The indie musician Gabrielle Smith, who currently goes under the name Ó after changing her name from Eskimeaux, has written a lengthy statement about a former friend who has accused her of rape and emotional abuse. In the post, Smith describes a years-long interaction, with the friend in question starting out by demanding that Smith be more emotionally available as a friend. When Smith attempted a friend breakup, the person in question — who Smith does not name or gender throughout her post, using only the alias “L” and the genderless pronoun “they” — made stronger accusations.
According to Smith, this L demanded to be acknowledged as a songwriter and paid for their contributions to O.K., the 2015 album that Smith recorded under the name Eskimeaux. Smith says that L was, in fact, not paid for any contributions to the album, but she also claims that L was merely a background singer on the album, that L wrote nothing and that there was simply no money to pay. This escalated into a rape claim, which Smith completely denies.
Smith includes a few screenshots of texts from L, who was promising to go “to the press” unless Smith met a list of demands that included a public apology for rape and for Smith (and for an unnamed friend who L sent the text to) to not play any shows “for a year.” Smith has asked for her post not to be partially quoted, so, in accordance with her wishes, here’s her full statement:
Three years ago a former friend of mine made a series of tumblr posts accusing me of abuse. I’ve never spoken publicly about this situation before, but things have recently escalated and my former friend has begun to threaten me and those close to me. I feel I now have no choice but to tell my story. I haven’t spoken publicly about this until now because these accusations are simply false. I don’t want to engage with a person who has spread escalating, boldly false, hurtful lies about me. I also don’t want to engage in a flame-war with this person, or use my platform as an artist to nurse a feud. Nor do I want to destroy this person’s reputation. Frankly, I don’t want any of this and would like to sever ties with this person permanently. Yet after 3 years of being bullied, harassed and stalked, I’m tired of being quiet and not sticking up for myself. I’m also uncomfortable with the fact that some people aren’t sure whether or not to feel good listening to and supporting me as an artist. So here’s what I have to say.
This person, who I’ll call L for the sake of their privacy, wrote a series of tumblr posts in 2015 that accused me of emotional abuse. L said I had been unavailable as a friend and had failed to give them sufficient credit and monetary compensation for their collaborations on Eskimeaux songs. It’s true that I was unavailable as a friend. L has always been an emotionally manipulative and demanding person, who required constant contact and reassurances of love and support to feel comfortable in our friendship. I had simply become unable to bear the weight of L’s needs as a friend and told them straightforwardly that I couldn’t be there for them in the way they clearly needed. I tried to have a “friend breakup,” in which I told them as straightforwardly as I possibly could that our friendship had become uncomfortable for me and that they were pushing boundaries of mine, both personally and in my music project, in ways that no longer felt okay for me. In short, that we needed to not see each other anymore. This effort was met with hostility and aggression. L interpreted my taking space for myself as a form of active abuse. I vehemently disagree with the idea that anyone who is trying to back away from an uncomfortable situation is abusing that person. I’m not L’s parent, and I should be allowed to make my own decision about whether or not our friendship is mutually supportive. It was not, and I needed it to end. To be manipulated into feeling that the friendship needed to continue, despite my feelings, was violating and wrong.
As far as the Eskimeaux collaboration accusation goes, it is true that L was not paid for their collaborations with me. At the time we worked together on music, I was neither making a living playing shows nor being paid by a record label. L insists that they played a major writing role in my album O.K. — this is simply not true and any one of the many people who worked on that album with me can attest to this. L had already had a long history of inserting themself into my creative projects and asserting inappropriate control back then, making demands on me to be included in the touring band when close contact with them was uncomfortable for me, or demanding they be given a place on stage when there was no time to rehearse with them, or allowing for the possibility that sometimes I just didn’t want them to perform with me that night. Their grabs for creative control over my band were not appropriate, and are an example of a larger theme in our friendship in which controlling me and attempting to link us together in all areas of life was L’s idea of close friendship. Any attempt on my part to take space for myself or carve out boundaries was rejected and met with defiance. L did not write any of the songs on my album — that’s why they weren’t paid. They did willingly sing harmonies on a few of the songs, as did more than a dozen of my friends who gladly and knowingly did that favor for me for free. The fact that this was held over my head as a source of “abuse” is not only insulting to abuse survivors, but also simply a false description of our creative relationship. They were a singer who contributed harmonies, not a songwriter. This needs to be clear.
After some readers of L’s initial posts expressed confusion and asked for clarification and details, L quickly changed the story to be about a rape and history of systematic emotional violence toward them. All of that is totally fabricated. Over the course of the next few months, the story changed from being about a friendship gone awry because of a lack of mutually shared boundaries and was escalated to a story in which I raped them as a minor. I need to just say straightforwardly in completely clear terms — I have never had any sexual contact of any kind with L. We have never had sex, and have never had any sex-adjacent contact. Nothing of the sort has ever happened. I see how this may sound — it’s truly my word against theirs. However, there are many people who knew L and me through our rocky friendship who can attest to the fact that we have never been sexually involved. We did not date each other as L has suggested. L’s consistent violation of the boundaries I tried to set in our friendship was the reason I decided that the only healthy thing for both of us was to end it. Additionally, while it has no bearing on the fact that these accusations are false, I feel it is important to make clear that the age difference between me and L is two years. They’ve repeatedly suggested that I was an adult whose contact with them as a child was inappropriate and coercive, an adult using power against an innocent child. I was born in ‘88, they were born in ‘90. We met as teenagers. Any reference to a child-adult dynamic is completely misleading, notwithstanding the shameful falsehood of the rape accusation.
L has discussed publicly and admitted to me privately that they live with a well-known psychological disorder. I don’t want to specifically name what this disorder is, because I neither want to out them, nor claim to have some kind of expertise on the matter. However, I can say that my relationship with L involved them repeatedly manipulating me for attention. This manipulation ranged from imagining ways in which I “owed” them my time to threats of self-harm if I didn’t give them my immediate attention. L would show up outside my house uninvited and try to be let in, even in situations when I told them I was not available. They often overstated their role in my life, conflating the closeness of our platonic friendship with “dating,” and describing conflicts between friends in the language of abuse and trauma. I am not trying to attribute their behavior to this specific disorder — I’m not a psychologist and I can’t really speak on these behaviors in connection to a psychological disorder. Rather, I’m trying to use my experience and what information I have to understand the utter ferocity of the distortion campaign they’ve enacted on me and others. L has a history of turning their own feelings of guilt into distortion campaigns, often against those they have wronged, while manipulating other people into rallying behind them with partial stories and false narratives. I know I’m not the only person they’ve done this to and I can attest to the fact that this is a serial behavior L exhibits beyond just our friendship.
This week, L contacted a close friend of mine. They accused me of having lied to friends about things having been resolved between us. I’ve never said things were resolved between us, I’ve only told my side of the story to people who have asked and allowed them to judge for themselves. L laid out a set of “terms,” which you can read below, stipulating that I was to follow them or they would “go to the press” with their story. In the below screenshots, I have blurred out their name and the names of others they mention for the sake of their privacy. This unreasonable set of demands included a call for me to admit that I raped them as a minor. I will not do this. I did not rape them. I didn’t have sexual contact with them at any time and I won’t let their false narrative become the reality. Their other demands ranged from reaching out to friends and bands I’ve toured with over the past year and getting them to issue apologies for touring with me, to paying them “restitution” for the money they feel I owe them from my albums. I will not do any of these things. I owe them nothing and the idea that I do is absurd.
Going forward, I am not open to extending this conversation beyond what I’ve said here. This is a long and complicated story and it needs to be read in full. If you decide to quote this, please do not quote me partially — the only way to understand the complexity of this mess is to have the full context. I’ve always been hesitant to employ politicized language that I feel should be strictly reserved for victims of trauma, but in this case, this is the only way to describe what has happened to me: I have been the ongoing victim of emotional abuse from a person whose desire is to extort, blackmail, and hurt me and I will not allow this to go on anymore. Their story is false. If you can’t believe me, I understand. But if we’ve ever met face to face, please consider the human being that you encountered. I’m real and flawed, but I did not rape my friend. I am so tired of being bullied and made to feel like I can’t stand up for myself without people misconstruing my words. My life has been devastated by a stalker who has made it clear they will stop at nothing to get a rise out of me. All I want, at this point, is for this person to leave me alone and finally allow me to have a life that doesn’t involve them anymore.
You can see the screenshots of those texts at Smith’s WordPress site.