Some thoughts…

Since setting up #ELTtoo in January 2018, it has been received with a mixed response. Many have written to me privately to thank me for starting up a site which supports people who have been bullied or harassed. Others have thanked me publicly. We have also managed to help a few people resolve some workplace issues they were going through by supporting and advising them through this.  It has also made a difference in other ways too.
Of course, not everyone has been positive and supportive. When I wrote the article for EL Gazette, which was the springboard for ELTtoo, at the end of 2017, I almost withdrew it from being published several times as I was worried about the backlash. I knew that it would cause upset and offence and I may lose friends and colleagues over it. And, unsurprisingly, that is just what happened. I have had some very strong messages, some from people who don’t even know me, questioning my motives and telling me that I am only causing problems by doing this. Some see me as a trouble maker and others a threat. I am neither of those things.
The most obvious change in people’s behaviour towards me was very noticeable at the recent IATEFL conference in Brighton. There were some who would normally have been friendly in the past who couldn’t look me in the eye or talk to me. Others who couldn’t avoid me were very awkward and uncomfortable around me and couldn’t wait to get away, almost as if they were afraid to be seen talking to me.  You know who you are.
Then there are those who think that ELTtoo is about them and that it’s out to get them. I find this reaction the strangest of all. You shouldn’t have anything to worry about if you haven’t done anything wrong. Why then would you think that this movement is about you? When you are calling your ELT friends worried that some of the stories shared on the site are about you, I’m afraid I have to question that. You know what they say about a guilty conscience…
However, ELTtoo was never about ‘getting people’. It is about raising awareness and helping those who need their voices heard and believed. I’m not someone who stands by and watches others being mistreated in any way. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I will speak my mind and stand up for those who feel they can’t. Since ELTtoo went live, the number of stories shared has been shocking and very upsetting. This is not about me, I don’t gain anything from it except the satisfaction of knowing people have somewhere to turn to.
I know it’s difficult to hear stories of abuse but it’s even more difficult for the victims who have been bullied or harassed to come forward and share their experiences. They are incredibly brave in my opinion. The cowards are those who are guilty of abuse and harassment, those who refuse to acknowledge it and those who refuse to support.
Think whatever you want about me but ELTtoo is here to stay. It has been silent recently due to my heavy work commitments, but it is always here for those who need it.
Varinder

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