Some of you may be aware that I’ve opened up about my experiences with abuse in the past. I’ve been very guarded about the information I’ve given and I haven’t publicly named names—because I’ve been afraid. I’ve been threatened and harassed and as a result, out of fear, I’ve been silenced.
The momentum that’s been created recently by the many courageous women who have opened up about their own stories has inspired me to finally be more direct, at whatever cost. This is for my own recovery, for the other women who have been, are currently, or may be in a similar situation with the man who abused me for years, and for those in abusive relationships who are looking to stand up and speak out.
I met “Ethan Kath” (Claudio Palmieri) when I was in the 10th grade. The first time he took advantage of me was when I was around 15. He was 10 years older than me. I came to in the back of his car extremely intoxicated (from drinks he had given me that night). We didn’t talk for months after that. He went to great lengths to find me again, stalking me and driving past my high school looking for me.
He tracked me down and showed up places I was hanging out and we eventually reconnected. I was very young and naive and in a compromised position in my life. I perceived him as a local rock star because I had seen his band, Kill Cheerleader, on TV. A lot of my friends from the punk scene had also been taken advantage of by much older men, so to me, it was a situation that had been normalized.
Claudio was very manipulative towards me. He figured out my insecurities and exploited them: he used the things he learned about me against me. Over a period of many months, he gave me drugs and alcohol and had sex with me in an abandoned room at an apartment he managed. It wasn’t always consensual and he remained sober whenever we were together.
When I was 16 or 17 he gave me a CD of songs and asked me to write and sing over them. I took the songs home and wrote lyrics and melodies and we recorded the tracks I liked. But even with music, he created a toxic environment that I often felt I had to go along with. While recording our first EP, the recording engineer sexually harassed me while we were in the studio. Claudio laughed at me and pressured me to go along with it. He called our first single “Alice Practice” and said my vocals were a mic test. He concocted that story and told press it was an “accidental” recording, intentionally diminishing my role in its creation. It was another way of putting me down and preying on my insecurities.
Soon after, we were invited to tour the UK. I was overwhelmed by how quickly things were happening for us, and Claudio convinced me to drop out of high school only 2 credits away from graduation. As we started to gain attention, he began abusively and systematically targeting my insecurities and controlling my behavior: my eating habits, who I could talk to, where I could go, what I could say in public, what I was allowed to wear. He kept me from doing interviews or photoshoots unless he was in control of the situation. Our fame grew in Crystal Castles but he didn’t feel he was getting the recognition he thought he deserved.
He became physically abusive. He held me over a staircase and threatened to throw me down it. He picked me up over his shoulders and threw me onto concrete. He took pictures of my bruises and posted them online. I tried to leave, and he swore that it would never happen again, that he would never physically abuse me again. More severe psychological and emotional abuse took its place.
He controlled everything I did. I wasn’t allowed to have my own phone or my own credit card, he decided who my friends were, read through my private emails, restricted my access to social media, regulated everything I ate. He berated me and yelled at me, telling me that I was a joke, that all the people that came to our shows were only interested in his instrumentals and that I was ruining the band. He broke glass shower doors to frighten me, he locked me into rooms. He told me that my feminism made me a target for rapists and only he could protect me. He forced me to have sex with him or, he said, I wouldn’t be allowed to be in the band anymore.
I was miserable and my lyrics indirectly spoke to the pain and oppression that I was enduring. But as is sometimes the case in abusive relationships, his cruelty was often followed by kindness. He was very good at keeping his terrible treatment of me private. He was charming sometimes, he was hyper protective and most of all I loved the band we had together. But he often told me how replaceable I was. He’d even tell me that he was actively looking for someone to replace me. He kept me insecure and on edge, and then would tell me that he was the only one it the world that believed in me. He told me it was us against everyone, because everyone else thought I was a loser, a joke, a talentless dancing clown. I believed him. I was suicidal for years.
Leaving Crystal Castles was the single most difficult decision I’ve ever made—that band was everything to me. My music, my performances and my fans were all I had in the world. I gave that up and started over not because I wanted to but because I had to. As difficult as it was, I knew that leaving was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It has taken me years to recover from enduring almost a decade of abuse, manipulation and psychological control. I am still recovering.