As you may have heard, Dustin Marshall, the founder of Feral Audio, is dissolving the network as of this month. This action was taken after an ex-girlfriend shared her story of his abusive behavior over the course of their relationship. Starburns Industries will begin its own podcast network in Feral's place, SBI: Audio. We have decided not to join SBI: Audio, but we’d like to thank everyone at Feral for being so supportive of Teen Creeps in providing ad management, signal boosting, etc. Everyone has been lovely to work with and we’re glad that this same staff will be keeping the lights on as a new network.
We have yet to make a decision about where the podcast will live, be it at another network or if we'll go independent for a time. Luckily, we’ve always been self-produced and this will not change. Teen Creeps existed for nine months before joining Feral Audio and we will continue after. There will be no interruption in our schedule. Except for those very few occasions when we fuck up and don't give ourselves time to read that week's book.
In the meantime, we feel the need to say something in regards to the larger, more significant situation, that of Dustin's abusive behavior. As our long time listeners know, we both come from our own backgrounds of abuse — sexual, psychological, and emotional — as well as experience with a loved one's addiction. Initially, we didn’t feel the need to comment directly on the situation. Their stories aren't our stories, so we felt it was best to hang back. We expected that we could retweet Abby’s statement, say that we support her, leave Feral, and our duty would be done. However, in light of Dustin's response to Abby and the direction the conversation took, we feel it would be wrong to stay silent on the issue.
Dustin brought us into Feral and for that we are very grateful, but we were deeply disappointed in Dustin’s statement and his subsequent behavior on social media. You can read his statement HERE.
We are not suggesting that Dustin be drawn and quartered. We want him to heal and eventually find his way to a functional, happy life. And we understand that a person in an unstable mental state isn't exactly at their best to respond to a public outing of their behavior. We've been wringing our hands over whether it was right to even make a statement because our goal isn't to ignite some kind of public campaign to ruin Dustin's life. We've had many conversations and re-written this thing about a million times in the last week. And maybe all of like five people will read this, so who cares? We don't want to condemn him, just his behavior. The thing we keep coming back to is this: we feel his statement should be called out for what it was — self-aggrandizing and a distraction from Abby's experience that only paid lip service to taking responsibility.
Abby’s accomplishments and art are her own, and to take partial credit in them in response to having harassed her throughout and after their relationship is unacceptable. He painted himself as her white knight on those occasions when he wasn't berating/manipulating/threatening her, attacked her band mates, insisted she separate herself from them, bizarrely tried to influence her decisions in regards to her career, and made accusations that it was her actions that partially set him back. It felt like reading his abuse in a microcosm. It's saddening that he didn't even realize he was mirroring everything he admitted to doing.
After that, he kept the conversation only on his own mental health, his own sexuality, and on Feral Audio, rather than on his actions. He claimed that he was not blaming mental health or drug addition, but then we watched him use his mental health issues as an excuse, a shield, and a threat, all at the same time. At one point, he set up a Twitter poll on whether people thought he should kill himself. We immediately reported him to Twitter for being at risk for self-harm and we're glad he has friends to make sure he's safe, but we've also seen behavior like this before — they abuse you when they they have control over you and threaten themselves when they don't. If you are with someone who does this, LEAVE; it is a manipulation to regain that control.
His number one priority became painting himself as a tragic hero, rather than trying to make things right. As a result, an opportunity to have a dialogue about this kind of everyday insidious abuse in relationships was lost in the noise of the holidays and Feral news, and this was infuriating. Mental health is serious; it is not a Get Out Of Jail Free card. We've spoken at length about our own struggles with mental health on the podcast, and we hope the people we love would hold our feet to the fire if we were hurting them.
So what are we ultimately trying to say here? Man, we don't know. I guess just that it really fucking sucked that everything went down the way it did? All we really know is that we couldn’t talk only about where the podcast is going when the circumstances behind that move are so much more important. Who gives a shit in the end? We want you to listen to us, but don’t buy into us, or anyone else. Podcasting and the circles we run in are small, but little cults of personality exist everywhere, and when that is the case, people are able to get away with garbage behavior. Garbage abuse, garbage excuses. Don’t let them. Take care of yourselves and don’t take any shit.
Kelly & Katai