‘Called Out’ – Abuse in the creative industries

By Nat Greener

#CALLEDOUT Artwork by Mollie Casey

Abuse is wrong no matter what. Every survivor has a valid story that must be listened to.

However, this campaign is being launched to specifically draw focus on the abuse young women suffer in the creative industries. Take me for example. I am 20 years old and at the hands of emotional abuse, I nearly died. The reason my abuse got so bad for me was because my emotional abuser groomed me from the age of 17. Appearing to offer me a ‘once in a life time’ opportunity working for his studio, I was conditioned into thinking that this man could offer me a unique experience – a unique experience it was indeed. Instead of sending me work (which I only got paid £20 for in total because, after I started romantic relations with him, his time and sex was what he viewed as my payment), he would send me flirty messages, memes and treat me like his personal therapist. I was invited to his gigs personally and he gave me attention whilst filling my head up with lies about his success. I thought the sun shined out of his arse hole and soon, his inappropriate actions towards me were normal and a common dynamic in our interesting relationship. I was not perfect but he was my boss. I thought I was mature. I wasn’t, I was 17.

This is only my story.

In the creative industries, abuse seems to be normalised in the name of ‘art’. There are many men who work hard to make their gigs and work spaces safer for their mothers, sisters and friends. But there are some that do the opposite. For some reason, being a male producer, artist or musician means that you run in a different status to everyone else. With a narcissistic core to the music industry, young women in this field are often groomed into working for free. Sometimes, we are even expected to pay the ‘real’ industry professionals back through staying silent and not saying no. This behaviour has to be #CALLEDOUT.

The reason as to why I have targeted this campaign to the creative industries is because the abuse I see – especially in male bands, tattooists and artists – seems to be more normalised through status being a perpetuated thing in a creative’s mind set. Weirdly, we find ourselves making excuses for those we put on a pedestal despite their actions being abusive. What I also find scary is the fact that creatives have more of platform than most, and their abuse doesn’t just reach to one person – their abuse reaches the masses. If their followers are the victims or simply other men copying their behaviour, why isn’t this problem an active topic we talk about in our favourite venue’s smoking area? If we are going to give an individual a spotlight, we need to be making sure that they use do not abuse it.

My aim with this campaign is to educate and offer safe alternatives for creatives as well as normalising the act of naming your abuser without fearing the loss of your career and social life. Even writing this, I feel sick and I am scared. But I am more scared for the 17 year old girl bands recording alone with him who think he is a talented professional.

Why do the creative industries need this campaign? Well, I would also like to point out the blacklist culture when abuse is called out. Us survivors are either ‘groupies’ or ‘crazy’. Here is the message I believe my abuser sent to one of my friends from an anonymous account after I started vocalising my experience:

I was 19

Obviously, as a 19 year old working for free trying to establish myself, I never named my abuser until now. His tactic worked because I have only just named him a year after I blocked him out of my life. Abuse is abuse yet the power a male creative has over their female peers is not just social – if you speak up, you’re led to believe that your career is over.

Due to libel law in regards to journalism, see my twitter thread for his name 🙂

A note to my abuser: if you try and contact me over this article, I have photo evidence of the time you assaulted me and I will press charges. You have to change rather than dig yourself a bigger hole and now is your time to do that. Do not contact me. I also have a file saved on my computer of every screenshot of verbal abuse and the slander you spread about me so please don’t put me through unnecessary drama when you’re the one who should be taken to court.

A note to his friends: I am not mad at you. YOUR follow, YOUR like, YOUR sharing of his posts says more about YOU than it does me. I’m sorry he has manipulated you into thinking his abuse is okay.

I WAS NOT THE ONLY GIRL HE ABUSED EMOTIONALLY.

For more information on the type of abuse me alongside many others have experienced, see this spot-on Twitter thread by Ashewyn:

TECHNIQUES USED BY ABUSERS (not limited to the creative industries or being female)

Isolation: Abusers don’t want you talking to anyone so you don’t hear other’s perspectives. They control you by isolating you from loved ones, telling you that only they care for you, & ask you to keep things secret. Question your loyalty & cause divides between you and others.

Gaslighting: Abusers will make you second guess yourself, and make you feel like you are going mad. You start not to trust your judgments. “You’re overreacting”. People who are gaslighted will protect their partner and blame themselves instead. Tactic to create a power dynamic.

Victimizing: When you confront them about something they did, instead of acknowledging and apologizing, they play the victim. “I hate myself”, “I’m a bad person” to gain your sympathy and make you feel bad for making them feel this way. “I’m not good enough for you.”

Blame shifting: Abusers use your weaknesses/habits against you to make you feel inadequate. When you get upset at legitimate problems, they use your past to turn the tables, and before you know it you are apologizing to them, not the other way around. “You can’t take a joke.”

Grooming: You feel like soulmates, they mirror you, make you feel that what you have is special. Groomers are pretenders, & unbelievably charming. They establish trust to set the ground for abuse. “You’re lucky to have me.” Victims feel at fault, because the partner is perfect.

Minimization: They invalidate your feelings & concerns by belittling your self-worth. They tell you that you’re too sensitive, are overreacting, or don’t give your concerns any weight and dismiss it. If you have issues with their friends, their response: “that’s how they are!”

Silent Treatment: A very degrading tactic, where they stop responding to you, emotionally withdraw, or withhold intimacy. They do this as a “noble” cause to teach you a lesson, punish you or coerce you into meeting their demands. They force you to fix the situation.

Image Management: Their image is very important to others. Often regarded positively by others and considered trustworthy by many. You are even a poster boy for how great they are. They shift stories so people only see the positive aspects of them. Grounds for future abuse.

Smear Campaign: They will smear you in front of everyone so you appear to be the unstable one. They are skilled in making people believe them, that people will have difficulties believing your version of events because of their skill in upkeeping image. Makes you feel alone.

Hoovering: Abusers will try to suck you back into a relationship or keep you from leaving by: declaring undying love, threatening to kill themselves, making future promises, or revealing things that they intended to do. They say something nice and if ignored become mean.

While I could go on & on about tactics abusers use, these are common ones to equip yourself with. Understand how they’re used against you, by doing so, you correct the power dynamic they created to control you back into your hands where it rightfully should be. Abusers hate this.

@Ashewyn

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