Who is TikTok star Andrew Tate and why he worries sexual assault victims' advocates

If you're a parent, you may not have heard of TikTok star Andrew Tate, but the chances are that your teenage children have.

Many believe that's a big concern because he's been labelled "the king of toxic masculinity".

The former kickboxer has risen to fame over the past few months due to his radical views on women, relationships, and masculinity, influencing young boys all over the world. 

Tate, 35, is an entrepreneur who runs a suspected pyramid scheme called Hustlers University. It claims to teach people how to become rich, and each time they push Tate's videos about women, mental health, and gender roles, they get paid, making him an internet sensation.

Videos where he proclaims his views are being shared far and wide.

"In the modern world, they are going to call you sexist and misogynistic, but I am none of those things," Tate said in one video.

"If you don't believe in depression, you can't become depressed, and I refuse to believe in something that's going to weaken me," he said in another.

But his messages are damaging, and once you search his name on social media, your feed is suddenly bombarded with videos by or about Tate.

Tate himself said one reason why he moved to Romania was that he believes their police are less likely to pursue sexual assault allegations. He's also said rape victims should bear some responsibility and that young women are better to have sexual relationships with. 

"A 19-year-old just out of high school might have had one guy from high school. She's fresh and I can make an imprint on her," he said.

His videos have reached young boys all over the world, including New Zealand, leaving domestic and sexual assault victims' advocates worried. 

"Many of them are watching pornography and they are already getting really misleading ideas about relationships. And that's being enforced by people like Andrew Tate - it's really damaging," said Rape Prevention Education executive director Debbi Tohill.

One Kiwi-run Instagram account, Shit You Should Care About, which shares news stories, has been raising awareness about Tate and recently had a secondary school teacher write in. 

The anonymous teacher, who is from an all-boys school, explained "the majority of our students, especially the juniors, are obsessed with him and the outlandish views he portrays".

"What's more terrifying is they actually see him as a role model. They're starting to genuinely believe being successful is synonymous with abusing women."

They go on to say one conversation heard between students as young as 13 was that rape victims were "asking for it". 

"We need to be having conversations with our young people, both boys and girls, about what a healthy relationship looks like," said Tohill.

Twitter has already banned Tate, and in recent days, international rape charities have called for TikTok to do the same, saying they have a responsibility to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its users.

TikTok has said they will continue to review his content, but until then, Tate will continue to influence our young people - whether we like it or not.