CW // TW: Sexual violence including that of minors.
I was 14 in 2005 when I went to my first 7 Generations show. With the clarity of hindsight, I can see that this night set off a chain of events in my life that I still struggle to make sense of and accept 16 years later. This chain of events is still unfolding, with the publishing of Sina’s article in April, and with my writing this now. I will try to make sense of some of these events to provide more understanding for those who had more questions after reading the first article in April. If some of the details I recall here seem unclear to you, I hope the reasons for that ambiguity are clear by the end of this. One detail that I think is important to establish at the outset is that the “victims” of Nicholas James Lynch and Tim Rusmisel discussed in Sina’s article are, in fact, one person—me. This detail was obfuscated in Sina’s article at my request, which is my singular regret about the article. More victims of these men came forward publicly and privately after publication, but the events detailed in Sina’s article between Tim and Nicholas and their victims happened to me. I can anticipate that some of the feedback I will receive for this will express that this should have been written from the start, that Sina shouldn’t have written his article. There is no way that I would feel empowered and emboldened enough to write this today if Sina hadn’t written his article exactly the way he did.
Like virtually everybody else in hardcore, I was a child seeking refuge from a tumultuous home life in a politically conservative area. When I saw the sense of community and camaraderie that was present at these shows, I was sucked in. I can see now that the community and camaraderie I perceived only existed between abusers looking to protect their own. The friends who had brought me to the first show had known the members of 7 Generations, and I quickly found myself in the same social circle as Chris Rouse (of Saddleback College), Tim Rusmisel (of Vital Actions), and later, Nicholas James Lynch (of the Service Employees International Union). With the zeal of the newly converted, I dropped out of high school and spent my days at animal rights protests with Tim and many nights going to shows. I thought that I had been so lucky to find friends that respected me. I thought this because they were always the loudest about their feminist convictions and that lulled me into a false sense of security, into believing I was safe when I wasn’t. This is one of the greatest regrets of my life, but I don’t blame myself because I was a child. Tim, Nicholas, and Chris were adults, and it was their responsibility for their actions to fall in line with their public proclamations.
By the time I was 16, in 2007, virtually all my time was spent in a social circle that revolved around 7 Generations. The false sense of security had only grown stronger in the preceding two years, and I really counted Tim and Chris as friends. This was the same year I met Nicholas, as that’s around the time he joined the band. That was also the year Tim sexually assaulted me.
The night it happened, we had hung out with other friends during the day, and he sat on my porch with me, talking into the late hours of the night. I don’t remember the subject of our conversation; it felt like one minute we were talking, and the next minute I was outside of my body, watching moths bumbling around the lightbulb over my head as I waited for it to be over. It felt like it never would end. In the following weeks, Tim would attempt salacious conversation with me over text and iChat which I would avoid. He was 34 and I was 16; he had lived more than double my lifetime at that point. It was not possible for me to consent to a sexual relationship with an adult at the age of 16. It has taken years of working through self-doubt and self-blame to acknowledge that what Tim did to me was rape. In his public response to Sina’s article, Tim states that the allegations made of him are fabricated. Who did he think was fabricating this? Twenty-four hours after the article came out, Tim contacted me by sending and unsending me a Facebook message. The last time I had any contact with Tim was in 2013; does he expect me to think he unsent an innocent message after eight years of not speaking?
2007 was the same year that Nicholas started relentlessly harassing me (the harassment would span from 2007-2014). I don’t remember the moment we met, but I do remember that he was beyond persistent in soliciting me to sleep with him. His messages included commentary on my appearance, how “fuckable” I was, and how he wanted to sleep with me regardless of my age. I had no recourse but to ask him to please stop (he didn’t) and to tell him “I’m 16”. When I would attempt to shut him down him like this, he would respond with comments like “everybody is thinking it, I’m the only one who will say it”. This comment illustrates the culture of abuse that was endemic in 7 Generations’ circle. If what he was thinking about me was natural and normal, why would he be the only one willing to vocalize it? Also embedded in this response is the implicit threat that, should I vocalize to anyone else how uncomfortable I was, my feelings would be dismissed by his peers because “everybody is thinking it”. If Tim having sexual contact with me as a minor is categorized as rape, how can Nicholas’ harassment be categorized any differently than an attempt to rape a minor? Again, it is not possible for a minor to consent to sex with an adult, especially after being relentlessly coerced for years.
On two separate occasions around this time, I rode with Nicholas to the Bay Area and back for 7 Generations shows. Both times he would find incessant excuses to touch me, putting his hand on my thighs or by rubbing my shoulders while I was standing somewhere. On both trips, I begged my friends with tears in my eyes not to leave me alone with him, trying to make it clear that I felt unsafe with him. On one of these trips, we all stayed at someone’s house and Nicholas begged and pressured me to sleep on a couch with him. I declined, opting to sleep in another room but I was never able to shut my eyes because I worried about him finding me there, vulnerable, in the middle of the night. Just like Tim, Nicholas had more than double my life experience at that time. When Nicholas made his bullshit statement on the Redbait Facebook page, his wife, Rebecca Bolte, repeatedly commented that Nicholas’ behavior should be dismissed because he didn’t commit any crimes and that it was “flirtation” gone awry. A man in his 30’s begging to fuck a teenage girl is not flirtation; it is predation. In California, soliciting a minor for sex is firmly categorized as a crime—but why, for people who are ostensibly leftists, is morality defined by the state? If the state sanctioned relationships between teen girls and men in their 30’s, would that make those relationships egalitarian? Certainly not. Rebecca also claimed that I wasn’t involved in hardcore anymore (true but imagine why that might be the case) and that I had “moved on” (I’m trying, but obviously not), as if that would make such allegations acceptable. She also claimed to have seen the messages between Nicholas and me, something I doubt is even possible because the majority of these texts predated smart phones, the ability to screenshot, and the ability to transfer text messages between phones by many years. In the comments of the aforementioned bullshit Redbait statement, Rebecca made reference to a conversation I had with her in 2016. I did reach out to her then, telling her that her husband preyed on me when I was underage. Her response was dismissive, asking if he had messaged me recently and why I decided to write her at that moment. When I told her that he last messaged me something inappropriate in 2014 (presumably during their relationship) and that I had been too scared to say anything before, she stopped replying to me. Our total exchange was three messages, two from me and one from her. In further comments, she claimed that I had declined the offer for a mediation process. There was no offer of a mediation process that I can find any record of. Her response then and now shows what an insincere offer that was.
I would be remiss to not clarify Chris Rouse’s involvement in all of this. I was one of very few people who was never subjected to the worst of Chris’ verbal abuse, but that did not exempt me from other abuses from him. It took me years to acknowledge that what Chris put me through was abuse, because I figured it wasn’t as bad as the capricious cruelty he displayed towards others. I was also afraid that if I ever voiced my discomfort to him that I would be on the receiving end of that cruelty. We shared a social circle beginning when I was 14 but became much closer when I was 17 and remained close until I was 22. He is nine years my senior. I can’t pinpoint exactly when the comments started, but when I was underage, Chris repeatedly made inappropriate comments to me about my appearance and would “joke” about waiting until I turned 18 as a way to sublimate his own predation of an underage girl nine years younger than him. I had been in a relationship from the ages of 17-21 and, in hindsight, it is clear to me that Chris respected the sanctity of my relationship far more than he cared about the fact that there was an inherent power differential that favored him in our friendship. Despite being such close friends with Chris, I also never turned to him to honestly talk about the abuse his friends and bandmates subjected me to. I knew it wouldn’t be a fruitful conversation; I feared he would defend his friends. I was right to fear this, and this was proven to me when I twice asked him (once through Sina, once in direct correspondence with him) to publicly condemn Tim for denying what he did to me. He refused, despite having been aware of everything Tim did to me shortly after it happened because it had been circulating as a rumor. Even as the façade they had all built crumbled around them, they protected—and still protect—each other.
The older I got, the heavier the psychological burden of the abuse I faced became. By 2013, at age 22, I hit a breaking point and removed myself from hardcore and my social circle entirely. But the removal hadn’t been swift enough. By mid-2014, I had a complete nervous breakdown after experiencing a severe depression that did not respond to therapy or medication. I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital to undergo electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT. With ECT, there is always a risk of memory loss, but for most patients it is mild. I had severe memory loss, and I prematurely discontinued treatment. I lost autobiographical memory; my working memory and ability to form new memories is severely compromised. I lost the memories of every book I had ever read in my life; I lost the memories of conversations with loved ones who had died. On top of all these consequences, the procedure was an abject failure in improving the suicidal depression I felt as a consequence of being raped and unremittingly harassed by men twice my age when I was a child.
This is not something I ever wanted to share publicly, even anonymously. But it is important to illustrate the material consequences that abuse can cause. There is no part of me that thinks I would have felt compelled to procure this procedure if I hadn’t been through what I did with the members of 7 Generations and their affiliates. Because of their abuse, my life will never go back to normal, no matter how much emotional processing I do. I also share this in case any details leave you with questions. I faced more abuse at the hands of these men, and at the hands of friends of 7 Generations (as did countless others), than I can outline here, if only for the sake of brevity. But the events I have chosen to outline here are memories that have never faltered. I still remember these events as clear as day, so vividly that I can relive them. I have left out anything that I cannot explain clearly or remember precise details of.
The effects of these men’s abuse have reverberated through my adolescence and adulthood in significant ways. For years I had mourned that they “stole” hardcore from me, but after realizing that this culture of abuse is endemic in subculture in general and is the very existential condition of the scene I grew up in, I don’t feel the need to mourn that anymore. What I mourn is my youth and potential being squandered by trauma; I mourn the memories I’ve lost and the memories I will never form. I also mourn for the other victims of these men, of whom I know there are many. I didn’t deserve any of this; no one deserves the abuse they endured in a scene characterized by kids who don’t fit in anywhere else as it is. I don’t know what my future holds, but I feel timidly optimistic. I feel optimistic because for most of my life, I never disclosed to anyone what had happened to me. When Sina contacted me to talk about the article, I made it clear to him that I was very afraid of these men and did not want to speak for myself. But seeing their (and their partners’) attempts at denying or justifying what they did to me showed me how pathetic they really are. I don’t feel afraid anymore.
I made attempts at holding Chris, Tim, and Nicholas accountable, both directly and through mediators. To say that the results were disappointing would be a serious understatement. I contacted Chris directly with my requests for accountability, and he ignored my text messages until I followed up 10 days later asking if he planned to respond. He told me that I seemed too traumatized to continue direct communication, and that he would only speak to me with a therapist of his choosing, that he pays for, mediating. I take umbrage at this suggestion for several reasons. The first is that accountability can never happen on the terms of the abuser or perpetrator; it can only be on the victim’s terms. It is not for him to decide the terms under which we can communicate, and it is especially not for him to decide that I’m too traumatized for a particular conversation that I initiated. There is no reasonable exception to this. I also take issue with his suggestion because of the inherent power differential built into the dynamic he is describing. Therapists operate in the best interest of whoever is paying them, as that is who their client is. By going to a therapist of Chris’ choosing, with him footing the bill, I would be putting myself in a position of making myself vulnerable to him and someone promoting his interests rather than advocating for me. It is clear who this situation would benefit, and it’s not me. Chris has shown a perennial ability to exploit power differentials, so I know I would be a fool to voluntarily walk into this situation. Chris currently teaches at Saddleback College, a community college in Orange County, California. A large portion of students at community colleges are often vulnerable in ways that students at four-year universities are not. I shudder to think of how someone who seems incapable of not exploiting power differentials would handle the expression of these vulnerabilities.
I contacted Tim through mediators who passed along my requests for accountability. Part of these requests included him publicly posting a statement that he statutorily raped a 16-year-old girl when he was 34 so that those in his community can make an informed choice about whether they want to associate with him. He responded to them by stating that while the read receipts would say he had read their statement, he had not and would not have sufficient internet access to read it for several days. By the time he did respond, he deferred the substantive for the inconsequential by asking the people mediating what my preferred pronouns are (something that was abundantly clear in the statement they sent him). During the time in which Tim apparently did not have sufficient internet access to respond, he was able to post consistently on the Vital Actions Instagram account. Vital Actions is Tim’s animal rights project, which is based in Nicaragua and funded by Patreon donations. Do I need to point out the potential for exploitation when a white American male is living on an allowance in an impoverished country? Tim often posts pictures and stories of young women who volunteer for him. Is it implausible to believe that something adjacent to sex tourism isn’t something he views as a perk to his “job”?
In 2020, Sina contacted Redbait through the band’s email, at my request. I asked that Nicholas no longer be a member of Redbait, because a grown man who sexually pursues an adolescent has no place playing all-ages shows (or any shows, for that matter). When Sina emailed, he ended up in correspondence with Rebecca, who, just like when I messaged her in 2016, abruptly stopped responding. When she did respond, it was with excuses and justifications for why Redbait’s existence was necessary. All her reasons had to do with her own investment in the band. Why has Nicholas been unable to speak for himself this entire time? Why, before Nicholas agreed to drop out of the band, were his actions towards me justified in the bullshit statement and in its comments? Why was this information only made public on the band’s Facebook, arguably the least visited social media site (especially for bands)? Why were the comments shut off? What, exactly, does transparency and accountability mean to these people?
Now I would like to directly address Tim, Nicholas, and Chris: I’m sure this article comes as a shock to you; and if it does, I’m sure it’s because on some level you imagine that you have all completely disempowered me. If you’re angry, be angry at yourselves because this could have been entirely prevented if any of you had been amenable to accountability in private. I had no intention of writing something like this until I saw how little you all cared about the abuse you’ve all perpetrated. In his statement posted on Sina’s article, Tim wrote, “Anyone who may feel that I caused harm to them, if they desire, is welcomed to open a method of direct or mediated communication or process that they feel safe inside of. This would be met with respect, active listening, and a desire to be fair and seek just resolution. If they found otherwise I would expect them to broadcast that to the world.” None of you met me with respect, none of you listened, none of you sought resolution. So here is your broadcast. You know what you did, and you know not one word of this is a lie. You all know that there is so much more to this, involving countless more people not mentioned here (victims and perpetrators alike). The mention of “mediated accountability processes” is a joke. You’ve all repeatedly demonstrated that your primary interests are protecting yourselves and each other over being accountable to the women you’ve harmed. The article Sina wrote was the only acceptable option for a mediation process and you demonstrated how seriously you took the idea when you, Tim, called me a liar; when you, Nicholas, justified your actions; and when you, Chris, refused to do the one thing I asked of you: simply to publicly condemn your friends. It should go without saying, but any attempts by you three to contact me or to out my identity (publicly or privately) as your victim, to retaliate, or to have this article removed will be proof that your inclinations to abuse run so deep that you’d be willing to further traumatize me to save face. I expect nothing from you, but I hope you don’t prove me right.