[F]or the past year, survivors have continued to share shocking, first-hand accounts of sexual assault in the workplace, in public and in private situations. The accounts span all industries – from multinational businesses, to the creative industries, to ordinary workplace environments. Naturally, press coverage has focussed on glamorous, public-facing industries, especially the film and fashion industries where allegations have been numerous, serious and a long overdue challenge to a culture of abuse that had become a tacitly accepted norm.
Model Teddy Quinlivan is the latest to speak out from within the fashion industry, describing multiple sexual assaults from unnamed industry figures. Speaking at a panel discussion hosted by Teen Vogue and Coach as part of the Gurls Talk festival, Quinlivan spoke of several attacks, “I’ve been sexually assaulted at work, outside of work by people I work with, and on a date. There’s this sexual assault that happens in the workplace in fashion, and people write it off because it’s a creative industry. Because we’re creatives, and we’re sexually free, your sexual assault doesn’t matter… You signed up for it.”
She also described how a network within the industry and fear of losing opportunities leaves survivors unable to speak out or to name their assaulters. “These people protect each other,” she said, “They do it on a closed set. They do it surrounded by people who will never rat them out… A lot of times sexual assault does lead to opportunities, which is really sick and terrible and disgusting.”
But having the bravery to speak out and to confront the issue collectively is what Quinlivan believes will ultimately bring the industry to account, “I’m telling this story because we can’t let it happen anymore. Touching people inappropriately, saying inappropriate things to them, making people feel useless, making them feel like their body is the only thing they have to offer someone, it has to stop. And the way that we stop it is we change the culture. We have this conversation. We demand better.”
If you have been the victim of sexual assault and are in need of support you can contact The Suvivors Trust