A police spy’s ex-girlfriend on abuse and the state

I interviewed “Lisa”, who had a relationship with the environmental activist later exposed as the undercover police spy Mark Kennedy (New Statesman 19 February 2018). Over the years, she has come to realise that she might have been duped, but she never really had a chance.

Another reason Lisa had managed to overlook the little things was because the relationship was one of the happiest she’d ever experienced. “What I realise now is, because it was important for this cover, he was putting a lot of effort into being my ideal partner,” she says. “That is hard.” Another woman in a similar situation described it to her as having a partner without an ego. “It is hard to think what a normal relationship would be like that after that.”

Not only was Mark a trained operative, but he had the whole weight of the state behind him. I spoke to Lisa shortly after the #MeToo movement began.

“I still think a lot of people were responsible for what happened to me and not the one person who I was in a relationship with,” she says. “However the feelings have faded and it is very, very obvious to me that there was a huge power imbalance in that situation.

“To put someone in a position that they were consenting to a relationship [that] if they had known all the facts they wouldn’t be consenting to – that is abusive.”

From speaking to Lisa, it was clear that she was still damaged from the experience, despite her best efforts to move on from it:

Since that time, Lisa has tried to move on with her life. However, her fear of encountering another undercover officer is so strong that she has had to give up many things she was passionate about, including political campaigning. She has also moved to a new town. Yet the scars take a long time to heal. “While I have got some amazing friends I would trust with my life, I haven’t found able to trust anyone in an intimate relationship since then,” Lisa says, her voice breaking up over the phone.

You can read the full interview here (the New Statesman has a metered paywall).

PDF: A police spy’s ex-girlfriend on abuse and the state: “I didn’t have a chance”