When I was a child, I was sexually abused by my father. When I was 12, I reported my abuse and he was found guilty. I’ve spent every year since gradually getting over what he did. There’s a lot to get my head around. His family didn’t believe me, either so I had to deal with the loss of an entire family and a massive amount of betrayal. No easy feat for a 12 year old, let me tell you. Even as a 24 year old, I don’t understand it. I am okay, though.
I was so lost in my own sadness and anger that I didn’t really feel like I could talk about it. Nothing I could ever say would change it so why bother, right? That’s where music came in. Where music comes in. My tastes have changed and so have I. I’m far more upbeat now and have recovered probably as much as I can but when I was a teenager, I turned to rock music. I turned to My Chemical Romance, Lostprophets, Funeral For A Friend, etc. I used their music to help me get around my own misery and confusion. It helped. I went to their shows and cried because these artists had help me get to a place where I could see some kind of light. For me, in my eyes, they did the impossible; they gave me hope. I stopped feeling alone in my misery. I stopped feeling like nobody understood how I felt because they had been there. They were reaching out to the lost, angry souls and I was one of them. Being surrounded by people just like you who have been using the same bands as you as medication is an indescribable feeling. That’s what music does; it brings people together. Even now, so many years later, I still feel I owe a lot of who I am and my recovery to music.
The girls I saw at these shows hid themselves under baggy clothes, dark make-up and mumbled voices. If you think alternative kids are trying to stand out, they’re not. They’re trying to hide. They were vulnerable, I was vulnerable. They adored the men on stage because these men had changed everything for them. We felt like we owed our lives and wavering sanity to them. These men had a hold over us that they should have used for good. We used their lyrics to define ourselves by on Myspace. We used them on mix cd’s to each other to explain how we felt without actually saying it ourselves.
Hearing about Ian Watkins’s arrest in 2012 was a punch to the guts. Following his trial was heart shattering. This very same man who had helped me get over my father’s actions had been doing those very same actions to babies. He didn’t even seem remorseful. He used the word ‘megalolz’ I’d used an abuser to get over an abuser. My heart ached for the babies. My heart ached for their futures. I hoped they’d be able to live happy lives. My heart ached for his family. His bandmates. His fans. He used his own position of power to abuse children. He used it to find fans who would hand their children as his ‘slaves’. (I do not think the women are innocent in this at-all). He thought he was untouchable. He did it for years. The very same kind of people who had been at shows with me were the kind of women who found him. The kind of women he should have politely declined the advances of. The vulnerable, the weak and the hero-worshippers.
There is no excuse for what he did. None. I saw people saying they still thought he was innocent, I seen people saying on the day that he was convicted that they were still going to listen to the band regardless. Nobody wanted the burden of knowing a man they had adored was the most heinous kind of person so they acted like it hadn’t happened. It’s understandable to a degree but as somebody who has dealt with being shunned by people who can’t accept the truth (my dad’s family), I have to say, you’re not going to sleep any better at night. These things NEED to be accepted, they need to be analysed to avoid them happening again. Apathy is a fucking cancer.
Ian Watkins’s case is an extreme example of a huge problem in the music industry. If a rockstar takes advantage of a young girl, a hero-worshipper, it’s still taking advantage. It’s still abusing his power and her vulnerability. Every band that encourages teenage girls to kiss them, to go into their tour buses, to flash their breasts are the problem.
My dad was charismatic, funny, popular, clever and very charming. He was also a man who raped his eldest daughter repeatedly for years. His eldest daughter who pretended to be asleep when he walked into her bedroom. The eldest daughter who was too scared to bathe in his house. The same eldest daughter who made damn sure, even if it meant staying up all night and keeping watch, that he never got near her sister. That is the kind of person who Ian Watkins is. It doesn’t matter that he’s good looking, talented or funny. He’s an abuser. As sad and hard as it may be to accept, it doesn’t matter that he made a difference to your life. Don’t excuse the actions of a monster. Don’t choose ignorance over accepting hard facts. Especially when there are victims involved. Don’t stand by and watch girls get taken advantage of by rockstars and don’t encourage their actions.
I don’t feel like I shouldn’t have shared my story, I don’t feel like I ought to keep it secret or that I should be ashamed and I really hope that if there’s more victims, they don’t feel shamed into silence by the fans that refuse to accept the truth. I hope people realise that by supporting Ian Watkins, they are attempting to silence victims.
As Kerrang! editor James McMahon said:
If there is one glimmer of positivity from all that has happened this last year – and it’s a massive, gargantuan ‘if’ – it’s that that we might cut away a tumour that eats away at the underbelly of popular music once and for all. Music is communication. Music is entertainment. Music is revolutionary. It shouldn’t be a guise to abuse. People who lose sight of that – the bands that welcome school girls onto their bus, the bands that see fans as conquests, the people who excuse such behaviour as the rewards of fame – let’s start calling them scum, not musicians. Rock can be sexy without being sexist. Rock can be virile without being vile.