to ensure the message of their content is clear and in keeping with Stigma Fighter’s values.
All of us in Stigma Fighters leadership, Sarah Fader, Allie Burke, Courtney Keesee, and myself, are immensely grateful for the community of individuals that has grown around our movement. Together we have been able to accomplish a great many things, big and small, toward eliminating stigma as a weapon to be used against individuals living with mental illness. We are also extremely grateful for and humbled by your feedback, and we have taken it to heart. We will continue to provide an opportunity for individuals living with mental illness to share their experiences, thoughts, and feelings without fear of censorship, while also acknowledging that the content we choose to share reflects on Stigma Fighters and all who have participated in its development.
Again, thank you for your messages of concern and support. We value each and every one of you, and wish you all health, happiness, and peace this holiday season and on into the New Year.
Assistant Vice President of Franchise Operations
An additional word from our CEO and founder, Sarah Fader:
“Stigma Fighters is committed to giving a microphone to people who haven’t had the opportunity to speak the truth about living with mental illness. That is what we have been doing and that is what we will continue to do.”