Claiming emotional abuse, manipulation, and exploitation during their three-year relationship, a fifth person has come forward with further allegations against Win Butler, as reported by Pitchfork.
The new accusations come from a woman under the pseudonym Sabina and follow the first string of allegations that sparked the investigation into the Arcade Fire frontman. Earlier this year, Butler was accused of alleged sexual misconduct by four women who claimed their interactions with him were “inappropriate” given the power dynamics between musician and fan, and the age discrepancy with the frontman being around a decade their senior.
The investigative report describes that Sabina and Butler met in 2015 when she was 22 and he was 35. Sabina had just left a strict religious sect and was working in a cafe while pursuing her education. “When I first moved to Montreal, I literally had $40 in my bank account,” she explained to the outlet. Butler, at that time, was a Grammy award-winning musician with millions of albums sold.
“It was an ongoing abusive relationship,” Sabina described. “Emotionally abusive, manipulative, toxic, and using his power dynamic to exploit my body at times that were convenient for him. He met me when I was so vulnerable.”
Their relationship quickly progressed from casual meetings to sexual encounters. Like with many of his previous accusers, Sabina said Butler would turn their text conversations toward sex, asking for explicit photos and sending unsolicited ones of himself. In her diary, she expressed concerns about being “just a body” to the frontman.
“In general, it was an abusive dynamic,” she said, acknowledging that while she never told Butler “no” during their sexual encounters, the situation was more complicated than that. “It was really aggressive, and I felt like I just had to do what he said. I was not really comfortable with some of the things he was asking me to do, but doing them anyway. And that is ultimately dehumanizing.”
Any attempts at a deeper relationship with Butler were met with hyper-sexualized text message conversations and unwarranted advances. She provided evidence of these frequent requests from Butler for sex, as well as unsolicited nude photos of the musician. She explained to the outlet, it seemed like sex was the only thing he wanted from her.
She said, “It was just being available for sex in any form, whether that was in person when he was in town, whether it was photos, and to engage in sexting when he wanted it to happen. There was an urgency to his needs that didn’t account for my needs or what was going on in my life or my situation or my whereabouts. When he wanted sex, it was expected that I would be up and ready for it, because it was so nice of him to make time for it or something.”
He would be emotionally manipulative if he didn’t get what he wanted from her, she said, “He would make you feel so bad about it. You’re being cut off from contact if you don’t agree to sexual favors.”
Over the three-years they were sporadically involved, Sabina found herself increasingly uncomfortable in the situation. She reached out to him once, sending a long message detailing the personal challenges she was facing with life, work, and school obligations. She told Butler that his constant fixation on sex made her feel like she was “not even a person.” Butler responded, “Thanks for your note,” and continued to request sex over text messages throughout the night, even sending an unsolicited picture of himself masturbating.
Sabina explained she regrets not breaking things off with Butler then. “The last time we had sex was because I finally lived alone,” she said. “That final time didn’t feel good and I didn’t feel any kind of connection to him. That was definitely the moment where I was over it.”
She added, “If you are in an emotionally abusive relationship it makes you feel better to tell yourself that this was all for something, that their outbursts were mistakes and that you meant something to the abuser, that you still hold value in their eyes. But the only value I ever held for him was performing sexual acts whenever he wanted.”
When the allegations of sexual misconduct first came to light, the frontman denied all accusations in a statement, saying, “I have never touched a woman against her will, and any implication that I have is simply false. I vehemently deny any suggestion that I forced myself on a woman or demanded sexual favors. That simply, and unequivocally, never happened.
“While these relationships were all consensual, I am very sorry to anyone who I have hurt with my behavior,” he continued. “Life is filled with tremendous pain and error, and I never want to be part of causing someone else’s pain.”
Photo by Lorne Thomson / Redferns