Trigger Warning: Rape, Abuse
Singer, songwriter and DJ Alice Glass recently came out with her first solo work, a self-titled EP. It’s her first release after leaving long-time outfit Crystal Castles, a group known for their electronic frontiering and robot-esque vocals. Glass’s EP is largely about trauma and recovery—lyrics, such as “Am I worth it, or am I worthless?” from “Without Love” and “It’s a curse not a blessing/That I can see what you want me to see” from “White Lies” bear the steel-strong and confident voice of someone who has overcome huge amounts of abuse, who is now in a place to speak candidly about it. Indeed, three years after leaving Crystal Castles, Glass is now speaking out about the emotional, physical, sexual and psychological abuse she suffered while in the band, and how she’s been able to move forward since.
Glass was first inspired to speak out by the multitudes of women of the #MeToo campaign who opened up about sexual abuse in film and other industries. In her own account, published on her website in late October, she revealed that she was coerced into an abusive relationship with Crystal Castles frontman Ethan Cath (Claudio Palmieri) for several years. She was 15 at the time they met, and he 25. Cath took advantage of Glass in his car in one of their earliest encounters, after which Glass cut off communications with him—he was persistent, though, driving around her high school and showing up at parties until he found her again.
Cath continued to sexually abuse Glass throughout their relationship, and as they began making music together the abuse became psychological. Throughout their personal and professional interactions, Cath controlled every aspect of Glass’s life: “he figured out my insecurities and exploited them: he used the things he learned about me against me,” she recounts. He dictated what she was allowed to eat, who she could talk to, where she could go. In addition he constantly manipulated her emotionally, diminishing her contributions to Crystal Castles, taking credit for the work she did and telling her that she was talentless and was “ruining the band” just by being in it. Cath’s abuse soon became physical: he threw her onto concrete sidewalks, took pictures of her bruises and uploaded them to the Internet.
Glass was very much in danger both physically and psychologically, and her music was her outlet for her experiences. “I was miserable,” she says in her statement, “and my lyrics indirectly spoke to the pain and oppression that I was enduring.” Finally she decided she would not take anymore, that for the sake of her own mental and physical health she had to leave Cath and Crystal Castles. The abuse she had endured for all these years made her feel worthless, replaceable, insecure, insignificant. She was in a very dark place: “I was suicidal for years,” she says. It was time to get out, and she did.
October marks three years since Glass left Crystal Castles, and she is in an ongoing process of healing. “It has taken me years to recover from enduring almost a decade of abuse, manipulation and psychological control,” she says. Healing is making her stronger, and very much an inspiration—one of her main goals in posting her statement was to be an inspire others who are currently in abusive relationships to “stand up and speak out.” Seeing her flourish and come into her own after Crystal Castles—seeing her so powerful on the stage during her recent solo tour, and hearing her voice, her own voice, now completely in her control—is such a beautiful and empowering thing, especially for anyone who has also suffered through psychological abuse. The fact that she spoke out about her abuse, in order to heal herself and to help those who are going through what she went through, speaks greatly to her strength and bravery as a musician and as a person. I, for one, am looking forward to how she grows, and uses her voice, in the future.