My story of industry assault
At Pax South 2017, I was assaulted by [PERSON]. I had seen him that weekend and thought he was cute and charming, and I was newly single, so the idea that someone so nice would be interested in me was extremely flattering. A big group of us were at On the Rocks Sunday night, and he kept feeding me drinks while we were all playing pool. A mutual acquaintance was trying to play matchmaker and get us together, and I thought it was fun to flirt – the attention was nice after years of neglect.
At one point I remember thinking I was too drunk and got some water at the bar. [PERSON] chided me for it, and then in front of everyone used his full hand to grab my crotch and pull me towards him. A couple people laughed so I pulled away and played it off because I was shocked and embarrassed and had no idea how to react. A few drinks later and things start getting really blurry. I remember a DM convo we had while we were still in the bar with everyone where he said I “couldn't handle him” and I said something like “maybe we'll find out”.
I remember saying to the group I needed to get to my bed because I was too drunk. I remember him walking me out of the bar, and thinking he was getting me home safe. And then we were in his hotel room. And I am not healed enough to go into the details, but I remember crying and trying to figure out how to escape. I remember him laughing at my tears. I remember thinking the sooner it was over the sooner I could get out. As soon as he was done I grabbed my clothes and left crying. I got back to the hotel I was sharing with two women, and I immediately showered for what felt like an hour. I remember being sad that I’d lost my fake eyelashes during the encounter with him.
The next day I tried to joke and write it off as a mistake, and the girls I was with commiserated and assured me they’d all been there and made mistakes like that before. I had been flirting, after all. I had made advances, surely. I had let him take me to his room. But everything felt wrong. I physically felt wrong. I felt broken. And it took years to come to terms with the fact that it wasn't consensual, and it was assault. I never reported it. I tried to contact him to make sense of what happened, because I couldn't accept that what happened was rape. He unfollowed me. I saw him at an event a few months later and he hugged me and was friendly in front of people. But it all felt wrong. I blocked him on socials shortly after that, and tried desperately to block him from my memory as well.
It wasn’t until recently that I started seeing him at events. This first time I had a full on panic attack and it took me several hours to calm down enough to function again. The second time, I could feel the panic setting in again, so I immediately went backstage to stay somewhere safe. It was then that I told a male friend of mine the overview of why I was panicked and who was the cause. He sounded genuinely distraught and made sure I was in the company of another woman and had water and felt safe.
This man continues to get gigs at events. He is well-liked and popular, he has a girlfriend, and many influential friends (including the man who helped me at the event. But I have also spoken to SEVERAL women who have called this man by name unprovoked by me. So we’re starting to learn the truth about [PERSON], and I know for a fact I’m not his only victim. I’m not ready to say his name. But I want to share my story because it took me YEARS to accept that what happened was rape. I did not ask for this to happen to me. I did not invite him to violate me like he did. I did not deserve that trauma. No one does.
To all the women speaking out, I believe you and I support you. Thank you for sharing such a raw and vulnerable part of yourself. I am here for you if you need it.
To all the men wondering how they can help and support, be loud. Believe women, speak up, remove these predators, cut business ties with them, stop hiring them, stop doing them favors, stop calling them your friend after your female friend tells you they assaulted her.
It is terrifying to share a story of this kind of trauma knowing ahead of time that many strangers will call you a liar, or a whore, or any number of terrible things. These women do not do this lightly. Please listen, and believe us.