The woman accusing Matt Lauer of rape said she was terrified of his control over her career. An abuse expert says it happens all the time.

Kelly McLaughlin
matt lauer

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  • Brooke Nevils, who has accused Matt Lauer of rape, said she was terrified of the control he had over her career.
  • Lauer denied the rape allegation on Wednesday and said all sexual encounters between him and Nevils were consensual. Insider has not independently verified Lauer's claims, and Nevils slammed his comments as a "case study in victim blaming."
  • Kristen Houser, chief public affairs officer for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, told Insider that Nevils' allegations are "a pretty standard example of what we see in abusive relationships."
  • Houser told Insider that abusers often control victims through power over aspects of their lives, which might cause victims to continue the relationship, or at least remain in contact.
  • She said often victims are trying to rationalize what happened, make sense of it all, and control the narrative, adding that there is also a fear that there could be additional consequences if they speak out.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Brooke Nevils, who accuses Matt Lauer of rape in Ronan Farrow's new book, "Catch and Kill," told Farrow that she was terrified of the control Lauer had over her career.

Nevils's comments echo what many victims of abuse face in their relationships with abusers, according to Kristen Houser, chief public affairs officer for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

Victims, Houser said, may remain in contact with their abusers to rationalize what happened, or out of fear that there could be additional consequences if they leave or speak out.

The rape accusation against Lauer was first published by Variety on Tuesday. Nevils told Farrow that Lauer raped her in a hotel room during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, after a night of drinking. She alleged that Lauer pushed her against a wall and kissed her, then pushed her on to the bed and raped her.

Lauer denied the rape allegation on Wednesday and said that all sexual encounters between him and Nevils were consensual. Insider has not independently verified Lauer's claims. Nevils criticized Lauer's comments as a "case study in victim blaming"  and Farrow said his book went through a "meticulous" fact-checking process.

Houser described Nevils's allegations are "a pretty standard example of what we see in abusive relationships frequently."

Brooke Nevils said she feared the control Matt Lauer had over her career. An expert says this is fairly common.

Nevils told Farrow she and Lauer had more sexual encounters in New York, and that she felt pressured to continue it because she was terrified of the control he had over her and her career.

At the time of the incident in Sochi, Nevils was working at NBC for Meredith Vieira, who worked closely with Lauer.

Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira

Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC Newswire/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Houser told Insider that abusers often control victims with power over certain aspects of their lives, which might cause victims to continue the relationship, or at least remain in contact.

"Whenever you have these additional factors, whether that's money, the ability to impact employability in the long run, the ability to attain your educational goals, any of those things, it's just more weight on the side of the abuser," she said. "It's additional tools that they get to use to get you to do what they want you to do."

Read more: Matt Lauer was fired from the 'Today' show after a staffer accused him of raping her at the Sochi Olympics, new book reveals

Houser said that it's sometimes difficult for the public to understand why a person might remain in contact with an abuser, but it's a fairly common coping mechanism.

She said victims are often trying to rationalize what happened, make sense of it all, and control the narrative, adding that there is also a fear that there could be additional consequences if they speak out.

Victims 'try to ensure there's not ongoing risk of reputation damage'

Houser said that victims are "hyper-vigilant" about their environments, and sometimes remain in contact to keep tabs on what abusers are saying about them and who they're talking to.

"I think that we see this in lots of other cases. Maintaining contact came up in the Bill Cosby case, it happens on college campuses. People do this to try to make sense of what happened to them, and try to ensure there's not ongoing risk of reputation damage," Houser told Insider.

Matt Lauer Sochi

Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Read more: Brooke Nevils slams Matt Lauer's open letter denying her rape allegations as 'a case study in victim blaming'

Houser urged victims of abuse to talk with someone on the national domestic violence hotline or a local hotline to help assess the risk of leaving their situation.

"We advise if you're thinking you're with a dangerous person who is abusive, talk to someone," she said.

She added that cutting ties with an abusive person is a "good gateway" out of an abusive situation, but it can take time.

"Cutting the ties and leaving is a process, and don't beat yourself for taking it slow or going back and forth and going through that process," she said.

If you are a survivor of sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or visit hotline.rainn.org/onlineand receive confidential support.

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