Dr Jessica Taylor Truth Revealed

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    Dr Jessica "Jess" Taylor, formerly Eaton, is an author and campaigner whose work focuses on VAWG (Violence Against Women and Girls.) She holds a PhD in psychology but is not a clinical psychologist, see below for more on this distinction.

    WARNING: This wiki contains discussions of sexual abuse, suicide, harassment, and other sensitive subjects in context of Jess Taylor and her work.

    See page 2 for a detailed timeline of events involving Jess.


    Background

    Jess is a survivor of sexual violence and domestic abuse who became known through her social media presence and campaigning. She discusses mental health, violence against women, and the experiences of survivors. Currently, she runs a company called VictimFocus, which claims to advocate for survivors. Her wife Jaimi works at VictimFocus with her, and the two of them are the public "face" of the company.

    Jess published the books Why Women are Blamed for Everything (2020 - adapted from her PhD thesis) and Sexy but Psycho: Uncovering the Labelling of Women and Girls (2022.) She has built up a following on social media and is sometimes quoted in the press as an "expert." She became better known during the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial, when she wrote in defence of Heard, expressing the opinion that personality disorders don't exist. See "Professional views" for more on this.

    Main issues with Jess

    • She deliberately misrepresents her qualifications and experience to pretend she is an "expert" and is clinically trained.
    • She demonstrates ignorance of even basic concepts in mental health. Her research is often shoddy and her work is not properly peer-reviewed.
    • She claims that mental illness and neurodivergence don't really exist; and encourages people not to seek professional help for their mental health or to take their prescribed medication.
    • Her company's business model works similarly to a multi-level marketing scheme. She encourages VAWG professionals to get into debt to buy from her.
    • She sells an online course marketed to survivors of sexual violence. The course is used to mine data and content from vulnerable people; and contains questions that the British Psychological Society says should not be asked online.
    • She also sells other materials that risk re-traumatising survivors by asking them to self-analyse their feelings without professional support.
    • She has published at least three women's stories of abuse without their knowledge or consent. One of these women spoke out about what happened and was threatened, intimidated, and falsely accused by Jess and her wife. They did the same to another survivor who criticised Jess.
    • Jess and Jaimi have also attacked many others who disagreed with them. This includes threats of police/lawyers, and revealing other people's personal information.
    • Former employees of Jess allege illegal and unprofessional behaviour in the way she runs her company.
    • Questions have been raised over her crowdfunding and use of grant money.
    • She is using vulnerable people to build a "brand" around herself and make money.

    Credentials

    Jess holds a PhD in psychology. This involves intensive research in a specific narrow niche, e.g. the impact of advertising on body image. It is different from a doctorate of clinical psychology (DClinPsy), which is NHS-based training with a heavy taught component that includes six-month rotations across different mental health and learning disability services. Only the DClinPsy qualifies someone for clinical practice.

    Jess takes advantage of the fact that the general public doesn't understand the difference between a PhD in psychology and the DClinPsy. She is not qualified in any kind of therapy, but she deliberately gives the impression that she is clinically trained and has provided direct therapeutic care to survivors of sexual violence. As a result, her opinions on autism, bipolar disorder, and trauma therapy are no more informed than those of the average person on the street, but she sets herself up as an expert in the knowledge that most people will hear 'psychologist' and assume she actually has a background in these things.

    Jess also touts her status as a "chartered psychologist" in a misleading way. It means that she has chartered membership of the British Psychological Society. Almost anyone with a 2:2 undergraduate degree and some postgraduate study in psychology can become a chartered member. It's not a guarantee of ethics or expertise, and it doesn't mean she's qualified to practice clinically. Because she is self-employed, and is not a clinical psychologist, she isn't subject to regulation by any professional body.

    Jess claims to have been "awarded a Fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts for her outstanding contribution to psychology and feminism." A Fellowship is something that anyone over 18 can apply and pay for.

    Career history

    Her past employments according to her LinkedIn:



    She previously had a more detailed CV online.

    Jess claims to have spent her career directly working with survivors and that she has worked in the field of child sexual abuse for over 12 years (she was born in 1990.) Her employment history, which she herself documented, doesn't support this. As can be seen here, she has not worked in therapy, support, or clinical practice. It is also apparent that she had a history of "job-hopping" before becoming self-employed at VictimFocus.

    She says she is a senior lecturer and teaches on doctoral programmes. It takes years of hard work to climb the career ladder to senior lecturer, and she would not be allowed even to supervise on a doctoral programme, as she doesn't have any officially published peer-reviewed work. She appears to in fact be a guest or contract lecturer at the University of Derby. She may be paid at the rate of a senior lecturer, but it doesn't mean that she has the experience you would expect at that level.

    Her books are published without peer review and contain a lot of unevidenced and factually incorrect ranting, but she uses her PhD to suggest that it's all research-driven. She claims her work is peer reviewed, but her idea of what that constitutes is highly questionable. People she has asked to "peer review" her work include her then-acquaintance Rose (who didn't have a background in the subject matter), and someone who was a recent Masters graduate at the time. A peer reviewer is supposed to be an expert, or at least as qualified as you are.



    As of December 2022, Jess has 21 publications (mostly self-published; none are in peer-reviewed journals) and 44 citations (some of which are self-citations.) That's far short of what you would normally expect from a working academic.

    Professional views

    Jess believes that mental illness and neurodivergence don't really exist, and are labels used to "pathologise" natural responses to trauma. According to her, even serious conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder aren't illnesses. She can't provide credible evidence to support these claims, which are vastly at odds with the opinions of most doctors and clinical psychologists. She promotes anti-medication and anti-psychiatry views while ignoring the experiences of patients and qualified clinicians.

    She demonstrates a lack of knowledge of even basic concepts in the field of mental health, see "Examples of ignorance and dishonesty professionally." Despite frequently criticising current practice in mental healthcare, she doesn't suggest any alternatives. She does not seem to be aware of any form of therapy other than talking therapies, which don't work for every condition.

    Jess responds poorly to criticism, and often claims that it is motivated by personal dislike or jealousy. If an academic criticises her, they're elitists who can't bear to see a working-class mum being successful. If someone outside academia criticises her, they don't have the expertise to know what they're talking about. She also likes to say that she is being held to unfairly high standards that a man would not be held to. It's very unlikely that her claims or actions would be accepted without question if they came from a man.

    Jess believes that it's important to focus on challenging systems of oppression rather than individual people. It is unclear how this view fits with her history of personal attacks on individuals - see Timeline.


    Examples of ignorance and dishonesty professionally

    Lack of knowledge about mental health

    This recording is from a training session Jess gave about psychosis. She demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of what psychosis is, how it manifests, and how a person with psychosis is affected by it. She describes psychosis as "a social construct" and equates it with hearing voices. Reportedly, Jess told staff that up to 15% of people hear voices. She seems to be confused with a statistic that up to 15% of people have auditory hallucinations in their lifetime. Auditory hallucinations do not always take the form of voices, and can be caused by physical conditions (such as epilepsy.) Jess also makes it sound like this figure relates to ongoing hallucinations - in fact it includes those who have only ever experienced them once.

    Similarly, she cited a study which found that over 40% of people have an "inner voice" or narration in their thoughts. She then suggested that hallucinations are not a sign of mental illness and perhaps we are "supposed" to experience them. The study itself explored the differences between what might be classed as an everyday experience of "hearing things" or "seeing things", vs hallucinations caused by a physical condition. Jess is again either misunderstanding or misrepresenting this research. It can be dangerous to tell people that what might be quite worrying symptoms (and even indicate the presence of a physical disorder) are harmless and normal.



    Jess "doesn't believe in the concept of 'delirium.'" Delirium is caused by physical illness or infection, so this is a bit like saying "I don't believe in the concept of 'sepsis.'"



    Jess frequently criticises the DSM, and has published her own "alternative" guide. The DSM is widely acknowledged as flawed; even beginner psychology students learn this. At one point, she claimed the DSM is untrustworthy because most of the authors on the panel have financial interests in a pharmaceutical company. That means little without further information - almost everyone who holds investments has some shares in pharma. It's strange that she focuses so much on the DSM given that it's only really relevant in the USA, where it is used to decide what health insurance will cover. Most countries, including the UK where Jess lives, use the ICD (International Classification of Diseases.)

    Jess had the idea of trying to prove that the DSM isn't valid by running tests on women, and then concluding that they meet the criteria for a high number of psychiatric disorders. Having her devise and run these tests herself would be worthless, as she has an obvious bias and isn't qualified to carry out clinical assessments. She wants to do the "experiment" with a large number of women and film their reactions, presumably to be shown on TV and/or social media. You would expect her to understand why this is unethical.

    My issue with it (one of many), is the repercussions of taking a possibly vulnerable woman (as those seem to be the only ones she interested in), telling them that she's psychologist who is assessing them and then telling them they reach diagnosis for a mental health disorder on video for likes.

    Some women will take a diagnosis from a 'psychologist' as being valid and it could seriously affect them. She clearly has no ethics around ensuring the women aren't harmed by it.


    Jess claims she can treat schizoaffective disorder without medication just by talking to someone. Not all people with schizoaffective disorder are able to communicate - verbally or otherwise. For those who can talk, therapies (including trauma-informed approaches) are already available. If it were as simple as just talking, that's what doctors and psychiatrists would be doing for their patients.



    Jess calls CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) "victim blaming" because it encourages the person to think differently about their experiences. In fact, it is intended to help them view themselves with respect and compassion. This is especially valuable for survivors of abuse, who often come to believe it's their own fault this happened to them. Jess either doesn't understand CBT, or is misrepresenting it to support her view.



    Misrepresenting her qualifications or experience

    An example of Jess trying to give the impression that she is qualified to work with patients clinically but chooses not to. This is false; her PhD in psychology does not qualify her to work in a clinical setting.



    See "career history" above - Jess has not indicated before or since that she worked in a clinical role in a prison.

    Jess again using deliberately vague language to imply she works with survivors in a clinical capacity.



    Jess calls herself a therapist (a term with no legally protected definition) and uses this to suggest that she is clinically trained.



    She wrote about having been asked to teach a sex ed class, deliberately making it sound like she was medically trained. The Daily Mail picked it up and printed it, giving her false credibility.

    Unethical advice

    Here's Jess praising a new mother for abruptly stopping her medication, seemingly without the supervision of her GP. This would put both the mother and baby at risk. By giving approval, Jess is encouraging other women to do the same. She often receives comments on her social media from people saying they have stopped taking their prescribed medication on her advice; this is just one example.



    Jess published an article for World Suicide Prevention Day 2022 (we will not link to it here, it can be found at her Substack, Facebook, and Instagram.) In the article she presents a positive, even romanticised, view of suicide and justifies suicidal thoughts. She ends by recommending that suicidal people contact Shout or Samaritans which have "trained crisis counsellors"; they don't, both organisations are run by volunteers. The entire article is irresponsible and contravenes guidelines for media reporting of suicide, including those published by the Samaritans.

    Selling unsuitable products

    Jess provides materials designed to "help" survivors work through their feelings about their abuse. These materials do not give any guidance, or state that they should be used under clinical supervision. Effectively, Jess is asking a vulnerable person to analyse their own trauma without experienced help or support, which can be very dangerous.

    One example of this is a journal aimed at women and girls who have been sexually assaulted. It contains a number of prompts for the reader to complete; examples can be seen in the below images (taken from an Amazon review.) Jess says in the foreword that she will not suggest completing the journal with professional support, as this would be "infantilising and controlling" women. In other words, she's just telling vulnerable women to get on with it. Even a mature adult is likely to struggle with the question of what they think was happening while they were being assaulted, much less a child or teenager. Note typos that indicate the journal wasn't proofread before going to print.




    Along similar lines, Jess sells flash cards designed to help traumatised people. She has defended this by suggesting that it is elitist, classist, or discriminatory to tell people they need to access professional help. It's no more discriminatory than saying that someone with a physical condition should see a doctor; the solution is to improve access to mental healthcare. Jess distorts this and tries to encourage people to give her money instead of going to someone who is clinically trained or at least subject to professional regulation. Even a counsellor has to adhere to far stricter professional standards than Jess does.



    Jess praised a follower for using the flash cards with young girls at a riding school (this person is a counsellor/life coach who works with horse riders.) Why is Jess encouraging someone that is not a clinical professional to use these cards with children? Did the students' parents give permission, and have they seen the content of the cards?



    While it's true that you're the best judge of your own situation, this doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't work with a professional. Jess's rhetoric around it being "infantilising", "controlling", or gatekeeping to suggest clinical services, is a smokescreen to line her own pockets. What she's doing is equivalent to people who claim they can cure physical conditions if you buy their product, and warn you not to trust doctors.

    The VictimFocus website offers a free course for female survivors of sexual violence. It contains similar material as the journal, including questions that ask the person to connect their sexual assault to their current partner and sex life. Again, this is very dangerous and risks re-traumatising the person. British Psychological Society guidelines state that questions like this shouldn't be asked online (see page 18.)

    In order to take the free course, you must give consent for Jess to use any information you provide in her future research/published work (she says she will anonymise it.) This is especially bad given her history of publishing survivors' stories without their consent. Screenshots from the course can be seen below, there is also a detailed Twitter thread by someone who took the course. See "VictimFocus courses" for more on this.





    Generally unprofessional behaviour

    Jess and Jaimi host a podcast about VAWG and women's health, called "The Wandering Womb" (the title refers to historical beliefs about "hysteria" in women.) They are often drunk while recording the podcast - in fact that is supposed to be part of its appeal. Then they usually end up sniping at each other or just ranting at the listener. You can either have an "honest, unfiltered" podcast where you rant and swear and drink; or you can have a podcast where you present yourself as an expert giving your opinion in a professional capacity. Trying to do both comes across as disrespectful, unprofessional, and inappropriate.

    Some survivors on Twitter have claimed they tried to DM or email Jess for help, and she responded abruptly, saying that she doesn't have time to give advice and they should complete VF's free course for survivors. See above regarding her course - she uses it to mine data and future content from traumatised people. If she genuinely cares about helping survivors, why not ask another member of her team to reply to them or to signpost them to other services?

    Jess's public social media accounts, which she uses for business, contain a large amount of unprofessional personal content. This includes her personally attacking people; ranting and swearing; and sharing deliberately staged, provocative photos of her and her wife.

    VictimFocus

    VictimFocus (VF) is Jess's company. It offers training about mental health and VAWG for professionals, including NHS staff and police. According to its website: "Profits are reinvested into free research, resources, campaigns and approaches that support government, services, professionals and the public to change the way they think, feel and behave when responding to violence, abuse and trauma." This description is deliberately vague and non-committal - it doesn't explain what VF actually does with that profit. As of December 2022, VF offers only one free course.

    VF is heavily marketed around Jess as a figurehead, which is unusual for a business of this nature. You probably wouldn't know who the leaders or CEOs of most major organisations in VAWG are, unless you work in the field yourself. She does not present her qualifications and experience accurately, see "Credentials and career history" for examples. Her wife and mother-in-law both hold senior positions at VF, despite neither having a background in mental health or psychology.

    The VF website contains material that is poorly researched and deliberately misleading. For instance, a report titled 'I thought it was just a part of life': Understanding the Scale of Violence Committed Against Women and Girls in the UK since Birth' says that 99.7% of women in a study of 22,000 had experienced physical or sexual violence. The site claims "It is likely that every woman and girl will be subjected to violence, abuse, rape or harassment." However, there was very clear self-selection bias in this study: see here for details. (The original tweet reads: "Sorry, I think JT does great work and I like to link to her important articles, but with this study, especially the presentation, something went horribly wrong. And asking questions about it isn't 'obsession.'")

    The website features a list of recommended professionals who meet the VF ethos: "trauma informed, woman centered, radical feminist, anti-victim blaming, anti-pathologisation." The first practitioner on this list clearly states on her website that she treats personality disorders. This should not comply with the VF ethos, as Jess thinks that diagnosing/treating personality disorders is a form of victim blaming and pathologising. Does she vet people, or even give their websites a cursory glance, before she recommends them to others?



    VictimFocus courses

    VictimFocus sells several courses aimed at professionals and survivors. These courses have no value or use outside of VF. Jess says they are "CPD accredited", essentially this means they are approved by a sales company rather than any reputable institution. However, it allows large organisations to check boxes against "CPD training" for staff; making it easier for Jess to win business from them.

    One of the most heavily-promoted courses allows someone to become a VF trainer or "facilitator." Afterwards, they will then sell the course to other people and train them. This is concerning, as it's the same way multi-level marketing schemes work.

    This sort of business model (sell some form of "training" and figure it out as you go) might be OK if you're doing sales or customer service training or similar but is hugely unethical when you're potentially dealing with vulnerable victims.
    Some VictimFocus courses offer Klarna payment, which should not be offered on something that vulnerable or low-income people may be buying. Jess has written about the documented link between debt and poor mental health; in fact, she posted a Twitter thread about it around the time she added the Klarna option. Some courses are sold at a reduced rate, which she says is because professionals are often priced out of resources. In that case, why is she inviting them to get into debt to buy from her?

    To take a VictimFocus course, you have to agree to let Jess use any information you share in anything she may publish in future. She says this would be anonymously, however use of a pseudonym (or no name at all) doesn't mean someone can't be identified. See Sally-Ann and Rosie sections for two examples. The section of VF's website that sells courses doesn't state that you have to agree to this. You would only find out after buying - and if you don't agree, you cannot proceed with the course. It is also not stated who can see your answers, where data is stored and for how long, etc. Again, see this Twitter thread by someone who took the course.


    Working conditions at VF

    Former VF employees have appeared on Twitter and Tattle, and given worrying descriptions of what it was like to work there. This is a summary of what they have alleged:
    • Most positions are part time or "flexible", and staff earn as little as £8,000 a year; it is understood that they'll be on Universal Credit. Despite this, everyone is expected to contribute to expensive gifts for Jess and her family (such as a spa break.) Jess has repeatedly promised pay rises but later reneged on it.

    • There is a cliquey, underhanded atmosphere where people are frequently gossiped about and excluded. Anyone who does not conform to the company "culture" risks being shunned and ultimately driven out of their job.

    • Discussion takes place via private WhatsApp group chats. These have included vicious criticism and threats towards outsiders (see Timeline). A chat for non-work related content included detailed discussion of inappropriate topics such as talking about one's drug use or sex life. Again, everyone was expected to join in or they may be seen as "not team players" and pushed out. Jess acknowledged that the group chats had become a problem but, rather than deal with the poor working environment, chose to instead fire the people who complained.

    • People who leave or are fired are punished by withholding pay and/or references, locking them out of emails, and forbidding current staff to talk to them. It is common for staff to be dismissed with immediate effect and not allowed to work their agreed notice period.

    • Jess insists on being in charge at all times and won't even allow team meetings when she isn't there. She deliberately hires younger people (ideally straight out of university) or vulnerable people recruited through the Job Centre, as they are easier to control and less likely to ask questions.

    • There are no proper HR procedures and no way to appeal, as Jess has the final say in everything. She uses the threat of legal action to intimidate her staff, which is effective because they are on low incomes and many of them have had distressing experiences in the court system.

    • Anyone joining the company must sign a "confidentiality agreement" that allows Jess to put her name on any work they produce.

    • As part of their job, VF staff are expected to defend Jess whenever she argues with someone on social media - including outside of working hours.
    We can't prove that anyone who claims they worked for VF is who they say they are. But some of these posters on Tattle have shared screenshots of private messages from Jess, or VF group chats. Sally-Ann and Rachel were also contacted with evidence of what was being said about them at VF. So, evidently there are people that used to work for Jess who have tried to expose her.

    Jaimi defended hiring an unpaid researcher by saying it was a good opportunity for people who aren't privileged - isn't that what they all say? Then tried to deflect with ad hominem criticism of the questioner for working in a private school. That doesn't justify VF not paying a staff member, and it's hypocritical, since Jaimi herself used to be a private tutor.

    The below screenshot, showing a member of VF staff speaking insensitively about child autism in a group chat, is an example of the atmosphere at VF. It's not surprising this goes on, given that Jess herself believes autism doesn't exist.




    Relationship with Jaimi

    Jess and Jaimi's relationship involves a number of elements that Jess has described as signs of abuse or grooming in the context of a straight couple. This is relevant because Jess often says that criticism of her is motivated by homophobia, or that she is the victim of lies about her grooming Jaimi.

    A man dating a woman he first met when she was 16 and he was 24 - she would call that grooming. Said younger woman becoming ‘step mum’ - she would say exploitation. Quick wedding and lavishing the younger woman with expensive holidays and a big house - she would definitely have something to say. She’s such a hypocrite.
    Jess says that they didn't date until Jaimi was 21, and the fact of them meeting when Jaimi was a teenager doesn't mean grooming was involved. She and Jaimi get very defensive and block anyone who questions the relationship. But in any situation like this, questions would be asked, regardless of gender. If a man married a much younger woman (or man) who was 16 when they met, most people would find it suspicious. Jess knows this, but acts like she's being personally attacked when the same standards are applied to her.

    It is not "gossip" or a "smear campaign" (as Jess calls it) to question whether she demonstrates the appropriate ethics for the head of an organisation working with vulnerable survivors. Or to discuss Jaimi in context of the fact that she works with Jess and has attempted to threaten and intimidate people on Jess's behalf.


    Contradictions/Hypocrisies

    1. Says she despises victim blaming. But has repeatedly and publicly blamed Sally Ann and Rachel - see Timeline (wiki page 2) for information.
    2. Says she wouldn't threaten anyone with police or lawyers. But has done this many times, including to her employees. Again see Timeline for more information.
    3. Says the police are not to be trusted. But happily takes their money for business contracts; and goes complaining to them whenever someone says something on the internet that she doesn't like.
    4. Says the media are not to be trusted. But begs for media attention at any opportunity.
    5. Says we shouldn't trust someone just because they're clinically qualified. But expects to be accepted as an expert without question, because she has a PhD.
    6. Says academia is corrupt, oppressive, and not fit for purpose. But builds her brand image around being a respected academic.
    7. Says we should criticise systems of oppression, not individual people. But publicly attacks individual people who have criticised her.
    8. Says she always speaks the truth no matter how "unpopular" it is. But despite being openly anti-vax to her friends and colleagues, she keeps quiet about it in public. She confidently talks about other medical topics that she has no knowledge of - so if she really believes vaccines are harmful, why not say so?
    9. Says she supports clinical professionals. But encourages them to get into debt to buy from her, and tells vulnerable people not to seek professional help for their mental health.
    10. Says it's wrong to "distance diagnose" public figures. But will happily distance diagnose celebrities she's never met, and say that they don't have a psychological disorder.
    11. Says that psychotherapy "pathologises" trauma and is oppressive. But criticises the Royal Family for not wanting Prince Harry to have psychotherapy.
    12. Says that experienced print journalists who also publish online are just "bloggers" and not real journalists. But Jess aggressively promotes her own blog and Substack, and often self-publishes. Apparently that doesn't make her less of a professional writer.
    13. Says she supports sex workers. But attacks, criticises, and speaks over women in the sex industry.
    14. Accuses other feminists of being ageist and taking credit for the achievements of younger women. But is now in her mid-30s and still wants to be recognised as a "young achiever" alongside women in their teens and 20s.
    15. Accuses others of doxxing her family. But posts content that could identify her address and/or children. And her own wife tries to intimidate people by sharing their personal information online.
    16. Frequently threatens to sue others for libel and defamation. But has no problem making potentially defamatory comments about people and companies.
    17. Says she hates labels and "pigeonholing." But casually throws around labels like "toxic" and "narcissistic."

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