We are a group of over sixty women and non-binary individuals whose utmost concern is the safety and protection of others like us. Our aim is to dismantle the systems that allow people in power to abuse that power for the purpose of serial predatory corralling, emotional manipulation, and grooming. With this goal in mind, we are sharing our stories about a man who abused his power. This statement was written with the involvement of all who have signed it.
Warren Ellis, a New York Times best-selling author, comics writer, public speaker, screenwriter, and producer, has devised and continues to follow a pattern of emotionally abusive behavior documented across more than two decades.
From our accounts, and the others who have come forward, there is clear evidence of Warren Ellis using his celebrity status and vast public platform as catalyst and shield to manipulate and groom targets under false pretenses, and to coerce private pornography and sexual exchanges. Over twenty years, femme-presenting people, often between the ages of 19 to 26, were impacted by this pathological behavior. We were all under an elaborate illusion, believing we had a friend, a mentor, a partner in this man.
To date, nearly 100 people have privately come forward with experiences regarding Warren Ellis. Given how deeply personal many of these experiences have been, only a fraction of those who have contacted us have chosen to share their testimonials on this site. We've assembled these stories in a form that keeps his targets safe from further abuse, yet clearly shows both how widely our experiences vary and also where the patterns lie.
The scope of our interactions with Warren Ellis varies extensively in degree and duration. With some of us, it was a brief period of private messaging conducted solely online; with others, he cultivated a relationship lasting many years, involving multiple episodes of intimate physical contact. Though people are still coming forward, what’s already been disclosed covers a wide range of experiences, some seemingly harmless, some devastating. Taken in aggregate, they show a clear pattern of abuse.
We were consciously manipulated with positive and negative reinforcement, gaslighting, and other techniques of control which leave lasting psychological damage. Warren Ellis’ chronic duplicity and manipulation (particularly of young and vulnerable individuals) often rendered informed consent impossible.
Under the guise of mentorship and camaraderie, Warren Ellis insinuates himself into his targets’ daily lives, building trust and forming patterns of attachment. Once the target thinks of him as their best friend or trusted confidant, he escalates the relationship into sexual territory, usually conducted online and through intense periods of communication, but sometimes in person. When his needs are no longer being met, or he seems to be losing control in the relationship, he abruptly cuts off contact, leaving his targets with enduring emotional trauma. Many suffer a loss of self-esteem, trust in their own instincts, and in some cases, their support networks.
This approach was refined and escalated by Warren Ellis for years, focusing on control, and with sexual interactions becoming darker and more intense. Many of us continue to suffer from depression, complex PTSD, and involuntary conditioned responses to this day. His simultaneous use of the same technique on numerous people without them being aware of each other presents a crucial difference from healthy relationships.
As can be seen from the personal stories we’ve shared, Warren Ellis generally follows the pattern of manipulation outlined below. This is not a complete list, nor has he been successful using these techniques in every case.
- Frequently asks his online audience via newsletters, forum and social media posts to send him messages, which he then filters for femme-presenting people with photos frequently matching his apparent preferred aesthetic (brunette or redhead, pale skin, gothic-genre appearance, often over fifteen years younger than him) (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
- Seeks private interactions with chosen targets, who are often at the beginning of their careers, experiencing financial or interpersonal difficulties, or are otherwise isolated (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24)
- Tests the waters and pushes boundaries for receptiveness to sexual advances (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20)
- Consistently emphasizes discretion (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
- Makes the target feel unique with constant compliments, interest, and, systematic, frequent contact, and other habit-forming techniques typical of operant conditioning (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13)
- Uses self-deprecating statements, both privately and publicly, to elicit compliments and endear himself (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
- Creates the illusion of safety and friendship, often positions himself as mentor and guide (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16)
- Insinuates he can help advance careers, sometimes follows through, thus obliging his target to continue sexual relations with him; being ‘dropped’ could mean major career consequences (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
- Often lies about his personal relationship status (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
- Repetitiously remarks on a feature of his target as “hypnotic”, or causing weakness, addiction, and obsession within him (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
- Positions himself as submissive, which has a disarming effect, and purposely creates the illusion of the interaction’s onus being on the target, as he is "helpless” against them (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
- Directs targets into producing custom pornography for him, ranging in type and content from mild to extreme (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)
- Attempts to control other relationships in the target’s life, both romantic and aromantic; insisting he be the only man in their life, etc. (1, 2, 3, 4)
- Distances his targets from other women with tactics such as triangulation (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)
- In multiple cases: engages in sexual video and audio exchanges (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)
- In some cases: engages in in-person sexual interactions (1, 2, 3, 4 identities protected)
- In some cases: engages in hypnotism (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
- Typically: juggles multiple targets while insinuating they are the only one
- Punishment in the form of withheld attention/affection, often but not always when the target questions his behavior or is otherwise noncompliant (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13)
- Abrupt termination of relationship without communication (ghosting) (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14)
Between Warren Ellis’ public standing as a visiting Professor to York St John University, Doctor of the University of Essex, Patron to Humanists UK and guest tutor to the Shadow Channel masters programme at the Sandberg Institute, his deception, manipulation, and the script above, our relationships with him were drastically imbalanced. Such imbalance precludes the possibility of informed consent.
The above follows a textbook pattern of adult grooming: the groomer builds up a trust or friendship with an individual while emphasizing the need for secrecy or discretion, often using favors or promises to make the individual feel indebted. Eventually, the groomer achieves the goal of their grooming, i.e. making their target receptive to their advances. To an outside observer, this pattern can seem very close to a bona fide relationship, since, by design, only the groomer is aware of the scope and direction of their scheme.
Grooming also relies on subtle techniques that leverage “compulsion loops”, which are well-established in scientific literature and video gaming, and are commonly utilized by modern businesses to achieve addiction, AKA “user retention”. Examples include daily quests in games, getting a higher reward (more “XP”, etc.) for the first game of a day, more “karma” for the first post of a day on a message board, etc. The main driver is a regular daily dopamine boost sustained over time, not unlike the brain’s response to the phrase, “I’m always here for you, sweetheart” – as so many of us read in Warren’s texts and emails every night, simultaneously, unaware of each other.
Even as we compiled our stories, Warren Ellis contacted a few of us with sterile, performatively apologetic missives, which acknowledged little of the realities of his conduct. These texts and emails did not express self-reflection, acknowledgement of the harm his actions cause, nor desire to change his behavior. He also posted this public statement on June 19, 2020. Following that statement's publication, he continued to send sexual messages and overtures to people as recently as July 2020.
We are telling our stories so that three things happen:
- No one else is added to our group. We now know of nearly 100 people who were targeted by Warren Ellis over two decades of misconduct. We want to stop this pattern of behavior and protect others from going through what we have experienced.
- For anyone affected by Warren Ellis to know that we are here and waiting for them. We are a group of women and nonbinary people who want to hold space for others who have been targeted, and to assure them they are not alone. We can provide a place for them to be supported, validated, and angry; a place to process, question, and unpack their experiences; a place to be listened to, where self-care, empathy, and mutual aid are of the highest priority.
- For this insidious behavior to be recognizable, and for the systems allowing it to flourish to be dismantled. What we endured is practiced, deliberate, and not an isolated phenomenon. No one who experiences this type of behavior consents to it. The calculated dishonesty required to enable these systems removes the possibility of informed consent. We do not want to see one abuser removed only to be replaced with another, which is why we are adamant that the systems that allow these patterns of behavior to carry on unchecked be destroyed. Specific systems we’d like to see dismantled include: the “protected” status of celebrities, the limited public understanding of both abuse and consent, the way irony can be used as a shield, and the implementation of enforced and toxic hierarchies. To read more about these systems, check out our FAQ.
A final thing that some of us are open to is the possibility of a mediated transformative justice action with Warren Ellis. There is still a chance for him to be of help on a larger scale. If Warren wants to get in touch with us to start this process, we are interested in cultivating healing, accountability, resilience, and safety for all involved. Specifically, we would like to see Warren:
- Acknowledge his actions in their entirety
- Acknowledge his pattern of harmful behavior
- Acknowledge that he has callously hurt people
- Contribute to transformative work to dismantle the systems which allowed this to go on
To be clear, our aim is not to see Warren Ellis punished, we are here to look forward. We believe it is important to amplify awareness of a pattern to change the culture of complicity. Emotional abuse, despite not being criminalized in many places, should be recognized as a real and lasting violation. We tell these stories so that anyone can recognize the dangerous nature of this type of behavior and protect themselves and others.
We also ask those reading this to understand that writers can’t work alone, and many of the artists, colorists, flatters, letterers, editors, and other collaborators who have worked with Warren over the years still deserve recognition and support for the work they published with him.
To Warren’s supporters, we’d like to say that we felt the shock, betrayal, confusion, and anger these revelations may be bringing up in you now. We hope that, like us, you will be able to channel this new awareness into fuel for positive change in your communities, and within yourselves.
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