Kelly Fitzpatrick is a well-regarded comic book colourist, working on comics including Batman, Constantine, Plastic Man, Wonder Woman, Bad Luck Chuck and many more. She posted her account on Twitter a few days ago, regarding Nika Harper, author and broadcaster on channels such as Geek & Sundry. Kelly wrote about her experience with Nika at the ECCC comic convention held in Seattle five years ago. She writes,
I've made the decision to speak up. Nika Harper sexually assaulted me at ECCC in 2015.It started in the bathroom. I had left a group of friends in the lobby as they were calling an early night and I needed to go to the bathroom. As I passed by the bar I saw another group of friends and told them I'd be right back.
As I entered the bathroom I saw Nika and we started talking but something was off. I had never been around her while she was drinking and I was quickly realizing she was completely drunk. She was flirting and handsy. She talked about how pretty I was and how she liked my style while I was washing my hands and I was being dismissive about them because I don't see myself that way. I told her to have a good night kind of thing and I left the bathroom. I knew something was really off because she kept laughing too. It was disturbing.
As I moved out into the hallway in front of the bathroom looking out at the chairs to see if I recognized anyone else there, I was jumped on from behind. I thought she was just drunk and playing around until my breasts were grabbed. At that point, I immediately pushed her off of me. I'm 5' 2" and she's a lot taller than me, but I could still knock her off of me. I spun around as she laughed at me like her assaulting me was just a joke. It wasn't. She then started to tell me how I should leave the convention with her tomorrow and spend time with her alone. I told her I was too busy because I didn't know what to tell her without hurting her feelings and also I had a table at the show. For the record, I'm asexual and not interested in women romantically and I hadn't publicly talked about my sexuality at that point in time and wasn't comfortable trying to have this conversation with a drunk person I had only met maybe 2 times before this who clearly wasn't up for conversation about consent and my sexual ID.
Then she said the next night I should hang out with her alone. Again I told her I had a dinner set up and couldn't. I was too busy. I remember she kept emphasizing that we'd be alone like that was in some heavy code. She was upset I kept such a busy schedule. I told her that this was all work for me and that's why I have such a busy schedule. Nika at that point stated that we should go up to her hotel room right now. I told her I wasn't interested and tried laughing things off because she was extremely drunk and I felt like she was in a position where she could potentially hurt my career given her clout. I come from a naïve, sheltered background and it never occurred to me that women could assault other women and in that very moment I was being sexually assaulted.
After some very clear physical advances that were obviously unwanted from my body language–across the room facing towards our direction– her friend sitting in a lounge chair rushed over and grabbed her away from me and apologized. Nika did not want to leave me alone and was protesting it. At that moment both people had their back turned on me– so I ran. My brain focused into a tunnel vision into getting me to safety as adrenaline kicked in. I was staying down the street at the Green Tortoise hostel and knew I couldn't get in a taxi in time to get away or run down the street to where I was staying because it would be too far. My brain went to the next best thing: the friends I had passed on my way to the bathroom. So I ran towards my group of friends that were at the bar and I figured I could blend in with a group and maybe I'd be far enough away from Nika that I'd be safe. Plus safety in numbers right? I told them I needed help and there was a girl I needed saving from. I didn't have the language at the time to tell him what was actually happening- that I was being sexually assaulted. I didn't have enough time to explain what had previously happened.
That's when Nika showed up again. She had shaken the other friend off of her and made her way down the hallway towards me. She was laughing again and also wondering why I had left her alone. She started with classic gaslighting about how she knew I liked her too and was leading her on and playing hard to get because I was so nice to her on twitter. She tried coercing me up to her hotel room that night again and I told her clearly that time I didn't want to go to her hotel room. I also tried telling her maybe she should have some water. I wanted to get her away from me and for me to get away from her. I went towards the water container and I started to turn away from her, but she then tried to hug me and I forcefully shoved her off of me. That was when the same friend from before showed up and grabbed her. Her friend apologized again and said Nika had had too much to drink and that they were going up to their room. Nika again protested against her friend and said she wanted me up there as they were leaving and she was being dragged towards the elevators.
I felt ashamed. I felt embarrassed. I was worried about my career and what others must have thought seeing that. The Sheraton bar is the place to go to network at ECCC and Nika is well-known on the internet and I was only a couple years into my career in comics and not known very well at all. I was also introduced to her through some mutual friends in the gaming industry and I was worried how this might impact them and their careers.
We often talk about abuse happening with a man abusing a woman but not that it can happen with a woman abusing another woman. Survivors also don't have the language to articulate in the moment when assault is happening because they are undergoing trauma. All I could think about was my safety. How do I get safe and away? We are also told that there is protection in numbers. The only time I left was to go to the bathroom and even when I returned to a group the assault continued to happen. I felt like I did everything right and this still happened to me.
Afterwards, I blocked her accounts and I felt like sh-t. Did I lead her on by being nice on twitter? No-absolutely not. It's not a crime to be nice to people and after pushing her off of me twice and turning her down multiple times it was clear I wasn't interested. I decided I shouldn't hang out anywhere near bars at future events and I had friends (who knew what had happened to me the previous year) set up to be my safety buddies. I also retreated inward and talked to less people because I was scared of this happening again.
Every major convention I've gone to I check to see if she's going to be there. I've been terrified to run into her. This has completely shaken me and I've talked extensively to my therapist about it and even now I'm terrified to post this. I worry if I don't come forward about what happened to me then others could be assaulted. I worry that since it's been 5 years that she's assaulted others. Every time a list of sexual assaulters is made in the industry I check to see if she's been named because I've been wanting to see if I'm not alone in being hurt by her—but the point is I was hurt.
Nika Harper sexually assaulted me.
In response, Nika posted
I f-cked up, I hurt someone, and I'm sorry.
There is no excuse for this. I remember that night, I recall it regularly with shame, and all of it was irresponsible. I was out of control and completely inappropriate with Kelly, not mindful of her physical space or consent, and that is abhorrent behavior. From what I remember, my intentions to get her alone were innocent, I admired her when we had met before and wanted to talk outside of the party atmosphere and become proper friends, but my intentions mean absolutely nothing when the person on the receiving end is threatened. I did not recognize that I was threatening, nor did I respect her space, and that is unforgivable. When someone is hurt, all intent goes out the window. The only thing that matters is the victim.
Abusers will often turn the tables and say they are the victim. I am NOT the victim, I am the problem. I hurt someone I respected and admired, and I have also hurt my friends. They had to babysit me that night, and that shouldn't be their responsibility. It's mine. I was out of control, and I am so very sorry.
The least I can do for Kelly, I will never go to ECCC or a comic-con again. No parties, no surrounding areas. If I recognize her somewhere, I will be the one to leave. She should feel safe in these spaces, she did nothing wrong. She is a professional in the comics industry, and I made that harder for her. It's only right that I be the one to vacate that space so she feels more comfortable in her work environment.
I'm sorry to her, and to everyone. Trust is something that is earned, and five years ago I proved that I don't deserve it.
Nike Harper posted a statement for her fans. She made no attempt to send this statement directly to me, despite having had 5 years to do it
Yes, I have her blocked on Twitter, but we have mutual friends. In her statement. Nike indicated how many times site has thought about my assault. To this sate she has never inquired about my welkbeing, sought to make an apology, or voiced remorse. Despite her having access to me through professional and personal methods, she has chosen not to reach out
I do not believe her and I am unable to read this as anything but an attempt to save face with her fans. None of her statement was meant for me.
She has not yet acknowledged that she sexually assaulted me and her statement is an attempt to downplay it. It is an act of gaslighting to retroactively paint her intentions as harmless. They absolutely were not. She sexually assaulted me. Nothing about this was innocent.
She said she's going to stop going to parties. This is not enough. It is a mild inconvenience for her. This will not stop her from getting drunk and assaulting others in the future. Others have privately come forward and told me stories that are eerily similar. I now believe Nike has a serious problem with alcohol. This is a pattern. This was not a one-off thing.
We deserve to see Nika Harper take meaningful action..
My response to Nika Harper: Stop drinking. Seek therapy and/or go to AA. Stop attending any events with alcohol. Acknowledge and accept responsibility for your history of sexual assault. Until then, I reject your apology.
We thank Kelly for allowing us to reproduce her account, and recognise her bravery in doing so. Bleeding Cool EIC Kaitlyn Booth is holding the firm line that we don't repeat accusations on Bleeding Cool without the agreement of those making the claims, so as not to place a greater spotlight on them that they may not welcome. Which sometimes means we don't report the incident. As a result of this, there are stories we have run that no one else has, there are stories we didn't run that others did, and sometimes stories run later.