MY DIRTY LAUNDRY
Who is Dirk Manning?
It does not please me to have to air all this old dirty laundry publicly when the events occurred from 2011 – 2014. I worked hard to heal from this abuser in silence because I still feel deep penetrating humiliation for falling for such obvious tactics. When I was contacted this week (February 2020) by a couple of women who were also sexually harassed and abused by Dirk Manning, I figured I had plenty in my dossier to show what a manipulative liar he is. I took to Twitter after I had time to process what was happening.
In these screen captures you’ll see how he maneuvered through my life by pretending to be a concerned friend to saying he loved me to offering to introduce me to industry professionals to ghosting me. You’ll see where he promised me work in the comics journalism sphere. You’ll even see the “N-word” in a chat. Readers, we are both very white people. I’m sorry I didn’t call him out on that.
And finally you’ll see when I started doing my own internet research and discovered “Dirk Manning” didn’t exist until a few years prior to this. It’s a penname and I found out his real name. Using that name to search, I was able to find even older interviews where he does reference having a wife and family; and there’s even a YouTube video from his wedding. I even considered writing that real name here, but then I’d be accused of doxxing which is a shitty thing to do.
I believe in pennames. Absolutely 100%. I believe in internet aliases for privacy. I do not believe that those preclude you from revealing your actual name to someone who supposedly is being told the most intimate things about you and that you claim to love so much.
He Lies About Everything:
In every conversation, he would make something else up or backtrack and gaslight me that that’s not what happened. He faked having a sister named Rachel whose death traumatized him. I found no such sister. He later said he was adopted probably to cover that. More likely Rachel was a girlfriend and maybe she did die, but why not say that? Why invent a sister? He later called me “like a sister” to someone else — yeah that stung.
He lied continuously about being married. He once told me he was “divorced with a daughter” then later said, “I never said I had a daughter, I don’t have kids.” Then he told me that he wears a wedding band “to keep his stalkers at bay.” I found out those alleged stalkers were other women at cons he was playing these same head games with. Telling each one of us how we’re the only ones he could open up to and how special we are that makes us unique.
He knew I was dirt poor and lucky to get modeling gigs for $50 once in a while. Yet, he pleaded with me to back his Kickstarter. Then I not only back it — he begged me and said how much it would mean to him if I increased my pledge because it makes such a huge difference in the stats of Kickstarter. FUCK THAT GUY. I was poor. I upped my pledged and had anxiety the entire time thinking about how that money could have gone towards buying a pair of shoes that didn’t have holes in them (yes, I wore Timberlands for about 15 years until there were holes and no inner lining.)
Going through all these old messages from 2011 – 2014 is painful for me. It’s humiliating. I was catfished. Even when I considered “Dirk Manning” just a friend, my friends said he was so phony and pretentious that they couldn’t stand him. I looked at it like a character — like Howard Stern is not a boisterous assclown at home when he’s helping rehabilitate sick orphaned kittens with Beth. I thought I was allowed, no, privileged because I was seeing a “real” side of “Dirk Manning.” Turns out what I was seeing was another character. Like all great sociopaths, he believes his own delusional bullshit stories only he’s not smart enough to keep track of his lies.
I hate doing this. I hate opening this wound. I hate that I have finally found a place in life where I’ve accepted that I’m financially poor, but cared for by parents and loving partner because I only make about $100/week teaching yoga and $90/month from Patreon supporters. I hate that my life partner who loves me (and we had a terrible rocky beginning because of things not being perfectly honest) is going to hurt by seeing all this old bullshit and pain.
Gee, can’t imagine why I have trust issues or why I feel like being self-destructive?
Mind you, my psychological background is not all because of “Dirk Manning.” It’s because of ALL the Dirk Mannings out there who use this same Pick Up Artist playbook to lure women, groom them, make them vulnerable, isolate them from friends by saying how much their friends are lying to them, and then treating them as disposable commodities. There are plenty of these men in every single industry. When women do it? Honestly, I feel like cheering them on because they figured out the fucking game.
From PsychologyToday, the definition of gaslighting:
Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realize how much they’ve been brainwashed. For example, in the movie Gaslight (1944), a man manipulates his wife to the point where she thinks she is losing her mind.
1. They tell blatant lies.
2. They deny they ever said something, even though you have proof.
3. They use what is near and dear to you as ammunition.
4. They wear you down over time.
5. Their actions do not match their words.
6. They throw in positive reinforcement to confuse you.
7. They know confusion weakens people.
8. They project.
9. They try to align people against you.
10. They tell you or others that you are crazy.
11. They tell you everyone else is a liar.
Thank all the gods that we were never close enough to be domestically entwined. It was bad enough with a few states between us and an internet connection.
Please read this list below of how abusers operate:
- An abuser often denies the existence or minimizes the seriousness of the violence and its effect on the victim and other family members.
- An abuser objectifies the victim and often sees them as their property or sexual objects.
- An abuser has low self-esteem and feels powerless and ineffective in the world. He or she may appear successful, but internally, they feel inadequate.
- An abuser externalizes the causes of their behavior. They blame their violence on circumstances such as stress, their partner’s behavior, a “bad day,” on alcohol, drugs, or other factors.
- An abuser may be pleasant and charming between periods of violence and is often seen as a “nice person” to others outside the relationship.
These are Red Flags from the same website narrowed down to what I think fits this particular situation:
- Blaming the victim for anything bad that happens
- Demeaning the victim either privately or publicly
- Embarrassment or humiliation of the victim in front of others
Abusers and harassers don’t think they’re doing anything wrong all the time. Maybe most do, but others could be so ingrained in their manipulative behavior that they believe they are always right.
Why Come Out Now?
I was approached by two other women through Facebook. Both said they were gathering names of others to create an appropriate exposé on Dirk Manning. I quite honestly do not trust outlets to do more than take their favorite quotes and like reality TV, create the story they want. This is my story. This is my data. This is my website. Yes, you have permission to quote from it as long as the CONTEXT is clear.
I got my degree in Communications for journalism. My first job was in the government. If it’s one thing that background taught me, it’s how to CYA (cover your ass). I document everything. It’s probably why I found such a love of online journaling and blogging (hey there, old livejournal friends). I’ve had to discuss my most painful experiences because of being found online by my college rapist. I’ve seen people I care about and love ghost me. I do not present this entire comic book industry abuse to join some #MeToo hashtag or #BelieveWomen. Those women have been through worse. They are champions.
I hid my entire last semester of college and doubled my workload to graduate early — all why trying to be the editor of the newspaper, yearbook, and radio station manager. All I wanted was to get the fuck out of the environment where my professors and peers knew this “secret” because my rapist bragged about it.
You may also learn that Dirk Manning says he is a trauma victim from childhood abuse. That doesn’t give anyone permission to then abuse others when they are adults who know better. And he knows exactly what’s he’s doing to all these women.
Being a survivor of child abuse does not give you the right to grow up and be a heinous emotional abuser who gaslights many women and pits them against each other by telling them the others are stalkers.
— 🐈🧙♀️Amber Love (@elizabethamber) February 12, 2020
Now we’re in comics, decades later. I had privately confided in several people to tell them they were right about this abuser who calls himself Dirk Manning. Was there “sexual intercourse”? No. Does sex have anything to do with abuse? No. It’s about POWER and CONTROL. I backed out of conventions and writing comic scripts because I kept seeing his name pop up all over the place including anthologies I wanted to pitch or publishers I wanted approach. He’s a virus to comics. Like Eric Equivel, Eddie Berganza, Roc Upchurch, and all the rest.
Abusers might “suffer” for like five hot minutes. Their careers are never ruined. Ever. Billy Cosby still has plenty of supporters. Louis C.K.’s specials are still on Netflix. Abusers end up just fine while their victims have to relive the trauma.
To My Utter Humiliation, Here Are the Receipts:
I want to apologize that I can’t provide transcripts of all this. It took a lot of my emotional energy to revisit these messages and to then think about copying and pasting them and making them format in a legible way is simply not something I can bring myself to do. I’m so sorry for those of you who need alt-text.
Fuck that guy and all the ones who continue to support him and men like him whether it’s comics or any other business. I also fell into the web of Nathan Edmonson, another comic book asshole who lied about being married; not only married, but when I googled him, his wife was pregnant. These men are everywhere.
Follow your passions and goals. If they drive you away, give yourself permission to find the right to reclaim your space in the industry.
I’ve used yoga photos for this post because I have spent the past few years studying trauma-informed yoga and rebuilding my personal strength. I take medications that help with my chronic pain, anxiety, depression, phobias, chronic fatigue, and allow me to leave my house so I can have another career which fits in alongside being a writer. Yoga is not the answer to everyone’s way to heal. I believe in a well-rounded approach. Use every tool available. I was fortunate to work with one of the best doctors in New Jersey to become educated on the neuroscience and mind-body connection. Yoga might not be financially accessible to everyone. Find one labeled Community Class — that’s what I teach once a week and it’s donation-based so it’s more affordable than my other classes where prices are set by studios. Read Yoga for Depression and Anxiety by Amy Weintraub and Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Full Catastrophe Living.
Be safe. Be well. You are not alone.