DXE Update

Hi everyone. I am no longer active on this blog, but I know that people frequently read and link my post about DXE. It has come to my attention that DXE is again dealing with sexual predators in their midst. I will always stand beside survivors and those fighting to make the animal rights community a safer space. Abuse of any kind should never be tolerated and it is up to leaders within the community to stamp it out. Leaders who push it aside, make excuses or otherwise allow this sort of behavior to continue MUST be held accountable. 

You can reach me directly at betheirsound@gmail.com. I am happy to speak to anyone about this. The following is a comment I received on the main DXE post, and I felt it would be a good idea to include it here so that it is more visible.

Given DXE’s latest rapist has been revealed over this past weekend and, once again, the members of the org/cult are up in arms over the miserable handling of the circumstance by their leader Wayne Hsiung and his own victim of abuse, his second in command, Priya Sawhney, now might be a good time for a follow-up post since folks are linking this one in their current conversations.

More than a year later we now know DXE did NOT handle this situation with Hugo “gracefully”. After forcing Hugo to make a statement and leave the group/Facebook, their Chicago members were revealed to have thrown a party for Hugo, much to the dismay of many members–both inside and outside of Chicago. Many members were seen defending Hugo all over Facebook while at the same time blaming and lambasting his victims. Some went so far as to dismiss the whole thing as a racist witch hunt because Hugo is a man of color and apparently white sexual predators within DxE had not been treated in the same way.

Hugo did move to Australia–where he dated a woman that he apparently abused within the context of their relationship. He then moved back to the US and began dating another woman, named Naomi, he was also abusive to. Ultimately, she released a public statement begging people who knew Hugo to please ask him to leave her alone.

Meanwhile, DxE members learned Hugo had been welcomed back into the DxE fold, with no org-wide conversation or notification, via a couple of taunting posts made by DXE members in Los Angeles. They posted a pic of him in their home with the threatening message that he was going to be at that day’s potluck and anyone who didn’t like that could just fuck off. This was very upsetting for members who felt blindsided, members who had previously suffered some form of assault and who felt unsafe with Hugo or his supporters around, allies of Hugo’s previous victims, and members who felt DxE’s leadership had failed to follow through on their commitments made in the immediate aftermath of the revelations of Hugo’s predation.

Now, DXE has once again given safe harbor to a rapist who has, once again, violated another female DxE member. And, once again, Wayne has no intention of removing this preadator–John Bowlin (who one year prior to the revelation of his rape of a DXE organizer had aggressively pursued women in an anti-DXE Facebook group that I run via multiple Facebook profiles.)

DxE is an unsafe organization. Numerous former members have identified the group as a cult. This happened after their departure from the group when they were shown literature describing cults and their practices as well as checklists that help folks determine if they’ve actually been in a cult. All the folks who participated in this exercise were forced to admit DxE is, in fact, a cult. That alone is tremendously concerning–people are being manipulated and exploited, pressured, sleep-deprived, overwhelmed, harassed, lied to, lied about and when they have tried to raise their concerns with DXE leadership–especially Wayne & Priya, they are gaslit, they are love bombed, they are denied validation and acknowledgment, they are implored to keep their concerns to themselves lest they hurt the animals. And when female members express concerns about predatory men they are repeatedly denied justice and are instead met with hostility and, most shockingly, protection of and support for the predators–this is often the catalyst for members to leave.

Now another woman has been raped by someone Wayne is determined to protect and to provide safe harbor for within DXE. It’s time everyone understand what DXE actually is and the wife and varied harm it is causing to our communities and the individual vegans that make them up.

Yes, I said Sex Crime

Distributing photos of a sensitive nature without permission is, in many cases, considered a computer related sex crime. It is sexual harassment, and cases similar to the Dominguez incident have been tried and people have been charged, in criminal court as well as sued in civil.

I’ve received a disgusting amount of comments claiming that what Dominguez did isn’t a “big deal”. Comments blaming victims, and comments dismissing his actions as just silly, ill-advised immaturity. These comments will not be published. Victims of sexual harassment and other sex crimes don’t need to see the abhorrent shitty behavior from victim blamers from yet another source. So if you are wondering why your comments weren’t approved, there you have it.

I want to keep this a safe space. You can disagree with me and my opinions all you want, and I will publish those comments. But the moment you start saying things that can seriously hurt and trigger others your comments will be left unpublished. That’s just how it is.

Activist Admits to Sex Crimes

Yesterday, the well-known Direct Action Everywhere organizer, Hugo Dominguez, admitted to multiple sex crimes, and the victims are all fellow activists. He manipulated, and lied to these individuals to order to steal or otherwise obtain photos that are sensitive in nature. He then shared them with others, without permission of the people in the photos.

Direct Action Everywhere has handled this horrifying breach of trust rather gracefully, and while most of the community is outraged there are victim blamers and misogynists abound. It is times like these that we within the animal rights community MUST admit that sexism runs rampant amongst activists. Ignoring the problem is not an option.

It is of vital importance that women feel safe in DxE’s community. In the past few days, we learned that there was a serious breach of trust on the part of one of our organizers, Hugo Dominguez. We take this breach very seriously and are taking all steps, guided by the women harmed, to ensure that Hugo is accountable for the harms he has caused.

On a forward-going basis, we are designating a few female members of our conflict resolution committee (Priya Sawhney and Maryam LK) to be available specifically where there is a concern over sexual harassment or misconduct. We absolutely encourage all activists in our network to reach out to these facilitators if any issues arise, and we will hold confidential any information provided to us in this regard. We will also provide resources for women who want to reach out to an outside group regarding this issue. 

In the meantime, Hugo will be stepping back from his role as an organizer for the indefinite future and will seek out resources and counseling on consent culture and sexual harassment.

Direct Action Everywhere FB post

He has issued a public “apology” on Facebook (no doubt only because he was caught, and told to do so by DxE).

Hi everyone. If we’re friends, it’s very possible you’ve heard allegations about my betrayal of women and others in the animal rights movement these past few days. It’s with much regret that I admit to those allegations. I’ve hurt, manipulated and exposed very explicit images and confidential information about female animal rights activists. I’ve broken many of the principles and values which I espouse. While claiming to stand against the exploitation of human beings as well as animals, I have betrayed the trust of many people within the community and disgracefully took advantage of my position in this movement and hurt many people. I am a hypocrite in many regards and can’t begin to image the suffering I’ve caused many women. 

I want to use this post as a platform for people to vent their feelings towards me. Any comments showing sympathy or comfort will be deleted. If you don’t feel comfortable posting your sentiments on this post, you’re free to message Priya Sawhney and she’ll pass on the message to me. I’ll be leaving this post up for 48 hours and will be deactivating my account and stepping back from activism to seek help and take the proper steps so I never hurt and exploit women again.

I’m terribly sorry to all those I’ve disappointed, to the movement, but most importantly the women I’ve hurt who will probably be scarred due to my behavior. Thank you everyone for your time.

-Hugo Dominguez

I am urging all of you to break all ties with this individual, keep the pressure on DxE to stand by their statement and make sure that they continue to address to on-going problem within their organization (I believe they will). offer nothing but support to the victims. Do not speak over them. Do not pressure them to do or say something they are not comfortable with. Do not blame them. And for fucks sake, do not identify them publicly.

The animal rights movement has a human rights problem. If people within the AR community are not treated equally, with respect and kindness, how can we help our non-human friends effectively?