(all names have been changed to protect the victim)
In October of 2018, a California based record label approached me after watching me perform at a small beach event in LA. I had never heard of the label, prior to this event and wasn’t ready to sign to a label yet. The label bosses, a man named Joey and his girlfriend Sara, introduced themselves. I was confused when they showed interest in me, as the other artists who performed at this beach event played House and Tech House. I was not sure if they even understood that I was a Dark Techno and Dark Electro artist.
A few months later in December of 2018, Joey saw me at an underground warehouse event. This time when he approached me, he was with a friend named Rob. I had taken a seat to rest to take my anti-seizure medication for a rare, yet mild form of epilepsy I have. Rob inquired about what I was taking and my cane I walk with, and so I mentioned my epilepsy. Rob got excited; claiming had the same form of epilepsy. So, we immediately engaged in further conversation and connected in a potential friendship sense. I am not the type to say, “oh this is my new BFF”, nor am I out looking for romantic connections or sexual partners. When I attend events alone, I even dress more conservatively than I do when I am with friends or performing. I was consciously dressed that way that night, to try to send a message that I am not interested in hooking up.
At the warehouse, Joey, Rob, myself and their other friends talked excitedly about music and the labels mission. I had my laptop in my suitcase and told Joey I would be happy to stay in LA longer to show him my productions thus far.
Rob kept trying to get my attention while Joey and I were discussing business, and it was a bit exhausting. I chalked it up to drugs I had witnessed him do earlier. Joey had mentioned how he wanted to really promote and protect female and minority artists, so I felt as though I’d be safe as long as I was with Joey.
An hour later, we were invited to the home of a couple that Joey and Rob knew. After we arrived, some other men and women joined us. There was light drinking, nothing crazy. It was a small place and I assessed it as a safe environment. I was just really excited to be there and honored that Joey wanted to share his vision and details around running a label with 50+ artists. After our discussions, Joey officially booked me for a gig the beginning of 2019 and it would be my first professional gig!
At some point, I realized I had been holding my bladder for quite some time and excused myself – alone – to go to the restroom. I shut the door, turned the light on and right then, as I was about to lock the door, Rob comes barging in behind me and drops his pants begging me to have sex with him. I screamed and said, “What are you doing in here?! GET OUT!!” He grabbed me begging, “we have to do this”, trying to talk me into it. I clearly remember saying, “You need to get out of here now! I am an artist, not a groupie. Joey is right out there and I don’t want anyone in the industry seeing me like this. I don’t want sex. I just need to go the restroom.” At some point, Rob, totally ignoring my concerns, just pulled down my pants and underwear, forced me on him, and raped me. I am unable to discuss any further details of the rape because of how horrifying it was other than he pulled my hair with such force, my scalp hurt for days afterwards.
After he was done I asked him to get out of the restroom quickly and give me time to exit so no one would see he had come in after me. I was humiliated and didn’t want all these people I had just met to have a wrong impression of me including Joey and the label. I also assumed no one would believe me if I ran out and said it had happened. The way Rob followed me in the restroom, it would appear as though perhaps we had planned to go in together.
Clearly, my screaming and yelling had not been heard. I was also just utterly confused and shocked trying to process what had just occurred. I felt gross, like trash, and was really angry. When I exited the restroom, I realized the reason no one heard me is because everyone had gone to the balcony to smoke. I made myself a heavier drink to try to forget, and joined everyone on the balcony. I was grateful when Joey said he was ready to leave soon.
Without asking me first, Joey asked Rob if we could go to his house to listen to my work, to which Rob was eager. I agreed to go because I didn’t want Joey to know what Rob had done, and decided to just show good face to move forward with the label. This was the first professional opportunity I was given; I just didn’t know how soon I could get another chance to play a venue in LA.
So I went with Joey and Rob and I played about 30 of my tracks for them. Joey and I scheduled a more official and professional meeting the following week with his girlfriend Sara at their home studio. Joey stated he was very excited about my work and left. As soon as I got out of Rob’s house, I blocked his number, blocked him on social media and after crying to a friend about what transpired, just decided not to tell anyone and just avoid Rob at all cost. Rob was only a DJ on the label, not an owner, so I didn’t expect to see him much anyway.
I met with the label the following week, with Sara and Joey. I was relieved to find they created a really nice and safe environment for their artists in their home studio. We worked all day long into the night, and decided I would stay over one night as we had a bit of work to finish up the following day.
While getting dinner, Joey actually inquired about Rob and said he had noticed Rob was over the top attached to me on my previous trip. I debated telling him about the rape, but chose not to. I did conclude by saying, “Yes, I am not comfortable around him.” Joey assured me I would not be around Rob again if that is what I wanted. We discussed the upcoming gig, which did not include Rob’s name, so I was feeling confident and good about my continued work with label.
Joey left Sara with me for a bit while he ran an errand. During that time he was out, Sara spoke about female empowerment. She shared with me how it was her finances that had backed the start of the label and were keeping it afloat, she had been doing all the graphics for the label and even though she appeared more silent she was very much so half owner with the investment being nearly 100% hers. She also spoke about how women are too often victimized by men.
Joey was taking a while to return, so I suddenly – promoted by our conversation and Joey’s inquiry of Rob earlier – felt I should share with Sara what had actually happened a week earlier. It was the first time I used the word rape, and fully acknowledged that I had been raped. This is still difficult for me to accept now.
I told Sara I didn’t want Joey to know, simply because he was a man and Rob was a friend of his for many years, as well as on the label. Sara swore she would not tell Joey I told her I was okay, but I just wanted her to know in case they signed other females to the label. I felt they should keep Rob away from other female artists. Looking past my own humiliation, I would have felt responsible if I knew this guy was capable of hurting other women, and I had done nothing.
The heaviness and burden that is put upon victims of sexual abuse goes so far beyond the assault or rape. It’s the dirtiness and humiliation you feel. It’s also the stigma that follows you if others know. I also feel a responsibility, even as I want that trauma to remain private, “what if they do it to someone else (as abusers usually do) and we didn’t do anything to stop it?” It is an entirely unfair position to be put it, and sadly, this was not my first time being assaulted or harmed by a man in my profession, although it is the most violent and worst by essentially a stranger.
This also happened to me during a time where a now ex boyfriend I met through music and broke up due to his physical and mental abuse of me. He was stalking me for over a year, and continues to stalk me to this day. So far, he has cost me around $200,000 in legal fees, which I had to borrow to pay. This has delayed my music even further, not to mention the health toll this has all taken on me.
Some time passed and I didn’t hear anything from the label outside of being sent the flyer to promote, and getting an approval on the style of tracks I would be playing for my first gig with them. I was floored to see Rob’s name on the flyer when it was sent. I didn’t question it though. I just decided to be professional and put on my game face while there. I had about 15 – 20 people showing up for me, so I knew people would surround me I trusted and be too busy to focus on Rob.
When I walked in, Joey was cold towards me and told me my set time would be in 10 minutes. I was really confused as to why I had not been contacted earlier, and told I got pushed to the earlier time slot, but I knew these things happen and was glad I showed up when I did. I quickly began to prepare myself when Joey came back five minutes later and said, “I need to see you outside.” When we got outside, another artist from the label came to us to introduce herself and Joey yelled at her, “Not now!” and pulled me aside to my horror to scream at the top of his lungs to me, “WHY DID YOU TELL MY GIRLFRIEND THAT HE RAPED YOU!!!!” and pointed to Rob who was slumped on the wall behind us. Rob starts berating me too, and I’m just in shock. I said, “Joey I have five minutes before my set and you want to address this now and in front of him?” Joey continued to yell at me to the point I was crying. What could I say or do? I felt helpless. We were in public, with the guy who raped me sitting there knowing exactly what he did and that it was unwanted and forced. Keep in mind the venue I played at was in Downtown Los Angeles on a busy street and I had friends and new people that wanted to meet me trickling in.
I was shocked that Sara, who was inside DJing as the artist right before my new set time, had told Joey and that neither of them though to address this with me before I showed up at the venue. I mean, it was one of the biggest shocks I have ever encountered in my life that sexual assault would be handled as unprofessionally as this. Whether they believed me or not, to humiliate me in front of the venue, outside on the street in in DTLA in front of my friends, new associates, and venue employees?? Yes, tears were streaming down my face. I told Joey, “I’m not doing this now, and I’m about to go kick ass at my first professional gig.”
I walked back inside, tears streaming down my face as I avoided making eye contact with anyone. Sara started to talk to me and I just said, “Your boyfriend just screamed at me about being raped outside on the street in the last two minutes, I need a moment before I talk.” She went dead silent and we switched off. I took a big swig of my wine, wiped my eyes of the tears before anyone saw I was sad and put my game face on, truly doing a really amazing job for my first gig.
After I got off the decks and got congrats from friends, I went back outside with Joey and Sara. I had it out with him. I addressed his completely unprofessional behavior, yelling about me being raped or not out in public, and if he felt there was something he needed to address, they had my contact information and they could have privately done this before the event. Sara was immediately apologetic and regretful she told Joey, who screamed at her for apologizing.
I walked away from Joey saying if he wanted to keep working together, I would do so but not with such unprofessional behavior. I also told him since I had not gotten a rape test done, I knew without evidence I had nothing on Rob, and did not intended to go to authorities. However, my intention on letting Sara know was pure being that Joey had noticed Rob’s odd behavior with me enough to inquire about it, and my concern that they should protect their other female artists from him in the future.
Joey apologized profusely in the end, and said he just didn’t know how to react so he over reacted. He expressed continued desire to work with me and just move forward. He also said, if anyone laid a hand on me associated with him, to go straight to him next time immediately. I felt it strange he did say, “We’re just going to keep it professional and talk music, no more personal talk and don’t talk to my girlfriend again,” as though to imply I had been too personal with them. I only reached out to them for questions I had regarding our work together, but it did feel as though he was still leaving blame with me. I just figured it was the pill I had to swallow to move forward, and I knew that this happens to women a lot and seemed to be a part of our experience. So, to be successful we have to grin and bear it. I hate that I resigned to think that, but I did.
Nonetheless after the gig, it was difficult for me to be excited about working with them again. Plus with stress from the ex boyfriend stalking me, I just ended up becoming darkly depressed. I could barely move from bed for about 30-45 days. I finally decided if I was going to continue with the label, I needed to show up to support one of their events and get my tracks finalized for my first EP with them.
So, I let Sara know I was coming for an event in March 2019. Rob was not on the line up and I did not expect him to be there. So I was shocked when I arrived at the event and saw him, but I just avoided conflict by staying the back of the room.
After the event ended, I was waiting outside for Sara to finish packing up, when the couple whose house we were at when I was raped saw me. They were very excited to see me, as I had saved the girl’s cell phone from damage that night after it fell in a toilet by telling her to shut it off immediately and put it in a bag of rice, which always does the trick. She saw me and excitedly screamed, “You’re the girl that saved my phone, remember me? You saved my phone!” and starts hugging me. Her boyfriend joined in the hug and we were having a happy moment.
Then all of a sudden I feel a hard shove and hear a male scream “NO NO NO NO!” and see a fist coming to swing at me. Rob stopped the group hug by shoving me hard, trying to physically assault me. A man stopped the first swing; a second one got in and hit me on my shoulder as I turned to run. Then a bunch of men jumped in and had to pull Rob away from me. He was upset because I was hugging his friends.
I went inside and did as Joey instructed me in January to come to him directly. I told him Rob attacked me outside while I was minding my own business and that there were multiple witnesses of whom many had to intervene so I didn’t get hurt. Joey said, “Yes, you did the right thing by coming to me.” However, he did not come outside to address Rob or anything. I waited about 15 minutes for Joey to do something, and he didn’t. He just let Rob leave with other friends and nothing was resolved yet again.
I left an event feeling once again, trashed, hurt, violated and defeated. I tried to contact both Joey and Sara the next day and find out if they were going to do anything about the situation. It was clear to me I should not continue with the label if they were going to go about things this way and Rob would always be a threat. Sara told me Joey would get back to me in a few days. I never heard from them again, and I didn’t push to stay on the label. However, I saw Rob’s name on future flyers with the label before it collapsed.
In March 2020 I heard from Sara again. She had separated from Joey, as both he and the label went dysfunctional. She apologized a lot for everything, and she assured me that night she was as much in control of the label as Joey, despite her other career blossoming, and so again I felt I did the right thing by going to the female boss to begin with in January 2019.
Sara and I are good friends now, but I will never see or speak to Joey or Rob again. I hope Rob does not harm more people. While a part of me regrets not going to the police, I honestly still believe it would have caused irreparable harm to my career and reputation moving forward, by being blacklisted and people calling me a “drama mama” or something stupid like that, instead of addressing the CONSTANT assaults, rapes, and other harassment men force upon unwilling women.
In part due to this rape, an assault that I reported and lost my job for reporting it a decade ago, and my ex that is stalking me (despite a restraining order) without consequence, I intend – should I ever have a platform large enough, to take up charitable efforts to help laws change to protect women and children better. Our laws are truly not strong enough if a final outcome of rape or murder only incurs the offender some prison time, but stalking and mild assault gets pretty much no punishment or protection of the victim. I would also like to help create more awareness around the commonality of these offenses and how we are silenced, stigmatized, suffered further trauma like opportunity loss, or referred to as drama causers simply by reporting the truth and expose those who have harmed us.
In time, I hope I find a platform to share my stalker story as well because domestic violence is also not being handled properly. My abuser used my music to get into my life. As you can imagine, I am pretty cold and extremely protected these days. I am not in a relationship and have no plans to enter in to one anytime soon. I am honestly pretty terrified of men, but hide it well. Thank you so much for allowing me to share.