TW: Sexual Abuse/Grooming
Grooming: Behaviors a predator employs in preparation for committing sexual abuse against a minor.
Sexual Assault: An act in which a person intentionally sexually touches another person without that person’s consent, or coerces or physically forces a person to engage in a sexual act against their will.
It is my belief that by being open and vulnerable by sharing my story, I may encourage more victims to come forward and report theirs without fear of judgment and shame. While this may not have been a violent sexual crime, it did teach me at a young age that my consent doesn't matter, my body only exists for the pleasure of others, and many other warped views of sex that I still have to work through today.
My story began when I was just a 17 year old teenager with low self esteem and a love for music. Whether it was locking myself in my room to listen to music and analyze lyrics or experiencing live music, it was my escape from reality and the only time I felt truly alive. I was a couple months away from my 18th birthday when I found out my favorite musician was recording an album with his new band only 20 minutes away so I decided to “shoot my shot” and send him a DM and to my shock he actually replied and was interested in hanging out with me. During this time, I was suffering from a severe eating disorder and still saw myself as the “fat” and undesirable girl I was throughout middle school and high school—certainly not someone a famous musician would want to be with. I hadn’t even had my first kiss at this point and was so excited to have a man’s attention, let alone the fact that this man was my idol, so I went through with meeting up with him, despite the fact he was quite a bit older than me (26 years old at the time).
The first time we hung out was actually pretty great—we went for dinner and then walked around the mall, he was very respectful and overall seemed like a decent guy and I was really excited about how things were going. It wasn’t until our next (and final) meeting that things became very uncomfortable.
He wanted us to have a sleepover and I couldn’t believe that the famous musician I looked up to for so long was actually interested in me enough to want that. I was aware that there may be an expectation to take the physical intimacy to another level during a sleepover but he was respectful during our first date so I assumed he’d respect my boundaries if I wasn’t comfortable with anything.
I still lived at home and my parents would not have approved of me bringing a 26 year old man home to sleepover (uhhh, duh!) and he was living in hotels/his recording studio. His band-members didn’t allow him to bring girls in so we would have to have the sleepover in my car in the parking lot of the recording studio. While that should have set major alarm bells off in my head it still wasn’t even registering how inappropriate it was that this man was asking a minor to sleepover (in the parking lot of a recording studio no less!) I just wanted to feel desired so badly I was willing to put myself in that questionable situation.
It turns out that this guy that I thought I knew so well based solely on his music was actually a very mentally disturbed individual with a serious alcohol addiction. When I arrived for our sleepover, he directed me to drive to the liquor store because he wanted to buy alcohol for both him and I. I had only ever drank alcohol once before that occasion and wasn’t really interested in it but he told me that it would “loosen me up” and make me feel more comfortable so I agreed. When we got back to our designated parking spot, we watched a movie and cuddled and drank. I actually felt pretty comfortable with how the evening was going at first—I had never kissed anyone before this encounter so he taught me how to french kiss and I had butterflies. But then he started putting his hands down my pants and I began to feel uneasy. I decided I didn’t want to take things any further so I told him I was tired and wanted to go to sleep assuming that would put the physical encounter to an end. But as I was trying to fall asleep, he continued putting his hands down my pants and fingering me. I just pretended I was asleep and figured if he thought I was sleeping he would stop, but he didn’t. He continued fingering me as I pretended to be asleep, I just kept thinking to myself “He’ll stop any minute now,” I didn’t want to say anything because I didn’t want him to know I was actually awake, I was scared of what would happen if he did. I didn’t realize what he was doing was wrong, I just thought it was annoying, honestly. I even thought that maybe it was my fault he was doing it because I should have just allowed him to before when he started putting his hands down my pants when we were kissing.
I didn’t sleep a wink that night, he kept sticking his hands down my pants and fingering me on and off all throughout the night. The second the sun rose, I told him I had an exam I needed to study for and had to go and that was it. Life had to continue as normal, even though I felt “changed,” I just tried to shove all those feelings of discomfort down so I could function throughout my days.
Trauma like that has a wild impact on the brain and body so to be honest with you, I don’t really remember exactly what happened after that. In fact, most parts of the story were blocked out from my memory that I only just recovered since seeing more victims come forward and share their stories. What little I do remember is that I tried to distance myself from him after that happened, and the friends I did tell would say, “he’s famous and he chose you, you need to keep it going.” He would constantly text me trying to guilt me into seeing him and I would come up with excuse after excuse until he finally stopped texting. It was then that it finally clicked in my brain how disturbing it was that this man significantly older than me would try to guilt trip a teenager into seeing him and more than likely, having sex with him, especially considering he knew that before him I hadn’t even kissed anyone.
As my first sexual experience, he taught me that my body exists only for the pleasure of others and that it doesn’t matter how I feel or what I want. He led me down a really dark path in the midst of my eating disorder where I began to seek out sex for validation and believed I needed to “put out” for men to be interested in me. The most messed up part about it is that I’m only realizing almost 8 years later that what I experienced was in fact sexual assault.
It is also extremely disturbing to think about how many men from the music scene I was involved in are accused of sexual assault and/or rape. I’m glad I’ve moved on from that part of my life and have completely disassociated myself from the scene (which included getting all my band tattoos I have from those days REMOVED). The first step of acknowledging that I was in fact sexually assaulted enables me to begin the healing process.
Victims of sexual assault in need of support please check out the following websites for more information and support:
Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network
National Sexual Violence Resource Center
New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault