Nigel Barker, the famous photographer and former judge of America’s Next Top Model, took a brave step this week when he revealed that he was sexually assaulted as a child. Barker was a guest on the show Gentleman’s Code when he talked about the traumatic incident that happened when he was 8 years old.
He recalled, “I went up to the door and read the names on the buzzers … I went to push it, and he pushed me from behind, jolted me through the doors and I fell to my feet inside the door. The door closed, and I’m now trapped between a stairwell inside and a shut door. I have a man who is much bigger than me, push me to the ground, grab me, pull my trousers and my pants down. I’m now exposed, and I’m screaming and thrashing.”
Luckily, Barker was thrashing so much that he managed to hit his attacker hard enough to get away before anything else occurred. But it wasn’t the end for Barker.
He continued by saying, “Now here’s the thing: I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t tell my parents. I didn’t tell my brothers. I told no one. I was humiliated. I was scared. I was worried. I thought I had done the wrong thing. I thought I had done the bad thing. It was something that stuck with me for a very long time.”
It’s truly heartbreaking to hear him recall the all too common event. But, it’s also inspiring. Too many people, men especially, stay silent about sexual assault because they feel ashamed. They don’t want to be labeled weak or promiscuous because of something that happened to them. We, as a society, can’t continue to let victims suffer in silence because we aren’t supportive enough. We have to do better about making people feel more supported.
So far everyone has praised Barker for being brave and telling his story. Hopefully, it sends the message that we are here for people who have gone through the same thing.