What to Do If You've Been Sexually Assaulted

Recently a number of women have come forward and made some pretty strong accusations against a relatively well-known photographer, Jason Lanier. This has brought the subject of sexual abuse and assault back into many discussions.

The impulse is to write an article about how these are terrible actions and we need to stop doing such things. I feel this would be about as effective as shouting in the middle of a shopping center "everyone needs to stop stealing". The problem with this approach is that it is unjustly and incredibly condescending, and it creates a situation where instead of discussing the issue people start taking sides for and against the article. I want to try to avoid that as much as possible because I'd like this to be a source of help as opposed to being a source of contention. 

It's terrible that sexual assault continues within our industry and in general. What's worse is the fact that it will more than likely continue. It's foolish to think that writing an article will eradicate all aspects of such behavior, however, I believe offering help to both photographers and models could be beneficial. 

For Models

It's important to understand that when I say model I'm discussing people who work as such and not relating it to any specific sex or gender. 

Seek Medical Attention

Based on the advice from the NHS here in the UK, one of the most important and useful things you can do if you've been sexually assaulted is to seek medical attention. There are a number of reasons for this such as being at risk of pregnancy, or sexually transmitted diseases. Also if you are looking to press charges, then being forensically examined as soon as possible is extremely useful, and can have a significant impact on any case. 

You Are Not Alone

This is one of the most common feelings that many individuals experience after being subjected to such kinds of assault.No one likes to be a victim and for that and many other reasons, individuals may choose to act as though it's not a big deal. On occasions, people can be in shock and this may prevent them from coming to terms with what may have occurred. Embarrassment and fear are also common feelings among many individuals and this can prevent people from speaking out; which in turn can lead to a sense of loneliness.

In many cases, friends and family members can struggle to fully appreciate what you're going through. For this reason, I believe it's probably a good idea to get in touch with organizations like RAINN. That sense of loneliness can be extremely difficult to manage and seeking help is highly recommended.  

Speak Out 

This is quite possibly the toughest thing that you may have to endure. It's not vital by any means and there is no obligation on you to speak out if you don't want to, however, it can be extremely helpful. There are several examples that demonstrate how helpful speaking out can be extremely helpful. For instance, recently Sunnaya Nash, a design student called out Marcus Hyde for his inappropriate behavior. This lead to a number of individuals to also speak out against Hyde describing their interactions with him. It's quite common for people to feel confident enough to speak out once someone has already come forward. If an incident has happened to you then chances are it's happened to a number of other individuals too.  

Another example is Jade Galloway and her accusations against Jason Lanier. Shortly after her post was published on Instagram a number of other models came forward with their stories too. Speaking out about these types of incidents can help build a network of support for you an others affected. Having that kind of support can be immensely helpful. Once again, there is nothing saying that you have to speak out against anyone if you don't want to. There's also no obligation on you to press charges if you don't want to, it's entirely up to you; however, there are certain strengths and benefits to be gained by doing so. 

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THE TRUE STORY; So all that about stepping back from modelling to pursue an actual career was half true and half bullshit. Jason Lanier completely ruined my inspiration to become a model. I believe this industry is full of fakes, liars and pedophiles. I worked with Lanier from 14 till I was 19, in that time he flirted touched my butt and “complimented” me in a ways no boss should. I wasn’t able to attend a Las Vegas trip because Customs was suspicious as to why I was travelling so much (Jason is too cheap to pay for a working visa for his models... he also doesn’t even claim what he pays them on his taxes*) so he was a little upset but I had just turned 19 (or was about to) when he asked me to go to England and Ireland, I wasn’t aware this trip was just the 2 of us but didn’t worry till we arrived to the Hotel room which only had 1 bed. I requested a cot at the front desk and put it in the room because my father raised me differently and I was not about to sleep in the same bed as my boss AKA an old man. I told my father and because there had been no issues before we all thought it was a money issue. That was until his whole attitude changed, I was a little mad about it all so I told him I was just home sick he ended up putting me in my own hotel half hour away and didn’t even offer dinner that night. We got over it, I blamed myself and so did he. A few months later the East Coast swing with the perfect trio happens.... This new assistant Emily is all about saving money soooo she decides to put us in an AirBnb (totally fine and actually way better than a hotel cause of the amenities*) till we realize it’s a duplex housing unit in the slums and the owners looked like straight crack heads, there were abandoned building all around me with people still living in them and I was so worried about leaving my stuff in a house with people that looked so strung out so I sent pictures of where I was staying to my dad and to my boyfriends mom Dyane, my dad was sleeping but Dyane got them and sent her son to go get me that first night. We were in such a bad neighbourhood a cop pulled up to his car at a red light and told him to treat them as 4 way stops, not to look at anyone

A post shared by 𝑀𝑖𝑠𝑠 𝐽𝑎𝑑𝑒🐒 (@jade.gallowayy) on

There's a good chance that even after you come forward you may be dismissed or even outright ignored. This is quite common unless there a number of individuals making similar claims against someone. Speaking out may not result in immediate results however it's important to look at this more as a long term battle. This is also one of the reasons why having a support network and contacting organizations like RAINN can be so valuable. 

You Will Be Blamed

Unfortunately, victim-blaming is common. Be prepared for this because more than likely this is something you will have to face. Comment sections may not be friendly areas for you to visit and it would be advisable to avoid them. It's common for the least educated to assume the most. 

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

I completely agree with this and I believe this is the correct way for our justice system to work. For that reason, it's extremely important that you gather as much evidence as you can. Leave no stone unturned and prepare yourself as well as you can. Remember that there have been notable false accusations that have been made too and they will, unfortunately, cast a shadow on you. The other thing to consider is that most sexual assault cases do not end with a conviction. I can only imagine the difficulty of having to endure something like this but I believe it's important to know what you're up against. 

For Photographers

In a relatively recent video by Tony and Chelsea Northrup, they discuss some of the issues in the photography industry. I thought this video was extremely well done with lots of helpful and useful information. One of the most important points that the Northrup's make is about context and how that has an impact on perception. There are people out there who do terrible things and this does, unfortunately, impact the perception of all photographers and being aware of that can be helpful. The video above does a brilliant job discussing things from a photographers perspective and I highly recommend you have a watch. The information is provided in a manner that's properly useful without being condescending in any way. 

The modeling and photography industry both work very closely with one another. Because of this symbiotic relationship, it's important for both industries to get along in a healthy and productive fashion. 

Finally, if there's any information in this article that's incorrect or harmful, please do let me know in the comments. 

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michaeljin's picture

Umm... call the police?

Matt Williams's picture

Would be nice if it was that simple

michaeljin's picture

It kind of is... sure, there's tons of other advice you can give about how to deal with the aftermath from an emotional or professional perspective, but I don't understand how the hell that's not Step #1 in an article meant to give advice about how to deal with the situation. Sexual assault is a CRIME and a law enforcement matter first and foremost.

Matt Williams's picture

I won't get into all the reasons that women are hesitant to go to the police, but there are a great many. I will say that I think this topic includes not just assault but harassment. Harassment often isn't a police matter.

People act like this is a black and white situation and 99.9% of the time it is not. And even when it is, it's far more complicated than people understand.

michaeljin's picture

The headline is: "What to Do If You've Been Sexually Assaulted"

Sexual harassment is more complicated since there's a degree of interpretation and perception involved. Sexual assault is generally not very complicated since you're talking about physical acts. It either happened or it didn't and there was either consent or there wasn't.

Yes, victims are hesitant to go to the police for a number of reasons which is PRECISELY why they should be advised to do so. Whatever the cast, having a victim in a compromised emotional state trying to make sense of whether something was assault or not is exactly the type of situation you don't want occurring. That's how you get people blaming themselves for dressing a certain way or making certain comments and thinking that they might have brought it upon themselves.

Seriously, though. If you THINK you're a victim of sexual assault, call the police and give them the facts so they can do an investigation. While that's going on, you can seek out counseling to make sense of it on a personal level and to advise you on how to deal with the professional aftermath. Whatever the case, you're likely going to need outside help on all sides (law enforcement, lawyer, counseling, emotional support network) so seek it.

Usman Dawood's picture

You’re right I should have put that point in the article I completely forgot. It was such an obvious point when planning the piece that I completely forgot about it.

michaeljin's picture

Sadly it's a thing that doesn't occur to enough victims of sexual violence. :/ It's one of those things that's incredibly obvious to people in hindsight or to people reading a news story, but in the moment, it's clear that people often forget about it.

LA M's picture

I agree.

If you are sexually assaulted report it immediately. If the guy is simply a gross creep GWC then sure...go ahead and do your public service announcement.

Every industry needs to do its part...entertainment...Cosby, Finance...Epstein...

I don't buy that anything is dependent on perception. Otherwise you will have victims second guessing themselves as to what actually happened and if they were at fault.

The idea is to report it to the police who will conduct and exhaustive investigation.

michaeljin's picture

Well I meant that harassment is a more complicated issue since the lines are less clear than a physical act like assault. With harassment cases, you're often dealing with individual thresholds (one person might be perfectly find with a comment while another person would be wildly offended by the same exact comment) as well as the fact that some people are just socially awkward and unintentionally say things without realizing how they might be perceived.

Not saying that there isn't still harassment even in unintentional scenarios, but I do think that it takes a lot more work to understand a harassment case as opposed to an assault case as physical boundaries are much more evident than emotional ones. Either way, let objective third parties sort it out starting from law enforcement and working down. If law enforcement determines that it's not a law enforcement matter, bring it up to a superior at work or something. The worst thing to do in any situation is be quiet and keep it to yourself.

LA M's picture


You are still mostly wrong. It is not more complicated (under the law).

"Harassment can also include physical intimidation. Sexual harassment can result in quid pro quo behavior or cause a hostile work environment. While sexual assault is a criminal behavior, harassment is considered a civil rights issue, as it violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964."

Several of these YOUNG girls stat that he applied intimidation in the form of silent treatment, mocking comments etc. in an effort to convince them to give in and consent to intimacy physical or otherwise. They clearly state as EMPLOYEES which means he created a hostile work environment.

He also stated HIMSELF that "he only paid for everything and brought them to etc etc etc". Also that those YOUNG girls came from difficult circumstances and he took them under his wing and profited etc etc etc...establishing a pattern of quid pro quo.

michaeljin's picture

Consider me educated. This is also maybe why someone more versed on this subject should write an article.

Jeff Bennion's picture

I think most of these women were independent contractors. Hostile work environment doesn't apply to independent contractors, only w2 employees.

LA M's picture

NO sir, that's incorrect.

Also just as aside...I don't know any independent contractors that sleep in the same bed as their employers on the road...at least not unless they are porn or sex workers.

Also...someone should be looking into the drinking situation. Some of these individuals he employed were drinking during these workshop dates. I believe the legal age for that in the US is 21...

Jeff Bennion's picture

Why do you think that's incorrect?

LA M's picture

Are you an employment/labour lawyer?

You could consult such a professional or read up on it yourself. It should be fairly obvious that regardless of what you call an employee, a level of treatment/regard is required by law.

Jeff Bennion's picture

Yes I am. The law is not always obvious which is why you need lawyers.


Deciding Who Is Covered

"People who are not employed by the employer, such as independent contractors, are not covered by the anti-discrimination laws..."

LA M's picture

Then you may want to hit the books again and bone up on why you are wrong.

I haven't lived stateside for some time but I'm pretty sure that harassment/assault is independent of how you classify an employee.

As for the law not always being obvious...come on bro.

You don't need a lawyer to understand that sexual harassment/assault is illegal. You may need one to help you through the legal process.

Maybe watch a few of the victims videos and the photographers as well.

He pays for flights, accommodations, food and local transportation. If that's an independent contractor then we should all be so lucky.

Jeff Bennion's picture

1. Did you read the link I posted from the United States Equal Employment Opp Commission official website that states that Title VII does not apply to independent contractors? 2. Sexual harassment and assault are two different things. 3. I'm not saying that it's okay to do these things. I'm stating the fact that if you were to bring a cause of action in court as an independent contractor for sexual harassment, it would get dismissed immediately because Title VII, a US Federal Code, according to the United States official website, does not extend to independent contractors. Title VII does not cover many things. For example, an employer can leave a memo on someone's desk on company letterhead that says "You are fired because you are gay." Title VII would not protect that person because sexual orientation is not a protected class under Title VII. Many states have their own laws to supplement the weaknesses of Title VII, but in California, for example, those laws do not extend to independent contractors either. If I were to bring any of these claims, I would probably not bring them under Title VII or state employment laws, but just as a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. That would get a lot further than a claim by an independent contractor for claims under code sections that on their face do not extend to independent contractors. 4. If you want to fight the classification of independent contractor, that's a whole different issue. There are a series of factors the model would need to prove according to the case law that have nothing with how good the photographer treated her. While I do appreciate arguing the law with non-lawyers who are not even from this country, explaining to me how US Codes and state laws work when I have litigated those issues in court, something more than "YoU're wRonG bro, rEad Some books bro" as a counter-argument, or even anything with any substance be be good, otherwise, it's just a waste of time. Thanks.

LA M's picture

Please stop your ridiculous jumble.

It's unnecessary in this case as the parties who have complaints were treated as de facto employees. The photographer controlled everything from working hours to the materials the models/companions utilized.

There was an employee/employer relationship and he himself points it out at many spots in his videos and writings.

Simple. If you want to be his lawyer then call the guy up and offer your services...though I think he could do better.

You are trying to reinvent a wheel for an application that the law has already made provisions for. You did all that reading (supposedly) but still missed the forest for the trees...

Jeff Bennion's picture

Agree to disagree. Your original point was that I was wrong because I said Title VII doesn't apply to independent contractors. Now (I guess) you've changed arguments to name-calling and to say they were in fact not independent contractors, in part because Jason himself somewhere said that they were employees in writing and in videos. I'm sure independent contractor misclassification litigation is very simple in your village, but here, it's a very complicated topic. So good luck to you sir and I wish you many more unsubstantiated and uneducated internet troll battles.

Vladimir Vcelar's picture

Well, with the #metoo, I'm done with shooting models alone without legal representation, and that's all I have to say.

LA M's picture

I absolutely dislike seeing comments like this from photographers...

Are you serious??

You don't know how to conduct yourself like a decent person and creating a safe/creative environment for the people you work with?

There will always be an abuse of process where just about anything is concerned. There is no stopping unscrupulous people from trying to gain revenge or advantage using this like metoo.

However, you should be choosing the people you work with based on maturity, and age. Working with minors is a bad idea unless a guardian/parent is on set.

Vladimir Vcelar's picture

I can be the the most decent person in the world, creating the perfect "safe space" all I want, it will not guarantee that someone will take advantage and sue me for money; after all, we all know how toxic males can be, and how privileged we are. I suggest you watch the news more before you place judgement on someone else where you can get falsely accused of sexual harassment and think about protecting yourself. I know of a case where a client accused the photographer of rape, only to retract her allegations when the police viewed the CCTV. He got a bad reputation for it because of people of your mentality; she? yeah, she got off free with no consequence. Your conduct, whatever it is, will not make you immune.

LA M's picture

You're assuming.

I didn't start in this business yesterday and I've worked with many models female and male. I've also worked with other talent of both genders FOR MANY YEARS.

I've yet to be accused of inappropriate behaviour. Anyone can make an accusation, that's true, the burden is on the accuser to demonstrate the assault/harassment. Give our law enforcement and legal system some credit. Also it's a crime for someone to make a false accusation and there are remedies for that.

The entire statement you made is ridiculous.

But I'm just as glad for people with you attitude to EXIT the photography world. Go take pictures of your cats and dogs. Can't go wrong there.

Vladimir Vcelar's picture

Son, I've been in the business for thirty odd years, and like yourself, have not been falsely accused. Yet. And I don't intend to. My argument is that one should take notice of current events and be prepared. Just because it didn't happen to you does not mean someone with ulterior motives won't try their luck. And if you cannot see that this trend has already costed business billions over the last two years, (go read the papers or watch the news, you know, keep informed) it just means you have your head in the sand. So before you treat others as infantile, or yourself with superiority, my suggestion is to watch your back, not everyone is your friend. And as far as cats and dogs go, yes, I'll photograph a cat, from a Siamese breeder who pays me $ 150 for one cat, and she breeds +/- 35-40 cats a year. That's just one "animal" client. You don't want to know how much horse or bull breeders pay. Not bad for someone, as you put it, EXIT the photography world. That's aside from what everyone else is doing for a lack of imagination. I really hope it does not happen to you, no-one should be in that position, and I mean you no insult or disrespect, but should it, have fun explaining it to the judge. Denial or ignorance... can't go wrong there.

LA M's picture

Preaching to the choir.

My point is that the bulls, cats, dogs don't care if you feel them up or call the hun/sweetie. They may even like it and respond positively.

If one is worried about a model/talent taking words and actions all wrong it might be best to stick with the bulls.

Vladimir Vcelar's picture

On the subject of bulls, I'm sure you have some interesting stories to tell. I suppose we all do. My point is we need to be aware of current developments. Luckily, none of my clients, humans included, have gone down that route. But thank you for your opinion, at least we can express our views and share experience. Have a good one, my friend.

LA M's picture

You got that right...

Ted Mercede's picture

I agree with you for the most part, but in today's environment, it is completely plausible that someone makes a false accusation for some personal gain. Even though they may have the burden of proof, even the accusations can be very harmful if potential clients hear of it.

Better to be smart and careful, like at least a video recording or an assistant, than to stand by yourself against accusations.

LA M's picture

The environment hasn't changed.

This was the case decades ago before I even got into the business. In fact that's been the case across our society.

There is a recent case here in canada where a well respected doctor was accused of rubbing himself up against a number of female patients. He lost his license because of the accusations and sued to get it back. He was successful when he proved that he wasn't intentionally doing that...it was due to his large belly and that it was nearly impossible for him to have touched them with his private area because of the size of that belly.

The squirrels will always be trying to get a nut!

Also, Lanier recorded his workshop sessions where you can clearly hear him say inappropriate things to YOUNG girls....

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