Just the Gist:
- Abigail Elphick and Ijeoma Ukenta were involved in a viral TikTok that gave Abigail the nickname “Victoria’s Secret Karen”
Abigail’s legal team states she suffers from multiple mental and physical health conditions.
Ijeoma sued Abigail and Victoria’s Secret in 2023 for reportedly being “extremely dismissive” during the ordeal.
Since 2020, the term “Karen” has been a social stigma on white women in U.S. society. The term spawned a meme and a character trait, as cases viral videos of white women threatening to call the police and other authorities on strangers who were notably Black or other people of color began emerging on TikTok and other platforms.
In July 2021, Abigail Elphick, a then-25-year-old white woman living in Milburn, N.J., found herself labeled as the “Victoria’s Secret Karen” after chasing a Black woman named Ijeoma Ukenta for recording her behavior in the famed lingerie store.
Two years after their “Victoria’s Secret Karen,” incident went viral, Abigail and Ijeoma filed lawsuits against one another, with Abigail stating the public mislabeled her and her intentions on that fateful day.
Here’s everything to know about the Victoria’s Secret Karen lawsuit.
Legal filings revealed “Victoria’s Secret Karen” Abigail Elphick has a “long history of medical and psychological conditions.”
By now, millions of social media users have seen Abigail and Ijeoma’s viral TikTok exchange (and if you haven’t keep scrolling!), which involved Abigail hysterically crying as she begs Ijeoma “please don’t record me” and chasing Ijeoma around the store. In September 2023, Abigail and her legal team shared that the truth behind the video is vastly different than what viewers were led to believe.
According to The New York Times (via Yahoo), legal filings show that Abigail, who was quickly labeled Victoria’s Secret Karen on TikTok and other social platforms, was “disabled, with a long history of medical and psychological conditions” when she entered the Victoria’s Secret store.
Abigail’s team argues that her conditions prompted her “mental health breakdown” and that her behavior at Victoria’s secret wasn’t “race-based.” They stated Abigail was upset because she feared she would lose her job and her apartment, as she lives in a residence for those with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
The latter reportedly happened, as court records show Abigail received a call from a stranger threatening to rape and kill her, and other online users demanding she lose her internship as a local school district. The call prompted Tom Toronto, president of Bergen County’s United Way, the company that runs Abigail’s residence, to speak out in her defense.
“She has a disorder. She has anxiety,” he explained to The Times. “She had a meltdown. Then the world we live in took over, and it became something entirely different than what it actually was.”
Ijeoma Ukenta filed a lawsuit in July 2023 against Abigail and Victoria’s Secret.
Abigail’s September 2023 comments were in response to Ijeoma’s July 2023 lawsuit against Abigail and Victoria’s Secret.
On July 6, Ijeoma, a content creator, sued Abigail, Victoria’s Secret, and the store’s security guards. Ijeoma stated in her complaint that the store’s security “were extremely dismissive toward her,” and were “indifferent and nonchalant about her concerns for her safety.”
Amid Ijeoma’s filing, Abigail’s counterclaim accused Ijeoma of “harassment” for discussing her and Abigail’s altercation online.
Since the “Victoria’s Secret Karen” video went viral, Ijeoma has received flack for profiting off the incident.
In July 2021, Ijeoma posted the video, “Karen Goes Crazy” in several parts on her YouTube channel. The video had 2.6 million views on Ijeoma’s account and raised her subscriber count to over 26,000. Soon after the video’s success, Ijeoma created a GoFundMe titled “Help Me Defend Myself Against Karen,” which brought in a reported $104,000.
Ijeoma’s GoFundMe and additional content surrounding her initial video caused many people following the story to raise their eyebrows. Several users, including Kasko Xero Vlogs stated she was using the incident for fame and money. In Abigail’s complaint, her lawyers accused her of making “a job out of preying on individuals from behind a keyboard,” and “inciting hate” online.
Ijeoma and her lawyer, Tracey Hinson, have defended the YouTuber profiting from her experience with Abigail. In 2021, Ijeoma said on X, formerly Twitter, that she was well within her rights to “make $ off MY videos if everyone else is.”
The entrepreneur’s attorney also believed it’s her client’s “right” to discuss the situation however she sees fit, especially after being deemed a liar by many in the Milburn community.
“She knew that in Millburn, New Jersey, she would not be believed,” Hinson stated. “And that is exactly what has transpired.”