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Last month, popular Twitch streamer Kaitlyn ‘Amouranth’ Siragusa revealed to her online fan base that she was the victim of domestic violence. Twitch is an interactive live streaming site where gamers, artists, performers and others can share live broadcasts and interact with fans. Amouranth had amassed 6 million followers and was the most-watched female streamer in the third quarter of 2022. She also has nearly 1 million followers on YouTube.
Via a Twitch live stream on Oct. 15 that has since been taken down, Amouranth, who also streamed on the site OnlyFans, disclosed that she was married—a fact kept secret, she says, at the behest of her husband, Nick Lee, who told her revealing it would “ruin the business model.”
She alleges that Lee forced her to create content, threatening her for not doing so. In one video she could be seen crying and asking him while on the phone, “Why did you say you were gonna kill my dogs? ….You just said you were going to kill my dogs if I didn’t do a 24-hour stream.” In the recording, one can clearly hear the man on the other end of the line screaming irately at her.
Amouranth also shared text messages her husband sent in in which he called her a “dumb f*ck” and threatened to destroy her belongings, empty their bank accounts, delete the star’s social media accounts and tell others via social media that she “swatted” him, likely in reference to the tactic where individuals falsely call emergency services on another person as a form of harassment.
Amouranth says her husband also forced her to wear clothing she wasn’t comfortable in when she live-streamed, in one video saying, "And I don't have to wear cleavage every day. I can wear clothes." She also commented she was once again allowed to have friends with her husband out of the picture.
A few days after her disclosure, Amouranth assured fans she was “free” and once again in control of her finances and online accounts and that her husband was seeking help while she was seeking legal counsel.
Forced Labor is Abuse
Rita Smith, nationally recognized domestic violence expert and VP of External Relations for DomesticShelters.org weighs in. “It seems like what he [Lee] was doing was taking advantage of her skill set. I don’t think it’s much different than [an abuser] forcing a woman to give over all her money at the end of a workday.”
Forced or exploitative labor can be facets of domestic violence that often overlap with financial abuse. And forcing someone to work in the sex industry can be a form of sexual abuse. While an abuser may start off seemingly “helpful” with a partner’s business or financial matters. Their support may be overwhelming or all-consuming—sometimes mirroring love-bombing. But soon, that support can take a sharp turn into control, and if the abuser faces push-back, intimidation, which might not only come from real-world partners, but also fans.
With sites like OnlyFans employing more than 1.2 million creators in 2022, and seeing more than 170 million users of their site, reports of abuse and exploitation aren’t slowing down. According to EndTab author Adam Dodge, OnlyFans creators run the risk of abusive intimidation.
“One may join believing they have control over their platform, but it’s an illusion. Novice creators may start out with limits to the scope and type of adult content they are comfortable providing. However, they subsequently report being pressured and harassed for increasingly pornographic and niche content. If they say no, they risk losing subscribers and the earnings on which they now rely.”
Some Men Felt a Real Connection in a Fantasy World
While many fans tweeted their support of the online star after her disclosure, others voiced a misguided opinion that Amouranth had “scammed” male fans by pretending to be single, seemingly an equal offense to domestic violence. In a tweet by online personality “Keemstar” that he since deleted, he wrote, “Clearly husband is abusing. She showed the text. But … Amouranth herself has scammed so many guys online claiming she was single for years.” Other fans drew comparisons between Amouranth and Amber Heard, with “DanMaxOfficial” tweeting, “Guys, guys, do not believe Amouranth, didn’t you learn a thing from the #amberheard case?”
Smith believes Amouranth’s husband was “using her, and putting her in a position to be a target” by coercing her to keep their relationship a secret and present the façade that she was single.
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“It only takes one [viewer] to decide that she really tricked him and now she has to pay,” says Smith, who fears Amouranth could be in danger as a result.
For some, the fantasy world of online streamers and sex workers feels to them like a reality. They may believe they have a real connection to stars like Amouranth, and likewise, feel they are owed honesty, a fact that Smith says doesn’t always go both ways.
“Men can deceive, too. They go into bars and take their wedding rings off. They don’t present the reality of who they are. You’re not required to when you’re not in a real relationship,” says Smith. “Online, this is a virtual connection and you don’t get to be mad when they turn out to be different than the fantasy.”
Smith hopes that Amouranth has a safety plan in place to protect her from Lee returning to her life or from being taken advantage of by another predator.
“The problems we have in personal human connections will still be present on the internet because humans bring with them all their baggage. The virtual world isn’t a safe place guaranteed. You have to be always vigilant,” she warns.
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