Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault
One out of every 6 females in the US are the victims of “attempted or completed sexual assault”.
I don’t want to speak for any other person, so please understand this is MY story and MY experience. I speak for myself only.
Sexual assault was just part of growing up. I was touched as a child both by other children and adults. some of that child to child interaction was based off of curiosity by both parties, but a portion was blatantly non-consensual on my part. I think we can all agree that any adult to child experience I had was nonconsensual and move on…
My first sexual experience was heavy petting that went too far, which led to me saying no, no, no, please I’m a virgin, no….and then silence, which the other party took as consent, I’m sure.
Without going into more triggering details, sexual assault was just another element of my human experience. I learned that: my boundaries didn’t matter, I was not protected by anyone around me, and I was only there for others to use as they pleased. I was an adult before I realized that many of these events were rape and sexual assault, but by then I was numb against the emotions that should have come with that revelation.
I suffered through my 20’s with all that untreated trauma until I had enough and received years of various types of talk and group therapy. I finally had a hold of my life, true self esteem, better thought processes, healthier boundaries and saw myself elevating in most areas of my life. I could talk about past trauma and not be numb but healed. Or, so I thought.
I pursued a career as a promoter and personality in the local hip hop scene. As a female, in a male dominated industry, it was a struggle gaining respect as a PERSON, let alone as a female. I know other women who slept their way into opportunities and refused to be seen as that. I kept my sexual relationships discreet and wore more conservative clothing. I wanted to be judged on my skills, not my sexuality.
I was a few years in and on the right track when I started collaborating with another promoter in my city. He was married with children and kept things 100% business when we spoke. He let me put a few artists in different shows, gave me VIP meet and greet tickets to all of his, and in return, I would help promote and organize the show – whatever was needed.
There was one show where the artists I managed didn’t sell the amount of tickets we had promised. After the event ended, my friend and I were in the green room with this promoter. He asks, “So what happened with your artist?” I begrudgingly repeated the same excuse to him my artist had given to me. When I give my word it means a lot, and it’s never okay for an artist to not hold up their end of the agreement. As their manager, my name is on the line, too. The promoter asked my friend is she could let us talk. Without hesitation, she exits the green room, and I’m thinking he’s trying to save my dignity by bitching me out alone.
But that’s not what happened.
He locked the door and proceeded to try and put his hand up my knee length pencil skirt, rubbed his genitals on me, try to kiss me and “persuade” me to engage in sex right there on that green room couch. I somehow maneuvered myself away from him, unlocked the door and found my friend.
“Let’s go outside I need to smoke RIGHT NOW,” I told her. She saw the urgency on my face and once outside asked what was going on. “Don’t ever leave me alone with him again, I almost got raped,” I told her in disbelief. She wanted to confront him but, in that moment,, I went into flight mode: it’s his word against mine, I had been drinking, I just started as a promoter and people will treat me different, it’ll just cause more issues than it’s worth. I convinced us both to just walk away from the moment, and I continued to work with this man.
There had been more of a sexual tone with the promoter after that. He would compliment me at shows, grope my butt, suggest we do other sexual things. I would just laugh it off or joke about his behavior. Then he started taking away the privileges he had originally given me like VIP meet and greets and putting artists on events. I knew it was because he finally realized he wasn’t going to get sex from me and that was the only reason he had done it in the first place. I felt disrespected one night and angrily text him, “One day someone will Harvey Weinstein you and I will be there with a #metoo.”
“Callie, I apologized to you. I don’t know what you want from me.” He admitted to everything.
He had never really apologized for anything specific; he once made a comment after reading a social media post of mine that made him feel guilty and said if he had done anything to offend me in the past, he apologized… right.
I told a few people what happened. Some wanted to say something, and I told them not to. That time had passed, and it would be more of an ordeal that I wanted to deal with. Eventually, his wife found out and called me. She urged me to not go public because they were already suffering with family problems and she couldn’t handle that right then. I told her I had no plans to.
Another strong woman in the music industry had joined forces with this promoter, becoming the VP of marketing. She found out and called me. I told her the story. She apologized on his behalf for, “acting in a way I found disrespectful”, and said she understood why I was upset. At the end of the conversation, she added, “You know if you go public with this, it will ruin my career.” I was floored that she even said such a thing, that HER career was more important.
Word got out to more people, but the majority of them saw this promoter as a way to elevate their career and chose to turn their head. I didn’t blame them; I mean I even continued to work for him after the violation. Why shouldn’t they?
News about a popular DJ sexually assaulting a few ladies in the area broke. He was immediately fired and ostracized, forced to remove himself from social media and from the music scene as a whole. A few of these artists who knew about my situation and still continued to work with the promoter start using sexual assault as a way to get some pats on the back and social attention.
“If any of you ladies ever experience this type of thing, let me know. There’s no room in the DFW music scene for men like that.” Yet this person talked to me about what happened in that green room and was a huge supporter of this promoter and reaped all the benefits that came with that. After a few more of these types made their stance against sexual assault, knowing full well that their icon was accused of such acts, from a woman they actually knew and worked with, and did nothing… I reached the end of my give-a-fucks.
I had to call these fools out. My wounds from past and current trauma were open and bleeding. I was once again unprotected, unable to ensure my personal boundaries were respected, and once again used by people who had no regards for my needs. I was being hurt by those in the music scene I had grown to consider a family. It made me hate doing the thing I love with all of my heart. I no longer wanted to be a part of something I helped build. I felt like I didn’t matter, and it cut me deep and wide.
So, I came forward.
“Do you see what she wears at events, though?”
“Callie gets so drunk, even I could have fucked her.”
“Why is she saying something NOW if it was that big of a deal?”
“She’s just clout chasing.”
Everything people say to minimize sexual assault were said, but this time it was about me. People chose sides and this promoter was doing bigger and better things than myself, so I wasn’t the popular choice. My own friends chose to continue to work with him although they let me know what he did wasn’t right. I met with him and told him I forgave him and moved along with my life.
If I said that coming out about the situation didn’t hurt my career, I’d be lying. I felt a noticeable difference in the type of respect I got and by whom. It helped me see who a real supporter was and who was an opportunist. Some even stayed neutral with a stance I couldn’t be mad at. Eventually, we all moved on with our lives and it became a distant memory.
I found it hard to be around some people. It was harder to trust, and I still did not feel protected. But I also became more self assured, less concerned with approval, and outspoken about what I will and will not allow. I took this as a growing experience and chose to focus on the positive.
But I never fully healed. I’m no longer traumatized by the event itself and I have forgiven the promoter. The wounds I suffer are from the aftershock. The blatant disregard for the fact I was violated by those close to me. The turned heads of those that continued to work with him, even after knowing. Those who came out AGAINST me, defended him, or even said in so many words that I had deserved it.
A very smart friend of mine told me, “People mostly don’t know what to do. This isn’t a cop out. Most women are the victims of abuse. Instead of standing together, they usually subconsciously are like – who is she to deserve more protection than me? And men are abusers- so they don’t want to say anything or bring attention, in case it falls back on them. People ain’t shit.”
Then she said something that inspired me to write this blog post: “You’re going to heal but never be over it. It hurts when we trust people and they violate it. I hope you never get immune to the feeling because it’s what makes you such an advocate.”
I’m not even sure what alternative chain of events could have made any of this better. Saying something when it happened? Keeping it under wraps and going on with my life? Any scenario has its own bag of tricks. The only scenario that would have had a positive ending would be the one where he never locked me in that green room or ever tried to use me like a sexual object. He should have treated me as peer, like he does with the men in his circle. I can only hope that by speaking up, he was able hear the suffering he caused and was able to change. I just hope to let other women know they are not alone, that they find strength in telling their own stories, and heal by taking control of their narratives.