I am a very open person, and I genuinely just want to care for other people. I know because of that nature, I have been targeted by people, typically older cis men, who want to manipulate me.
I started recording narration for the studio in Vancouver when I was around 22 or 23. When the studio moved to a bigger studio I began working with a new sound engineer who was friends with the man who got me the gig. They were both in their early 40s.
At first, I thought he was friendly. He was a family man, so I believed I would be safe. Because of the nature of the work, I was only interacting with him on a daily basis. There was nobody else there usually.
Initially, it was just long hugs. Then when the pandemic happened, he would invite me to smoke weed. After smoking, he’d ask to go cuddle. I agreed, because his mom was really sick and he was going through a lot.
At that time, I’d been working with him for about a year, so I trusted him. He was always nice to me. Looking back, he did oversexualize me. He would talk about my appearance and give me compliments. He would like my Instagram photos and talk about the dance videos I would post. So when he started to cross boundaries, I didn’t think too much of it at first because people sexualize Asian women or Asian people all the time.
He was a founder of several club nights and a music manager as well. I was making my own music on the side. He would drive me home sometimes after work and he would ask me what kind of music I liked and about the personal songs I was creating. But he clearly didn’t care about mentoring me or where my music career was going. Now, thinking back to it, that was vulture-like behaviour. He would buy me food when he drove me home and gave me free drink tickets when I went to his clubs. I worked for him too—I worked door and coat check. It was obviously exploitative labour, because the amount of work I was doing did not match how much I was receiving.
I just feel like I was always the one justifying everything he did. In my mind, he was a father-figure type who was misled—I couldn’t even fathom that he was manipulating me.
After a while, I was just so uncomfortable. Whenever we were in the studio, he kept offering wine or drugs, like cocaine. I always refused, because it was detrimental to my work to be taking substances, in that slurred speech will ruin all audio I record. He went further by squeezing my butt once. He gave me a massage once and started kissing my neck. I kept having to say no.
Eventually, I emailed the CEO. After that, I had an interview with an HR person, a straight cis white woman. That took about two weeks. They also called my ex, my partner at the time, to talk to him about his perspective and what I told him.
They fired the abuser. I asked HR for money to pay for therapy and eventually they reimbursed me $300, which is not that much. It’s about two sessions. They also told me, “Don’t talk to anyone about this, just keep quiet for the sake of his reputation.”
I was originally cast to do more narration for a show that the studio was producing, but after this incident, they ended up hiring a different person. They claimed I wasn’t available, but I definitely was.
When somebody violates your boundaries, even if it’s something small, we shouldn’t be justifying their actions because, in the end, it wouldn’t be fair to you. Abusers are damaged people—you can’t put the blame on yourself.