Editor’s Note: In sounding off, this is where I sound off on various issues, whether it’s in the music, sports, entertainment, or political realm. Sometimes I just need to get things off of my chest and writing and journaling has always been quite therapeutic for me. It’s something about when I put words on paper(or on a website in this particular case) that it helps me process and it helps me push through. Alternative Press has released a story along with Macy Santa Maria leaving the tour and the touring band for He Is We/She Is We dropping off of the direct support slot for Secondhand Serenade.
I am really trying to process this. I have interviewed Rachel Taylor twice, once for a previous blog that I wrote for where I was personally invited to come out to a show at Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis, Minnesota(that is a venue that I would stack up against any indie venue in the United States) and it was one of the most beautiful concerts I have ever gotten to witness. Not only that, but Rachel was a beautiful person to interview. She was funny, vivacious, and also very passionate about issues involving women and those that were victims of sexual assault. That was what her message and her platform was about in He Is We. Myself and the girl that accompanied me to the show was both left awestruck by the audience singing along to He Is We songs and the profound musicianship for an indie pop band.
Fast forward a few years later, and Rachel Taylor embarked on a solo career. I wrote a review for MUEN Magazine that talked about her solo EP. I remember feeling so much joy as my review on her music made her cry. There was a sense of brokenness, vulnerability, yet a sense of triumph in the music. I knew that she been through a lot. She offered to interview with me in regards to this. I wanted to hear from her about the EP, it was an interview I will never forget. We laughed, we cried, and we told stories and she promised to stay in touch. Life gets busy and we didn’t keep in touch after that.
This morning, I wake up from my slumber, head in pain due to a freak accident at work the week before, and I’m seeing this statement left by Macy Santa Maria. I had no idea who she is, but I knew that it was trending and she must’ve said some profound words, so I proceeded to read her statement:
I had the opportunity to do what I love this past summer and play guitar for the band He Is We, but unfortunately it was short lived. The night before the first show, I was sexually assaulted by the lead singer Rachel Taylor. I have contemplated sharing my story and have decided to share it on my own in hopes to raise awareness of sexual assault, specifically in the music industry. My objective is shed a little light on sexual assault, that a man or WOMAN is capable of committing. Rachel Taylor has ruined a part me and for her to have the opportunity to hide from this and continue her music career is disgusting. This is something I’m not going to hide from, and neither should anyone facing this issue.
This was a situation that was instigated by Rachel and she is solely to blame. She was the one who got violently drunk and began to grab me. She was the one who continued the inappropriate behavior no matter how many times I said stop or took her hands off of me, she is the reason why we had to stop touring and she is the reason I feel sick on a regular basis. What she did was not okay and should not be tolerated. The morning after it happened I just tried to push it out of my mind because it was the first day of tour and I was just focused on doing my job. By the second day of tour, it was at the forefront of my mind and all I could think about. It was then I decided to speak up about how I felt.
After I spoke up about how uncomfortable I was with what had happened, band mates Wes Chamberlain and Ben McBride quickly jumped into action to keep Rachel and I separated and to make sure I was okay. Once informed of the situation, the booking agent Bobby Hendrix quickly pulled He Is We from the tour and worked with me to get a flight home. Wes, Ben and Bobby did everything right and are not to be blamed for this at all. They did everything in their power to take care of me in the most vulnerable and distraught state that I’ve ever been in and I am so thankful to have them in my life. I really don’t know what I would have done without them. Wes, Ben, Bobby and Adamm Mitchell (guitarist and producer) have all separated themselves from He Is We and associated artists have been warned about this behavior.
Just for clarification, I never initially wanted to leave the tour. I never said or expressed in any way that I wanted to leave the tour prior to this incident. Playing music and touring is something that I’m really passionate about and I never wanted to stop doing that. I also did not receive any financial compensation for this. I had to buy my own flight home and was only paid for the two drive days and two show days that were completed. I did asked to be compensated for my flight home home because that was in the original pay agreement and I ask to be compensated for the rest of the tour because I had to quit my job to do this and never heard back. I let it go because I am not looking for money out of this.
There is a police case open on this, an OOP is out and I also reached out to a publication company to cover the story, but because it is such a sensitive topic that gives me so much anxiety I have decided to release my statement on my own first. I’m also doing this to clear the names of my fellow bandmates Ben and Wes. They have done nothing wrong no matter how much Rachel has spoken negatively of them or accused then of any false wrongdoing. They stood up and did the right thing and I am insanely proud of them. Again, I am not looking for money, “15 minutes of fame” or anything else other than telling the truth.
I was considering not saying anything at all because I wanted to keep touring, but I couldn’t stand how I felt. People are hesitant to speak up about abuse in the music industry because of the fear of losing their job. That should never be an issue standing in front of doing the right thing. The only way we’re going to see that change is if we speak up. Finding statistics for women sexually assaulting women was near impossible. The only one I could find was for women sexually assaulting women in prison and that was 4% (“How Often Do Women Rape Men?”, 2016). Women do sexually assault people and we need to end the stigma around that. That needs to be known.
She has been trying to sweep this under the rug since it happened and if you feel as passionately about this as I do, do not let that happen. Please share and tag larger sources if you feel comfortable doing so.
Also If you have been a victim of sexual assault there are some resources listed below. My door is always open too.
A Voice For The Innocent – http://www.avoicefortheinnocent.org
Anti Violence Project (serves LGBT) – https://avp.org
Hotline – 212.714.1124
Punk Talks – https://www.punktalks.org
National Sexual Assault Hotline – 800.656.4673
National Sexual Violence Resource Center – https://www.nsvrc.org
I had to read it about five times, simply because I couldn’t believe what I was reading. My thoughts went from bewilderment, to disappointment, to anger, to confusion, and to slowing down and processing all of this. I literally did not know what to think. I knew that this was serious as there is an ongoing investigation and it’s in regards to a sexual assault case where the woman being accused is someone that I’ve interviewed twice, whether it was in regards to He Is We or her solo project. I knew that Rachel would battle with anxiety, where your thoughts just absolutely consume a person. My thought now is, “slow down, there are two sides to every story, there’s no way I could see Rachel doing this”. I was also thinking, “could she do this, is she capable of doing this”. I’m also thinking, “is the accused playing the game where she’s the victim instead of the one that was allegedly sexually assaulted”. With my pre-law background, I had to be rational, think about it from a legal standpoint, and also realize that Rachel has a side to the story, so I went to look for what Rachel had to say. Here is her statement based upon the He Is We Facebook page:
For all of you. It is on my heart to say this. I believe this is an opportunity to take a very unfortunate event regarding a sensitive topic and use it hopefully for good. Sexual assault is a sensitive subject, especially to me. It not only harms the victim but everyone around the victim. I am very emotional right now addressing this because it hits so close to home.
When it happened to me I walled myself off from those closest to me. I did not tell my dad and did not to talk to him for almost ten months because of the shame I felt. I dropped out of a major tour, All Time Low, the one that was supposed to launch He Is We to epic levels. My trauma put me in a place where I failed my band mates (family) label folks, my manager and all who were supporting He Is We. I am so sorry to all of them for not being strong enough.
I do not want to sound like a victim because I know in my heart I am a survivor.
I used this horrible incident and harnessed all the pain to try to help others who were feeling worthless to feel valued. I have done my best to heal. Helping and advocating for others, who I felt had endured similar trauma, helped (helps) me heal.
I used my music to heal. I wrote “Breath” which was a direct result of the suicidal thoughts I had at the time. I was taking medication to deal with the PTSD. I wrote “Monster” about what the medication was doing to me. I finally found hope in the song “Lead The Fight On” when I realized that the only people I could trust were the fans, “The Runaways.” They’ve been what has sustained me.
This has never been about fame or money for me!
Please know that honesty means everything to me. I know that I have not managed my pain the best when it has come to people who are the closest to me and I m so very sorry for that.
For others out there who have and are enduring personal battles, you are not alone and you will always have me in your corner for support. It is not your fault and you are not responsible for the evil acts of another. For family and friends, please be patient and compassionate.
Much love and thanks,
I really do not know what to think. I desperately want to keep a cool head and a rational brain and wait until the investigation and the courts play it out. I was not there. I have no idea what transpired. I just know that it is several people’s story vs. Rachel’s story. I refuse to shame Macy because there are people that have been sexually assault. In fact, someone is probably being sexually assaulted as you’re reading this. We have politicians that have stated that “it’s the victim’s fault if a rape occurs”. We have heard people say, “well if she wouldn’t dress so provocatively, the sexual assault would have never happened”. Hell, we have a President that has said in a tape recorded conversation, “grab ’em by the p*ssy” and dismissed it as “locker room talk”. I will stand with those that are victims of rape and sexual abuse, or any forms of abuse.
If this accusation towards Rachel is true, I will be heartbroken. I will be shocked and bewildered, I will also plead with her to go seek counseling and go seek help if the accusation is true. If the accusation is false, I hope that people will allow Rachel to move forward in her life and in her career.
If Macy continues to feel as she feels, I hope that she comes out of this stronger than ever as a musician, but more importantly, as a person. There are so many cases of sexual assault and rape that go unreported because we live in a society where blaming and shaming the victim is common practice. We live in a society where non-violent drug offenders will serve longer sentences in jail than those that commit acts of rape and sexual assault. And that is not okay, it is injustice rearing its ugly head when that is the case.
Sexual assault is a serious, serious issue. If you’re a victim of it, please contact the resources that I have listed below. Please tell someone if you’re a victim of it, there are people out there that are willing to ease the burden and to help that scar heal. Also, get police involved so the person assaulting doesn’t move on to another victim. It’s time that the victim blaming and victim shaming stops in our country. It’s time that we have serious conversations about this issue and other issues in our country in order to make America a better place again, but also make the world a better place to live in. Also, if you’re in a situation and the other person asks you to stop or tells you no, No Means No and Stop Means Stop. That is where consent ends is when the other person says no or asks you to stop. If the person doesn’t stop, defend yourself and contact the local authorities.