JOSHUA 'ZEKE' THOMAS | DJ, Music Producer + Sexual Assault Survivor | No. 08
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Here's what you need to know.
Aside from everything else, Josh (as I've known him over the years), or Zeke (as he is now known), is an incredibly kind soul. We've known one another since elementary school. He is the son of legendary NBA player, Isaiah Thomas. I, the daughter of legendary NHL player, Igor Larionov. We had, and still have, a lot in common.
We are grateful for our upbringing but as is commonly heard when growing up in the shadow of A BIG PERSONALITY or STAR, the last name comes with added weight.
"As a kid, the pressures of ‘are you the best basketball player?’. Are you the best athlete because of these genes that you’ve inherited? No, I wasn’t. I was athletic. I was into it. But I wasn’t passionate about it."
"Still today at 29 years old … I get asked by random people: 'so are you good at basketball as your dad?' How is that even possible? Don’t you think if that was true that I would be in the NBA?”
It begs the question of: can one ever feel good enough when they're forever compared to greatness?
“(the genes acquired) overshadowed me. That’s what I felt made me feel not good enough. Now...I”ll never be as big as my dad. God willing maybe it will happen. But you know, I have a successful career as a DJ and a Music Producer, but there was a lot of resentment and anger I had to work through."
Zeke moved to NYC when his Father started working for the New York Knicks. That was his first taste of fame on a different level.
"...moving to New York City with my Dad, I remember getting followed by the New York Post and the NY Daily News, and different newscasters asking me questions, getting my phone number asking questions about (you know) what’s my dad doing? What do you think? Why did he do this? Why did he do that? What’s up with the New York Knicks scandal and all this stuff? And i’m like, i don’t know...it’s like living in a mini-kardashian bubble and that’s not what you signed up for.”
As you can see if you take a gander through Zeke's social media, he has created quite the name for himself in the music industry, as both a DJ and a Music Producer. But in the past year or so, his name was in headlines for a different and devastating reason.
In 2016, Zeke was drugged while on a date and then raped in his own apartment by a man he met through a dating app.
“I woke up the next day not remembering anything. Completely blacked out.
Complete no recollection except for bleeding from my anus.”
He spent the following day trying to put the pieces together.
“It’s shock and disbelief. Especially when the person is still there. He was still there. He was about to leave. He was actually like, ‘hey i had a great time’. It was very much what you heard in the majority of the Bill Cosby depositions. It was just like uh, like a, ‘this isn’t real … this didn’t happen’. Then the pain - you feel the pain - and you know what happened. And you’re seeing things. And you’re putting everything together and now you’re trying to remember the night … and you’re like, ‘i didn’t drink. I didn’t take anything. What happened?”
And that's where our stories collide. Josh and I have kept in contact over the years and when I saw him Speaking His Truth on Good Morning America I reached out.
In this conversation Zeke revelas his history with sexual assault, with one occurrence in his childhood, and then the rape that has made media headlines. We go beyond the details of it and into the emotional aspect of it, better understanding the psychological weight that is added.
As I started to share my own personal experience, I asked him about shame and self-blame.
“I am 100% in agreement with you that I did start to blame myself. I literally felt like every bit of me had been taken away from me. My humanity, almost. I didn’t move. And when I say I didn’t move, I literally mean I didn’t move. I barely went to the bathroom for two days. I was just in bed. Couldn’t move. I was just asleep.
Numb to the world. And then I … I decided to numb myself. And I numbed myself full of drugs and alcohol and I went down that path. It was definitely my way of dealing with it but also it was my way of saying, ‘i don’t want to be here’. It was basically a suicidal path and there was one time where I did try to commit suicide. Because of this incident.”
This conversation is HEAVY. It was hard for me to record it and even harder to listen back. It is as vulnerable, open and honest as they come. There is a ray of light at the end of this dialogue and I give all the credit to Josh. As I said in the beginning, he is an incredibly kind soul, and his Love radiates through this conversation.
thank you Josh for being you. <3
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IF YOU LIKE WHAT YOU HEAR, PLEASE SHARE THIS CONVERSATION WITH THOSE WHO WOULD APPRECIATE AND BENEFIT FROM IT.
I DON'T LIKE CHEATERS BUT HERE'S A QUICK CHEAT-SHEET FOR YOU.
YOUR SUGGESTED TAKEAWAYS + LESSONS:
How to ask for and get help after sexual assault
How to get on the road to recovery
How to seek medical help
Doing the work
Why talking about it helps the recovery process
The benefits of owning your story
Why Rape is Rape
How to Date after Sexual Assault
How to learn to trust people after Sexual Assault