Performing arts

"I was 15 and he was 37. Now I have to learn to manage my lost adolescence."

Júlia explains the relationship she had with a theatre director much older than her when she was 15 years old

, and
Albert Llimós i Núria Juanico
3 min
An empty theatrical stage

Barcelona"I lost all my friends because of this relationship. I lied to their faces because he asked me not to tell them anything. I was leading a double life". Júlia was 15 when they met. He was a teacher and director of a theatre in Barcelona, he had the possibility to play with the power that this represents. Especially to manipulate the feelings of a teenager for whom theatre was everything, who became trapped in his web. He offered her roles in the plays he directed, playing with her dreams and taking her away from the life of most girls her age had.

Just a short time after they met, Júlia saw Sorry if I call you love, the film adaptation of Federico Moccia's novel. The work deals with a relationship between two people who are twenty years apart. "I thought this wouldn't happen to me. And bang, It's just what I got" Júlia recalls the beginnings of a relationship that lasted two and a half years. It was consensual, but seen in perspective and as she became aware of what was happening, it was hurtful. "It was toxic and dark. I was always lying to protect the relationship," she describes, finally able to put words to what she couldn't understand then because "I was so young and because I consented to it that way." With time, she explains, she is not at all proud. "I'm ashamed and embarrassed that I wasn't able to realise it then, even though those around me tried to warn me."

"I don't know if I fell in love with him or with what he was teaching me," she recalls. She was playing an instrument and he contacted her to offer her a part in a play, thus opening wide the door to the world she dreamed of. Thus began an almost daily coexistence, in which he became her teacher, teaching her many of the secrets of a world that fascinated her. When she got out of high school, Júlia went to work in his theatre. "I learned a lot, but with time I think I could have learned just as much with a friendly relationship and not confuse the charm of this theatrical world with falling in love with a more adult person. In any case, he should have detected it and stopped it," she says.

After rehearsals, he would take her home and gradually gained her complicity, accentuated by the fact that he was giving her work. But he never missed an opportunity to remind her that she was in theatre thanks to him. "You could never stand to see another actress on stage," he would say to her. When she decided to end the relationship, he tried to blackmail her: "What are you going to do now? Who will hire you if you leave my theatre?"

Psychological abuse

"He was managing my career. 'You have to start with small roles and then we'll see,' he would tell me. He managed to make me very dependent on him in my work and emotionally," explains Júlia, who believes that behind that relationship there was obvious "psychological abuse" and "abuse of power", his clearly pre-eminent position allowing him to manipulate her because of the age difference. When she had the strength to walk away, he played all the cards to make her feel guilty. "He would tell me, 'I already knew you would leave me and do this to me. You're crazy,'" she explains. He would also turn to her parents and say: "Someone has changed my Júlia".

At the Institut del Teatre he was supposed to teach her a subject, but Júlia talked to the management and they changed her group. "They behaved very well," she admits. I couldn't see him. He had hurt her and, when their paths crossed, she felt the hurt. "Three years later I met him and my body began to tremble," she recalls. Júlia hesitated to make his name public, especially when she learned that other very young girls had told ARA about their relationship with him

With time, she has been able to face that part of the past and realise that "it was a consensual relationship that no one should have to live, neither at that age nor any other". Time have also allowed her to regain former friends she had lied to in order to protect the relationship. "But at this point it's still an open wound, because it made me distance myself from them and doubt the people I loved," she adds. She has also been able to reconcile with herself. "The many hours at the psychologist's have helped me to understand and accept everything that happened to me, and to know how to manage my lost adolescence. Now I have to learn to live with this wound, which I try to forget because it embarrasses me," she says. Luckily, my friends and family helped me open my eyes and I was able to get out of the hole I was trapped in".