21 Jun Thysia Huisman
Thysia Huisman is a Victorious Voice
Thysia wanted to be a model from a young age. When she won a modeling competition, her dream became a reality. She was 15 years old. Thysia experienced the cut-throat competition in the industry, the never-ending demands of agents and photographers, and the prevalence of eating disorders.
At 18 years old, Thysia was invited to come to Paris by a well-known model agent, Jean-Luc Brunel. She went full of hope as he was one of the best agents in France and he and told her he was going to make her a top model.
In Paris everything changed. Thysia says that Brunel drugged and raped her.
In common with many rape victims, Thysia felt ashamed and guilty and tried to forget about the rape. After her traumatic experience in Paris, she gave up her modeling career. What started off as a fairy-tale had turned into a nightmare. Thysia had years of therapy but never really got over her ordeal.
Thysia started studying and got her Bachelor’s degree in Communication and Journalism. She decided that working behind the camera, pulling the strings herself, was a better place for her. For more than twenty years, Thysia worked in the television industry as a director and Editor in Chief of a variety of TV programmes including Big Brother, Survivor and Project Runway.
The rise of the #MeToo movement, along with allegations that Brunel supplied young models to convicted paedophile, Jeffrey Epstein, prompted Thysia to gather the courage to come forward and report what happened to her in Paris.
In September 2019, Thysia reported Jean-Luc Brunel to the French police. She was the first of his accusers to do so. The prohibitive statute of limitations has meant she has been unable to get justice for herself, but in motivating other victims to come forward – one of those is within the twenty-year limit to prosecute sex crimes – Brunel was arrested in December 2020. He has been charged in France with three cases of raping minors over fifteen years old and sexual harassment. He was awaiting trial in jail when he committed suicide in February 2022.
Thysia is vocal in the media about her experiences and is now one of Victorious Voices, a growing band of women speaking out about the harm that was done to them while working in the modelling industry.
She says, ‘I am living proof that you can turn your darkest trauma into your biggest strength. My message to other survivors of sexual abuse is that you should never feel ashamed. It is never your fault and you should always seek help. This is the moment to come forward because the world is listening. As survivors we now do have a voice. Never forget – you are not alone”.
Thysia Huisman now lives in Amsterdam with her family and has published her memoir, ‘Close-up’ in 2020. She is currently working on other projects to bring awareness to these issues.