“I’m at a point where I’m mourning the loss of ten years of my life.”
In February 2013, Sophie met a man in a bar who would later become her boyfriend. Just like any romantic comedy scenario, the pair started going out on dates until they realized they wanted to be together. Little did either of them know, that night on the town—a floor full of beer and a conversation with a stranger—would lead to a nine-year relationship. Nor would he have predicted the ending.
In January of this year, Sophie wrote on Reddit: “I’m so sad to lose the person I’ve loved for nine years, but it’s exhausting.” She detailed how her partner started using abusive language and it made her feel insecure. She even began to deny that she was a black person. Her post was captioned: “My boyfriend took her on Tate’s slope.”
In 2023, Andrew Tate ‘s impact is like an octopus and extends far beyond the internet. The influencer’s deeply misogynistic “alpha male” discourse is present in schools, workplaces, and even relationships, despite the fact that he was recently arrested and banned from social media.
The 35-year-old kickboxer and his brother Tristan are currently in police custody until February 27 while authorities investigate allegations of rape and human trafficking – charges they both deny. An investigation by VICE World News obtained audio recordings of Andrew in which he appears to admit to raping a woman in the UK and allegedly brag: “Am I a nasty man? The more you disliked it, the worse it turned me on.”
Tate has built a legion of mostly teenage and young male followers drawn to his motivational self-help videos. But in his viral clips, which are reposted on YouTube, TikTok and Instagram, there are claims that rape victims “are responsible” for the abuse they went through; that he prefers to date 18-19 year old girls because he can “make a mark” on them and that women are a man’s property.
Women now hear this kind of thing from their partners. One woman, who asked not to be named out of fear for her safety, was in a six-week relationship with a Tate fan last year. I initially met him at the gym, but then they matched on Tinder, went on dates, and eventually broke up due to several undesirable characteristics, including the fact that he’s a fan of the influencer.
One situation in particular stood out for the 23-year-old woman who lives on the US East Coast. “I tried to open up about the fact that my memories of past sexual abuse were being triggered,” she says. “Before I could even broach the subject, he started talking about Andrew Tate.”
She immediately replied that she would never support someone who said they moved to Romania because they believe the rape laws are more relaxed. He replied: “He’s Top G – he can rape whoever he wants.”
“After that,” she says, “I didn’t feel like I could talk to him about it.” A week later, they ended the relationship. The woman said that although the situation still hurts her, she feels liberated that she is no longer with someone who has such views.
Sophie – whose name we’ve changed to protect her – isn’t sure when her partner set her on Tate’s path. “I saw a few clips on TikTok (last year) where women were being warned to beware of people listening to or watching Tate.”
At first, her boyfriend seemed uninterested in Tate, but he changed. “I think she started listening to Tate’s speeches (that weren’t about women) and realized that some of them made sense, so the rest couldn’t be so bad,” she says.
He started telling Sophie that she was holding him back and that she should wait for him while he slept with other women. “He started picking on me for being too masculine – what the hell did that mean,” she says. He also started telling her that she needed to be more submissive and feminine.
In the end, Sophie managed to talk him out of listening to Tate, but the damage was already done. “Up until then, his algorithm on TikTok was giving him a lot of men’s rights stuff and other misogynistic content, so he was constantly bombarded with that.”
He also started telling Sophie that she had “low value” – a common term in the manosphere – because she had more romantic partners than him. “He was sending me clips of men’s rights people saying he wasn’t doing anything wrong, so he kept going,” she says. This in addition to the fact that he kept reminding her that she was worthless and that no one would love her, so she should accept his behavior or die alone.
“There were times when he wouldn’t take no for an answer if he wanted sex and I had to do it anyway because he had a right to me,” she says. The pair have now split and only recently has Sophie come to terms with how much torment she has endured. “I’m at a point now where I’m mourning the loss of almost ten years of my life,” she says, “and I’m starting to do some inner work to heal from the abuse.”
Sophie is not the only one dealing with a radicalized influencer partner. Another woman, who asked to be called “B,” is still with a Tate fan. The 27-year-old, also from the East Coast, met her boyfriend on Hinge two years ago and realized last summer that the guy had become a fan of Tate’s clips about traditional gender roles.
“I noticed that he would get noticeably angrier if we didn’t have sex almost every day, and I felt like he was seeing it in a transactional way, like if we’re going to dinner we should have sex that night,” she says. “He was using OnlyFans to satisfy those needs , and when I told him I didn’t like it, he told me it was my fault he had to use the app.”
B’s partner thinks modern feminism is wrong because “equality is not possible because of biological differences,” she says. Much like Tate, these sexist views extend to women’s experiences of sexual violence. “He’s always hesitant to believe anyone in the Me Too movement and he’s the first to point out how a man is criticized for doing one thing while women get away with it,” adds B.
B says she was significantly affected by her boyfriend’s transformation. “It makes me feel insecure and vulnerable that he can only see me as an object for sexual gratification and that’s my only value,” she explains – although she says she still hopes he’ll change and be back to the way he was .
Tate has five million followers on Twitter, and although TikTok removed his content that violated its ban on exploitative content , fans continue to repost clips of him that attract millions of views. Experts are extremely concerned about how far his influence has spread – not only among adults, but also among children.
“It’s important to first emphasize how young the Tate’s audience is,” says Tim Squirrell, head of communications and publishing at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), an organization committed to finding solutions to extremism and disinformation. “They are generally not men, but boys. And what we’re seeing now is teachers and parents voicing their concerns en masse.”
ISD have received reports of boys copying Tate’s famous hand gesture and telling girls their own age and teachers that they belong in the kitchen or shouldn’t be working – messages also copied by Sophie’s partner.
“What I can say is that when I talk to people in education – for example, to discuss counter-extremism practice – I’ve never had so many people come to a presentation or be as engaged as they are when I’m talking about Andrew Tate,” says Squirrell. “It’s a problem across the country and it’s not going away.”