I’m am writing this post for a number of reasons. I don’t really know how to summarize it yet. I’m tired. It’s also partly a pre-emptive defense on the fact that a Youtuber, who had ties with Gamer Gate, made a video defending me.
I think it’s fair to state that I have exhausted every possible option to bring attention to this, and what is still an ongoing struggle that feels like I’m fighting for my life.
When I came forward about my assault, A LOT of people professed their support for me. Some pretty big and influential people reached out to me, telling me that if I ever need anything, or if they can ever help me in any way I should let them know.
After Kotaku did what they did to me-
(context: you can read about that here,
and then my open letter to game journalists detailing how it was like fighting with them to remove my sexual assault from the article,
and in my latest blog post in which I show that I’m not the only survivor they did this to.)
-I reached out to some of these people asking them to please retweet me, or say something. I don’t ask much of people. It’s a basic thing like “Remember how you offered to help? Can you retweet this?” and the answer was pretty much no.
I listened to how I’m putting people on the spot, how I’m basically not worth that support, how Kotaku was in their right to do this, how it’s a “complicated issue”, how “both sides tried their best”… nothing. There was no help. It’s clear that I’m alone in this. It’s also clear that all the professed support and “I believe you’s” are too much performative allyship.
This is the heart of the issue.
I have spent what will end up being a year soon, EVERYDAY, putting out Tweets and threads, asking people to care. In these daily threads, I have begged, preached, lectured, cried, groveled, issued sarcasm, pleaded, in every possible way that I could ask for this.
There are hundreds of these threads. I keep track of them here.
A couple podcasters offered support. I have taken any help I can get, because (quite frankly) anyone caring about this has made me feel a little more human. I am confronted, everyday, with having to fight against this.
To give insight into the video, because it’s fair that you know…
This is the video. It is accurate, and care has been given to its accuracy. It makes points that are valuable.
The Youtuber that made it, saw my daily tweets. He told me he is a former Gamer Gate person. That was made clear. I told him that I do not support Gamer Gate, that I had been harassed by them in the past (This has been a regular thing over the years of being here. I have been outgoing about this.), and that I absolutely stand by Zoe Quinn. I always will.
He told me he wants to help. I wasn’t answering his messages for a while because my DM’s can be an overwhelming place and I pace myself when engaging with them.
When it looked like I brushed him off, instead of calling me out publicly or getting angry at me publicly (this has happened when I ignored some people), he continued to support me.
I was not willing to discourage this from being made. It’s the help I am getting. I will get more into how I was treated by the anti-gamer gate crowd shortly because there is a lot to unpack in this situation.
He showed me what he was doing. He wanted to reflect my situation. He was courteous. If I would not be OK with it, I’m sure it would never have been published. He researched everything.
It is important to say that he treated me with more dignity, and took more care in reflecting what happened to me, than I had been treated by the majority of game journalists that wrote about my sexual assault story.
I think the way I was treated by him should count for something.
I also do not believe, like, support, or to any extent endorse Gamer Gate. I never have. I fully realize what they are. Like I said, they have harassed me (pretty brutally) in the past. I have given talks about this. I have advocated against this behavior. I am not new to how it’s like to be the subject of a 4chan thread. I have been complained about plenty on Kotaku In Action. I am just as tired of these people as I am of any other abuse in this space.
I do not say this lightly. I have asked for help. I have begged, pleaded, reached out, followed up… with plenty of people in this space. I’ve been brushed off so often, I don’t feel comfortable reaching out to people anymore.
The people who would normally stand against something like abusing sexual assault survivors (or who I thought would), because they are so quick to speak out against other things when they surface in the discourse, have been aggressive, indifferent, and brushed me off at best.
I am alone in this. I feel like I am fighting for my life. I will make one more point before going over the latest consequences of this flavor of game journalism.
Sometime after I fought with Kotaku to get them to remove the details of my assault, and after I wrote my open letter to game journalists.
I logged into a Discord channel and saw a former friend of mine, discussing my situation.
I share the screenshots here, because I think they illustrate something important…
This conversation felt incredibly objectifying. I’m not even dead yet. Nobody has tried to help, and I’m being criticized for how I’m fighting with something that I am fighting alone.
I am not posting suicidal shit. I posted about how this hurts me. It does. Do I just silently take it? Then when it’s too much, and I die, you all wonder what happened? What is the right way to fight this? It’s not going away for me.
Telling people that I need some sort of “special help” is incredibly invalidating because it’s not like help has happened to begin with.
I’m supposed to “leave the game industry” where do I go?
It’s so easy to discourse this without really taking into account the person’s situation.
What hurt is that she was telling people that she “tried to help me” when that was never the case.
I never reached out to her asking for help. I never put her on any spot like that. I kept her out of it.
How am I supposed to deal with this? You want me to go away. That’s the issue here.
When I told her how this hurt me, that I think she should understand how this is like, and that she doesn’t really know me…
These are some excerpts. This is normal for me to get.
I have not placed anyone on any spot that didn’t offer help first. People in this space haven’t exactly been “there for me”. I don’t have a lot of friends in this space. I barely talk to people. I keep to myself. I always do.
This victim blaming is what is the problem. This is common, and I’m sorry to say but the “discourse” around someone hurting isn’t worth anything if you can’t care about what that discourse does to them.
My Twitter consumption is not the problem, and I will be faced with this whether I use Twitter or not. This is my only platform. I worked hard to build it. It’s the only thing I have to fight this.
I talk about this everyday for reasons I already stated. I live with it everyday too. I think it’s fucked up that I have to fight this too, and defend myself here.
This is how I have been treated by people who seem to have built their platform on advocating against this stuff. It’s “too much” for you, but that’s the problem. It’s always about you, and not about the person that has to fight with the repercussions of harm.
This hurts just as much as putting up with the trolls. I feel like I am alone. I have exhausted every possible avenue of help.
DO NOT bring suicide into the picture. You have weaponized that against me enough. I have never put out a tweet directly stating that I will kill myself. I have talked about how this hurts me, how this sucked the life out of me, how I want to die, but I have not said that “I’m going to kill myself”.
When you see someone hurting, why do you treat them this way? Why make it about you? Why victim blame?
I am not a bad friend either. When she needed help, one GDC, I paid to have my plane ticked extended (so I can leave one day later), so I can be there for her. Even though I could not afford it.
I was there for her. We, and friends, went out to dinner. The server said something horrible to her. She was crying. I payed for the dinner of everyone at that table, even though I could not afford it, so she would not have to put up with shit.
I spent the next day not eating because I shot my food budget.
I do not mind. I think it’s important to be there for people.
I never complained when someone was going through a horrible time. I never held any of that against anyone here.
I needed help from people here. At best you act like I’m already dead. If this is how you feel, then maybe reflect on why you are watching someone suffer like this, and (at best) when you do get involved you are horrible to them.
Now I will go over the latest bout of harassment, and what this type of journalism has done…
When I came forward with my story, it inspired others to come forward too.
One of the people that was outed, unrelated to me, committed suicide. He had a history of very abusive behavior. His sister even publicly stated that people should not blame the person that spoke out about how he treated them. A former co-worker of his wrote a long post detailing how it was like making Night in the Woods with him.
This stuff still exists online. You can find out on your own.
When this happened the tone in journalism shifted from being supportive, to propagating the narrative that “Nathalie Lawhead came forward, someone else did, this guy killed himself…”
Over and over and over again. There are what feels like, and it is unlikely an exaggeration to say, hundreds of articles on this. Some of these articles pushing that narrative are on fairly large websites.
At the end of that year, many journalists included this “a person died because of people speaking up” in their “worst of the year” lists. They all mentioned me by name.
What also happened, is that my story of “rape” ended up being downplayed to “sexual harassment” in these articles. For example, some said that I came forward about “sexual harassment”. This is not true. I said rape.
It is amazing to me that “sexual assault” can become “sexual harassment” can become “harassment”. This was so common of a narrative that it even made it into the Sexual Harassment in Video Games Wiki page. I link to that in my account detailing how Kotaku treated me.
The Wiki page had since been amended when I spoke up about that on Twitter.
What is important to observe here is how “out of touch” journalism has been when writing about this. Have any of you, that pushed the narrative of “a guy died because of this” or that called what I came forward with “sexual harassment”, actually read my post?
It felt like, after the tone shifted from supportive, to essentially blaming a person’s death on this, like you created your own echocamber that had less and less to do with the reality of what happened, and more to do with outdoing eachother.
It became a meme to say that someone died because of me speaking up.
These articles still get put out. This is the narrative that has been normalized.
I would also like to point out that, from all the hundreds of articles that were written about this, my rape, or any variation of this story, not one mentioned Soule’s abusive history. At least I could not find one, and I did pay attention.
Before I came out Soule had basically ripped off his Kickstarter donors by taking the money and then just not delivering. This was common knowledge.
He has a history of shady business dealings. It’s not hard to find if you look into him and the fans and people he burned.
He has a history of sexual harassment. A LOT of women have said something about that.
When I came forward I got plenty of emails from people telling me that he is a pain to work with, that he got fired from a big title AAA game because he was difficult to deal with, and other stories… I was told how he doesn’t really compose music, and that his brother wrote a lot of it. This is from them, this is not information from me.
Why was none of this mentioned?
I was put under more of a microscope than the rapist ever was. Why?
The one outlet, Kotaku, that had information about him, decided to use the details of my assault for their sensationalism, rather than actually writing an article about this that (as promised) would “hold him accountable”.
Why do you protect him?
Why are we not worth that same protection?
Aside from what Kotaku did, (putting me on the radar for rape fetishists), the previously mentioned narrative that “I’m basically responsible for someone’s death” has empowered people to come after me because (to them) I am a murderer. This is normal. I have been faced with this everyday since it happened. These articles are not hard to find.
Why did you chose that narrative? Why is this the story that you popularized?
I think you should examine the implications of the narrative you all decided to normalize in this situation, and why you chose to put it that way.
If the mental health of an abuser is important to you, then the mental health of the survivors should be too.
Making the mental health, and safety, of an abuser more important than that of the survivor says a lot about how you view this situation.
Why are the lives of the rapists so much more important to you than the lives of those who had to survive that abuse?
My story is not related to his death. I have never met him, and was only familiar with his work and even barely that.
If a survivor killed themselves because of how you treated them, or because of what they have been put through, would you even bother to write about that? Would we enjoy any type of “narrative” or defending too?
Why are the actual rapists not put under a microscope?
If you are afraid that they would kill themselves, then (again) why is that same courtesy not extended to survivors?
I have been very vocal about how this is hurting me. Why is nobody helping? Why is this “old news” now only when it suits you, but when you can spin the “Nathalie came forward, guy is dead” narrative then you seem to care?
At the end of my open letter to game journalists, I linked to a UNESCO document advising better practices for how journalists write about rape.
It is worth reading. Here is the link.
One notable part of this document, that is worth highlighting, is the following:
“Some journalists are not very concerned about ethics and are sometimes even encouraged to adopt this attitude by senior media executives. The temptation is all the more intense when the fields of operation are far away, which can sometimes give journalists a sense of total impunity. For example, many of them interviewed female victims of rape and other abuses in Kivu, in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, in defiance of the most basic rules of ethics. As Solange Lusiku, editor of the newspaper Le Souverain, the only independent newspaper published in Bukavu, denounced, “rape has become the business of a large number of NGOs and journalists”.118 Journalists must be able to report the facts to readers, viewers and listeners without violating the ethical and deontological principles of the profession. This knowledge must be shared and reinforced by self-regulatory bodies.”
I think the part where it mentions how “rape has become the business of a large number of NGOs and journalists” is relevant to the situations of abuse that plague the game industry, when journalists here do write about these things.
When you write about crunch, and crunch culture, do you really care about the employees trapped under that?
I think it’s important to point out that Jason Schreier benefits just as much from writing about crunch as the companies that are crunching their employees. The discussion gives him clout. People read these articles. It causes discourse. It is good for him as a journalist. This is the very public facing reality of what we have right now, and it’s just as absurd to me as any wild conspiracy theory about Jason Schreier (or any other “big” journalist here) that you could conjure up.
Do these articles really help the people stuck under this abusive system? What difference have they made over the years? It seems like nothing is changing, and maybe it’s time to really question why this is on loop, but progress is not being made.
Do the majority of big names in journalism, that write about this stuff, truly care? If they did, then why does it seem to perpetuate abuse more than actually solve it?
I have gone over what Cecilia D’Anastasio has done to me, and others.
A sexual assault survivor is easy prey for a journalist. We are already in a very vulnerable position in terms of people not believing us, fighting the person we spoke out against, and the trashfire it turns your life into… It is far too easy for someone to come in and take advantage of that.
After all, we would be idiots if we spoke out about the abusive journalist RIGHT AFTER speaking out about rape. Who in their right mind would believe us now? Surely we must get off on outing people, right?
These (survivors) are people, that have been preyed on, who do not have big fancy platforms that will throw their support behind them. They are “small”, vulnerable, and don’t have the ability to speak up more. They do not have your “clout”.
This is not excusable behavior. Our safety should matter to you more than writing your ideal article. Our safety should matter more than discussions about on and off the record. Our safety should matter more than the cloud you get from writing about this.
You benefit from writing about this harm, the very least you could do is care about the repercussions writing about it has on the people that were abused.
Why does our safety matter so little to you?
Why do you take such liberties with the truth in our stories?
At the very first video game company that I worked for, during a meeting the boss (and CEO) talked about how one popular AAA FPS game at the time triggered severe PTSD in war veterans. He talked about it excitedly and jokingly said it would be great if their game did that. The idea that the game could do that was like a badge of honor, demonstrating that the game was “real” “legit” and “gritty”, because it made people feel “real things”. This was a very long time ago, but this situation has had me thinking about this again.
Is this where journalism is at now? Do people that write about this stuff delight in the fact that it has had serious consequences on those that they wrote about? Is this what this is?
What was done to us is serious. When I say that “people almost died” you should not get used to hearing that. You should not be ignoring that. You should care and work toward correcting the harm that was caused. None of that is happening.
Cecilia D’Anastasio has been rewarded for what she did. She won a couple very notable awards, despite this information, screenshots, and proof, of her abusive journalism existing.
Is this abuse normal to you?
Is it necessary?
I have been yelling into the social media void, asking for help, for over a year. I have talked to anyone that would actually listen. Anyone that would actually care. It sincerely feels like very few here do.
If you complain that a former Gamer Gate person made a video about this, and I “endorsed it”, maybe you should reflect on all of this.
We are alone in this fight. I know I am.
The people that should care, that have the power to do something about this, that could fix or mitigate the harm that has been done here, do nothing. They ignore it daily.
I mean it when I say that I feel like I am fighting for my life.
Am I already dead to you?
I think it’s fair to say all this. If you cared you would work toward minimizing harm for those stuck in this system, just as much as you would toward getting that juicy story.