Recently, singer Timothy Heller came forward on Twitter to accuse her fellow singer and her former best friend Melanie Martinez of sexual assault. (In response, Martinez has said Heller "never said no to what we chose to do together" in a statement on Twitter.) Heller explained why she voiced her allegations against Martinez in a recent interview with The Fresh Committee. In her explanation, she notes a few aspects she wanted to draw attention to when it comes to allegations of sexual harassment and assault. She said she wanted to shine a light on woman on woman abuse, abusive situations involving a friend, and mental health.
UPDATE: Martinez released an additional statement on Twitter on Saturday, Dec. 9. It reads:
I understand how hard it could be to see my side of the story, considering no one with a heart would want to invalidate anyone speaking up about this topic. I want to thank my fans who took the time to research the timeline, analyze past Instagram photos, and question the story being told, which reveal her false statements. I trusted so many people in my life who took advantage of that trust for their own personal gain. Please know that my intentions with everything that I do in my life are always pure and I would never be intimate with someone without their absolute consent.
EARLIER: Heller told The Fresh Committee how she first felt about naming Martinez as the person she was making allegations against. "I was in denial for a long time that my friend did this to me," she said. Heller also said that she originally still wanted to protect her former friend because she "really loved her".
These were similar sentiments to the ones she shared in mid-November on Twitter. While she didn't name her alleged abuser at that time, she did tweet:
What if I have my own story of abuse but I'm scared to ruin the person's life and I still love them in a f*cked up way and the public really really loves them ..."
She later shared, "Im not ready to talk yet [sic]" in regards to her allegations.
On December 4, Heller detailed her allegations on Twitter and named Martinez as her alleged assaulter. She tweeted:
In her tweet, Heller claimed that Martinez performed oral sex on her and penetrated her with a sex toy without her consent. She claimed, "I never said yes. I said no, repeatedly." She also claimed, "Just so there is no confusion, I was molested by my best friend."
Martinez later released a statement on Twitter where she claimed that Heller never said no:
Heller said in her interview with The Fresh Committee that it was important for her to name the former The Voice contestant as her alleged abuser because she hopes that her alleged "experience can be a story that starts a conversation about women on women abuse". She continued, "I hope that people realize that anyone can abuse anyone, regardless of gender. That if you were assaulted, even by a woman, your experience is valid."
Heller also made note of another aspect of sexual assault that may sometimes be overlooked. In an interview with Newsweek, she claimed, "I loved her even after it happened, and I had this sick need to protect her, which I've learned is very common for victims of assault, especially those hurt by their family or friends."
An article from the National Domestic Violence Hotline states that it is normal for victims to struggle with caring about the individual who assaulted them. The article outlines a number of ways in which someone could still experience conflicting feelings for someone, with one of those being "love as a survival technique".
Heller also told The Fresh Committee that, because of Martinez's status as an advocate for mental health (something Martinez was outspoken about when she explained the references to mental health in her Cry Baby album), she felt the need to come forward. She said, "These are young children, who were looking up to her as someone who is there for them with their struggles with mental illness and depression. As someone who struggles with mental illness first hand, I felt that I could no longer stay quiet about this."
The reasons Heller says she came forward with her accusations against Martinez could bring awareness to the many different issues concerning sexual harassment and assault that aren't always talked about. Issues that are important to keep in mind as the conversation regarding sexual harassment and assault within our culture continues.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.