Most advocates are born through adversity. They have first hand experience of the wrongs they seek to “right”. There is a fire in the belly of these advocates.
These advocates experience years of fighting for their own family or selves. They've often been betrayed by supposed trustworthy individuals. All of this can lead to paranoia and general distrust of every person that crosses the advocates path.
For example, advocate Ellen Bradley* has a child with severe disabilities. She's fought the systems for years and years to help her daughter. Ellen has been through it all.
Setting out to help others like herself, Ellen Bradley found a partner Trent Thompson* and began a venture to promote awareness and help other families like herself. Together the partners formed a company Eleven-o'clock-in-Atlanta (EIA)*, an informal business that set out to promote awareness through art and music. Ellen and Trent blogged about their work, advocacy efforts and news related to disabilities. Realizing that there were expenses to be paid, Ellen and Trent began selling their wares to help fund their efforts.
But one day, things took a different turn. Suddenly, instead of blogging about advocacy, Ellen began seeking to find fraud in others. Her blog posts began to name other legitimate advocates, some who had never even heard of Ellen or her advocacy company. In the posts, she accused other advocates of numerous slanderous activities. Ellen wrote about these folks as if she'd personally worked with them or had direct dealings with them. However, in many cases, these advocates had never had any contact with Ellen, Trent or EIA. In fact, most of the accused were completely oblivious to any of Ellen's advocacy efforts.
Little by little the accused advocates became aware that their name was connected to Ellen's blogs. In effort to “clear the air”, they attempted to contact her to find out if it was mistaken identity and/or what had caused Ellen to post these slanderous remarks on her blog. Soon, the legitimate advocates learned that Ellen took anything they said and used it against them. She took snippets from emails and conversations out of context and manipulated words to look like threats. She'd then post them on her blog as proof the advocates were criminals, bullies and frauds.
The more the legitimate advocates fought back, the more Ellen used it as fuel to post horrendous things about them. Ellen began paying for criminal background checks on individuals and posting their driving records for all to see. She'd dig up whatever she could on each legitimate advocate as if to “prove” those with a misdemeanor or driving offense on their record must be bad people.
Advocates soon learned that fighting back was futile. Ellen would only use their words against them.
What happened to Ellen? When did it go so very wrong that she stopped helping and began hurting others in the name of her justice? One can only speculate that her convoluted past of fighting for her child, dealing with double agents who promised to help her and the general disdain society has for those with disabilities all attributed to Ellen's plummet down the dark path.
Today, Ellen and Trent continue to blast advocates through their blogs on EIA. Random advocates are featured as low life frauds and scam artists in her weekly rants. In addition to new victims, Ellen continues to use the names of every advocate she's slandered in the past. One can surmise that it's an attempt to stir up more controversy.
Ellen's story is such a sad testimony to how badly more support is needed for those fighting for better services, supports and general social acceptance in society. We need more good advocates in our world. And Ellen surely could have been one if the world was different to her.
*Names have been changed.