I can distinctly remember wanting to make a career switch from a big corporate trading company to music because I wanted to work in an industry that was more sustainable, did more good for the world, and celebrated love and creativity. When I started as a junior music professional almost ten years ago, I was passionate, eager, and committed to being part of something beautiful. I had just completed my masters degree and landed a job at a distribution company as a junior assistant. I eventually started to work as a sales manager, signing record labels and artists and their master catalogues.
The first time I was sexually harassed by a client was at IMS. I was overwhelmed and it took me some time to feel comfortable enough to share this with my superiors, because the entire management team of the company was made up of seven men. I remember trying to get over it because I was afraid I would be more hurt by sharing this, and no formal action being taken by my employer, and I felt ashamed. By that time, I had been an employee for two years.
The second time was more severe. I was sexually assaulted whilst on a work trip to London, traveling there alone, and by a man working for another large independent distributor. He followed me to my hotel and I was too afraid to be loud about his unwanted physical approaches in the elevator. I remember running down the hotel corridor to my room, and locking all door locks and holding my breath listening if he had followed me and whether he knew what room number I had. He somehow had my phone number, although I had never given it to him and continued to text me that night to “just let him in and just have one drink”. I later learned he didn’t even stay in that hotel. When #metoo ignited, I showed these texts to the CEO, because I finally didn’t feel alone anymore and I felt brave enough to bring both cases forward.
The third time, I was drugged with ghb in my water bottle at a festival in Amsterdam, and sexually assaulted for four hours long, backstage behind the main stage by someone who had a reputation of drugging and assaulting young women. My body was paralysed and I couldn’t even sit up straight let alone protect myself. I had to sit it out.
All three times, the assaulter was someone I knew and all three times, I eventually did share my story. Twice with my employer and once with the festival organisation. All three times no action was taken. To this day, both men remain clients of my former employer, and the man who drugged and sexually assaulted me, is still a backstage regular at parties “because there was no proof”.
I had eventually become numb to these things happening to me. Shortly after the third “more severe” assault, I had a burn-out and collapsed at the office. I started to cry and couldn’t stop crying for two weeks straight. I was sent on sick leave and not promoted anymore the following (and final) two years I worked there. Today, I don’t feel helplessness or fear anymore. But I have found inspiration in fighting for a safer workplace for women and minorities in the music industry. And I will never stay silent or feel shame anymore.