Ashley Afferino: Why Me?

I first met this man while working as a bartender at a new spot in West Hollywood. He was consulting on their bar program. Such a nice, friendly, passionate person and was refreshing to meet, as much of my experience being new to LA was of quite the opposite.

Over the years of working in the industry I would often run into him whether it be professionally working on gigs, or out at events. We became friends and made some great memories. That’s why that night in San Antonio caught me so off guard. I never thought my friend who I thought respected me, would ever think it was Ok to cross that line. With me of all people. I do not drink, I am not flirtatious and in no way put it out there that I am available.

It was last call at the full bar. Comrades were singing and jumping about to the sounds of Queen. I moved into the crowd and attempted to join in these shenanigans. It turns out I end up next to him in the crowd of people. Stoked to party down with my friend, I smile and start moving about. He put his left arm around my shoulders and pulled me into him almost engulfing me in his body. He then took his right hand and shoved it into my pants in attempts to put his fingers inside me. Being the large man he is I was unable to pull away. It was like a movie, I was being violated right there, in a friendly bar, full of people I knew and trusted. When I finally managed to twist and turn out of his grasp, I ran away to a friend for consoling as I was so distraught. I asked a couple trusted friends what I should do. How do I handle this? The males offered both physical and verbal assistance. No guys, I want to handle this myself. It’s important.  

It hasn’t even been a year since this happened. I can’t tell you how many times I mustered up the courage to confront him and address how he made me feel… But every time I called, etc. there was always someone else present. I was ashamed, embarrassed and didn’t want anyone else to know. I feared my professional and personal relationships would suffer if I told anyone. He was such a “loved” influential person in this industry, who wouldn’t take his side (if we can even call it that). Also, I felt weak. Which was unfamiliar. I had been through some tough things when I was younger and realized this incident was stirring up unresolved emotions.

So here I am a mess(privately). I stopped following him on social media as his posts of being a great father and husband made my stomach turn.

Then I get the text, “Did you see (his) post?” I replied “sure didn’t.” I was sent the snapshot of a blanket social media apology for all for his behavior. I was disgusted.

I am hoping sharing these tragic stories will create a discussion. There are other people out there like this in our industry, and victims are too afraid to speak out against this outrageous behavior for fear of repercussions.

Ashley Afferino