On Tuesday, Nigel Barker publicly revealed for the first time that he was the victim of a sexual assault as a child.
The fashion photographer shared the story on his SiriusXM show, Gentleman’s Code, in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. According to Barker, when he was 8 years old, he was approached by a man in his 40s, who asked him for directions before forcing him into a nearby stairwell.
"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," Barker, 43, recalled. "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."
Thankfully, the former America’s Next Top Model judge was ultimately able to escape his attacker.
"I kicked and I actually kicked him in the nuts and he sort of jumped back for a second. Enough for me to get up, squeeze out, and as he tried to grab for me in the back of my neck and the back of my hair, I ran out," he recounted. "And I ran all the way home.”
However, Barker said that he didn’t tell anyone about the attack because he was “humiliated” by the traumatic experience.
“I didn't tell my parents. I didn't tell my brothers. I told no one,” he said. “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."
The fashion photographer ultimately opened up to his family about the trauma when his sister was also attacked several years later. He said his goals in speaking publicly about the trauma were to provide hope and visibility for other victims.
"Get out there. Talk about it. And don't be afraid,” Barker said. “Empower our children and our kids to do just that.”