Another day, another former model who says Terry Richardson sexually assaulted her. A woman on Reddit posting in the TwoXChromosomes board told the story of how she was given an opportunity to model for Richardson five years ago, but allegedly wound up in a horrifying situation.
The model says she submitted herself to be photographed via Richardson’s website and was then contacted by his assistant. She came to his apartment in SoHo and met Richardson and his assistant who “was probably like 40-45.” After eating some food, he then had the model stand in front of a white wall (as is his token, boring trademark).
I stood there and he started taking pics, assistant off to the side. Then he came up and took pictures POV style with his hand on my face. Then he put his thumb in my mouth, I actually thought this was funny in the moment and he and his assistant were very upbeat and just light heartedly directing me. Then he stepped back at some point and had me start removing my clothes (I knew I would be getting nude, so this was not weird to me). I remember he had me take stuff off in stages, he complimented a lot, his assistant too. Definitely the usual trying to make the barely legal model feel special kind of thing looking back.
And that’s when things got scary:
I honestly do not remember if the sexual stuff started by the wall or when he moved me to the couch area but at some point I was being directed to do things like hold the top of his pants while he took more POV style pictures, then eventually unbutton his pants and then his penis was out. Meanwhile it felt like it was all just happening and there was no time to step back and be like “woah this is out of hand”. I dont think anyone who knows me would describe me as a particularly aggressive person (and definitely wasn’t at 19) and the only way I can describe how I felt was nervous and paralyzed.
For the record–and this is obvious to anybody with any rationality whatsoever–photographers do not just whip out their dicks at photoshoots. There is, in fact, no job except when shooting an actual adult film wherein people spontaneously take out their penises, and even in those cases, the cinematographer is generally not the guy doing that. Having somebody do that, unexpected and unannounced, would likely cause many women to freeze.
Sadly, that’s not where the story stops:
At some point the assistant started taking pictures too with a crappy point and shoot camera. He had me posing on the couch and then I had my back to him and just literally felt him start licking my ass, like every part of it, and the assistant was taking pictures the whole time. Things were now completely pornographic and never once initiated by me. He was now on the couch with me and it became sexual act after sexual act, aggressive kissing, random sexual things being done to me and being directed to do everything you can think of back, everything slow so his assistant could photograph. He even directed me to squeeze his balls as hard as I could so that they pushed back up into his body. I did not even know that was possible (At least I learned something about the male anatomy that night?). I was completely a sex puppet at this point. It ended with him jacking off on to my face and he told me to keep my eyes open really wide and his assistant stood over me and it got in my eye and they both began taking pics of it for a what felt like 10 minutes but was probably only 30 seconds.
Oh, and the kicker? Afterward, the woman says Richardson asked if she had a boyfriend and, upon the woman saying yes, he “started overly sweetly apologizing and so did his assistant.” Disgusting. His assistant’s alleged behavior continued to be bizarre even afterward.
Then I guess I cleaned up and got dressed and I don’t even remember saying bye or what happened as far as leaving the studio/apartment but his assistant wanted to come with me and paid for a cab and rode halfway with me and sort of comforted me I guess? She was giving me weird advice on how everything we did was ok and how I am clearly a strong girl but i wasn’t even asking for advice.
I’m sure many of you know this already, but it is completely normal to disassociate after being sexually assaulted, so it makes sense that she doesn’t have a clear memory on leaving. Many survivors do not remember any of their attack, some only recall inane details, some can give you a play-by-play of every single minute.
The thing making me almost as sad as the story itself is how clear it is that this woman blames herself. Here’s how she prefaced her post (emphasis ours):
I’m not totally comfortable … admitting to a naive past in which I was impressionable and taken advantage of… but I feel like it is extremely important for me to share my experience for the sake of other young women out there so I’m starting here. I want to not only warn against making the same mistake I did but possibly open up the dialogue about how/and why this sort of thing can happen so easily. Let me preface this by saying I am fully aware that this was bad decision making on my part and that the true purpose of me sharing this is I want people to know what is possible in these situations and that you as a human being are 100% allowed to say no to something you are uncomfortable with and I wish I had the strength to then.
I just want to hug her and tell her a guy whipping out his penis and shoving it in your face without warning would be terrifying to most people, let alone for a 19-year-old who’s also being bombarded by another women with a camera. And the apology she says they gave? Uh, yeah, that doesn’t sound like they had no clue it was wrong; it sounds like they allegedly knew exactly what was going on and that the young woman would not have consented had they “asked.” Just because a guy is known for taking nude photos of women does not mean it’s a woman’s fault if she is allegedly sexually assaulted, harassed or intimidated by him; we are not supposed to simply expect our bodies to be violated because of who we’re around, and it is entirely up to the perpetrator to stop himself.
If you want to see a lovely life-long example of rape culture in progress, Terry Richardson’s career as a high-profile is it. He has been accused of sexually harassing and intimidating countless models, including one of our former writers, and yet he is hired by famous musicians, by giant designers, by huge magazines. He takes cutesy photos with models and celebrities alike, some of whom then call the women who complain about being sexually harassed “bitches.” We get it–it’s hard to believe your friends might be bad people. But unless you genuinely support the continuance of rape culture, I’m not sure how you could support somebody who’s had so many unconnected people come forward against him.