Women had suicidal thoughts after misogynistic abuse by Patriotic Alternative's supporters 4

Women had suicidal thoughts after misogynistic abuse by Patriotic Alternative’s supporters

Two women formerly involved Patriotic Alternative  – a far right group whose most active chapter is in Scotland – have described how they suffered depression and suicidal thoughts after misogynistic abuse and threats by its supporters.

The organisation is “really dangerous”, they said, backing up experts on facism who have also expressed fears over PA and pro-rape comments by men following far right groups on platforms such as Telegram.

One woman told The Ferret she suffered nightmares and panic attacks and contemplated suicide after a threat of rape. The women spoke to The Ferret on condition of anonymity because they fear repercussions.

Patriotic Alternative (PA) was described last month as “Britain’s fascist threat” by Hope Not Hate. The anti-racism group said PA’s most active chapter was in Scotland, where they are still actively recruiting. The UK-wide organisation has links to banned neo-Nazi terror group, National Action, it added

Hope not hate’s report followed revelations by The Ferret this year that some PA supporters in Scotland were neo-Nazis and former members of the far right group, the Scottish Defence League. 

An undercover investigation found PA supporters posted racist and anti-Semitic comments and disturbing images in a private group on messaging app, Telegram. The private group of around 60 people contained individuals who have been members of, or expressed support for, neo-Nazi group Blood and Honour, the British National Party, New British Union and the British Union of Fascists.

One person – who used the pseudonym “Iron Thunder” – posted images of himself holding what appeared to be an automatic weapon alongside swastika flags and photos of Adolf Hitler. 

Both women who spoke to The Ferret are no longer involved with PA. Woman A contacted us after five people were killed last August in Plymouth by Jake Davison – an adherent of incel culture which involves men blaming women for their sexual failings. 

She explained how she was drawn to far right politics after the 2017 terrorist attack in Manchester. Initially she followed the English Defence League (EDL) then became involved with PA, having got swept up in a “kind of Holy war” believing she had to “fight for Western civilization.”

Woman A told The Ferret: “A lot of people are drawn to that. And a lot of women like me. They (PA) tailor it to make it sound a lot less dangerous than it is…’we’re nice, we don’t hate people’…and then you only realise how dangerous it is when you’re in it.”

While following the EDL she suffered online abuse from men and a male supporter of PA started stalking her. She said: “This person was sending messages to my house, he was sending letters, he was calling…calling me all the time. He was sending me obscene threats and pictures, all this kind of stuff.” 

The Ferret has seen some of those messages including one threatening to rape Woman A. She said the “constant threat of danger” caused her to suffer anxiety and panic attacks on a daily basis. “I would jump at the patio lights coming on at night, and would regularly check and double-check the locks on doors and windows, fearing someone could break into my property at any point,” she said. 

“I would have nightmares about strange men coming into my bedroom window, and would become hyper vigilant when out walking or using my phone and laptop, as I had also had my private accounts hacked and had no way of knowing how my personal data was being used or what was being shared with others.”

She also claimed there were disturbing online discussions among male PA supporters about other females, with “running themes of degradation and subjugation with women”. 

These ‘involuntary celibate’ groups online are rich pickings for radical right recruiters, since they can provide a racist and conspiratorial explanation for the failure of relationships with women that is rooted in politics, not culture.

Professor Matthew Feldman, director of the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right

Woman A continued: “I think these groups are actually really dangerous, especially after the (Davison) shooting. These people are full of rage. Rage they can’t find a partner, rage because they feel the world is against them. Before you know it you’ve gone from worrying about demographics to laughing at the idea of a woman you’ve never met being raped. If they’re willing to treat women in their own circles like this, imagine how they could go on to treat those outside of the group.”

Another former female PA supporter also spoke to The Ferret on condition we protected her identity. Woman B became involved with the group after taking an interest in “British nationalism”.  She said: “I saw PA forming and it was community friendly. I just felt eager to get involved. In the beginning that is how it was, like they were very friendly and welcoming – but that doesn’t last. 

“They are so creepy. Basically, they’re just stalkers. If you’re a woman, and you get involved with this kind of movement, you will meet a lot of men who are very kind of desperate. They’ll try and get your attention anyway they can. They’ll be constantly in your DMs (direct messages), commenting on everything you do, trying to get your attention and when you don’t give them that they’ll become nasty.”

Woman B continued: “I took myself away from it all. It was really bad for me – it was really bad for my mental health. It caused me a lot of anxiety, a lot of depression. So, I’ve just been distancing myself from it for the past year and I feel a lot better.”

The women spoke to The Ferret following a gun attack last August in Plymouth by Jake Davison. It was the UK’s worst mass shooting in over a decade and brought into sharp focus the so-called incel movement – men who call themselves “involuntary celibates” and blame women for their own lack of sexual and social status. 

Davison shot his mother before a shooting spree which ended when he turned the gun on himself. Since 2014, incels have carried out mass killings in California, Florida, and Toronto. Women A said she feared far right groups such as PA provided a breeding ground for Incels.

Professor Matthew Feldman, director of the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right, said that while some Incels self-identify as being on the left, there are “large overlaps” with the radical right regarding misogyny. 

“Frighteningly, some Incel ‘manifestos’ look very much like radical right terrorist manifestos,” said Feldman who has testified at terrorism trials in Scotland. “These ‘involuntary celibate’ groups online are rich pickings for radical right recruiters, since they can provide a racist and conspiratorial explanation for the failure of relationships with women that is rooted in politics, not culture.”

Regarding claims of misogyny among supporters of PA, Feldman said this “came as no surprise”. He added: “In my view, this is a thuggish, racist movement in Britain that publicly espouses reactionary gender policies. Despite all the doublespeak, what goes on behind the scenes is undoubtedly far more extreme.”  Feldman said he agrees that with Hope not hate that PA is a “fascist organisation” downplaying its “underlying Nazi doctrine” while presenting a “superficial family friendly image”. 

In a recent report – Antisemitism and Misogyny – Hope not hate claims that PA is “antisemitic to the core, but strives for a wholesome, family-friendly image, hoping to recruit both men and women in order to build cohesive far-right communities”.

The report said misogyny is widespread on the messaging app Telegram and that attacks on gay men are “especially commonplace” which indicates the “heterosexual male dominance” of these spaces. 

Sexual assault is a prominent theme, the report added, with pro-rape comments not uncommon. The authors argued that anti-feminism, misogyny and antisemitism intersect, with the “former prejudices potentially acting as pathways towards the latter”.

“In recent years, the antisemitic far right has become increasingly adept at steering antipathy to feminism and women more broadly towards Jew hatred, reasserting men’s status at the expense of others.”

In recent years high profile women have been targeted by far right extremists in the UK. In 2016 the Labour MP Jo Cox died after being shot and stabbed multiple times in West Yorkshire by Thomas Mair, who was born in Kilmarnock. Police found that Mair had a small library about the Nazis, German military history and white supremacy, which he kept in a bedroom at his home on a bookshelf topped by a gold-coloured Third Reich eagle with a swastika. 

Another female Labour MP was a target of far right extremists in 2017. Jack Renshaw of the banned neo-Nazi group National Action, plotted to murder Rosie Cooper, a West Lancashire MP. He was jailed for life in 2019.

PA was asked to comment.

End Violence Against Women provides advice on where to find support.

Photo Credit: iStock/favor_of_god

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