My relationship with Anti-Flag’s Justin Geever

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      Warning: The following personal essay recounts experiences of sexual trauma that may be triggering for some readers.

      Editor’s note: This essay is written by our editorial intern, who came to us with her story after a Rolling Stone article—for which she was a source, and which outlines multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and rape against Geever—was published. In the article, she was identified as Jenn, which is her legal first name; in this piece, with her permission, we have used her preferred (and full) name. The Straight reached out to Geever’s representatives for comment and did not hear back by press time.

      It was June 1997. I was just a 16-year-old girl who loved going to punk-rock shows. I spent most of my weekend nights at shows across the Lower Mainland, so this night started out like any other.

      I didn’t know it would haunt me.

      A show had been announced for d.b.s., a local punk band I loved and didn’t get to see often, because they played mostly 19-plus gigs. It was at Crosstown Traffic: a now-defunct music institution of the late 1990s, near West Hastings and Homer in downtown Vancouver.

      My friends and I usually took transit to shows. I was lucky: my local Burnaby bus stopped right outside the venue, which was more like a cafe with a small performance area. The place probably couldn’t hold more than 50 people, if that.

      My friend, Dina, and I arrived with plenty of time to spare. Because it was a small venue, you had to get there early to make sure you got in; this was the ‘90s, and there were no presale tickets to an all-ages event at a cafe. Dina and I were excited to see the band. Going to shows was pretty much our whole lives.

      We were packed into the space. There was an opening band, but I can’t remember who it was. Their first song had barely begun when Dina elbowed me to get my attention over the music. She yelled in my ear, “Do you know him? He keeps looking at us.” She motioned with her head towards a guy I had never seen before. Shaking my head to respond “no,” I kept watching the band. But the guy looking at me had piqued my interest so I looked his way. He was still watching me, and he gave me a shy smile. I smiled back.

      During the short break between songs, Dina told me the guy who’d been watching me was heading toward us. This wasn’t the kind of thing that happened to me—guys didn’t approach me. I was self-conscious and had low self-esteem. I wasn’t comfortable in my body and hid it under baggy clothing.

      Within seconds, the guy was at my side. He was taller than me, though that wasn’t hard because I was 5’1”. He had pale skin and jet-black hair spiked up. I was attracted to him and wondered why I had never seen him at a show before. He stood out. He leaned over and cupped his hand around my ear so I could hear him. He asked me if I would go outside with him to talk. I thought about it for maybe five seconds before I nodded yes.

      We could still hear the music blaring while he introduced himself outside. His name was Justin Sane and he was in the band Anti-Flag. They would be playing next; they were just starting a tour across Canada with d.b.s., and this was the first stop. They had just put out a split CD together; he told me I should check it out. They were from Pittsburgh. He knew I’d never heard of them before. 

      The first thing I noticed about Justin was how attentive he was. He asked me questions about my life, what I did, what interested me. Eventually, he asked how old I was. I was honest and told him I was 16. He told me he was 19—that everyone in Anti-Flag was 19. It was a thing. When I told him Dina and I were starting a punk band and that I played bass, he showed so much excitement. He said there needed to be more female-fronted punk bands and he hoped we’d succeed.

      We talked through the whole opening band, the sound retreating into the shadows of the night as we focused on each other. Eventually, another member of Anti-Flag came out to find him—they had to get ready to play. Justin turned to ask me if I would stick around to talk to him some more. I told him I was there for d.b.s., so I wasn’t going anywhere.

      While Anti-Flag played their set, I stayed at the front of the crowd. Justin locked eyes with me at one point and it felt like he was singing to me alone. He used duct tape on his white dress shirt to keep the sleeve from sliding down while he played. I took in all the small details, but always found my eyes staring back at his.

      When they finished their set, he packed up his stuff and told me he would be back after he changed his shirt. I stood talking to Dina while we eagerly waited for d.b.s. to take the stage. Justin returned and stood right next to me—so close I could smell him. A mix of sweat and fresh deodorant that was spicy. We spent the rest of the show right there. I sang along so hard that my throat was irritated. It was the best part of a show. I was happy. And Justin spent the whole time continuing to watch me, a big smile meeting me every time I returned his gaze.

      Once the music stopped, everyone started making their way out of Crosstown Traffic and onto the sidewalk. Dina was walking to the SkyTrain station a few blocks away and asked if I was taking the bus. I told her I was and that I would see her at the next show. We hugged goodbye and I waited at the bus stop right outside the venue.

      Justin made his way to me and said something about being happy I hadn’t left yet. He hoped we could spend some more time together. I told him I had to catch the last bus out of downtown, but we could hang out until then.

      He introduced me to his bandmates. We all stood around talking on the sidewalk while Justin put his hand on the small of my back and left it there. He moved closer to me. I welcomed it.

      When Justin and I started our own conversation away from the band again, I reminded him I would be catching the last bus in about 20 minutes or so. He was very disappointed. He told me he would be right back, and he left me to talk to his bandmates. When he returned, he had a proposition for me: if he was able to get me home, could I stay longer to hang out with him? I asked him how and he offered me a ride home in their tour van. He gave me puppy-dog eyes and repeated that he wanted to hang out with me longer. They were only in Vancouver for one night.

      I relented and watched the last bus pass the stop. I felt nervous but excited. Pictures were taken of all of us who were still around. As soon as the camera came out, Justin wrapped his arm around me and pulled me close to him. I smiled big for the camera and leaned into him.

      Eventually everyone left, and Justin led me to the Anti-Flag tour van. It was just a regular van. I got in and started giving him directions toward my place. Along the way, he told me he was hungry and asked if it was okay if we stopped to eat somewhere. I told him that was fine. We came upon an open Chinese restaurant around East Hastings and Victoria; he had plain tofu, telling me he had a ton of allergies and that this was the safest thing for him to eat. I ate nothing.

      The whole time, Justin kept the focus on me, asking me questions. I felt like I was important. Special. He had singled me out in a crowd and now we were alone together at a restaurant at one in the morning. It felt like a dream.

      We continued the drive and I joked that he was going to get lost trying to get back to North Vancouver, where the band was crashing for the night. I lived all the way out in the suburbs in Burnaby. He said he didn’t care and reached out to hold my hand.

      Once we got to my street, I pointed out where to park in front of my apartment building. He asked if I had to go inside right away or if I could hang out longer. I told him I had no curfew, so of course we could spend more time together. We moved to the back of the van. He told me I was beautiful—that as soon as he saw me at Crosstown Traffic, he knew he had to meet me. I felt my heart leap in my chest.

      He kissed me. We made out like teenagers do. My nose ring fell out and we had to comb through the rug that lined the van floor to find it. It started slow; clothes started coming off, and then he asked me if I was a virgin. I told him no and he started getting more aggressive. I went with it. Then he was just in me and I was held in place. While I wasn’t a virgin, I was still inexperienced. He was rougher than what I knew. But I didn’t stop him. I just let him do what he wanted.  

      Afterwards, he found a pad of paper and a pen and asked me to write out my address—he wanted to keep in touch. I asked for his address, too, which he gave me. He even gave me his real last name instead of his stage name. I now knew he was Justin Geever and that he lived in a Pittsburgh suburb called Glenshaw. 

      We kissed some more. Justin then let it slip that he was 21—that the 19 thing was a gimmick the band had. It bothered me that he lied, that he was older, but I couldn’t change what had just happened between us. He watched me walk to the front door of my apartment building and I watched him drive away.

      He wrote to me the next day, and I received the letter a few days later. It made me feel even more special. Not only had he actually written me, but he had done it as soon as he could! He apologized for his bad handwriting and told me how I had made Vancouver amazing. He also told me he had gotten lost and had to pull over and phone the guys in d.b.s. for directions. He hoped I would write him back.

      I did, and then he wrote back to me once he returned home. We exchanged letters for months, until I told him I happened to be heading to Pittsburgh and asked if I could see him again. He gave me the phone number for the Anti-Flag jam space and told me to phone once I was there.

      I was travelling around the United States with a friend in a van, and we found a coffee shop to stop in. I phoned Justin and told him where I was. The coffee shop was called something like The Hive; it was bee themed. He said he’d be there as soon as he could and just to hang tight. While on the phone he asked if I was travelling with my boyfriend. I told him no.

      When Justin arrived at the coffee shop, he was as attentive as he had been almost six months earlier. He made small talk with my friend, who happened to be male, and then asked where we were staying. We were sleeping in the van and hadn’t planned to spend the night in Pittsburgh. Justin wanted to “catch up” with me and suggested we get a hotel for the night so I could hang out with him for a bit. 

      Justin convinced my friend it would be okay. Justin picked the hotel. Justin paid for the hotel. We left my friend there. Justin promised not to keep me away too long. 

      He drove me to the band’s practice space. As soon as we were in the car, he reached over and grabbed my hand. He kissed it. He told me how beautiful I was. He told me he liked my hair cut. He complimented everything about me. 

      The practice space was upstairs. There was a mattress on the floor in the corner. The drum kit was in the other corner, and there were microphones and amps. I was excited to be in their actual jam space. Justin told me it was his family’s house and that he had lived there his whole life—since 1973. It was then that I realized Justin was actually 24, not 21. I was still 16. 

      Justin moved in on me quickly. Kissing me. Touching me. He got right to being physical with me. He got me naked and down on the mattress. He was even more aggressive than he had been in June. He kept saying how hot everything was, and then he started saying how other acts would be even hotter, asking if I would do them for him. He told me how hot it would be if he could have anal sex with me. I said no. We kept having sex, but he continued to tell me how much he wanted to have anal sex with me. I kept saying no. After he asked me upwards of five times, I finally relented. I had never done anything like that before. It hurt. I told him no. But he didn’t listen to me and kept going until he finished.

      Afterwards, he drove me back to the hotel. As we said goodbye, he was just as affectionate as he had been the time before. When I got to the hotel room, my friend pointed out a huge hickey on my neck. I went to the bathroom to take a shower. I found hickeys everywhere. Justin had left his mark on me.

      There were a few more letters over the following months. I saw him whenever Anti-Flag came to Vancouver. I continued to go to their shows. I never told people about that night in Pittsburgh. I barely told anyone about what happened between Justin and me. There were no witnesses, and I wasn’t sure how to feel about the situation.

      I continued to go to Anti-Flag shows because I was able to disconnect what happened between Justin and me from the rest of the band. I still enjoyed their music and I thought what had happened between us was a one-time thing. I had no idea that this was a pattern. 

      When the Enough podcast dropped in July of this year and Kristina Sarhadi shared her story about a lead singer of a politically-charged punk-rock band allegedly raping her, I listened to it. The punk community quickly put the clues together and figured out it was Justin. This is when I realized that he had an MO. He picked out a girl at a show and made her feel like she was the most special person in the room. He smothered her with compliments.

      Listening to Sarhadi on the podcast, hearing what she went through, ripped open a wound I didn’t know I had. Justin was aggressive with me, but not like he was with her. I guess over the years he got worse.

      The Enough podcast was posted to a punk subreddit, and I commented about Justin being inappropriate, even in the late ‘90s. Then Rolling Stone contacted me. I told reporter Cheyenne Roundtree my story, and she told me she had at least six more women who were willing to talk to her. I felt sick.

      When the article came out on September 5, it included stories of 13 women and girls who had been victimized by Justin. It was like a giant gut punch.

      I wish I could have spoken out about Justin earlier. The internet wasn’t like it is now. There wasn’t a subreddit where I could share my truth. 

      I’m taking time to work through my feelings, and writing this is part of that.

      I refuse to be a victim. I am a survivor. That is my truth.