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. 

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. 

Usman Dawood's picture

Usman Dawood is a professional architectural photographer based in the UK.

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Umm... call the police?

Would be nice if it was that simple

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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

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

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...

Why do you think that's incorrect?

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.

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..."

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.

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.

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...

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

You got that right...

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.

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....

If you think you might need legal representation by how you conduct your photography business, It's probably best for those models....

If you don't understand the current situation with false allegations concerning false rape charges nowadays,as is the fashion, then it's probably best that you do seek legal council.

Please reference the increase in false rape accusations.

Every single statistical source I have seen are clear that: False rape accusations are very rare and that is far more common that rapes go unreported.

The highest number of false I have seen is 7.1% (Most keep it at below 5%) vs 63% of rapes going unreported.

If things being equal -hypothetically - you have 9 times more chance of getting away with a sexual assault than you have of being falsely accused. Clearly, the biggest problem is not false accusations...


Whoa, false rape claims are up to around 5%? That's 1 every 20 claims - I wouldn't call that "very rare"! That's a frighteningly high statistic.

Your 63% stat is support that the no 1 advice on the article should have been "report the sexual assault to police". That is also a frightening stat.

I fully agree that 5% is high - but it also means that 95% of accusations are not false, so when you got multiple accusations - not very high odds of it being false, or well "unfunded" as the term is.

Should be marked that the this is some of the higher numbers in false reports. But, it is important to put it into perspective, false reports of stolen cars: 10%

So its twice as likely that your "friend" lies about having their car stolen, then lying about rape.

The trouble with reporting it to the police, is that police is sadly poorly equipped to handle cases that are regarding harassment, misconduct, or rape itself - not to mention social stigma. The social stigma which frankly has been demonstrated rather aptly in comments on this very case (No fingers pointed Simon - Just so it is said ) Saying that people report it for status, benefits, glory and so on. Which if I were a woman, would make me very wary of ever reporting it.

False rape claims are statistically even smaller when you consider that the majority of rapes are never reported.
Never. Because women who claim rape are dragged through the mud.

Men are becoming overly cynical and acting like they won't be able to work alone with a model in fear of false persecution. Plumbers don't enter someone's house with a legal witness sat by their side. I'm not a portrait photographer so correct me if you disagree, but in many cases, I can't help but feel a third person at a shoot would be useful to hold equipment anyway; oh sorry, I forgot Jason Lanier's contract prevents MUA's on set. Most of these allegations are said to have happened outside of the shoot; so if you're that worried, just hire people on location?

I've met a lot of people online. Just last year I was roared at by a bear (not ideal; do not recommend) and upon returning to a city I felt sociable I guess -- shell shock or something. I met several women who said I could stay at their house. I mostly declined. I was later on a greyhound (coach service) and the person next to me said I could stay at hers for a few days. I accepted her offer and stayed in another room. Not everything is sleazy. So I'm not 110% against the idea of a man and a woman being in a hotel room together to cut costs but when you're making a habit of it and you're running your business that way, that's extremely questionable. I think a little common sense here wouldn't hurt.

Jason Lanier worked in the hotel industry. I have friends in the hotel industry, so I know the kind of discounts they get with the "friend & family discount" -- it is sizeable. If he's not getting a discount, he's angered everyone he worked with at some point. If he's smart, he should be able to get additional discounts for driving so much business their way; you'll notice that he almost always uses "Marriott". So to claim finance was a concern doesn't ring true to me -- https://docs.google.com/document/d/19XjUXlhLRUFlDNCWnjOgBT6qWXYt7T0fzHli....

He presents himself as a knowledgeable businessman who you should listen to while simultaneously making every mistake possible. I think his claims have to be measured on a claim by claim basis. It's readily apparent he is guilty, but guilty of what? Guilty of misleading his audience and falsely advertising the Sony 85mm f/1.4 G Master lens? Sure, he says the weight is "imperceptible" (look up the Sony 85mm f/1.4 G Master vs Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 video if you're confused as to what I'm talking about) yet there's an 81.4% difference. Guilty of trying to void employees of their rights? Sure, it's in the NDA -- https://docs.google.com/document/d/1nxthAzzMXDIV43ldVm_TlAlxwIDi04LIUfZS.... Guilty of an overly burdensome NDA? Sure. Guilty of touching models in situations where there is seemingly no need to touch them? Sure. Guilty of slandering Ken Wheeler (I can't stand the guy but the notion he has manipulated and groomed disgruntled ex-employees into destroying his business, is questionable)? I believe so. Guilty of misleading the audience about the location of a shoot? I believe so. The video footage of Ziva was in Scorpion Gulch and NOT Sedona. The list goes on and on, obviously. Maybe he's not guilty of some stuff said about him, maybe he is. Maybe he's guilty of worse than sexual battery. He's certainly guilty of enough that you seriously have to question his character.

He wants his model to be his lead assistant, web master, etc. He is a mess. He runs his business in a messy fashion. He constantly goes to the toilet where he eats so to speak; your business is not a place to start dating (there is video footage of him treating it as such). Even if you play the devils advocate and you argue he is just painfully incompetent at running a business, human interaction and pretty much everything outside of photography, I can't help but feel that it's pretty scummy to advertise himself as some incredible educator.

When someone has such a questionable character, I don't think you should then draw parallels to yourself and think you're going to be falsely persecuted -- unless of course you, too, have a questionable character.

These cases need to get out of the court of public opinion, and into the hands of law enforcement.

Yes, easier said than done, but it's important that we don't let biased, view-hungry YouTubers take over the conversations over these alleged incidents -- they damage the credibility of both the accuser and accused.

Could not agree more. Let law enforcement conduct an actual investigation rather than have mobs argue at each other across comment threads with their speculation.

I would like to have seen a short discussion of "grooming" and a perfect place to put it would have been after the embedded tweet by Jade.

Lanier should have stayed away from these young girls in the first place. To travel alone with a teenager is plain stupid. For parents to let there kid go on such a trip is not a good choice.
I am sorry for Lanier who have showed himself as a skilled and talented photographer, that he got into this mess.
I still don't really know what he did bad and I am not gonna look hours of YouTube to find out.
The angry photographer evedently got a kick out of Lanier been kicked out of the Sony program, sounds like he wants to pursue his dislike for Lanier.
Until Lanier is judged by the court of law he did not do anything criminal.

A good tip for any photographers is to never work alone with a woman. Have her bring a friend or have two models.

I'm not sure what the angry photographer has anything to do with this. This happened because models and assistants started coming out. Unless you're in the camp that believes that this is all some crazy conspiracy orchestrated by that dude (which I cannot possibly believe he would be capable of even if he wanted to), then this has nothing to do with him at all.

As for feeling sorry for Lanier, why? Skill and talent in photography doesn't preclude you from making horrible life choices nor should it serve as some sort of balance for them. Whatever the truth is, I fully believe that this is a bed that he made for himself one way or another. The way I see it, he is either a creep and these allegations are true or he's enough of a scumbag in some other way that he managed to get a bunch of unrelated women to band together to take him down despite the fact that they gain absolutely nothing from it... Stuff like that doesn't come from nowhere regardless of how you look at it.

Yeah unless you are sentenced in a court of law it doesn't matter how many young girls you have taken advantage of...

"I am sorry for Lanier who have showed himself as a skilled and talented photographer, that he got into this mess."

Cosby skilled and talented comedian
Weinstein skilled and talented producer
Jackson skilled and talented singer
Epstein skilled and talented money manager
I guy I worked for as a teenager was a skilled and talented supermarket manager

so what?

IMO Lanier was/is a great salesman owned a few hats and is youtube star who has a lot of followers. I don't know if he has clients like ad agencies, magazines or brands that we have heard of or mostly selling things to other photographers.
If only part of what people are saying is true he is in a big mess from his own arrogance. I am more sorry for the people he allegedly took advantage of...

Well Lanier is a talented photographer and I had the impression he pretty decent person.
I don't know many YouTubers who are able to create stiunning good images like he does. So people follow him to learn.

Can you tell me what bad he did or are you just judgmental?

I stopped following Lanier when he started to work with these young girls. But I am not condeming a man based on hours of YouTube I have not seen. I did try to look but it's endless.
Why should I not feel sorry? What did he do that is so bad he does not deserve empathy?

I don't know. I feel sorry for people have things happen to them that they had no reasonable control over. I feel sorry for the person who gets mugged. I feel sorry for people who have a pipe burst in their house and end up with a flooded basement. I don't feel sorry for people who clearly engage in repeated behavior that creates enemies that will go to these kinds of lengths to destroy them.

I won't condemn him for sexual misconduct that hasn't been proven, but the simple fact that all of these people who were close to him or have worked with him have gotten together to wreck his life tells me enough about how he must have lived it regardless of the legality of it. One person might go off the deep end and randomly try to end the career of a close associate. When a bunch of them band together, that's no longer a random occurrence.

While everyone deserves empathy, it seems to me as though he's seeking sympathy, which I don't feel that he deserves if only for living in a manner that has created so many hostile relationships.

I still do not know what he did bad?

I don't need to know what he did bad to not feel sorry for him. All I need to know is that people don't gang up and try to tear down a person's life for no reason. If you have a dozen people who have worked with you and were close to you suddenly hell bent on your destruction, it's a pretty safe bet that you done something wrong.

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