Events host Bianca Valerio has spoken up on her experience of sexual assault, recounting the incident and the pain she’s been through in a video on her Instagram last March 30.
“Last June 23, 2021, I was sexually assaulted by a male individual. He was one of the guests at an intimate private party I was hired to host for. I had never seen, met, or heard of this man before that evening,” she recalls.
She describes the man as a “cuddly teddy bear who was truly the Mr. PR he is known to be,” who said he was “working for a very popular mobile app” and gifted her with “mobile credits this mobile app was known for.”
But appearances are unfortunately deceiving. She talks about how he kept pushing her all throughout the night with multiple offers and requests, like alcohol and narcotics. “As you offered and you pushed, what did I say?” she says. “No means no. No doesn’t mean please convince me.”
“Just because I was kind to you, you probably thought that it was okay to take advantage of me, to manipulate me, to isolate me, to physically hurt me, to sexually assault me, even if I kept begging and begging you, ‘Why are you doing this? Please don’t do this. Please stop.’”
It’s an incredibly harrowing experience—and also one that could’ve been prevented. As it turns out, her assaulter was a known predator.
“He was never actually invited to the party I hosted for exactly the same reasons I am speaking up today. Allegedly, I am one of many of his victims through the years,” she says. He was a “convicted felon, a man with a criminal record that dates back to 2014. It’s all over the internet.”
This means that her assault was “not an isolated act. I was just another Wednesday night.”
And yet, despite knowing his history and pattern of behavior, nobody warned her. “Can you imagine? Not a single one of them warned me what they already knew about him. That’s why they didn’t even want him there,” she says. “The guys? Fine, forget them. But the women. I’m thinking, ‘Was I expecting too much? I’m not their friend. I’m just the talent. Technically they don’t owe me anything.’”
How many times does this have to happen, where people who have a known history of sexual violence are allowed to live life as normal while the people around them keep mum?
Sure, in Valerio’s case, they may not have invited him to the party. But they didn’t turn him away, and they didn’t warn the other women there. Had they just done that, Valerio might not be speaking up today because it didn’t happen.
By fostering a culture of silence about sexual assault, you are directly allowing assault to continue to happen. You’re complicit.
From my own experience, I know that many people, preferring not to rock the boat, become content with privately holding their misgivings about a predator but not actually speaking up. But this does nothing except to protect predators.
Treating the existence of a sexual predator as an open secret is as good as giving them the keys to continue to assault. An open secret is only an open secret because you’re staying silent. And the thing is, it’s only a secret to those who are in the know. Those who aren’t in the know—they fall victim.
What’s worse in Valerio’s case is that not only did people remain silent, but they also propped him up. “This same individual was hired by this social media app, giving him automatic credibility, power, access to be around women—models, influencers, celebrities, and other powerful women,” she points out.
We can’t keep giving predators power and access to hurt others. How is this still happening? And, as Valerio herself asks, “How is it that this man has not been caught?”
I know that there are people who feel pity for predators. When their victims try to seek justice, one common question they get is: “Do you want to ruin their lives?” Or: “Sure, maybe they did that before, but why are you bringing it up and thereby ruining their reputation and destroying their future?” Or even: “Haven’t they been punished enough?”
The thing is: that presupposes that these predators have already been punished and have faced consequences for their actions. But oftentimes, either they haven’t, or their punishment was a mere slap on the wrist. As Valerio notes, “Fact number 1: This man was a sexual predator with a criminal record. Fact number 2: This man has not been punished.”
And, of course, that also gives off the implication that losing a job or having your reputation ruined by assault allegations is in any way comparable to the trauma and heartbreak and pain of being assaulted. It’s not.
You have a bad reputation? Great, you’re like “Rep”-era Taylor Swift. You have a chance at reinventing yourself into a “Folklore”-era Swift. Meanwhile, your victims are forever going to be haunted and changed by what you did. It’s not the same.
Towards the end of the video, her speaking up is an act of honoring women. She’s honoring other survivors and empowering them to speak up. “I honor the victims by reporting this crime to the police and have sought legal action,” she adds.
“This is me claiming my power back.”
Preen.ph has reached out to both Bianca Valerio and the mobile app believed to be associated with the alleged assaulter for comment.