Recently on Twitter I started talking about this
now that some time has passed & i had time to process,
i have a few things to share…
this is advice & warnings to others that may have to call-out someone "famous" for sexual assault,
if you have a friend going through this, please use this to help them!
— Nathalie Lawhead (@alienmelon) January 8, 2020
It’s been on my mind a lot because of the repercussions of having the details of my sexual assault publicly aired on a major news site.
My intention with this post is to be absolutely clear about what happened so that others, who are placed in a position of speaking up about a sexual assault by someone “famous”, know what to expect.
I realize that the journalist that did this to me is also “famous” (Cecilia D’Anastasio), and at this point I don’t really expect that much credibility. I only think it’s fair that you know who she is, and that she did this, so that you understand the scope when a journalist abuses information given to them.
The article is titled “Two Women Accuse Skyrim Composer Jeremy Soule Of Sexual Misconduct” by Cecilia D’Anastasio on Kotaku.
I don’t give a shit about what bridges this will burn with journalists in general. The Game Industry has taken enough from me. I have been humiliated, lied to, taken advantage of, and the account of my sexual assault published for any asshole with a fetish to haunt me with this forever. This isn’t going away for me, and it was made worst for that.
Maybe instead of me feeling used and humiliated, people in positions of power and with access to platforms should fucking do better.
Instead of saying “we should do better” when confronted, maybe you should shut the fuck up and actually go do that for a change.
Like I mentioned in my thread, the journalist in question mislead me about the intention of the interview when she got me to open up about the details surrounding my rape. She indicated that she would not publicize this information, but did so anyway.
I feel lied to. I trusted this person, and the repercussions have been fairly severe.
Kotaku ran with the article and included the details of my sexual assault.
Publishing the details of someone’s sexual assault, without their express enthusiasm and consent, is an incredibly violent thing to do.
You have to be careful when trusting journalists.
Following is my account of the interview with Kotaku, and what happened…
Again, I write this for other survivors that may end up being placed in a position like this. I don’t care anymore. I just care that the same doesn’t happen to someone else.
It will make it much easier for you to move on afterward.
This August I published this post titled “Calling out my rapist”.
I don’t want to go over this more than I have to since it was widely talked about, but after publishing I was inundated with journalists reaching out to me for a statement, or asking for an interview.
I tried my best to answer them.
One of the journalists that reached out, Cecilia D’Anastasio, requested an interview with me because she was writing a story about this for Kotaku.
I asked her if I could conduct it over email, and she insisted on phone.
She had a reputation that seemed to indicate I could trust her, so I agreed to do that.
She also contacted my sister and asked her if she could talk to her about how it was like working with me in Vancouver. She never got back to my sister.
I also put her in touch with my mom. She talked thoroughly with my mom too.
During the first phone call, she told me that she will be recording it and asked if I feel OK with that. I told her it was OK.
She told me that she believed me, and that I was very brave for doing what I did.
She told me that her intention with the article was to hold my rapist accountable. At the time this seemed like a miracle. I was desperate to be believed.
When you are a survivor that has bottled something like this up for ten or more years, you will be desperate to jump on any opportunity if a person believes you. You are used to not being believed, to being lied to, to being ignored, to being shut down…
It’s a difficult place to be in emotionally. It can easily amount to you being taken advantage of.
I trusted her for her saying that she believed me. I trusted her intention to hold him accountable. She didn’t really explain anything else about what she was writing, or what her intentions were beyond that.
On the first call I went over how it was like working in Vancouver. The professional relationship, and friendship that I had with him. How it eventually deteriorated…
I talked about how he talked about the other women that he victimized. His behavior. The things he bragged about. How he started to come after me.
I also talked about how he tried to get my co-workers to have me stay at his place…
I skipped over the details of the rape entirely. It’s a very traumatic thing to talk about and in no way should the details of a sexual assault have been relevant for public consumption.
Note that I also skipped over this in my original blog post. I never shared details anywhere.
The first phone call lasted for what felt like a long time. There was enough material to build something on. She thanked me and expressed that she would do her best to hold him accountable.
This was all civil and within the realm of rational interaction when talking about something this traumatic.
Some time passed, and I got a second call from her asking if I was alone.
I went someplace quiet so I could talk.
She told me that her article was ready to publish but that Kotaku’s lawyer needed me to go over the details of my sexual assault in order to get the go-ahead to publish.
She told me that in both my blog post, and in the first call with her, I skipped over the sexual assault.
In this phone call, what I shared with her was specifically under the premise that Kotaku’s lawyer needed this information in order to let her publish. She was being held up for legal reasons.
I really didn’t want to go over that, but she framed it in such a way that the article was being held up. I wanted for him to be held accountable so I agreed to go over that.
She also told me that this call was being recorded, after I agreed.
For the sake of their lawyer, I tried my best to go over that night. It was really hard, and invasive.
I described what led up to that to the extent that I could manage to put into words but stopped short of saying “raped”.
She raised her voice and yelled, “Was it penetrative sex??”
I said “Yes”.
I’m pretty sure you could probably hear a pin drop after that. I couldn’t really talk anymore.
The following is what is extremely upsetting about this, and why you should be careful when trusting this person…
I asked her if she would share this information. I was worried that she would.
She told me that she thought SHARING THE DETAILS OF A SEXUAL ASSAULT WAS EXPLOITATIVE and wrong (unnecessary, cruel…). She indicated that she would not do so. I didn’t want this out there. This was for their lawyer. That was the premise under which I shared this with her.
She offered to run the story by me before publishing. I told her that I didn’t want to see it.
I shared what I shared on that second phone call EXPLICITLY because Kotaku’s lawyer needed it. I trusted her intentions. She NEVER told me that she would publicize that, or that the intention of the article was to publicize the details of my sexual assault. If she would have said that, I would not have agreed to talk to her.
I know that I remember this correctly because I wouldn’t have asked “are you going to share this!?” if that was the case. I wouldn’t have been so shocked when I saw the article and wondered why she shared that when she indicated that she wouldn’t. My memory is fine. I’m going to fight if this turns into gaslighting.
The article went up. I retweeted it without reading it.
I have to admit that it took me a long time to work up the courage to read it.
When I finally did…
Holly fucking shit ALL the details were there! In fact, that was all she included from both interviews. She did the opposite of what she indicated she would do.
The only material that she really did include were the details of my sexual assault.
The intention of the article became pretty clear. She wanted that. It was the type of article she was going to write.
I was never OK with this or given the chance to OK it.
She had a lot of other information about his behavior that she could have used. She had other women approach her with their story. She could have written any number of accountability piece.
When I read it the excruciating fucking realization that all that is up there for everyone to see set in. For everyone’s consumption, commentary, discussion, fetishization, bemusement, sarcasm…
That is not “accountability” and bear with me as I get into why not…
Nobody needs to know the details of a rape. Nobody had a right to that. It didn’t change anything. There was so much other stuff that was shared in the other interviews, but all that she ended up sharing was the thing she mislead me about in order to get me to talk about it.
Rape is more than just the sex. Rape is about power. When we talk about it we place too much focus on the person that was raped, and this inevitably serves to protect the rapist. True accountability is to place that focus on the rapist instead of holding the victim under a microscope. Instead of fixating on the traumatized actions of the victim, and instead of questioning every bit of behavior of the victim, the rapist should be given that treatment.
There was plenty in the original interview that could have pointed at HIS actions instead of dragging the darkest part of my life out of me.
That is not fucking accountability.
It honestly felt like rape all over again.
Even if I were OK with having that shared, and even if I shared that myself in my own blog post, I have to wonder why it’s even necessary to post something that gratuitous on a major news site. Why do people even need to know how I was raped?
What’s especially fucked up in all this is that the account of my rape wasn’t even that accurate because of the crude way that information was cheated out of me. The way this was written was really about her point of view of the situation, and a rough public information dump of my own actions when I was raped. There’s a lot of other stuff surrounding that which she never “got at” because of the dishonest way that she obtained that information.
The right way to do this would have been to be clear about the intention of publishing a detailed account of my rape, and giving me time to gather everything. Instead, I was put on the spot because “the lawyer was holding up the article”. I wasn’t given the courtesy of honesty or even basic human dignity.
What happened with that article is that I was held accountable for having been raped.
Journalists, the following is for you…
If you can’t treat me any different than you are treating my rapist then you should not be doing metoo stories.
Are we all the same to you?
If we’re all the same to you, then what is your stance exactly?
That’s not “unbiased” that’s exploitative, because all you’re doing is inserting yourself into the situation as an uninformed third party to take advantages of someone else’s suffering for your own means.
Holding someone accountable should not involve further punishing their victims.
Who exactly was held accountable when the details of my sexual assault were so crudely published?
Because of how forcefully the details were obtained it wasn’t even an accurate account. I should have been given time to remember better. To go over it myself too.
I didn’t review it or OK it. I wasn’t given the chance to make sure it’s true. I wasn’t even given a say if I wanted this or not. My right to consent was violated again.
Who was this article even written for?
What’s further fucked up about all this is that other #metoo survivors in games that came forward DID share the details of their sexual assault (some did), but when journalists picked up those stories (even in cases where they interviewed the survivor) THEY DID NOT PUBLISH THE DETAILS OF A FUCKING RAPE IN THEIR ARTICLES.
How the actual fuck is that EVER necessary?
I would like to make the following clear to any well meaning journalist that actually cares about this:
You should never EVER publish the personal account of someone’s rape ON A MAJOR NEWS SITE without their explicit OK. That is an incredibly dehumanizing, humiliating, and traumatizing thing to do. It’s a violent thing to do.
My rape is up there forever. It’s there for public consumption. It’s there for public comment, discourse, sharing… The most horrible part of someone’s life is put on display. It’s cruel.
It’s not “tough” journalism. It’s abusive. It’s not “gritty”. Don’t fucking sugar coat it with some self-serving superficial conviction to be “real”. There’s nothing necessary about this.
It’s beyond me why that even needs to be said.
He was not held accountable by that being done.
A rape story is a fetish to a lot of men on the internet. There’s a subculture.
There are types that will contact you about it, go over what was shared in the article, pretend to be a rape victim and try to trick you to talk about it more so they can get off on it.
The triggering stuff that has ended up in my inbox because of this has been incredibly hard. It’s been disgusting. I can never move on because it will always be there to remind me, in more detail than was really necessary.
I tried really hard to be OK with this and let it go.
I thought I could ignore all that, but I can’t. It’s been eating away at me for a while in a way that feels like I’ll never get to move on because I keep getting reminded of it.
The fact that someone would do something like this is heartbreaking to me.
I want that information to be taken down. Even if it’s “too late” for most to unsee, or for this to go away, I want that basic humanity to be extended to me.
It wasn’t obtained honestly, with my explicit consent. I didn’t get into this knowing the actual intention of the article.
Even so, the details of a rape shouldn’t be placed in such a public spotlight. It’s disgusting that anyone would think that necessary.
I contacted Cecilia about it…
It’s dishonest. I never got the chance to OK this. Why get that out of me by saying that Kotaku’s lawyer needed that information?
Both phone calls were recorded. I don’t trust her notes.
I never published this information anywhere. It was obtained by Kotaku and published by Kotaku.
This email really hurt me. I guess it’s “fuck you got mine”.
I would be OK if the article were just changed to remove the details.
I’m really tired of people confusing “tough journalism” with “abusive journalism”. Most of the time you should be saying “abusive” when you say “tough”.
There’s NOTHING I can do to make this go away. This feels no different from what he did to me.
My own story is out of my hands. I’ll never get to move on. It will never just go away so I can heal and live.
I keep going back to wondering why anyone would have done this?
Am I somehow lesser to you for what happened to me? How the fuck was doing that even something worth doing?
How the fuck is it accountability when you exploit the victims to get that done?
What are we to you?
I cannot comprehend why someone would take this so lightly.
In her email she said she can help with the harassment as if that’s even a comparable thing. These aren’t just assholes on Twitter trying to “have an insulting go at you” because you’re a woman. I’ve been facing harassment for a very long time too. This is different.
I can’t just quip back.
This is the darkest part of my life on public display on a major news site.
This is a very personal traumatic thing up for anyone’s consumption, commenting, discussion, humor, to fetishize, entertainment… I know, I keep saying that.
This is beyond your run of the mill internet trolling. It’s not even the same fucking thing.
It’s fucked up how the discernment needs to be made.
When we talked about the metoo that happened in games last August, journalists called it “a moment”. It was reduced to a blip. A small inconvenience to the men here. A little freak incident… without taking into account that this has been a steady reality for a lot of us here. It will continue to be long after the articles dry up.
The way we talk about this, how we frame it, has an effect on how we move forward with change.
I think, in many ways, bad journalism killed any constructive momentum with such reporting.
In other articles about what happened to me I was completely stripped of my accomplishments while they protected him with his.
He was the “legendary composer”, I became “that woman”. Someone out of the blue, accusing someone great.
It was picked up the same way as you would pick up a highly anticipated game for the exciting “big important people” working on it.
Other journalists reduced what happened from rape, to just sexual harassment. In their articles they said that I came forward alleging “abuse”, “sexual harassment”, “harassment”… Very few actually called it sexual assault, or rape.
For the record, I alleged rape. I came forward about being raped.
I understand why a journalist has to say that I “alleged”. I do not understand why you would call a rape accusation “harassment”.
In the wikipedia page about sexual harassment in video games, there was a part (now edited) that said I came forward about “sexual harassment”.
The narrative gets changed when you mince words in your rush to get a story out there.
It changes our history or ability to move forward.
I will pay for coming forward about this. You protected him for what he did to me.
This same was done to a lot of the other people that came forward.
I guess it’s hard to sensationalize people fighting for their basic dignity and right to safety when they aren’t “big names”. I mean, you never heard of us so why really care?
I keep wondering, how could something like this have been done so easily?
I wondered how he could so easily just rape me and move on from that when he was done like I mattered so little. Now I wonder how someone could so easily take the account of someone’s sexual assault and just publish it on a huge news site. Do I really matter this little? What am I even to you people?
I have to wonder what accountability in this case even was…
You hold the survivor accountable for the horrible thing that happened to them by fixating on what was done to them. In doing so you take away the responsibility from the rapist and place it on the survivor.
It’s like the documentaries about serial killers sharing how a victim was tortured and murdered by them. The victim is reduced to nothing more than how they suffered. The victim’s life amounts to having “ended there”. That is their accomplishment.
The victim is turned into pulp for a public spectacle. What happened to them is how they are defined now. They are The Bad Thing that happened to them, because that’s how we choose to talk about the person that caused harm.
We give power to the abuser by doing this.
The right way of doing that would be to focus on who the victim was. All the things they could have done. What we were robbed of when they were murdered, hurt, or violated this way. The responsibility for “what happened” should be shifted.
True accountability is to place the focus on the abuser, and not on the act of harm that was brought down on the survivor.
The right thing to do would be to keep the survivor out of this.
By sharing these details she made an article that holds me accountable for having been raped.
There was plenty of other information that she gathered between the interviews with me, my mom, and the other women that came forward that she could have used.
She could have talked about the apps he used to cover his tracks. How good he is at doing that… there was so much.
Instead she fixated on what was done to me in a way that isn’t even appropriate for a major news site.
I was not OK with having that shared.
In both cases, when I was raped, and this, I was in a very vulnerable position and that was taken advantage of. Sharing the details of someone’s sexual assault with the public should never be necessary.
This was an abusive thing to do.
I was put in touch with an editor at Kotaku about having the details of my assault removed. He said that he would look into this issue, and that it would take him a couple of days to get back to me.
I hold onto hope that this basic humanity will be extended to me.
Even if it’s too late, I would like that gesture.
Edit: Please read my follow up here.
After a lengthy back and forth, and a process that seemed fairly difficult (I wrote threads about it here, and here, these I link to here for the sake of documenting what that was like)…
Kotaku changed both the US and UK articles to remove the gratuitous details of my sexual assault.
I would also just like to add that I trust the email apology from Stephen, and the sentiment that was expressed to learn from this and do better in the future.
Because of this I hold no ill will against Kotaku.
I would rather this be learned from.
It can’t change what I went through, but it can make a difference for others.
This blog post is my lesson learned, and strong word of caution.
I think that’s important.
I don’t want anyone to be put through something like this. It’s brutal and retraumatizing.
I said why enough.
I am grateful that the articles were edited, and am grateful for the person that saw the pain I was in and put me in touch with Stephen, so this could get changed.
I really would rather this gets learned from.
Over Twitter (this thread in particular), I expressed strong sentiments that I don’t think this should be normal journalism, and that being put through this was not necessary.
I still think so…
I would rather this just gets noted and the discussion constructively moves forward to being more humane, sensitive, and empathetic. That would be the best to come out of all this.
I sincerely hope this NEVER happens to anyone else.
Thank you everyone for your support, and for listening.
The journalist that did this published a statement about this (here).
I feel it is appropriate to share that for how it demonstrates complete lack of empathy, compassion, and caring. These are things that should be required when writing about sexual assault. Not being able to do this is what causes irreparable harm.
Although I’m OK with this being brushed off as a “misunderstanding” or “mistake”, I think this is not doing justice to the situation. Including the details of my assault was an intentional choice, not a mistake.
I think accountability journalism that can’t hold itself accountable for its own fuckups, or for the harm it has caused, is pretty hypocritical.
There are other liberties that were taking in this article in terms of misquoting me. I intentionally left out how the other women that were sources for this article were treated because I don’t want more harm to be caused to them. I think that ONE should be enough. You don’t need a lineup of people that were hurt in order for something to be wrong.
The entire process of arguing with Kotaku just to have the gratuitous details of my rape removed, and overall this entire experience, has fucked me up in ways that I feel like I will never really recover from.
Arguing with a major news site, where the power dynamic is already intimidating, just to get the details of your assault removed from an article (for which they never should have been included anyway), putting up with being indirectly called a liar, gaslit, victim blamed, then things starting to shift in a direction of “it isn’t really that detailed”… places you in a position where you have to think about what happened to you. You have to think about how that information is out there, and never will really go away now. You have to constantly confront the reality of what happened to you, which is re-triggering, and doing what feels like just fighting for basic humanity to be extended to you.
I think it’s important to also add that having a sexual assault survivor argue over “what is details” and “what isn’t details” (and therefore was appropriate to share), and the insinuation that they are lying about how they have been treated, is incredibly traumatizing.
The following excuses along the lines of “that had to be done in order to prove that there was a sexual assault” is a very rape apologist argument at heart. This sort of thing should never be done to a human being.
As if any readership has a right to chime in on something this traumatic, and have an opinion about it…
It was really messed up, and I don’t think I’ll ever really recover from all this.
If you are a sexual assault survivor, I think this story is important to be aware of. You should not be robbed of your own narrative like this. You should not be robbed of your ability to move forward and heal.
— Final update (May 5, 2020)
I wrote a follow up post to this here:
An open letter to game journalists: #metoo, fighting with surviving abusive reporting, and the fallout of not caring
It very transparently shares the entire process of asking Kotaku to remove this. After hearing that they treated other sexual assault victims the very same way I cannot in good conscience be OK with them or think that this was a mistake. I advise extreme caution when talking to them. They are dangerous to vulnerable people.