The Support Nicole & Joseph Committee has withdrawn support for Joseph Buddenberg. Joseph has a pattern of engaging in abusive and manipulative behavior with women. His co-defendant Nicole Kissane was subjected to his mistreatment during and after their friendship, including the time in which they were dealing with their case in court. Now that Joseph has been released from prison, she has chosen to publicly acknowledge the abuse she suffered in the hopes of warning other women. (We have also been notified that Joseph contacted one of his former partners within weeks of his release, despite the fact that she has expressed to him that she wishes to have no contact. A statement from her is below.)
The support committee has asked Joseph to address his behavior. He has failed to follow through with the initial basic requests that were made of him, and he has not demonstrated a commitment to accepting accountability for his actions or to addressing his patterns of abuse and manipulation. Joseph’s behavior and these additional factors led to our decision to withdraw public support.
The animal rights movement has a problematic history of allowing cis men who hold power to engage in abusive and manipulative behavior with no repercussions. This dynamic increasingly alienates women, femmes, non-men, queers, and people of color. We have a responsibility to change this dynamic and to concretely communicate to those perpetuating the harm that their abuse will not be tolerated. We recognize that change takes time and dedication, and we hope that Joseph will recognize the harm he has caused and will do what is necessary to make amends and to change his behavior. But until these changes happen, we feel it is imperative that information such as this is shared.
We support Nicole and all those whose lives have been affected by problematic men in the animal rights movement and society at large. This statement and our transformation from the Support Nicole & Joseph Committee into the Support Nicole Committee are steps we are taking to show that we are steadfast in our commitment to challenging patriarchy. Let us all take more steps that reflect that we understand the importance of accountability and taking care of each other.
A statement from a former partner of Joseph:
(content warning: descriptions of emotional abuse, mention of suicide)
Joseph Buddenberg was released from jail on February 7th, 2018. Less than two weeks later, he contacted me. It was an innocuous message, but it always starts that way. “Damn, you have a kid?” A simple question that sent my heart racing and my palms sweating. After two and a half years of not hearing from him, he was back.
I met Joseph (Jake, as he was known back then) when I was 22. He was different than other guys I had met. He was shy, awkward, and amazingly funny. He pushed boundaries: his, mine, anyone who happened to be close by. He made me feel special to be welcomed into his life. He then began to use that against me.
Joseph liked things a certain way in our relationship. He would tell me he wanted me to act as his “Middle Eastern Wife,” yes, he really said that. He wanted me to cook, clean, and do whatever he wanted. I worked a full time job, came home, cooked, did his laundry, and took care of our dogs. If I asked him to help out, he would threaten to leave. He coerced me into doing many things I did not want to do by systematically ruining my self esteem and isolating me from my friends. I am not yet ready to talk about all of those things. He made me feel like I was a terrible person who was lucky to be with him. And, for three long years, I believed him.
The beginning of the end (or so I thought) came when I brought home a dog from the shelter where I was a volunteer. Joseph hated her, and I suspect it is because she took the focus away from him. He wasn’t mean to her, per se, he just refused to interact with her and would suggest we return her to the shelter. In a way, this was the final straw.
I left Joseph for another person. I’ll be honest about that. I regret that it happened that way. I met someone who made me realize that relationships should not be about manipulation and coercion. Because of the way things ended, Joseph had further ammo against me.
One day I came home, after Joseph had moved out, and found him drunk and naked in my bed. I had let him keep a key to my house so he could come see our dogs. I thought I was being civil. I took the key away from him at that point. However, he had made a copy of the key, which he used to try to get into the house one night. After a roommate and I physically barred him from entering, he stood outside and yelled about me being a “slut and a cheater” until my neighbors called the police.
After this, I changed the locks on my house.
He left me alone for awhile after that, but occasionally would email me or send me a Facebook message. The message would start off pleasantly enough, but would eventually devolve into him calling me a succubus, Judas, and telling me I should kill myself. One such message read, “You have no soul. No need to pretend to be emotionless. I wish you’d commit suicide.” He also assumed my boyfriend at the time “must be schizophrenic” in order to be in a relationship with me.
I last heard from him right before he got arrested in July of 2015. Honestly, I was relieved that he got arrested. It meant he would be leaving me alone for the next few years. I was more than ready to put our relationship behind me. I did not speak out against him while he was in prison; my hope was that this would mark the final end and that he would not contact me again. The message he sent me 12 days after being released proved he still has not let go.
I cannot continue to live in fear of him. I cannot continue to sit back and let him do this to other women (and I can almost guarantee that he has done this to other women). Now is the time for women to call out their abusers, so that is what I am doing. My hope is that other women will read this and and understand the person he truly is.
I’ve felt like a horrible person for many years because of the lies he told me about myself. I got the help I needed to be a stronger, better person. I hope he gets the help he needs as well.