The Blacklisting Guide: How To Out An Abuser Without Harming Yourself

Like most industries, the dark side of modeling is rife with abuse. From time-wasters who who don’t return photos, to those who get off on pushing our boundaries or being inappropriate, to predators who commit physical or sexual assault, I can’t count the number of models I’ve known over the years who were traumatized by a shoot and then fled the industry forever. Abusers thrive on silence, and the sad reality is that it’s only by going public and blacklisting someone (hello, #MeToo movement) that can we hope to protect our community and encourage real change. 

In light of that sobering reality, I want to share my advice on how you can publicly share your story while minimizing your personal risks. I understand how tough it can be to come forward- a few years ago I helped publicize a Blacklist that a fellow model had compiled and the legal and financial burdens that resulted before the case was decided in our favor were truly horrible. So if you’ve had an abusive experience and are ready to share it, here’s how to start: 

1. DOCUMENT EVERYTHING. Screenshot or make a copy of any relevant emails, texts, Facebook messages, DMs, etc. and make sure they are backed up on a hard-drive. If you are compiling a larger blacklist because your local community does not yet have one, make sure to get the full story in writing  and ask them share any relevant documents with you. It is important that these be first hand experiences, told directly to you. Hearsay is not your friend and will work against your cause.

2. USE SIMPLE, PLAIN AND HONEST PHRASING. You do not want to give an abuser or apologist any ammunition to discredit you. Don’t call someone a “pedophile” unless they actually fall under that dictionary definition. Make sure you are using the clearest, most specific words possible to explain what someone has done, and keep your emotions out of it as best you can. If you are compiling a list of local abusers, or if you are helping publicize abuse for someone who is too scared or otherwise unable to come forward, make sure you list all behaviors as “alleged.” Write that a photographer “is allegedly sexually aggressive and coercive…” every. single. time. Seriously, do not skip this step.

3. BLOCK THE ABUSERS. Yep, all of ‘em. Block their email, block their number, block their social media, and while you’re at it block their significant others’ or close friends’ accounts too. I can almost guarantee that once you go public, those at fault will immediately reach out to you to try and control the narrative - either by finally giving you those photos you’ve been waiting years for that they “just found,” or by asking you to “please tell me what I did wrong?” You don’t owe them a detailed explanation - they know what they did - and manipulators will try and twist your words so you look like the problem instead of them. 

4. DON’T FEED THE TROLLS. People you know will defend these photographers. They will say “they were always nice to me,” as if abusers don’t cherry pick their victims. They will say “you should have spread this information via private channels,” as if it were possible warn every brand new model. They will say it “wasn’t a big deal” or that you were “asking for it” - “What did you think would happen when you met a unknown photographer in a hotel room?” - as if our job automatically invites abuse. These comments will hurt and it will be difficult to stay calm but try your best not to react with anger or defensiveness. If you can engage if you have the energy but you can also just block and move on. Unplug for a while if you need to. Again: you don’t owe them anything.

It takes guts to come forward. What you’re doing is huge! Thank you for helping make our community that much safer <3



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