TRIGGER WARNING: Sexual assault/rape
If you’re in the punk scene, you know that recently, as well as for the past years, many artists/bands have been accused of sexual assault/rape. Here is an article of some advice for what you should do when an allegation comes out and how you can contribute to making the scene safer, whether you're a fan, artist/band, or someone who works in the music industry/punk scene.
*Please note that I’m not claiming to be an expert of any kind. This is only based on my experience as a woman who’s a fan of punk music and also a music industry professional, as well as based off of what I’ve seen on social media about womxn who have been sexually assaulted/raped by artists in the punk scene.
What to do when an allegation comes out
· Always believe the victim first. You might ask “But what if they’re lying?” Think of it this way, would you rather believe a potential abuser or a potential victim? If they turn out to be lying, you can always correct yourself, but if you truly “stand with the victims” you would always believe them. Please don’t ask them to show proof – it’s difficult to have “proof” of an assault.
· “They’re my favorite artist/band, they’d never hurt anyone.” It might be difficult to face the truth, but please understand that you DO NOT KNOW your favorite artists personally. You’re a fan and only see what they choose to show the public.
· “They’re my friend, they’d never hurt anyone.” People can be manipulative. You might have been best friends for years, but that doesn’t mean that someone close to you can’t assault/abuse others. It’s no excuse.
· If your friend has been accused of assault, confront them and educate them if needed. Even if they deny it (as anyone would), don’t ignore the situation and move on – What if they continued to assault people? Keep talking to them (in a safe space) and if you can, reach out to the victim and ask how you can help. Speak out about the situation. If you don’t say anything in person/online, and if you stay silent and pretend your friend didn’t do anything wrong, you are COMPLICIT and it shows how you obviously do not support victims at all.
· Be aware of your vocabulary. Please refrain from using vocabulary such as “canceling” an artist or calling the situation “drama.” It’s disrespectful and insulting – assault should be taken seriously and not brushed off. I know it’s difficult to hear if it concerns your favorite artist, but take a moment to breathe and reflect on the situation before using hurtful vocabulary. It’s not “cancel culture.” It’s calling out abusers/assaulters who have committed a crime – think about how the victim must feel. This is one reason why a victim might be afraid to speak out, because they fear that no one would believe them, and this needs to change.
· Notes for any artist/band who has been accused: Please don’t make an insincere notes app apology right away and just for performance. LISTEN and EMPATHIZE with the victim and ask what you can do to help. Mature and truly sincere apologies do not include using this type of vocabulary:
· “I’m sorry for how YOU feel” No. Apologize for what YOU/your bandmate did and admit your wrongdoings. If you didn’t know that your bandmate assaulted someone, then you didn’t know. But don’t lie about it if you DID know and didn’t do anything about it.
· “We didn’t understand how serious this was” Sexual assault/rape are ALWAYS serious matters. This is no excuse. Right when you learn of someone’s actions, TAKE ACTION and SPEAK OUT about it. If you just kick someone out of the band and don’t say anything, you’re not helping preventing this from happening again. But if you speak out about it on social media about what the person has committed, you’re warning people to stay away from this person.
· Some important statistics to know:
· “Nearly one in 10 women has been raped by an intimate partner in her lifetime”
· “91% of the victims of rape and sexual assault are female, and 9% are male”
· “In eight out of 10 cases of rape, the victim knew the person who sexually assaulted them”
How to contribute to make the punk scene safer
· If you’re at a show look out for not only your friends, but everyone. If you see something that looks even slightly suspicious, say something. Tell your friends and someone who works at the venue or on an artist’s team. This simple action can help prevent wrongdoings. Be kind to each other, you never know what a person is going through.
· If you’re a music industry professional (record label, touring crew, artist team, etc), do a background check on an artist or anyone in general before deciding whether to work with them. Are you comfortable working with someone who has sexually assaulted someone? Do you want to help an abuser promote their music? Talent/fame is no excuse for committing a crime.
· If you’re an artist/band, educate yourself, your bandmates, and your team. Take a sexual assault course together and TALK about it, and how you would handle a hypothetical situation. You may be uncomfortable, but it’s good to face the uncomfortable and understand your position. Because you’re an artist, you’re already in a higher position in the relationship between you and your fans, so do not take advantage of your fans or anyone. If you have to ask yourself, “Would it be weird if I did X?” then don’t do it. This includes messaging underage fans - keep in mind that fans can still lie about their age and even if they are of age, it’s still inappropriate to take advantage of your position for any reason by coercing or manipulating someone.
What to do when you or someone you know has been sexually harassed/assaulted
· I obviously can’t tell you what to do since everyone is different and comfortable with taking different actions. But I do suggest telling a trusted adult or calling an anonymous hotline. Don’t let anyone make you feel pressured to report the case if you’re not comfortable with it. If someone you know has been harassed/assaulted, LISTEN to them and don’t make any assumptions. Be there for them and ask what actions they feel comfortable with taking.
List of resources:
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)
Anonymous hotline: 800.656.HOPE (4673)
NSVRC (National Sexual Violence Resource Center)
Call 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224
CDC’s Sexual Violence Prevention Resources CDC’s webpage that contains sexual violence prevention resources.
CDC’s Dating Matters®: Strategies to Promote Healthy Teen Relationships Dating Matters is a teen dating violence prevention model to stop teen dating violence before it starts.
Raliance Raliance is a collaborative initiative dedicated to ending SV and is a resource for policymakers, advocates, service providers, prevention practitioners, and the media.
National Domestic Violence Hotline Call 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224
Love Is Respect National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline Call 1-866-331-9474 or TTY 1-866-331-8453
Strong Hearts Native Helpline Call 1−844-762-8483