Fifteen years ago, a casting director, a woman I thought was my friend and mentor, raped me, a woman.
At this point in my life, I have moved beyond the trauma of this incident and the years of manipulation, threats and emotional abuse that followed. However, I am still as afraid as I was then that by speaking out and telling the truth about what happened to me could ultimately hurt me. As a young aspiring actress in New York, I worked three jobs, went to school, and volunteered at companies to earn credits for classes and “pay to play” meet and greets with casting directors and agents. I had worked my entire life to become an actress in New York, and nothing was going to stand in my way, not being overworked, not being broke, not being a “nobody.” I was dedicated to my craft and to this business I dreamed of being a part of since I was a child. Those meet and greets with industry professionals is where I met my attacker.
Finding friends and champions in the industry can be hard. Everyone seems well-intentioned and happy to help, at first, but the sad truth is there is an amount of selfishness required to succeed in the entertainment industry. You have to care about your looks, you have to care about your image and where it appears, and your reputation is everything. If anyone ever hears that you are hard to work with or a diva, you are done. When I was befriended by a casting director who seemed to genuinely believe I had talent and a “good look,” I felt so lucky. She generously shared her knowledge and connections and asked for nothing in return. Having not made many friends in New York, I cherished her friendship and guidance.
One night a group of us went out dancing to celebrate that I had just signed with my first manager, and I was taking a chance at working only one job to pursue auditioning full time. I’ll admit, I had a bit too much to drink, but what followed that evening should never have happened. My new friend offered to get me home safely from the bar; I believe the reason my other friends trusted her is the fact that she’s a woman and this woman being a threat probably never crossed their minds. That night, my “friend” became my attacker. I said no, I cried, I begged, but I was physically and mentally unable to make her stop. I feel sick to my stomach even writing this out. I hate the girl I was that night. I hate her for drinking too much, I hate her for going in and out of a “black-out” state, and I hate her for trusting. I hate her for not being brave enough to go to the police the next morning; my roommates who heard every cry, plea and threat of my rape through their bedroom walls, tried to convince me I had to file a report but I told them I couldn’t. Not that I didn’t want to, but that I simply couldn’t for fear that this woman who had more power than me in an industry I so desperately wanted to be a part of, would ruin everything I had worked so hard to achieve. Following my assault, I noticed the few times I shared my story, it was brushed off and dismissed, even by my friends. One friend told me I wasn’t raped because I was bi-sexual and everybody knows “they” want to have sex with everyone. Another dismissed the idea of a predatory female and insisted women couldn’t be rapists.
For the next two years, I was held hostage by that night. I was threatened and manipulated; I was warned to keep my mouth shut and be friends with my attacker. She threatened to kill herself if I told; she would demand I hang out with her and other casting directors then sit uncomfortably close to me so she could whisper the lies she would tell them if I ever exposed her. She told me to keep my mouth shut and I did so because I was scared.
In the end, everything I feared would happen did happen anyway: she badmouthed me, she lied to my actor friends who then turned against me, and told people I used her to “get ahead”. I became withdrawn and depressed; I wanted to disappear and no longer exist.
By the following year, I had become so sick and depressed; my mother flew out from California to check on me. When she arrived, my roommates let her into the apartment where I was crying in the corner of my darkened bedroom; she wrapped me in her arms, and I unleashed all of my pain and sobbed into her chest. I told her everything. I made her promise never to tell anyone, which she only agreed to if I promised in return to keep telling her everything so I wasn’t suffering alone anymore.
I never reported my attacker and with my mother’s support I was able to “rise above it”. I kept working, I kept auditioning, and I kept dedicating myself to my craft and focused on being the best actress I could be. My work ethic and talent had to count for something. Once I distanced myself from this person, she continued to stalk and harass me via texts, emails and voicemails, but since she had done her worst and I was still standing, she didn’t affect me anymore. Yes, I was dropped by my manager, and my agent at her request (I was forwarded emails by assistants and interns who felt I had a right to know) yes, I had to create new networks of contacts, but I kept auditioning, and I kept booking jobs.
Rumors and gossip of her ongoing predation can be found in actor forums and I personally met a few other women she had hurt before me. I met one woman in the bathroom at an audition. She knew who I was instantly and since she had been a victim of this shark as well, she knew what I had been through. All I could mutter at the sight of her was, “How did you survive it?” She said, “Just smile through it. She’ll find someone new to focus on, and it will all go away.” She was right, but I’ve always felt guilty, and a bit responsible for the trauma the next girl had to endure because I was too afraid to speak out.
Fifteen years later, I don’t tell people who she is for my self-preservation and sanity. I can’t invite that woman back into my life by naming her and opening that wound. I know she still follows my life and career, she still contacts me at least once a year in hopes of becoming “friends again.”
I’m publishing this anonymously because for me, it’s not about naming names. I don’t feel the need to “stick it” to person who raped me. I write this to let other victims of same-sex rape and sexual abuse know they are not alone. Sexual abuse and rape is not necessarily about sex, and it’s not gender specific either, it’s about the power and manipulation.
To all of the other women in the entertainment industry who are survivors – your dreams and goals shouldn’t be used against you to silence you. You did nothing wrong.