The site was created by a collective of over 60 women and nonbinary people from across the world who were targeted by Warren Ellis, a comics and television writer from the UK. We all have personal experiences with Warren that vary in degree and duration. When collected, our stories demonstrate a pattern of behavior that includes, but is not limited to, serial emotional manipulation, grooming, coercion, and calculated gaslighting.
We made the site because we don’t want anyone else to be added to this collective. Whisper networks only do so much good and often don’t reach all the people they need to. Open secrets do not protect anyone. Most of us thought we were alone. We also want other people to become aware of this type of behavior, and to offer them resources to help stop it. Making a public site is the best way to achieve these goals.
We have three goals:
Specific systems we would like to see dismantled include:
We must do away with the acceptance of open secrets and the leeway and protection given to celebrities by the press, publishers, associates, colleagues, and by us – society at large.
We must work to include “targeting” and “manipulation” into our understanding of abuse. Warren Ellis seeks out vulnerable people, suggesting he’s specifically after those whom he can control. To date, we are aware of nearly one hundred such cases. Over an extended period of time, Warren Ellis developed a continually expanding pattern of grooming, manipulation, and deceit, in order to maneuver his targets toward dependence and submission. Though these types of abuse may be less visible, more nuanced, and less commonly understood than other forms, it makes them no less grave.
Consent is not dependent upon age alone, or on ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Consent must be free and informed. The subjects of Warren’s attention could not, even when they believed otherwise, fully consent because there can be no informed consent without symmetric information. None of us were given clear terms of engagement, no one was informed of other partners, or participants, or that we would be subject to calculated manipulation.
"Irony Shield" is a performative cloak which an abrasive or abusive individual can use to render their offensive behavior socially acceptable. It works by convincing the observers the offender’s actual abhorrent beliefs and statements are merely jokes and role-playing. It’s difficult to distinguish an individual using an irony shield to hide their true beliefs from a comedian who doesn't hold them, which makes it all the more effective. Warren Ellis hid behind a tongue-in-cheek internet persona of “dirty old man”, which, combined with appearing disarmingly kind in person, permitted him to publicly live out his lascivious proclivities. Spectators perceived his online behavior as a bit of internet comedy with all participants "in on the joke."
One system used by Warren Ellis to gain control over his targets was a rigid social hierarchy within his built communities. Such a system elevates the central figure, in this case Warren, to a role of absolute authority wherein they can act as protector, mentor, and influencer, or disciplinarian and tyrant depending on where in the hierarchy one falls. Directly below are those who reinforce and encourage the leader’s behavior; these are the publicly accepted members who fit a particular role and who receive the help, attention, and care of the central figure. At the bottom are regular members, who are subject to being ignored, isolated, and who often lose the option to control their own narrative within the group when they fall out of line.
This system has built-in inequalities in its relationships by design, thus allowing the central figure to maintain control. When successful, this type of hierarchy becomes self-reinforcing, meaning the person at the top rarely needs to get directly involved to rebuke or ostracize members of the community who are no longer fulfilling their needs.
Some of us have confronted Warren about his behavior over the years and asking him to stop has shown to be fruitless. Instead, he has continued this pattern of behavior on a vast scale for two decades. It must end.
Here is a link to his original June 2020 statement.
We know Warren reached out to about five people who were involved in making this website. The similar language and phrasing of his emails did not acknowledge his conduct or demonstrate remorse, in the opinion of the recipients.
We are speaking out to dismantle the systems that permit abuse by people in power, and to change the culture of complicity. The consequences of Warren Ellis’ actions are on him, not on us for revealing those actions.
His influence in the comics industry gave him the opportunity to engage inappropriately with enough people that this site was created. Correcting his reputation will help keep others safe.
Our aim is to communicate how deeply wrong this type of behavior is. We want to help others identify it and prevent it from happening again. To that end, many of us wish to see transformative justice rather than "cancellation."
If you want to stop supporting Warren's work, please remember that the talented artists, colorists, flatters, letterers, editors, and other collaborators who have contributed to making his work successful should not be punished for Warren's misdeeds.
In the age of the internet and social media, virtual connections are just as important and tangible as face-to-face ones. It is a fact of modern life that deep emotional connections can be made and maintained across long distances. For some, it is the only way to fulfill their intrinsic need for love and support. This provides a convenient environment for those with predatory tendencies to gain devoted followers through dishonest means.
At its core, coercion forces another into an act or choice, often using manipulation. While many of us did not have penetrative sex with him, when you include cybersex, erotic phone calls, video chats, photo exchanges, and sexts, the number of us who had some form of sexual interaction with him rises exponentially. He uses coercion constantly, not only for sex, but also for reinforcing demands for submission, compliance, or other patterns of behavior. Many of his targets engaged in conduct we would not normally have participated in willingly. It has become clear that he deliberately maneuvers his targets into a mental space where saying "no" to his requests would have felt like a betrayal of the connection he carefully fostered, or a direct risk to one's career or social standing.
No. We consented to friendship, companionship, and human connection, not to being manipulated, lied to, nor subjected to lasting psychological damage. Warren’s calculated dishonesty removes the possibility of free and informed consent. Only some of us initiated contact, while there are many whom he contacted first.
Consent must be free and informed.
The women Warren interacted with did not give free and informed consent, because there can be no such consent without transparent communication. By withholding information or lying outright, Warren was dishonest and deceitful. We were not informed of other partners or participants, nor of the scope of what was happening with the numerous women who have contacted us so far.
The inherent power imbalances in our relationships with him, which were mostly, but not exclusively, imbalances of age and status, introduced elements of coercion which made full, free, and informed consent difficult.
Not on our end.
Warren has a long history of using his fame, position, and reach as a tool to try and further control his targets with his attention centered as the prize.
The system of rewards that he manufactured--putting us in his newsletters or featuring us on his social channels--often came as a surprise to us. This system, by design, introduces a “prize” with the purpose of developing dependence.
Yes. Emotional abuse is a real violation. Unlike with physical abuse, it's not always immediately recognized as abuse. People suffering from it may not even know it's happening at the time, only that they feel terrible and uneasy. With the perspective of things like time and autonomy abuse can be properly identified. The effects of emotional abuse can lead to lasting, often permanent trauma. To our knowledge, Warren was not physically violent.
We don’t know.
We invite you to read our Testimonials and our Statement. As a very succinct and incomplete example, Warren's attention was doled out in ways devised to keep us malleable and fulfilling his needs. We cannot overstate the extraordinary amounts of energy he spent constructing his image as a true friend and confidant, and then segueing into sexual territory once our guard was lowered.
A genuine person offers companionship and help without conditions; the difference here is that the appearance of friendship was just another tool in his arsenal designed to keep his needs fulfilled.
All people, regardless of employment, are entitled to dignity, respect, justice, and equality.
Due to a combination of grooming, gaslighting, and secrecy, we were unaware of the depth of the relationships he was having, nor of the multiple women he was having them with. Some of us were completely in the dark, some had a vague awareness of others, some knew about each other, and a few were even friends.
Warren worked to maintain the illusion that other women were hostile, unstable, or on "his side" and therefore unavailable to connect with us. He pushed boundaries to unacceptable limits and convinced us that our "special" bond shouldn't be shared with anyone else. All of this combined made it extremely difficult for anyone to fully comprehend what was happening. By design, this pattern is difficult to piece together on one’s own.
We know that some people may be surprised to see Warren’s pattern of behavior as we’ve set out on this website. That Warren has championed women does not erase how he has also harmed them. The two don't cancel each other out.
Safety, mainly. We want to protect ourselves and our families. In addition to telling our stories, our ultimate mission is to educate people on how to recognize and respond to similar behavior patterns in their communities. We don’t believe having everyone include their real name is necessary for that mission.
You are not alone. We are here for you if you feel comfortable reaching out. This website has a contact form that leads to a secure email address used exclusively for speaking to us directly. If you're not ready to do that, here are some resources we've collected which helped us start to process our experiences.
You can share your story through our website. If you submit your story and do not wish to be named, you will be published anonymously and we will protect your identity. Once your story is received, a member of our group will reach out to you to discuss it, along with verification questions and safety precautions. We are here for you.