I can still taste the stale smoke on the mouth that forced its tongue into mine as Mr. X pushed me against a wall with his body while his hands pulled at my shirt. He was in his late sixties and until that moment, a father figure and mentor to me -- he even told my dad that he'd watch out for me as I embarked on a career in the music industry! So it was a total surprise when he came over one day, shoved me against a wall, and said, "Honey, you have to learn how to play the game if you want to succeed." He meant trading sex to get ahead.
I was unprepared for his full-on advances. This was my first time living on my own. When I married at twenty, I went from the loving arms of my parents, who always took care of me, to having my husband take over. And here I was, weeks after getting the courage to embark on life as a single woman, and the man I trusted for support had me pinned against a wall.
He knew I was inexperienced and still trying to be a very nice girl. He assumed I'd roll over easily. I didn't, and immediately calculated how to get him off me (he was a big man). I worried about giving him a heart attack, since he'd had one earlier that year. Yes, in the midst of attempted rape, my naïve self was concerned about him. Fear made me fight gingerly instead of whacking him. I thought: "What if I hit him too hard and he died? I'm a nice girl but people will think I'm a bad person! I might end up in jail."
This man was trying to rape me and the innocent nice girl in me couldn't fathom he was committing a crime and I had every right to do anything I could to defend myself. I kept trying to find "nicer" ways to get him to stop. Finally, a surprise elbow to his ribs, which made me wince as much as he did, got him to pull back and free me.
I was almost hysterical when asking how he could do that after he'd promised to protect me. Mr. X had the nerve to justify his actions by saying he knew I was a sexual woman and he'd take care of my needs so I wouldn't be tempted to sleep around now that I didn't have a husband. He then reiterated that if I didn't learn to give up sex, I'd never get ahead in the music industry.
I mustered my strength as I looked him in the eye and said, "That will never happen and I intend to prove you wrong. Now leave!" I was shaking inside as I held my head high and slammed the door behind him.
I didn't tell anyone. Mr. X was a powerful figure in the industry and I was scared that he'd sabotage me if I spoke up. Instead I chose positive revenge and began my company, Revenge Productions/Records. The memory of Mr. X motivated me to work hard and my record label succeeded. When I later bumped into him at an industry conference, he said he was proud of me and once again offered help. I just said, "Thanks, but no thanks!"
Years later, after I'd flipped my career from running a record label to teaching music business workshops and then writing bestselling music business books for Billboard, I saw Mr. X again. He acted like he knew all along that I'd make something of myself and began to elaborate on how he could help me expand my career. I cut him off and said -- with a smile and in a calm tone -- "I don't like you and can succeed on my own." Then I turned my back on him.
By then I'd matured, I was no longer the naive young woman who thought she needed a powerful man to help her. My anger was gone, soothed by knowing I'd overcome my fears and gotten positive revenge -- success! I've learned that using the energy behind your anger to do something positive for yourself is the best revenge, much more satisfying and emotionally healthy than walking around angry and trying to think up ways to get even. Negative energy doesn't feel good. Being a happy, spiritual woman is enough for me!