Dancer Elodie Lavoignat during rehearsals for RAPE & CULTURE – Photo: Max Ott
“I felt: I’m too weak, I can’t defend myself”
For our production RAPE & CULTURE, we asked artists to tell us about their experiences with sexualized violence and abuse of power. This is Anna speaking, who actually has a different name
My professor came from another city and always wanted to stay with me in the shared flat. She wasn’t sexually interested in me, but she was absolutely assaultive. She generally only slept naked, 68 and all. Then she lay naked in my bed and I didn’t know how to deal with it at all.
Later I studied with this notorious Japanese woman who brought all the students up to a hammer level, but was a horrible tyrant. Everything was constantly twisted. You couldn’t behave properly, even if you tried. It was not possible.
We had to practise so much… I was the least affected by it, she liked me. The others had a much harder time. Play until you bleed. Until the bubbles have burst. Keep playing, keep playing! At the end of the lesson you are told that you have to pay the bill for the cleaning.
The most wrong thing was this kind of psychological terror. That you have to endure the anger and arbitrariness of other people for hours on end. Exercising power, deprivation of liberty, being beaten, definitely not nice.
Then I went to another professor who had a completely different approach. Anti-authoritarian without end, but one of the strongest classes worldwide in his field because he is so inspiring. A person where everyone wants to give everything because he is charismatic, a great musician, incredibly clever.
I loved it, I held it high. It did me so much good. I have freed myself musically. Because suddenly only the feeling counted. Perfection came along the way.
I was the chosen one. Everyone admired him, he is incredibly famous. Then he comes to me, brings French duck with buttered potatoes and we sit in the garden. He also had a romantic streak.
Then it started to become more and more. He pulled out all the stops. I was increasingly helpless and didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have any weapons at the time because I admired him so much and had a crush on him. But I also realized that I couldn’t do anything with a man who was over 50. I couldn’t do it, not even physically. I knew that wouldn’t work. And at the same time, I knew I was in a relationship of dependency.
After refusing his advances, my lessons were canceled, of course. He said he didn’t have time now. I didn’t have any lessons for weeks.
He started watching porn in the car. During the journey. I don’t want to be too loose, but that was totally inappropriate. I couldn’t take any more. It became too much for me. I was sitting next to him in the car and this terrible porn was playing and I just cried.
He told me about other female students and how far he had come. There was a second woman in the class and he was more successful. He played me their sex tapes.
I tried to get in touch with other students. But they were all totally blinded. That was just him. And everyone loved him and nobody really listened to me.
Three years ago, I met a former student in Italy, who is now very well known. We drove through the city in his convertible. Then he said he had to teach now, it was already 3 pm. I just wanted to charge my cell phone with him. I went into the apartment with him – and he tried to rape me.
I felt: I’m too weak, I can’t defend myself. I want to move my arm? Not possible. What do I do now?
A few weeks later, someone asked me how old I was. Without intending to, I named one year less. Because it happened on my birthday. I’ve erased that one from my memory.
I haven’t said anything yet because he has too much power. I told one person who reacted by breaking off contact.
What do I have to be like as a woman just to be left alone? Am I no longer allowed to be open? I actually tried to change myself. I said to myself: “You have such an open charisma, it’s probably your own fault that people are projecting something onto you. You probably got their hopes up without knowing it.”
As a woman in music, it is always difficult to behave with integrity. Not to be accused of “they only achieve this because…”. I’m really proud of the fact that I didn’t even flirt when I could have achieved something.
If you are acutely affected by violence, please contact a contact point. Possible points of contact:
Regional in Munich:
Crisis service Bavaria
: 0180 655 3000
Women’s helpline Munich
(Mon-Fri 10 am – 1 pm and 3 pm – 2 pm, except Wednesday: 10 am – 1 pm and 6 pm – 2 pm): 089 76 37 37
Wildwasser München e.V.
(Mon 10am-12pm, Wed 4pm-6pm, Thurs 2pm-4pm): 089-600 39 331
Themis Confidence Center against sexual harassment and violence
in the film, television and theater industry (Mon 10am-12pm, Wed & Thurs 10am-12pm and 3pm-5pm): 030/23 63 20 20