Soap Box Duo uses music and faith to overcome sexual abuse
Alex MacMullin was 11 years old when it first happened to him. Greg, a family friend who lived downstairs, had been sexually abusing Alex for eight years. It was a secret that Alex shared with no one until he met his wife Jenesa.
“There’s so much shame attached to it,” Alex says. “For a long time, it wasn’t something that happened to me. It was who I was. I had to hold a lot of weight and guilt.”
“He pretended it was a different person, that it was happening to a third person,” Jenesa says.
Now, Alex and Jenesa are using their experiences and musical skills to bring awareness to the issue of sexual abuse. Under their folk-pop stage name Soap Box Duo, the two recently partnered up with RSVP Ministries to create the Voice film series. It can be viewed on Amazon or purchased from RSVP Ministries website.
Voice shares Alex and Jenesa’s experiences with sexual abuse while outlying their mission to spread awareness and ultimately stop the issue from occurring in someone else’s life.
“It happens within churches, families, sports teams … just anywhere. It doesn’t matter. It’s everywhere,” Alex says. “It seems relatively unknown. Like, this happens to one in four people throughout their lives. It’s a huge statistic and no one is talking about it.”
“It happens in places of trust. If we’re not watching for it then it will continue to grow. We have to listen and watch for the signs. You can’t just say, ‘Ah, it’s just a phase.’ You have to investigate,” Jenesa adds.
Alex used many different coping mechanisms to “numb the pain” that was happening throughout his childhood. One of them was drugs.
“It was the perfect way to numb and disassociate myself from reality,” Alex says. “I really wanted to stop, but in order to stop, I had to address all these feelings and problems.”
The Voice series also shows how the power of music and faith have helped both Alex and Jenesa through this very personal and emotional time.
“Music has a way of expressing emotion that can’t be expressed through dialogue,” Alex says. “I’ve written a few songs about this experience and they capture the emotion and context perfectly. For me, it’s healing to get it out and put it in a song.”
He wrote the song “Naïve” which reflects on his abuse, reliance on drugs, and the dealing with the court system after Greg was arrested.
“On days when he’s in a cloud, he’ll sit down and play that song which almost seems weird,” Jenesa says. “But it’s in his mind anyways. The song doesn’t end in a hopeful light, but it just allows his emotions to come out.”
The song, “Shades of Blue,” also touches on dealing with the emotions that surrounded Alex and Jenesa’s situation. The music video is featured in Voice and has Alex destroying memories of his past such as pictures and a guitar on The End of the World site.
“It’s about the inability to express emotion,” Jenesa says. “It’s okay to just feel it. To just have a sad day. That’s kind of what “Shades of Blue” is about.”
While the details of their experiences with sexual abuse use to be a touchy subject, Alex and Jenesa now have no problem opening up.
Alex and Jenesa went back to the family home one night to help Alex’s sister get ready for her graduation. Greg was still living in the basement.
“So that night, I slept in the living room and Jenesa slept upstairs because, at the time, we were saving ourselves for marriage,” Alex says.
Alex awoke to find Greg “looming” over him.
“He was going to attempt something. I was 19 at the time and I just had enough,” he says.
Alex and Greg basically brawled repeatedly until Greg retreated downstairs.
“I tell Jenesa what happened and tell my mom. She calls my dad. At the time, Jenesa was the only one who knew. Now everyone knows.”
Greg was arrested later that night, but he was released the next day for a lack of evidence. He then attempted to flee to Ontario to stay with a sibling.
“The police told us that the only way they could go after him was if he had an offence against him in another province. So basically we would of had to wait for him to do something to someone again,” Alex says.
That was unacceptable. Instead, Alex and Jenesa found Greg’s family on Facebook and told them the situation. After hearing from them, Greg was sent back to Alberta on a bus.
“He was going to stay with a sibling and they have kids,” Jenesa says.
Alex and Jenesa then soldiered on through a three-year court case that had its date changed countless times. Finally, it was brought to Queen’s Bench and new evidence was brought to light.
“They recovered conversations, pictures, and other shared media from his computer. When we went to court, he had 23 charges for trafficking, creating and distributing pornography with minors, basically everything under the sun,” Alex says.
“He had media from swimming pool bathrooms, change rooms, public parks, and he created and sold this stuff to other people,” Jenesa adds.
Greg was sent to jail for 10 years, a sentence that seems almost immoral considering how many people his actions affected. Still, Alex forgives Greg for what he did to him.
“The methodology of Jesus is about forgiving when someone is repentful. In my experience, my abuser was just somebody who lacked self-control and had desires they acted on,” Alex says.
He and Jenesa are using their experience to start a long overdue conversation about sexual abuse and the many signs linked to it.
“This was our plan from the beginning. It’s why we named ourselves Soap Box Duo. We need to talk about these things that affect society,” Alex says. “If it wasn’t music, maybe it would be fine art, or dance, whatever we’re doing.”
“In the ‘40s, communication was different,” Jenesa says. “You had to stand in the middle of the street and gather people for human rights movements and things that have formed the type of society we live in. That’s why we chose the name Soap Box Duo.”
Voice Film Series
Amazon Video and rsvp-ministries.com