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BBC: One of Tate's victims gives evidence, but it seems to be more about psychological abuse, which is hardly considered illegal

6-2-2023 |

A British woman who says she was in a relationship with controversial social media influencer Andrew Tate has told the BBC how he encouraged her to work for his webcam company, before becoming controlling and violent.

"It's very difficult because I don't feel like a victim - all of the choices I made were of my [own] free will. He didn't bundle me up into a bag, throw me in the back of a lorry and drive me there," says Sophie.

"But he knew what he was doing. At what point does the emotional or psychological manipulation turn into being forced to do something?"

Andrew Tate - and his brother Tristan - are in custody in Romania while police investigate allegations of rape and trafficking.

Tate brothers
Photo: Alexandru Dobre / AP

Prosecutors allege the pair recruited victims by seducing them and falsely claiming they wanted to have a relationship - which police have dubbed "the lover-boy method". Victims were then forced or manipulated into working in their adult entertainment chat rooms.

Sophie, not her real name, says this is exactly what happened to her. She is now helping prosecutors with their investigation.

She told BBC Radio 4 programme File on 4 that Tate approached her "completely out of the blue" on Facebook and was very charming.

"He was sort of luring me into believing that he was somebody that I could trust and someone that genuinely wanted to build a connection with me," she explains.

She says their exchanges were typical of people getting to know each other with no red flags. After talking to him online she agreed to travel to his home in the Romanian capital, Bucharest.

As their relationship developed, Sophie regularly visited Tate in Romania. He told her he wanted her to be his girlfriend, but soon began asking her to work for him.

"A couple of times he'd said to me, 'You should do it, you'd make a fortune, but you don't have to if you don't want to do it. I make enough money,'" Sophie says.

"But he was always reminding me that the option was there and that progressed into, 'If you love me, you would do it. If you care about me, you would do it… we can make all this money'. And over time, just chipping away at me, eventually he led me to think, 'Maybe he's right, maybe I should be doing it'."

Sophie had worked in the adult entertainment industry before, so she was open to the suggestion. But she says she felt coerced and worried that if she refused, she might lose him.

Sophie says she earned around £800 for six hours' work, from which Tate would take 50%. Representatives of the industry in Romania told the BBC this was not unusual for webcam studios.

Over time, Sophie says Tate's behaviour towards her worsened. She claims he became increasingly controlling, imposing cash fines if she went out without his permission, and that he became violent.

"There was some disagreement… he held me up against the wall and he slapped me really hard and followed it with 'you whore,'" she says.

"Most of the violence was sexual, that's obviously something that he's into. He likes to feel completely in control of the woman and feel like he could take their life away at any second. That is a big sexual turn on for him," she explains.

"I was so intent on just wanting to please him and just wanting him to be happy. But looking back on it, he used to strangle me, to the point where I passed out once and I think he panicked then because he knew he'd gone too far."

Investigators in Romania have confirmed that six women have been identified as potential victims of trafficking. But last month, two of the women publicly denied any mistreatment by the Tate brothers, while other women have spoken positively to the BBC about their time spent with Tate.

But Sophie says some of these are women who Tate genuinely treated well, while others are still under his control.

"He's always one step ahead," she says. "He will be mindful of the fact he needs as many glowing reviews as he does negative ones in order to defend himself.

"Equally, there are going to be girls that will be so infatuated and brainwashed by him that they are never going to say a bad word. There will also be some that are speaking out of fear because he's threatening."

Police have not yet filed any charges against the brothers, who have been in detention, along with two Romanian women, since 29 December. They have denied the allegations against them.

Source: BBC