Sheri Sher and Drew Dixon, two subjects of the HBO Max documentary On The Record, talked to Shadow And Act's audience during our Facebook Live Q&A series, Locked Down With __, about how justice and peace have come to them despite the trauma they faced from their alleged sexual assault by hip hop businessman Russell Simmons.
Sheri Sher, of pioneering female hip hop group The Mercedes Ladies and author of the novel Mercedes Ladies, said she's been accused of coming forward for money. But she says that's not the case.
“If that's the case, I had so many chances to blow Russell up at his peak, everybody knows that. No, it's not the money," she said, adding that she's “always hustled" to provide for herself.
“I did my book, I always kept a job. Actually, I loved my job...working with inmates as an officer, and I loved it because it was The Bronx where I came from and I got to meet some amazing people, inmates, and I was there to tell them my story and they read my book and would come back and ask me [about it] and they see my walk [through life]," she said. “I was giving them hope that it doesn't matter where you came from, it's how you keep going on and get yourself out that box. You're able to do whatever you want to do. What you gotta know is there's a God and you just need to move forward and He's got you."
She said she's not sure if there will ever be any legal justice. “He's in Bali, a country you can't get extradited from, and then the [statute of limitations on] statutory rape in New York, it's been up, so there's no money I'm looking for," she said. But she does have personal, spiritual justice.
“My justice is to [heal] and be a door opening for other people who's going through that and scared to tell their story," she said. “My justice is that my story is being told and I can move on and continue being Sheri Sher and continue being who I am and who God had for me. So my justice is the peace and also to be a blessing to others, and that's justice for me."
Dixon, a music producer who was one of the first women of color to come forward against Simmons, also talked about how to find personal peace after sexual assault, saying that she hid her trauma for years, but it was only when she decided to tell others, including when she recounts her life in the documentary, that she started reclaiming all parts of herself. She advises other victims of sexual assault to honor themselves and be truthful with their experiences.
“I'm going to tell you, first of all, you matter, you are precious, you should be protected, you should be safe, and I'm so sorry that happened to you," she said. “It is not okay...and congratulations to you for still standing, for waking up today because that is a form of resistance. Just that, surviving. Not everyone even survives, so you survived, so I'm proud of you and you are not alone."
“It is important to come forward. It is important to protect yourself as much as we protect our men, our boys, our families, our communities. We can't help our community if we aren't healthy ourselves," she said. “And I would say...one thing that I discovered is that the box that I buried the pain in also contained my swagger, my creativity, my vitality, my talent, my ideas, my drive, and I thought I was fine, and I wasn't fine, I needed the stuff in that box."
“By unlocking that box to tell the world my story, I freed myself and I would tell any young woman out there who is holding it in, find someone, find a safe place so you can let it go, unburden yourself," she continued.“It is not your responsibility. You do not need to be an accessory after the fact, covering up someone else's crime...You live your truth."
On The Record is currently streaming on HBO Max. Watch both videos above.