In 1990, I experienced one of the most life-changing and challenging experiences of my life, I had recently got full-time employment at The English Body and Hair Company, The Body Shop, in Stockholm, Sweden, where I grew up and used to live. I loved working there and thrived. I was 20 years old and in love with my new boyfriend, everything was perfect. Just before my summer holiday, I was approached by a modeling scout and agent on the street. If I remember right, his name was David Goldberg, and seemed to be trustworthy, as he knew some friends of mine. He asked me if I was a model and I said no, but that I had done some commercial jobs here and there. He encouraged me to do it as he said I was super cute and would be able to earn some money on it. He told me about his friend in France who was looking for models for his new swimwear catalog and since I was pretty athletic at the time, he thought I would be a good fit, flattered I exchanged numbers with him. After doing some research about David and finding out he was indeed a Free-lancing model scout, I let him now I was interested. It seemed like a dream to go down to France to pursue modeling both for the fame and the money.
That summer I had two weeks of vacation from The Body Shop and took the opportunity to go down to Monaco without a cellphone (due to their rarity back then), six years of French class, and a school trip to the south of France under my belt. We had decided on a specific location by the port of Monte Carlo to meet up, I waited there for what felt like hours without him showing up until I pulled out my little crinkle piece of paper with the number he had given me and called him from the nearest phone booth. When he answered he said he didn’t think I was going to come, sounding surprised. Finally, he came down to the Tabac where I was waiting, however, he didn’t seem too interested in having me there. We walked back to where he was staying. One of the tallest buildings in Monaco just by the Parc au Casino. David was staying with an older businessman that ran a fashion business. The man was his friend who was in need of swimsuit models but apparently, I had arrived a week too late. He offered me a job his secretary, but I kindly declined as that was not what I was looking for. David promised he would get me another job.
That night we stayed with David and the businessman. The next evening David introduced me to a good friend of his, a sweet older lady who offered me her phone number in case anything happened. In retrospect, I wish I had listened to her and kept her number, but I had no clue what I was getting myself into. We stayed another night there, and then he gave up on Monaco and took me to Cannes as we could stay with his friend there. We took the train to Cannes and later a bus to the small village outside of Cannes and walked from there to David’s friend’s house. It was a beautiful yellow villa with a gorgeous view of the Mediterranean. The house seemed dark and empty and rightly so, nobody was home. When he saw my disappointed face, he said I shouldn’t worry we will only stay here until she gets back home. We walked around the house to the stunning back yard with its beautiful pool.
There was a small pool shack and as we entered, I was horrified to find a filthy mattress on the floor with some very dirty sheets on top. I started to feel very uncomfortable, it was obvious someone used this place to sleep. While staying there David wouldn’t leave me alone, telling me that he was really attracted to me, and he thought I was beautiful, and keeping his hands all over my body. He was at least 10-15 years older than me, and I thought he was slimy and disgusting. I still want to throw up when I think about what I let him do to my body. Even as I repeatedly said no several times, and explained to him that I had a boyfriend, he desperately insisted on having sex with me. In the end, I was too frightened to resist, and I let him take advantage of me. Looking back, I wish I had the courage to resist, to punch him in his face, run out on the street, and scream for help, but at the time he seemed a lot stronger than me, and since I was relying on him, I felt like I had to give in to his horrible actions.
The following day when David had left to get food and to make some phone calls, I was alone in the pool shack, I saw his passport thrown on the ground on top of his bag, I couldn’t stop looking at it and when I saw it was Moroccan, I quickly opened it and looked inside, to my great surprise and horror, his name was not David Goldberg but Ahmed or Mohammed (something similar), I can’t remember now exactly. But I thought to myself why? Is he ashamed of being Moroccan? I became terrified. He had not only abused me but lied too about his identity! Who the hell was this guy? I became really worried. I thought to myself that I needed to get out of there quickly, but I didn’t know-how. When he came back, I told him I had to call my parents to let them know that I was ok. We had to walk down to the village and call from a phone booth, as I called them, he stood outside, listening carefully to every word I said. I was too scared to tell them what was going on as I felt threatened by “David’s” presence. After I hung up with my parents, I panicked, thinking, What the hell should I do now? On the walk back, I desperately asked when he was going to get me the job he promised. He said, “We are going to Paris. I will get you a job there.”
David had arranged a casting with Paul the owner of the Champagne Model Agency and to my relief, he was a gay guy. He was really sweet and invited me to stay in his apartment, I was happy to sleep in a bed alone so I could get away from David. Unfortunately, Paul didn’t think I was the type he was looking for, as he wanted a taller and slimmer girl. Since I was 170cm and athletically built, he suggested me to become his secretary. I’m like, “Not again”!! I was there to get a model job, but I was really starting to doubt this whole venture and that David was serious about this.
One day as David was trying to get me a job, I strolled around the streets of Paris and coincidentally met a guy from Stockholm that I knew. He was there working in a shop his relative owned. He called me from the storefront, and we started talking. I shared a little bit about what had happened to me, and he became really concerned. As soon as David came back and they started talking, my friend told David to take really good care of me. David didn’t look happy after listening to him and after we left the store, David grabbed hold of my arm firmly and pulled me towards him while yelling at me never to say a word about what happened, and accused me of lying. He further threatened my life, saying something like: “Don’t ever do that again! I can have you killed! You don’t know who I know, I know the fucking head of police in Paris.”
I grew even more terrified!
Finally, David set me up for a casting call at the most famous modeling agency in Paris and maybe even in the world. ELITE. It was owned by Gérald Marie and was representing supermodels like Linda Evangelista, Kate Moss, Cindy Crawford, and more. When I got into the agency’s beautiful office on 21 Avenue Montaigne, I was nervous and excited. This was supposed to be it. My great chance for fame and fortune, to be the next supermodel. I was very impressed at the time I didn’t know where I was and how famous the agency was. The staff members surveyed me from head to toe as I passed them while they were all talking on the phone. I was taken to Mr. Gérald’s office, and at that time, I thought his name was Jean-Claude, but I must have mixed all the names up since Claude Haddad was one of his notorious scouts. Inside Gérald’s office, I shook his hand, and he invited me to sit down. He started talking immediately about a possible career as a famous model that I could have whilst at the same time suspiciously turning the shades down so nobody could see inside the office even though it was the middle of the day. I thought it was very odd that he would even close the blinds towards the room where the staff was working. I thought to myself that he must like to be private.
He started asking me what I did back home in Sweden, what my interests and dreams were, and how I would like to make a living. When I explained I was interested in acting he said he would have the perfect role for me, especially since I spoke French. After what felt like an hour or hour and half of questioning, he started pulling out several large portfolios with some of the top models in the world asking if I knew them and I nodded and said yes, he also showed at a portfolio of Swedish woman, he asked me if I knew who she was. Of course, I did, she was a well-known model, as all the other models were. “What do you think these models did to become so famous?” And he made sure I understood his message: If you want to be like her and better, having six-figure contracts, you have to give something back. As he said that, I felt his hand up my skirt, and his fingers forcefully penetrated my vagina.
I completely froze!
I couldn’t understand what was happening. I was scared of doing something wrong, so I slowly pulled away and said I had to think about it. All I could think of was to get out of there. When I came out of his office, the staff glared at me, like they knew what was going on.
I left the scene behind me and sat down on the first available bench. I was so shocked. I couldn’t understand what had just happened. I felt so confused and so filthy. How could I have been so stupid that I didn’t see this coming? My tears started rolling down my cheeks as I felt like the loneliest person on the planet. I just wanted to go home and hopefully wake up from this horrible nightmare. I panicked. I didn’t know what to do. And I must have been in shock during the whole day because later the same night or if it was the day after I can’t fully remember now, I was invited to Gérald’s private apartment for casting, and I decided to go, thinking what happened to me earlier must have been a one of a kind incident. David and I went together and were invited in, I believe I was the first woman there and Gérald started by telling us that we had just missed out on meeting the American actor Sylvester Stallone who had just left, and as I understood he was there to pick up one of the models to go out with him. I was so disappointed since I was a fan of his. Later more girls appeared, even from the bedrooms inside the apartment that were living there, and they were a lot younger than me, the youngest maybe 17 or less. Some of them were not in good health either, and they all seemed tense and quiet. I was looking forward to making some connections, but they didn’t seem interested in that at all. This was not the place to open up or try to find sympathy. Most likely, we were all in the same boat. Around 10 more girls showed, then we had to get undressed except for our panties so they could see our breasts. How insulting, I thought. But maybe this was how it worked in the industry? I questioned it and was told it was necessary to show them in case we would have to do breast shots and they didn’t want any saggy tits.
I can’t remember who else was there, but it was either Claude or some other guy, looking at us and taking notes. I felt like a cow at an auction being judged from head to toe.
After that experience, I realized this was a nightmare situation and not the industry I wanted to work in. I had to get out of this hellhole before it was too late. With my dreams shattered and feeling ashamed, I came up with a plan. I told Gerald that I agreed to his plan, I would come back to Paris but I needed to go back to Sweden first to finish my driver’s license, resign from my job as well as to talk to my boyfriend to prepare him. I managed to get an airplane ticket so I could go back home. Back in Stockholm, I swore not to tell a single soul what had happened. I was terrified and only wanted to erase the whole experience. I felt this was totally my fault, and I couldn’t blame anybody for what had happened even if I wanted too. I was disgusting, and my innocence was ripped off forever, just because I had been vain and thought I could be the new Cindy Crawford.
It was so hard to grasp that the beautiful ladies I had seen on the covers of the magazines and on the walls at the agency had most likely been through the same or similar experience as me.
My boyfriend was so happy to see me. I was so happy to see him too, but as soon he came close, wanting to be intimate with me, I pushed him away in disgust. He felt very neglected and hurt, but I could not tell him. After it became worse, and he thought that I had met somebody else, I realized I had to tell him.
He was so pissed off. He went off to find David when he was back in town and took out all his rage – and some of mine – on him, and according to rumors, he needed a significant amount of stitches to fix his face. I was proud that my boyfriend stood up for me and got some revenge, but at the same time, I didn’t even want to know what exactly had happened because I was terrified that David and the whole team from ELITE would come after me.
But nothing happened besides a rumor reaching my boyfriend, that I had gone to bed voluntarily with David. My boyfriend, the poor thing, didn’t know what to believe and started doubting my story.
I should have gone to the police, but that thought never crossed my mind until several years later when I read in the evening newspaper Expressen about the big raid that had happened at Elite. I realized that this was a drug and trafficking business. At that time the phrase sex trafficking didn’t exist at least not in my reality. Even though there were several women that came forward claiming that Gérald Marie and his scouts were sexually abusing them, there was not one single conviction. In my opinion, he was a mighty man with a lot of convincing connections that helped him out. BBC did a documentary about him and the drugs and sex abuse, but despite that, he is still on the loose and running another agency.
This is my personal story that I share in my Book True Starlight – from living in the shadows to being Stellar, there I share my very personal journey, experience, and spiritual awakening. Several chapters were hard to write since they awoke a lot of old memories from the past and that contained a lot of pain that had not completely healed. I had actually not shared many details about the rape to anybody before the book since it happened in the early nineties. I am talking about Chapter 5. Approval –Modeling.
The whole sexual assault and harassment thing is a hot potato right now all over the world, even though a lot of it has not been covered in mainstream media due to the Corona Virus. But before that the #Me too campaign went viral.
Far too many women and men are living in fear and are suffering from sexual abuse. They not only live with their own guilt and shame thinking it’s their fault such horrible things happened to them but also carry emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical scars from the abuser within their bodies. What they need to know is even though that they might have attracted it on some level (which I will explain further ahead), they are innocent. Nobody has the right to go against someone’s will and touch their body without their consent! Victims often blame it all on themselves, thinking they did something wrong, just like I did. The abusers on the other hand seem to think that they can do what they want to others without any consequences for their actions. This is part of a larger issue where society often allows those with power to take advantage of others, but how can any person do something so terrible? Have they lost their sense of self and morals? Well, it’s likely the abusers have once abused themselves and as a way of dealing with their pain, they are doing the same to others. The abusers are very disconnected from their own hearts and have forgotten that what they are doing to others they are doing to themselves.
To be able to heal from sexual abuse and have peace within, in my opinion, the first step is to allow ourselves to look at the facts, to dare to feel the pain of what happened, and to connect with the hate and rage that might be lurking in the bottom of our soul. I had tucked all that pain away and pretended it was never there for such a long time. The thing I didn’t know though was that it controlled me on a subconscious level. It affected all my relationships with men. I discovered that I was fearful, and I didn’t trust them anymore. I had to deprogram and learn about myself, my own life patterns, and why I had attracted this in the first place. I had developed a despite for men, feeling rage against the abuse of my innocence, love, and trust. I had discovered that I covered my heart, body, and soul from ever being abused again. The wounds were deep. One way of healing I participated in was body psychotherapy where we went through different kinds of modalities to heal my body, mind, and soul. Writing about the experience has also helped a lot as it has forced to me face the shame and feelings around it. It is very easy to try to run away from the pain from the past and try to hide, but the truth is we can’t hide from ourselves. The undealt emotions will control us on one level or the other so it’s crucial that we deal with them to become a whole and healed human being.
The next step is to take ownership of the choices we made that lead up to the incident and during the incident. In my opinion, this step is crucial as it allows us to learn from what happened and avoid making the same mistake again. I think it’s important to ask oneself the questions, Why did it happen? What was my intention? Was I in the wrong place? Was there a feeling, a red flag, that I neglected because I had a stronger desire that I followed? Etc? It’s essential to find all of the choices we made and see if we neglected and inner knowing, and actively acted against our intuition and gut feeling. In my case it was that I wanted to be a famous model, I was flattered, and I wanted the attention and of course, the money it could bring, that blurred my vision, and I ignored my inner knowing so that couldn’t see the red flags until it was too late. Taking ownership of this doesn’t mean that we are blaming ourselves for what happened on the contrary it’s taking back the power over oneself.
When we see and learn that we had a part of the incident and how it happened, taking the responsibility that allowed the incident to happen, we can be ready to take responsibility all the way and stopping to blame people for what we feel they did to us. We are actually in the boat together, both the perpetrator and victim.
I believe that we came to this planet to experience life, to understand contrast, to know light versus dark, positive versus negative energy, and from that grow as a soul and as consciousness. In my opinion, I chose all of my experiences including what happened to me in France as a young woman. On a subconscious level, I believe I needed to experience the incidents there as part of my spiritual growth. That might sound weird, but honestly, if I didn’t choose to experience those hardships, I would not be the person that I am today. Although other people’s actions can put us in the position of a victim, we do not have to let them control our emotions and our lives.
We are more powerful than what we have experienced, and we can still choose how to feel about it. With that said, as more people wake up and become aware of who they really are, we have a greater responsibility to help heal the world and that can only be done by healing ourselves first and creating awareness by helping to share our truth and we can not afford to sit still and expect others to do the job for us. The crimes against humanity which so many people have committed should be punished by law and the abusers all need to face their judgments.
The last step to freedom is to find the gift in the incident. To see that it made us to whom we are today. We can choose to stay in victimhood and misery or we can choose to move on.
Wouldn’t it feel better to heal, let go and forgive so that we can shift from being a miserable sucker to a free and empowered being? If enough of us worked on just that, we wouldn’t allow ourselves to be manipulated again. Maybe instead we would choose to find out more about who we truly are and look for what we have in common rather than our differences?
I am asking the question; How long do you think we can keep blaming the predators and pointing fingers at them? We all have to come forth. We are all playing this game and what is now happening in the world now is good, we need disclosure and truth, or as we say in Sweden: Vad är gömt i snö kommer fram i tö, meaning that which is hidden in the snow will be visible when the snow melts. The light is strong right now. The darkness cannot hide in the light, so we need to keep shining. We need the courage to step forward and empower all of the people who have been living in the shadows and in fear. The light is good for everybody even the predators who hopefully can heal too because they too have been living in an illusion and a lie, for whatever they thought to believe, whatever reasons they had to commit their oppressive and horrific acts they too are good deep inside.
Gérald Marie from the Elite Model agency has never been convicted for his crimes. Why? In my opinion, I believe it’s because he has friends in powerful places that protect him. One can ask why? Were they involved and using his services? Or was he a very talented manipulator that successfully controlled people with fear? I think he was most likely very insecure inside, looking for love and connection, as we all do, and they only way for him to feel good was to abuse his power. Either way, Gérald, and others aren’t going to be able to escape from now on because of the tsunami of people stepping up for what they know is right, people are claiming their power back and raising their voice. Just look at Jeffrey Epstein and Harvey Weinstein’s cases, it is clear to see that the truth has to come out to set us free. We are raising the positive frequency on this planet and it’s inevitable to shed light on the darkness and the truth will come out.
When people feel safe within themselves, they will talk. But let’s not be content having him and the other offenders convicted, let this be a movement that can inspire all of us to stop abusing, lying, hiding in the shadows, pretending we are something that we are not and to move on, to forgive ourselves and others for the past hurts.
Let’s be content when we ourselves are living in truth and authenticity and inspire others to do the same. Then maybe then we can all have peace within.