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Don’t worry, I won’t tell anybody.

I am about to share something that I’ve wanted to pretend never happened since I was 18. A burden I thought I’d have to carry for the rest of my life and suffer in silence.

For those who do read this story, I know will ask, like any other victim of rape or assault, why I never came forward earlier. And the truth is, I tried.

A short amount of time passed after the incident, I confided in my then manager, Nils Larsen, that I wanted to come forward. He heard me out and said he would do some investigation and would try to find me a good attorney as I intended to press charges.

He later informed me that my abuser, who’s name I will disclose later in this article, had the most powerful litigator in the country.

He was right. I didn’t have the money, the clout or access to an attorney who was powerful enough to stand up against my abuser’s legal counsel. I was told I would likely be buried in humiliation, accused of being fame hungry, and it would ultimately hurt me professionally as well as publicly.

I was focused on building a career and name for myself at the time and I didn’t want what he did to further affect my life and future.

Let’s rewind a bit. The first time I met my abuser wasn’t the first time the abuse occurred. The first time we spoke was briefly over the phone while I was filming “This Is Me Remix” music video with my group DREAM and then boss, P. Diddy.

My abuser was and still is, in a very well known boyband. My label informed me that this person’s rep had reached out to them and he shown romantic interest in me and would like to set up a chat over the phone.

My label reps sat in on the call, anticipating a spark between the two of us. I was already dating someone steadily at the time. I was transparent with my then boyfriend about the call and assured him I had no interest but needed to at least accept his call out of respect and courtesy to my label.

I took the phone call. He was very polite and the conversation was quick.

Fast forward a few years later. He and I were casted in the same made for T.V movie.

I was no longer in a relationship and now single. My first impression of him, he was kind and charismatic so when he asked if I’d like to hang out with him and his friend at his Santa Monica apartment on our off day of shooting, I said yes. I invited my roommate to come with me.

That evening my friend and I arrived to a barely furnished apartment. No dining room furniture, No living room furniture. Just a TV and a game console which both the guys were playing on.

My abuser, 22, provided liquor for the get together and asked us what we would like to drink. We all took a shot and proceeded to the living room to play some video games. This wasn’t a crazy house party, just a casual hangout. We were laughing, talking, nothing out of the norm.

Soon after, he asked me if I would like to come into his office and listen to some new music he was working on. I agreed and was eager to hear his new music.

I could draw a diagram of the layout of this apartment. Barely there furniture throughout with the exception of the office. He took my hand and led me down the hallway to the office. He went to his computer and started to play the music he was working on, he turned off the light and we sat there in the computer light listening to his new stuff. And naturally we started to kiss. He was aware that I was a virgin and that I held to religious conservative christian values. I was vocal about this. Everyone knew about this, including those who repped me.

Now this is where things take a turn and gets graphic. I want to warn you that what I will be disclosing next describes graphic, violent sexual behavior. Please continue reading at your own discretion.

After kissing for a moment, he took my hand and brought me into the bathroom adjacent to his office. He shut the door and we continued to kiss. I asked him what we were doing in there. He didn’t respond and continued to kiss me. He then pick me up, put me on the bathroom counter and started to unbutton my pants. I told him I didn’t want to go any further.

He didn’t listen.

He didn’t care.

He told me, “don’t worry. I won’t tell anybody.”

I told him thats not why I didn’t want to do it. He took off my pants anyway and then proceeded to perform oral sex on me. I told him to stop, but he didn’t. So I turned off the bathroom light so I wouldn’t see anything. He kept turning the light back on because he told me he wanted to look at me. I remember thinking at that point that maybe after this he will just stop, but he didn’t.

Someone in the house knocked on the bathroom door. So he took me into the other bathroom to pick up where he left off. He then took off his pants. I will never forget this moment. There was a bathroom nightlight so although it was dark, it was dimly lit enough for me to see myself in the bathroom mirror. He sat himself on the bathroom counter and asked me to perform oral sex on him. I declined, he was upset. He told me,

“I did it for you and it’s only right you do it for me.”

I felt scared and trapped. He was visually and clearly growing very angry and impatient with me. I couldn’t leave. It was evident to me, that i couldn’t leave. He was stronger and much bigger than me, and there was no way I would be able to open that door or have anyone help me. My friend couldn’t help me, I didn’t even know where she was. So when he placed my hand on his penis my thought was the only way to get out was to get him to finish what he had started. That’s where I saw myself, my reflection, watching myself do something that I was sicken by. Watching myself be assaulted, forced to engage in an act against my will.

Same as before his appetite was still not satisfied and now took me to the bedroom. It was late. The apartment was now dark and all you could hear was the remaining music in the living room. He threw me on the bed and climbed on top of me. Again, I told him that I was a virgin and I didn’t want to have sex. I told him that I was saving myself for my future husband. I said it over and over again. He whispered in my ear as to entice me,

“I could be your husband.”

He was relentless, refusing to take my no’s for an answer. He was heavy, too heavy to get out from under him. Then I felt it, he put something inside of me. I asked him what it was and he whispered in my ear once more,

“it’s all me baby.”

It was done. The one thing I had held as a virtue had been ruined. I went limp, turned my head to my left and decided I would just go to sleep now. I wanted to believe it was some sort of nightmare I was dreaming up.

The sun began to come up and my roommate came into the room and woke me up. We had to get home because she had work later that morning. My abuser was nowhere to be found. He was no longer on the bed and I never went looking for him. I just wanted to get out of there as fast as I could. I grabbed my things and my friend and I proceeded to the car.

Once in the car, she turned on the ignition and exclaimed,

“That was so much fun, huh?!”

“I just want to go home. I’m tired. I just want to go to sleep.”

I didn’t tell her. I didn’t want to even admit what happened was real to myself. Over the next few weeks I withdrew further and further from my friends and family and they noticed. I still didn’t tell anyone.

Shortly after he called me. He called me over and over and over again and I wouldn’t pick up. I didn’t want to hear his voice. He jammed my phone with calls for weeks, leaving me messages demanding I speak with him. Then he finally left me one last nasty, angry message and he never called me again.

It was over, at least I thought it was. I thought I’d never have to see or hear from him ever again. Until, I later signed with his manager, Kenneth Crear. Kenneth Crear was a very powerful manager who I thought could help me make my mark as a recording artist.

I quickly learned that Kenneth was thick as thieves with my abuser. Like family. I wondered what story or narrative my abuser might have told Kenneth of our once brief encounter. Did he know anything? I certainly wasn’t going to tell him.

Kenneth set up a showcase for me for a major label. We recorded a few songs, one of them was a duet with my abuser. We never recorded together. He had pre-recorded his part and I went in and recorded mine. Again, what was I supposed to do? I could’t tell my manager that his best friend had raped me so I won’t record this song.

I tried to justify that maybe something good to come out of something very bad. Maybe this song might help me get signed as a solo artist and I could move on and put everything behind me. Kenneth asked my abuser if he would be willing to sing the duet with me live at my showcase and he agreed.

I wasn’t surprised that he did. He knew this way I couldn’t avoid him anymore. The day of the showcase, he arrived. I waited quietly and anxiously backstage bracing myself for the confrontation. We stood next to each other in awkward silence. He was irritated with my lack of warm welcome and appreciation for the favor he was doing for me.

“How have you been?”

“Good.”

silence.

“I have a boyfriend.”

“Good for you. I hope it works out.”

The conversation was going nowhere. I was uninterested, un-engaging, unappreciative and it upset him further to hear that I was in a relationship that I was happy in.”

I could tell he was agitated, he wasted his valuable time doing something he didn’t need to do for me. His last words to me as we walked on stage was,

“Let’s just get this over with already.”

Ladies and gentleman, please welcome Melissa Schuman and from the BackStreet Boys, Nick Carter.

We performed the song. I did my set.

I spoke with the label head after the show, in which he mentioned the duet I did with Nick sounded amazing and that he could easily attach it to a movie soundtrack.

“We’ll be in touch.”

Weeks past and I heard nothing. No word from Kenneth despite calling for weeks, he was too busy to take my call. When we finally spoke, I was surprised to hear the feedback from the same label head I had spoke to before.

Dead pan, I was told,

“He isn’t interested in signing you. He told me your vocals were weak in the duet and that he was interested in the song only. Nick will be moving forward with the song elsewhere.”

I asked my manager what the game plan was next and he reluctantly said,

 “Maybe another showcase. I don’t know.”

I could tell by his tone that he was no longer interested in working for me and I couldn’t help but wonder if Nick had any influence in it.

I never did another showcase again after that and I quickly lost interest in pursuing a career as a recording artist.

I was broken.

I was tired.

I was traumatized.

I told my therapist. I told my family. I told my friends. I have a plethora of people who can attest that I eventually became open vocal about my experience, i’ve just never had the platform to come out publicly.

When the news broke about the gross accusations of Harvey Weinstein, many of my friends and family asked me if I wanted to come forward with my story.

I said no.

So many years later, the idea of reliving and re-writing the events that were traumatic, something that I have worked so diligently to heal from is painful. I did however promise that if another victim ever came forward I would then feel the responsibility to show my support by sharing my story.

And then I saw the write up from RadarOnline on 10.30.17 and the response it was getting in the comments.Screen Shot 2017-11-01 at 9.03.42 AM

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Victim shaming is a core reason why victims don’t speak out. The last comment is exactly what keeps victims, like myself, from ever speaking out.

The victim in the above article remains unnamed and I can’t blame her. I can’t help but feel empathy for her as well as sicken by the lack of belief and support. There is nothing worse than being victimized and having others call you a liar. Or claim you are looking for 15 mins of fame.

Let me ask this simple question. Who the hell wants to be famous for being raped?

I certainly don’t want to be “known” for this. I never wanted anybody to know about my story. I wanted to lock it in a box in my mind and let the memories slowly suffocate as time went on.

I feel I have an obligation now to come forward with the hope and intention to inspire and encourage other victims to tell their story. We are stronger in numbers. If you are reading this and you have been assaulted, know you don’t have to be silent and you are not alone. I know it’s scary. I’m scared.

I believe you. I stand with you and together I hope we can bring light to things that have been lost in the darkness for so long.

#MeToo

 

 

 

 

Babies & Positive Pregnancy Tests

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Last night I had a dream, a vivid one. The kind of dream that when you wake up, you wonder if it’s true. I hadn’t had a pregnancy dream since I was pregnant with my son 10 years ago. As much as we LOVE our son, another child is just not on the radar.

I am no stranger to vivid dreaming, my dreams can be so detailed and sometimes disturbing that I could write entire movies based on them and maybe one day I will. Put those nightmares to good use.

The dream I had last night had me reaching for my phone the second I woke.

I dreamed that I was on a train filled with other women coming home from some sort of retreat. On this train, there were new friends, old friends and people I only knew a few days and the theme remained the same.

Babies and positive pregnancy tests.

I could feel my belly swelling and I scrambled to find a pregnancy test on this massive train that we were on.

Positive.

Just like most dreams, the stream of consciousness is rarely linear. I found myself hovering over a pool of children trying to swim, guiding them to safety if I felt they weren’t ready to swim. This is no different from my early parenting style, helicopter mommy I am. SNAP! back to the train as I try to find my phone. Ugh! This is something I frequently dream about, trying to make a phone call that I can’t make. I manage to FaceTime my husband showing him the positive test and his response echoed my own surprise and dread.

My birthing story was less than a beautiful experience, in my dream I was dreading doing it again. Reflecting on just how traumatic it was by the time I woke from the dream, I grabbed my phone and googled.

“What does it mean to dream about being pregnant?”

You might be ‘pregnant’ with a whole new idea of you. Loewenberg says, “Your subconscious is showing you this ‘work in progress’ in the form of a pregnancy so you will have a better perception of how precious this new thing is to you.” This way, she elaborates, “you will continue to nurture and protect it so that YOU can reach your full potential.” In a way, your creative or new endeavor is your baby and it deserves the same kind of attention as a newborn would.- Professional Dream Analyst Lauri Loewenberg

Read the full article here.

This analysis rings far more true for me at this very moment in my life. Since coming forward late 2017, the trajectory of my life has changed significantly. I went from focusing on my career as an actress and comedian to shifting my focus to building a positive and inspiring space through community and live-streaming full-time.

It has felt like a re-birth. both scary and incredibly exciting. It’s allowed me, after much online abuse and muzzling to have a platform where I don’t have to get anyone’s permission to broadcast my freedom of speech. It also gives me the control to mute or ban gaslighting and harassment.

A big shoutout to my Melodic Mods ❤ Thanks for looking out for me guys! DLIVE LIVESTREAM

For most of my life, I was told that dreams mean nothing which clearly is not the case. I believed this to the point that I dismissed nightmares that were in fact flashbacks of being assaulted, a symptom of my PTSD.

I will not live my life in this way anymore and one of my goals for 2020 is to jump the year off and reset, refresh. Mind, Body, and Spirit. With that, I am committing to keeping a dream journal and not ignoring my dreams anymore. Good and bad. Perhaps once I start, I will be able to see some patterns and address what’s really going on. I’ll be sure to keep you updated.

What do you frequently dream about? Do you believe dreams have meaning or just a mess of the psyche? I invite you to join me in keeping a dream journal and perhaps we will start to unravel the mysteries of our dreams.

 

 

Eat Your Brussels Sprouts

I’ve been wrestling lately with how we respond as a culture given a common circumstance. That’s simple enough, right? Example, let us reflect simply on a child’s food preference. As a society, it’s acceptable if someone doesn’t like mushrooms, or kale or even cheeseburgers for that matter. Get my drift? Even if the world loves meat, it doesn’t mean everyone should eat meat or likes the way it tastes. Some people simply do not eat meat due to conviction and that should be respected.

Let’s take this to a elementary level. We all know it’s common that many do not like the taste of brussels sprouts. A repeat offender of spoiling a good meal for many.

Scene set. A child sits with his parents at dinner and brussels sprouts are served. The child HATES brussels sprouts and has protested it many times.

“EAT IT. ITS GOOD FOR YOU. EVERYONE ELSE LOVES BRUSSELS SPROUTS!”

The child eats the vegetable despite enjoying the taste of it.

Fast forward to his teenage years. We see this same individual trying to make the best decision by eating brussels sprouts despite the fact that they don’t like it. It’s good for them after all, right? But does eating them mean they like brussels sprouts?

No, they have conformed to their environment. They believe what they have been told. I don’t care how many pictures, or emails, etc that you have “showing” that someone enjoyed the Brussel sprouts. It doesn’t prove that they enjoyed it. I don’t care if they’re farm fresh, I don’t care if brussels sprouts usually sell out daily at the farmers market.

Some of us aren’t into it. We’ve NEVER liked it,  we said NO even when the world says it’s the best dish ever.

I passed on that dish before and I reiterate that I still hate that dish. No matter how much you want to tell the world that I liked or actively like it. I DIDN’T AND I STILL DON’T. I even had to change my number because brussels sprouts wouldn’t stop calling. But then again, they/you didn’t believe me the first time.

“No thank you. I don’t like brussels sprouts.”

“What if I put cheese on them?”

“No thank you. I don’t like brussels sprouts.”

Pours cheese on them anyway.

 

Adulting, Instagram & Chronic Nostalgia

It’s been hard at times to remember who I AM. Who God has created me to be. After a year of labels, name calling, hate and gas lighting… mentally it has taken a toll. I don’t write this to worry anybody, I will be fine. God is with me through the fire and I know that I have support. I am currently in therapy to work through it. If there is anything that I have learned this past year, is that authenticity is important, invaluable, scarce and it resonates.

I find myself pushing back BIG time on the things that I used to put up with in the past. I am having a hard time with the idea of social media. How the images and messages are isolating and hurting so many to compare themselves and feel inadequate. Nothing about Instagram for me feels good.

The overzealous marketing. The constant need for popularity and growing numbers. It feels like junior high/high school on steroids.

It’s hard enough to go through adolescence and see the popular kids, who from my past experience, are up to no good. They bully, they belittle and they aren’t inclusive. Naively I thought this would go away when I grew up. And maybe people did 20 years ago. But with the explosion of reality tv and social media, I feel like we are all in a second adolescence.

Any I the only one?

We watch drama, gossip & people doing crazy things in order to decompress and entertain ourselves. As a stress relief. We watch people get emotionally abused and rebound in unhealthy ways while eating popcorn and a glass of wine. We are entertained by the bully. So these people grow more and more influential and powerful. Brands align themselves because of the millions that follow them.

I used to laugh and create characters out of people like this because of the sheer ugliness and ridiculousness of the climate. There is no way these people are real, right? There is no way people actually treat and talk to other in this way. And then I got a giant taste of it this year.

Melissa Schuman is a shitstain. She’s a thirst bucket. She’s a fame seeking nobody. A Homophobe. She’s an Amber Hussy.

Good God people! This is borderline equivalent to what I hear spewed on my son’s playground. You’re a loser! You can’t play! OR (You can’t “sit” with us.)

GROW UP! GROW UP! It’s not called adulting, it’s called you’re a grown person. So take off your Mickey Mouse ears and your Grinch pajamas because your 25+!!!

ANd NO you cannot trick or treat! Go to CVS and buy your own bag on candy. And when my husband refuses to give you said, Tootsie Roll, you don’t get to call him a racist.

I get it. It’s nice to be nostalgic but it’s not healthy to not accept reality in the midst of it.

Get your sh*t together, Carol!

It’s been very hard to focus, yet I am forcing myself to continue the renovation that started this past year. For one, the heaviness of the outcome, being unresolved, still makes me emotional. I tell myself over and over again that I did everything that I could to make it all feel worth it. I practice the new techniques for self soothing that I have recently learned and yet I am not 100% myself again.

I can’t explain how it feels to be shattered into a million pieces so publicly. The experience was like being a piece of glassware shattered only to have people look away because your value isn’t high enough so they step on what is broken.

I grieve a lot lately. I grieve for others who sit in silence and I grieve for those who have shared their stories. That have so bravely engaged in their trauma. It’s not for the faint of heart and I feel the heaviness of the irresolution. It angers me when I see their faces and then I see the sea of people who continue to look the other way.

What should I do when I know my part is done? My part in the battle is done but the war is not over. I am far too aware now. Sometimes it feels like I am drowning in sorrow. My priorities are family, God, peace and love. Caring for myself so I can care for others.

Go slow.

Go slow.

Go slow.

Taking in the slow life when the rest of the world seems to be spinning far to quickly. So quickly that we miss what is happening in a moment.

Where do I go? I go to my yoga mat. I learn to breathe again. Breathe into the pain. To be present again. To feel what it’s like to be in my body when I want to detach from it so badly.

Learning to breathe, stretch, pray and wait.

Wait for what? Change. Significant change. Despite this intention, I feel dread and sorrow. I didn’t realize just how sick the world is. I’ve always wanted to believe and see the best in people, no matter what my gut said.

Truth is, my gut is right. Our world is broken. People do not have the best intentions, and they are delighting in suffering at a growing rate.

Are you feeling the same thing? I have not given up on hope. I am merely allowing myself to feel what I am feeling, Sadness. Again, I am grieving. For you, for me, for us….

Why is it that what evil is considered good and good considered evil? I am seeing this truth more than I’d like to admit. I believe and root for the good guys. You’re out there, no?

SPEAK UP!! Our world is drowning and we need more good guys than ever. Be willing to risk is all and speak what is true otherwise we are all trapped in a world of lies and illusions.

F*ck It

A few weeks ago I decided to get back in the recording studio, something that pains me and leaves me feeling vulnerable AF. I don’t feel my best when I am in the studio because it doesn’t feel like a safe space due to past experiences. Ahem! I tend to recluse and disappear somewhere inside my mind.

It was Starr Jones, then manager for my group Lady Phoenix , that noticed the change. NOBODY before that moment had ever noticed or cared enough to address it. I guess it was acceptable that I retreated and crawled into the hole inside my mind.

Anyway…

Today, I am determined to overcome my traumas. When I was in the studio and started to write, I felt embarrassed describing how I would imagine myself as an artist. A female John Mayer. A storyteller with a guitar reflecting on real things, experiences and emotions.

The producer/songwriter that I was meeting with, Alex Rosales replied, “Then learn to play the guitar and make it happen!” I pondered the suggestion and considered it utterly ridiculous. “I am too old!” (I hate that tape in my head.)

and then I said…. f*ck it!

Sorry, sometimes there is no better word to express that feeling. (Lord, forgive me.)

I want to play the guitar! I have always wanted to play an instrument and I am tired of the limiting belief that I am not young enough to challenge myself and grow. Granted I tried learning the clarinet in elementary school but my teacher was such an ass (sorry again & thank you for your grace) that I hated it and eventually gave it up.

A few weeks later I went on Amazon and bought a basic acoustic guitar because I’m basic b*tch. Sorry, my self-deprecating humor is peeking through. But really, I am proud to say that I have been practicing everyday for hours ever since.

Yay me!

Funny enough, getting to connect with music in this way, where I am the one in control, has been very therapeutic & empowering!

So I want to ask you…what limiting belief are you living out that is holding you back? I want to know! Just as Alex Rosales did for me (purchase his new single Suda) I want to do the same thing for you. GO FOR IT AND…..

F*$%k it! (His grace is sufficient)

Undone

I have let myself become undone.

I am vulnerable allowing myself to fall apart, nurtured and rebuilt.  Looking at kindness as my guide and my goal. I am learning how to live my life open, vulnerable, without walls instead of the hyper-vigilance that I once did. My body is forcing me to address the debris that the abuse continues to bring in my life. Finding the strength to confront the “why I blame myself” and feel shame.

I’ve learned this place inside of me is called contempt. I refuse to hold myself in contempt anymore. This place doesn’t serve me.

The last few months have left me isolated and that surprised me. I thought I would feel stronger, better, restored quicker. Instead, I was being devoured by the feeling of being alone. I had finally entered the place where I had to start to care for myself and the trauma I have experienced. I’m more aware of the way my body has and IS responding. My hands shake from time to time and I physically start to shiver when I engage in my story. I want the feeling of weakness and helplessness to go away. I want to be strong. I want to go back to “normal”

But I can’t go back to “normal”.

“Normal” was intense denial, the acting that everything is okay. That I was ok. That the sexual assault didn’t have an effect on me and still doesn’t. I want to appear untouched and unscathed.

Like an onion, I am discovering layers of myself that I have never cared for, only neglected and left riddled with pain. I am learning the way to healing isn’t to ignore it, or run from it, but to run through it.

To engage it.

To feel it.

To grieve it.

To feel angry about it.

To hope for justice.

And long for restoration.

I recently joined a small group at my church. It was the first time I had been able to sit with others, strangers, who have also experienced sexual abuse. I thank God for bringing me to this space. A safe place, of no judgment and complete room to become undone. To unload the burdens and tend to wounds. To admit that we are tired and we are broken.

We journeyed together with the help of Dan Allender’s book “Healing The Wounded Heart.” Our stories are interwoven with each’s own unique scar. Although none of our experiences of sexual abuse/assault are identical, we found that how we responded, coped, hid, denied, wept… remain the same.

Listening to each of the beloved women’s heartbreaking stories of abuse, I began to open my heart to my younger myself. The one who I blamed for not knowing better. How can I have so much compassion and kindness for someone else but continue to barre myself?

We discussed the need to care for our bodies. To listen and pay attention to what our body is telling us. I hated my body and shut off my connection to it a long time ago. I cursed my body for freezing and not fighting. For my lack of language and my fragmented brain.  That those responses in the body aren’t to be ignored. I learned not to trust it and resent it. I learned to ignore my gut and my heart’s ability to dream gradually and it steadily dimmed over time.

My heart used to love music and even now I am numb to it.

The more I listened the more the pain showed itself. I started to notice that when I said his name I would shiver. My hands would start to shake and I started to feel angry. It’s hard to make me angry. It’s not an emotion I feel a safe feeling or expressing. Maybe it’s because I’ve learned that anger hurts people and I don’t want to do that.

Or maybe it’s because anger meant I could desire justice. Sadness leads me to grieve but anger would lead me to want something I would never have. I will never be able to undo what was done to me, stolen from me, jaded and perverted.

The women in my church group encouraged me to explore being angry and that it’s okay. It was the first time that I had really entertained that I was justified and righteously allowed to be angry. That what I experienced at his hand was horrific, unjust, damaging, abusive and traumatizing. That I don’t need, none of us need, to just GET OVER IT.

The very next day was KIIS FM’s Wango Tango. In the past, I would have ignored my feelings and acted like nothing was actively impacting me. I felt that admitting that it did give him power and I resented that. I felt angry and resentful but never showed it. I was robbed of my dreams, deceived, lured and manipulated to believe it was all my fault.

I’ve been told it is my fault for not telling the world sooner. I am told that if I had, something could have been done or that it would have made it better.

How?

Tell me how?

How could it have possibly been better then? I would never be the same and I wanted to believe I could remain the same.

I am tired of being told to just look away. To stay away. To just get over it. To let go of my dreams. To say goodbye to my passion, to an industry I loved being a part of.

So I watched.

I allowed myself to feel angry. My group, DREAM also performed at Wango Tango, years ago. I know people who work behind the scenes and yet I am shut out. Not him. I watched as thousands continue to ignore my story and the stories of the other women who spoke out against him years ago.

And then it was clear to me. I was watching the way the world treats ALL survivors of sexual abuse. They ignore it, sweep it under the rug, and we are the ones who don’t get to go to the party anymore. I thought about the women in my group and how they experienced the same response. A lack of care, a lack of action on their behalf and the pain of feeling alone and abandoned.

I don’t know how to fix this but I know that NOT discussing it continues to enable it. We are not the only ones who have been silent, you who choose to turn a blind eye to our stories and are silent too. We are at odds because we have chosen to not function the way YOU do anymore!

So I invite you, to become undone with me. To tell your story when you are ready. To know that we all can lead with a limp.

 

 

Shadow Days

The last 8 months have been a purging of past pain. At times it has felt excruciating. Regardless, my willingness to engage in my story has allowed me the words and the knowledge to not only recover from the trauma but help other survivors of trauma & abuse as well.

Do I have battle scars? Yes.

Will they heal? Yes.

Will it take time? Yes.

I am learning that it’s okay to mourn, it’s okay to cry and it’s okay to feel scared or angry. There is no judgement for how we breakthrough. The road is different for all of us. One of the biggest obstacles that I have yet to learn how to navigate is accepting that now so many people hate me. It’s a portion of myself that valued being liked. I am a people pleaser and taking care of myself and putting myself first and receiving so much blow back has been a challenge.

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Yet I am growing, I am changing and I am learning just how resilient I am.

How will I cope? I am still figuring that out, and I plan on my future posts being focused on the steps I am taking for self-care & other ways I am pursuing healing and wholeness. Some days are going to be harder than others but I know soon enough that my shadow days will be over.

Now let’s take a moment to pause. Be slow to celebrate when a sexual assault charge is dropped. The general public is in unprepared to understand that prosecuting a sexual assault charge can be, in many cases, very difficult to prosecute for a variety of reasons. In my case, it was the statute of limitations.

Take a look at the statistics. Did you know that even if  a case leads to an arrest, only 6 rapists will be incarcerated out of 1000 cases? Should we celebrate this? Because this is the sobering reality.

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Now I will disclose that I am not an expert in the field of criminal prosecution for sexual crimes cases, however, I wanted to pass down what I have learned in my own experience. Anybody who chooses to file a sexual assault case should know the uphill battle but this shouldn’t deter us from filing anyway.

1.) Potential obstacle. There isn’t enough “physical evidence”. Not all sexual assaults are physically violent and yes a rape kit can, at the very least, confirm that penetration by the perpetrator happened & collect the DNA. However, the “he said she said argument” isn’t eliminated unless there is additional proof of physical force or harm. For example bruises, tearing, injury etc…

2.) The suspect declines giving a statement. A grievance I can relate to. The suspect has a right to remain silent, by giving a statement could self incriminate. The suspect not giving the investigation team a statement further makes it difficult to prosecute him/her in a court of law as the jury needs to be unanimous in a criminal trial. This is not the same in a civil trial.

3.) Jury selection. This to me, is one of the most problematic issues in our judicial system when it comes to sexual assault cases. In most cases, you want a neutral jury. However, this makes it harder for a victim of sexual assault. The reason because there does need to be a certain amount of public education on trauma response and the brain and how it affects victims of abuse. It affects how we respond. It’s fair to say that trauma changes the brain in its entirety. The public has a responsibility to educate themselves on the truth about trauma, the brain and abuse. It is in my opinion that anyone without this knowledge shouldn’t serve on a jury for a sexual assault case.

For one, people who are not properly educated usually believe a myriad of false truths about rape victims and how it happens. Society has done us a great disservice by showing rape in movies and television in it’s most minority form, by a stranger.

Statistically, 7 out of 10 times rapes are committed by someone known by the victim. 45% are committed by and acquaintance & by a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend.

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Did you know, only 11% of rape and sexual assault incidents, the perpetrator used a weapon? It’s much more common for personal weapons—such as hands, feet or teeth—are used against victims of sexual violence in about 2 out of 3 cases.

What can we do? Think twice when you shame someone for NOT reporting the crime to the police. Only 310 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police. That means about 2 out of 3 go unreported.

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I want to encourage you to read this article by Julie Bendel

Yes, there’s a major problem with rape prosecutions. But it’s not that women are lying

An even greater disturbance to me is the growing voice of accusations that I lied and that other women who have reported a sexual crime lied. You must be careful when accusing someone of lying about a rape crime, make sure your evidence proves absolute consent on the accuser’s behalf. If you were not there at the time of the assault, you are not qualified to give your opinion. I am not encouraging you to believe any given victim, however it’s far more fair to just remain neutral.

Combing through a person’s past and capturing all the ways they have adapted is not evidence that the crime did not happen. It’s okay to have your own doubts and your own questions about a given account however that doesn’t entitle you to harass or perpetuate your own version of a given account. A victim doesn’t owe you an explanation about anything.

With this said, I would like to give my own statement regarding the Los Angeles District’s decision in my case:

My family and I were well aware of the likelihood that my case was not prosecutable due to the statute of limitations in California regarding rape which was modified in 2016. It is unfortunate that the law isn’t fully retroactive to accommodate assaults that have happened in the past, regardless of how far back. It gives me great solace to know that my testimony is fully documented, investigated and sealed for the future if needed by law enforcement. I gave my statement, as did the other witnesses. Speaking out was the best thing I could have ever done for myself and I hope it inspires others to do the same if it feels right for them.

#metoo #timesup

Liar! Liar! Liar!

For the first 2 weeks, I shook. I cried. I barely ate. No longer being able to depend on denial as a coping mechanism was gone. I was out. Everyone knew. I woke up every morning anticipating the next brave woman who would speak out and stand with me.

Silence.

What came next was a barrage of hatred, bullying and victim shaming. On the flip side, countless emails and DM’s from victims desperate to tell me their story. Stories that only a few of us know. Countless people who know my assailant and what he has done to many others also fear to speak up. They fear the repercussions.

Nobody wants to be me because my abuser has received no backlash.

Is it because Harvey Weinstein or Mario Batalli haven’t been adorned on people’s childhood bedroom walls? Is it because he is young and considered desirable by his fans that he can get away with such atrocities?

“Liar! Liar! Liar!”- #ISTANDWITHNICK

All he had to do is claim it’s consensual and that’s enough for some people. Is it so impossible to believe that I never wanted to do anything sexually with him because so many women do? I’ve considered that I may be the only woman to have ever said “no” to him.

No, I’m not the only one. And I know because I’ve been contacted.

Silence.

I know why. Because of fear. Fear of him. Fear of his machine. Those who support him. Fear of how he will accuse THEM of being a liar too.

But we ALL can’t be liars.

This blog below attempts to make a case that I am, in fact, a liar.

The Curious Case of Melissa Schuman written by Sara Taylor on the blog What Happen’s On The Backstreet.

It’s a gem. Cherry picked information designed to create a narrative that fits what best defends him. Has anyone else noticed she’s an editor for his website NickCarter.net? That sells his merchandise. Who had a vested capital interest in how my story might expose him?

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Nick Carter owns the Copyright. Powered by Wonderful Union. A merch company.

Is it possible that Nick Carter and his team are responsible for orchestrating this attack against me?

What do you think? @USWeekly @People @LATimes  @NYTimes @Time @PerezHilton  @TMZ

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Interesting. Sara Taylor seems to be based out of Nashville. Wonder Union also seems to have an office there.

Coincidence?

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“Slut. You wanted it!”- #ISTANDWITHNICK

Sharna Burgess This blog you emphatically encourage people to read and declare “KNOW THE FACTS” is not unbiased. It has an agenda. You should know that your defense of Nick not only further victimizes me but that your part of the problem.

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How am I supposed to fight against such blatant hatred? How does any person fight against someone with more power than them? I don’t have a fancy PR team or an army of adoring fans to defend me and silence the other side.

As of now, I only have my voice. I will refuse to be intimidated and afraid despite the accusations from the other side.

I understand I am not required to answer the questions addressed in the What Happens On The Backstreet Blog. I owe answers to nobody. But then I think about all the others who are still too frightened to say something and that makes me want to be brave for them.

I have decided to address the questions brought up to support those who need that extra nudge of encouragement to come forward. The backlash will come but you don’t need to fear it.

“Why did you follow him on Twitter?”- #ISTANDWITHNICK

I followed a lot of people on Twitter that I wasn’t even aware of. It wasn’t a social platform that I used constantly or even understood it’s power and influence.

Many times I would click on the profiles that Twitter would “suggested” I follow. Why? Because I didn’t think it was a big deal.

If you “follow” someone on social media it doesn’t mean you “follow” them. I think we all know that just because you “don’t” follow someone on social media, doesn’t mean you “don’t” follow them.

ABC’s “Boyband”-#ISTANDWITHNICK

He was cast as a judge on Boyband. Yes, I was previously hoping to be considered for that project too. I didn’t know Nick was attached to the project until a fan on my Instagram Livestream brought it up. I didn’t have the privilege to be honest. How was I supposed to react when they told me his Dad died? When they brought up Aaron?

I had been publicly acting like nothing happened between the two of us for over a decade. I was supportive of the concept of the project because of it’s potential for a spin-off, “GirlBand”.

I had to learn to have compassion for him. After many years of therapy I have learned that “hurt people hurt people” and because of this, I could try to move past what he did to me.

Forgiveness and compassion became my cornerstone and was my only outlet to cope aside from denial.

#DILF- #ISTANDWITHNICK

My husband @BrandonHenschel was tagged in her tweet. It’s the only reason I “liked” the tweet.

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“Why would you forgive your rapist?”- #ISTANDWITHNICK

If you look back on my “condolences” tweet, you will see my response was nearly 10 years after the assault. The statute of limitations was up. This was my way of relying on forgiveness and compassion as I was convinced he would never be held accountable.

I never thought I would speak out about what he did to me and this tweet would be used to ultimately villainize me.

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She Needs To Become Important…On The Internet. -#ISTANDWITHNICK

Over the past 5 years, I have been focusing on my comedy sitcom and improv chops. The video below was my first attempt at writing a satirical piece on the ludicrousness of social media.

I was reflecting on how the industry was changing. The need to be popular or trending on Vine or even Instagram seemed ridiculous to me.

I even made fun of myself and my group Dream without realizing we would eventually get back together years later on the My2K Tour in 2016. After 15 years of being apart, how could I possibly had the foresight that this video would be used against me, attempting to use it out of context, as evidence of needing to be relevant again.

IT’S A SATIRE. *NOT AN ACTUAL BLOG

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What matters is the truth. You, the silenced victim, know the truth. I know the truth. Remember that truth is our best defense.

No matter the cost, I am proud to be on the right side of history and I hope you will join me too. Speaking out against sexual violence, assault and abuse are so important.

It’s also important to consider not only ourselves but others. To live a life well lived. And I believe we are all being called. Called to stand up, speak out and to not be afraid. Not just for our own sake but for the sake of our children and our children’s children.

It’s not about me, it’s about the moral principle and responsibility as a human to stand up against injustice and abuse. I will stand firm for the others. In your silence, as you struggle to find your way, your voice, your courage.

Know that your story matters. You matter. You deserve to be heard and seen and validated. And don’t be shaken when they scream,

“Liar! Liar! Liar!”

 

Need help finding your voice? RAINN can help.

Call 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

How does it work?

When you call 800.656.HOPE (4673), you’ll be routed to a local RAINN affiliate organization based on the first six digits of your phone number. Cell phone callers have the option to enter the ZIP code of their current location to more accurately locate the nearest sexual assault service provider.

How can the hotline help me?

Calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline gives you access to a range of free services including:

  • Confidential support from a trained staff member
  • Support finding a local health facility that is trained to care for survivors of sexual assault and offers services like sexual assault forensic exams
  • Someone to help you talk through what happened
  • Local resources that can assist with your next steps toward healing and recovery
  • Referrals for long term support in your area
  • Information about the laws in your community
  • Basic information about medical concerns

 

 

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The Harvey Weinstein Effect

Sexual assault, harassment & age discrimination is no secret in Hollywood and I don’t know one female who hasn’t experienced it in one way or another. I myself have experienced all of the above. The Harvey Weinstein scandal is just the tip on the iceberg. Hollywood culture doesn’t nurture an environment that embraces women who hold to moral standards, independent thought or boundaries.

I never understood why women were limited to success in Hollywood after the age of 30. I knew and know so many beautiful, capable, talented and inspiring woman over the age of 30. Women I look up to and inspire me everyday.

Ageism. The news doesn’t cover it but it puts many women out of work in Hollywood. What I have come to accept about ageism is that it’s put in place for a reason, it communicates to women over 30 to go home, marry up and shut up. With an industry  controlled mostly by older men who feel they’re entitled to sleeping with younger women, it’s no wonder we hate getting older. No youth, no job.

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In my 20’s I blamed myself for years for not having the same amount of success after the leaving my group DREAM. Truth be told, I had the same opportunity to make it big on my own but said no to much of what was required. My opinions and convictions gave me a reputation of being “religious” “prudish” and “hard to work with”. Not something you want to be known for at the rip age of 18.

This is true for both the recording industry and film industry. I recall doing a music showcase for a major record head around 2005. The music industry was still suffering and navigating its way through the repercussions of music stealing sites such as Napster and Limewire. Labels weren’t signing as many new artists as before because A&R and label heads alike were worried about loosing their jobs.

I did a number of these types of showcases. This one in particular I remember clear as day. The male executive that I was essentially ‘auditioning for’ proclaimed without apology and with compliment, that “Melissa’s picture needs to be on every young man’s wall across the country to masterbate to.”

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My entire team beamed with pride and fully agreed. I was confused.Since when is this an appropriate statement to make about anyone? Despite the raving reviews of my potential profitability selling my sexuality, he still didn’t sign me.

So I continued on and I struggled for years to find my voice as a recording artist. Hindsight is 20/20 and looking back I understand why. Everyone around me wanted to record songs entirely focused on sex despite my spiritual and moral opposition to it. I shifted my focus again to the acting side, hoping I would have better success with solidifying projects that reflected true to who I was as an actor.

Shortly after, I receive a call from my manager telling me he got me a page in a men’s magazine. He was aware of my moral and religious boundaries, he knew I wasn’t going to be excited about the opportunity but stressed the necessity of doing a spread like this in a publication like Maxim or FHM.

He told me “Melissa, this is how executives discover new talent. The executives and studio heads read these men’s magazines while traveling and bring in the actresses they like the most.”

Full of scantily clad young, upcoming actresses just hoping for an audition with some of the biggest names in hollywood.

My manager promised me the photoshoot would be tasteful and we’d be in complete control of what was printed. I hesitantly agreed and the shoot was scheduled. Upon arrival I gazed upon a rack chock full of thong underwear, lace sheer bras, garter belts and high heels.

Wardrobe gave me a few “options” to try on and to come out to get approval.

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I couldn’t do it. I was expecting a corset or something the Pussycat dolls would wear not a thong bikini and a bra. I was 18. I panicked. I freaked. I froze.

I stared at myself alone in the bathroom looking at my reflection while holding the barely there fabric. I pulled my manager in and told him I couldn’t do it. I know I made his job hard because as I was told “most actresses would give their left arm to pose in something like this for a magazine like this.” I thought something was wrong with me because I didn’t feel the same way.

A middle ground was eventually reached. They gave me boy short options paired with camisoles and lacey pushup bras. My page in the magazine never made it to print due to not being sexy enough. Needless to say I was never called in by the studio heads.

I thought by making a stand, it would demand better projects. I grew up dreaming of being on a sitcom like FRIENDS, FRASIER, SEINFELD, I LOVE LUCY….and then it happened.

I was offered the lead in a “comedy” called Bald in 2008. The only joke that I could find in the script was the ‘genre’ it was given. It was a horribly written, male driven comedy about men making money off women doing soft core porn in their basement.

The only things meant to be bald are Eagles and Beaver!!!
No Money. No Hair. No Shame.

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They lost me at crotch shot as a relevant plot keyword. At the regret of my agency, I turned down the MPAA rated comedy. This was the beginning of what would become a long Hiatus for me.

I stopped auditioning all together and moved to San Diego. I decided that I would rather disappear and come back with a fresh start and a fresh perspective then to continue where I was. I got married, started a family and started to focus on volunteer work with animal rescues and the ASPCA.

In 2011, my husband and I decided it was time to move back to LA. I was older, not by much but hoped I was old enough to not be seen as a sex toy for projects or people.  I wanted to be seen for my craft and not my tits.

Now later in my 20’s, married and a mom, I have discovered the other side of sexual harassment. Discrimination. I couldn’t even get an agent. It didn’t matter if I had previous work experience or sold 2 million albums or was referred by a reputable source.

I even had an major talent agency tell me,

If it hasn’t happened for you yet, it never will.

I look forward to proving them wrong.

It was clearly being communicated to me that I fucked up. I should have never said no all those years. If I have posed for the men’s magazine in a thong bikini and a lace bra or if I slept with power men that I was encouraged to do, I wouldn’t be a social pariah.

I pressed on further and did what everyone told me I further couldn’t do. Make people laugh.

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So what did I do? I enrolled in acting classes focusing on comedy. I excelled in my class and was invited into the Master Class for the working professionals. Except, I was the only professional not working.

Then I did something I had dreamed of doing since I was 9 years old. I auditioned for The Groundling School in LA. I doubted myself and worried I wouldn’t pass the audition. and then, I did.

I worried I wouldn’t pass Basic.

And I did.

I worried I wouldn’t pass Intermediate.

And I did.

I worried I wouldn’t get invited passed Advanced.

And I did.

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And now in level 4 of 5 of the program. Why am I pointing this out? I want to inspire others that despite the opposition of our industry or your life circumstances, despite what others say about you, you can go after whatever you want and more.

Have I achieved everything I dream of doing? No, but my story isn’t over and neither is yours.

Never give up. It’s never too late. Never let the harassment, discrimination or falsified reputation stop you from bring true to who you are and what you dream of doing. The Harvey Weinstein’s of the world may never go away or the culture in which they create in the workplace however we can speak up.

Don’t be silent. Be Brave. Be Bold. Be You.

xoxo

-Mel

 

 

 

 

 

 

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