By Lucio Saverio Eastman and Micha Gartz
Fully 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February, with only 8% of resolutions kept year-long. After the holidays, many people endeavor to eat healthier or exercise more. It’s as simple as committing to floss or exercise daily. That is until you run out of floss and forget to buy more… or are too sore for exercise the next day. It’s easy to fall out of new habits.
Here’s a resolution worth keeping: Stop allowing abusive relationships to continue. If you have ever lived through an emotionally abusive relationship, you already know the signs. However if you’re unaware, it can be hard to accept or realize that you’re already in one. I’m in one. You’re in one. (Yes, you!) We’re all in an abusive relationship together.
As the infographic below describes: “Abusive relationships can arise anywhere – with partners, friends, families, workplaces or governments.” [Emphasis added].
Source: Workplace Mental Health Institute
Here are the warning signs of an abusive relationship, along with current examples of how governments are offenders, most of which you’ll likely recognize:
You may be in an abusive relationship if they…
1. Stop you seeing friends and family
We are all in this together, apart.
“Stay home, stay safe.” That’s what we’re told. At first, it was temporary: Staying apart would slow the spread, flatten the curve, preserve hospital capacity and the energy of our exhausted healthcare workers. And we followed along, believing that staying apart would keep us together.
To date, many bars, restaurants, and cafes are still closed or have capacity limits and some have closed permanently. Border closures and travel restrictions prevent people from congregating with family for holidays or taking vacations. Even neighborly gatherings are subject to curfews or bans. Then, there is the tragedy of loved ones dying alone in hospitals or long-term care facilities due to restrictions.
2. Won’t let you go out without permission
The government has provided lists of what they consider essential for maintaining critical infrastructure operations. Are you an essential worker?
While it may seem that your movements are not restricted in most places within the US, there are many other countries where going out means possible abuse by police and authorities for arbitrary violations or fines for breaking lockdown orders.
In France, citizens need papers to validate their reason for being out. In one of the toughest lockdowns seen in Australia this past year, 3,000 tenants were forcibly kept from leaving their apartments – separating partners and children from parents. These continued breaches of public trust will undoubtedly spread as reports of human rights abuses pour in.
3. Tell you what to wear
In March, Dr Fauci told 60 Minutes that people should not be wearing masks:
The masks are important for someone who is infected, to prevent them from infecting someone else. […] Right now in the United States, people should not be walking around with masks. […] There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask.
And acknowledges that they are more symbolic, noting:
When you’re in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people ‘feel’ a little bit better, it might even block a droplet. But it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think it is.
Most states have mandated masks, which are now a “cultural icon” signalling individuals’ “social responsibility and good citizenship.” And if you want to be extra-safe, (or extra-socially conscious) follow Fauci’s lead and wear two. If you want to be extra, extra safe, goggles may also be a good idea.
4. Monitor your phone or emails
In an effort to promote public health and stay ahead of government regulations, tech companies Apple and Google have begun including Covid notification systems in mobile devices’ operating systems updates. Voluntary downloads of contact-tracing apps, such as the French government’s TousAntiCovid app, have been encouraged by states. Others have been more forceful in active monitoring.
For instance, Taiwanese resident Milo Hsieh woke up to two police officers knocking on his door after his phone’s battery ran out for 15 minutes. The dead battery triggered an automatic notification of potential quarantine breach, prompting authorities to send warning text messages and (missed) calls before conducting an in-person check.
5. Control the finances, or won’t let you work
If your business is deemed “not essential,” the local, county, and state governments have the power to close your business. Additionally, some of the hardest hit industries right now are the arts. Live music, museums, theaters, and many more art venues are effectively shut down, putting many performers and artists out of work.
Closing “nonessential” businesses has merely pushed business to online retailers such as Amazon, or click-and-collect chain stores.
6. Control what you read, watch and say
From the beginning of the crisis, online publishing platforms have taken to changing their terms and conditions regularly to justify censorship and takedowns of studies, articles, and videos that don’t follow the approved narrative.
Additionally, there is plenty of evidence that propaganda campaigns on social media spill over into traditional media outlets, influencing opinion, and shifting narratives toward specific goals on a global scale.
A 28-year-old pregnant woman was arrested in front of her two children for posting on Facebook about an anti-lockdown protest in Ballarat (Australia), drawing criticism from the president of the Australian Human Rights Council. The woman’s devices were consequently confiscated, and bail was granted on the condition she does not access social media until the allotted time. Human Rights Watch notes,
Arresting people preemptively for the act of organizing peaceful protests or for social media posts is something that happens all too often under authoritarian regimes, and it should not be happening in a democracy…
7. Monitor everything you do
The National Guard was deployed at New York airports to collect travel contact forms. Have you wondered what happens with those forms? One of our colleagues received a robocall from the New York City Sheriff after traveling. It threatened her to call back or receive a knock on her door to make sure she is quarantining.
And let’s not forget: if you see something, say something! Early in 2020, an Australian couple was fined $1,000+ for breaking lockdown orders even though they had posted old photos and did not actually break lockdown rules. They were then threatened with arrest if they posted any more photos.
Early in the pandemic, states set up dedicated “snitch” lines to accommodate for the deluge of 911 calls, reporting lockdown violations. The Arkansas Department of Health recently launched a Covid-19 hotline for when others aren’t wearing their mask in public. A rise in false reports to contact-tracers in the UK led authorities to introduce £1,000 penalties for misinformation.
8. Punish you for breaking the rules, but the rules keep changing!
They will get up in front of the camera and espouse the virtues of following the rules and then turn around and break them without a second thought. If you break their rules, they will shut you down and then go to Hawaii for dinner. Can’t keep up with the rules? They’ll shift regularly and blame will be placed on you for not following the previous orders.
Even those who think ahead and proactively try to improve public safety are caught up: In March police threatened to fine a London shopkeeper £80 for criminal damage after she “vandalised” the sidewalk with chalk markings intended to help customers observe 6-foot distancing.
Several restaurant owners in New York City are suing Cuomo and de Blasio. However, they keep running into obstacles as the rules change frequently. Tina Oppedisano, owner of Il Bacco Ristorante in Queens, who is spearheading the lawsuit says,
We initially filed the lawsuit to open up indoor dining, which we were aiming for the same percentage as everywhere else. So we wanted 50%. He gave us 25. So we have to go amend the lawsuit to fight for 50. Then, we went back to zero; now we have to try to fight for 25. It’s just like an ongoing thing. So it’s kind of very interesting that I think they, you know, they clearly know how to manipulate the system so you kind of get nowhere.
9. Tell you it is for your own good, and that they know better
In May, AIER’s Editorial Director Jeffrey Tucker documented how dentists and doctors were prevented from accepting new patients. We were told that, to protect our health we cannot receive medical care (unless it is an emergency). You cannot see a dentist. You cannot see a doctor. You cannot have elective surgery, continue chemotherapy, or receive a transplant either.
They will tell you that it is for your own protection and to follow the experts to ensure the safety of the whole. “Consensus” is the clarion call of these pundits. This is a form of Pathological Altruism which is defined as:
any behavior or personal tendency in which either the stated aim or the implied motivation is to promote the welfare of another. But instead of overall beneficial outcomes, the altruism instead has irrational… and substantial negative consequences.
10. Don’t allow you to question it
Many highly qualified and respected scholars and public health officials stepped up to question the current trajectory and consequences of lockdowns and policy. They have been met with brutal opposition. Any attempts to question the lockdowns or raise doubts about the approach led to attempted deplatforming or silencing of any debate.
A California trauma medical director, Dr. Michael Deboisblanc, was fired for concluding (based on data) that it is safe to reopen schools and writing a letter questioning Contra Costa County’s lockdown measures. Even our local town council condemned the Great Barrington Declaration, and the official website was originally excluded from Google searches in the UK and Australia.
11. Tell you you’re crazy, and no one agrees with you
If you spend any amount of time on social media and if you have an opinion that counters the narrative, you probably experienced some backlash. As our colleague Phil Magness knows too well, there is seemingly no end to accusations of “strawman” arguments and denials of any wrongdoing from lockdown supporters.
Political figures, such as Fauci, claim there is consensus on “the science” they are following. Claims of consensus are defied by petitions, such as the Great Barrington Declaration – now signed by nearly 40,000 medical practitioners, over 13,000 medical and public health scientists, and 700,000+ members of the public – which show that you are not alone in recognizing the substantial adverse effects (and limited success) of lockdowns.
12. Call you names or shame you for being stupid or selfish
Jorge Elorza, mayor of Providence (RI) remarked on radio that if you see large gatherings or someone out in public not wearing a mask, “You should socially shame them, so they fall in line.” India went further, publishing names, phone numbers and addresses of Covid-positive individuals in newspapers and on social media, violating medical ethic codes, patient privacy rights and leading to stigmatization, aggressive attacks, and social ostracism.
Being anti-lockdown has been linked with racism, ageism, and white supremacy. A string of blame is targeted at young people, restaurants, and right-wing individualists. This is frequently followed with wishes that these selfish individuals, Covid-deniers, and “COVIDIOTS” will (and should) “catch Covid and die.”
The covid idiots ("covidiots" or as I call them "covfefes") aren't just endangering themselves by continuing life as normal in packed social places. They are putting all our lives at risk. If you know a covfefe who is acting irresponsibly, please shame them into social isolation.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) March 22, 2020
13. Gaslight you, challenge your memory of events, make you doubt yourself
All around the world we’ve been told conflicting story after story. However, bringing up these inconsistencies means you’re likely to be met with a cavalier shrug or a challenge of your perceptions.
They will attempt to connect you to questionable logic and politicize it to their advantage while flipping the narrative, “We’re not virtue signaling, you’re vice signaling.”
Fauci flip-flopped on mask advice, then he encouraged school closures, and criticized reopening schools before later claiming that he “never said close schools.”
In one of the most egregious changes of a scientific definition to date, the World Health Organization updated their website to delete any mention of naturally acquired immunity.
14. Dismiss your opinions
If shaming or gaslighting you doesn’t work, then dismissing your opinion is the next best option. Unelected officials have dismissed alternative opinions as “nonsense and very dangerous.” They will dismiss you as unqualified, while allowing the opinions of other obviously unqualified “experts” to influence policy and society. Sharing anything that goes against the status quo will likely earn a “You’re not an epidemiologist” from the masses while they conveniently ignore Neil Ferguson’s PhD in crystal physics.
And heaven forbid you should be a musician and offer an opinion that goes against the accepted narrative. Be prepared for cringe-worthy reviews packed full of “abusive relationship” red flags.
15. Play the victim. If things go wrong, it’s all your fault
Victimization and blame can be found almost anywhere you look on social media, in the news, and in public life. Suggestions that you may be responsible for deaths if you don’t mask up, or that “you’re not a good person” and your actions are entirely selfish are common.
Arguments that a second lockdown may be needed because people did not closely adhere to the rules the first time, and officials admonishing citizens for their ‘irresponsible’ and ‘selfish’ desire to gather during holidays are on constant rotation in the news cycle.
Now is the Time to Break the Cycle and Reclaim Your Life
The goal of any abuser is to ensure you feel isolated, alone, and dependent so that they can maintain control. If you have no options – someone or somewhere else to turn to – the abusive narcissist or sociopath can continue to imprison you, making it harder for you to leave. The power an abuser holds over individuals becomes exponentially worse when they are given absolute authority to enforce and implement methods for keeping you confined inside the relationship. We have ceded our power and authority to the government.
Ironically, one of the many unintended consequences of allowing this institutional abuse to continue is that it becomes increasingly difficult for people trapped in abusive domestic relationships to leave the house and seek help, or to be checked on by family and friends.
An open, transparent, and solution-based focus for the rules and governance of society is needed to reestablish trust and healthy relationship boundaries. The use of fear and enforcement tactics to shut down dialogue and debate have never led to positive outcomes in any personal, societal, or global interactions.
The dilemma facing any governing system (private or public) is this: A government strong enough to protect existing economic, property, and human rights is also strong enough to forcibly take them away. Recognizing that the checks and balances on government power have been bypassed is the first step toward recovering the inherent rights we have lost and ending this cycle of abuse.
If each individual reading this makes and keeps a personal resolution now – in 2021 and beyond – to protect themselves and the ones they love from the hypocrisy and abuse of those who seek to oppress, shame, track, punish, gaslight, and otherwise lock us all down – we can begin to rebuild our independence, free ourselves from false narratives, and reclaim our individual lives and stories.
Lucio Saverio Eastman is AIER’s Web Design Technologist. Lucio brings to AIER a long history of working with online, web, ecommerce, and digital media.
Since 1996, he has provided creative, technological, visual, and social media support in the financial, publishing, education, music and entertainment, IT, and non-profit sectors.
Before joining AIER in 2019, Lucio was the Web Design Technologist for Yankee Magazine and The Old Farmer’s Almanac. He lives in Peterborough, NH.
Micha Gartz is a full-time Research Associate at the American Institute for Economic Research, and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in International Relations and National Security through Curtin University.
She has previously completed a double degree in Bachelor of Arts (International Relations) and Bachelor of Commerce (Economics) also at Curtin. She was an active member of the student community throughout her undergraduate studies as Secretary of the Curtin Wall Street Club and participant in Curtin Business School Wesfarmer’s High Achievers Program.
During her studies she participated in numerous extra-curriculars, including interning in the International Trade and Investment division at the West Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. She is a Mannkal Foundation scholar alum, who has previously been awarded fully-funded scholarships to participate in the Mannkal’s Leadership Development Program (Washington DC) as well as an advanced industry placement at the American Institute for Economic Research. Prior to that, Mannkal also sponsored her to attend the University of Hong Kong’s 2018 Asia Institute for Political Economy summer school, organised by George Mason University and the Fund for American Studies, as well as several conferences within Australia.