Though Madonna has touched briefly upon being a victim of rape in earlier interviews, the pop icon goes into chilling detail about the subject for an upcoming issue of Harper’s Bazaar.
The horrible incident dates back to when Madonna had just arrived to New York City in the late 70s where she intended to begin her career as a professional dancer. Within her first year, she was forced by an armed man to engage in a sex act against her will in addition to being the victim of multiple break-ins.
“New York wasn’t everything I thought it would be,” she writes. “It did not welcome me with open arms. The first year, I was held up at gunpoint. Raped on the roof of a building I was dragged up to with a knife in my back, and had my apartment broken into three times. I don’t know why; I had nothing of value after they took my radio the first time.”
“Scared s**tless” by the city, she says an indestructible drive to become an artist carried her through her roughest years in NYC.
“This wasn’t anything I prepared for in Rochester, Michigan. Trying to be a professional dancer, paying my rent by posing nude for art classes, staring at people staring at me naked. Daring them to think of me as anything but a form they were trying to capture with their pencils and charcoal. I was defiant. Hell-bent on surviving. On making it. But it was hard and it was lonely, and I had to dare myself every day to keep going. Sometimes I would play the victim and cry in my shoe box of a bedroom with a window that faced a wall, watching the pigeons shit on my windowsill. And I wondered if it was all worth it, but then I would pull myself together and look at a postcard of Frida Kahlo taped to my wall, and the sight of her mustache consoled me. Because she was an artist who didn’t care what people thought. I admired her. She was daring. People gave her a hard time. Life gave her a hard time. If she could do it, then so could I.”
Now 55 and celebrating 30 years in the business, Madonna also explores a very big turning point in her life—when she decided to adopt her first child, a son named David, from Africa.
“I didn’t know that trying to adopt a child was going to land me in another s**t storm. But it did. I was accused of kidnapping, child trafficking, using my celebrity muscle to jump ahead in the line, bribing government officials, witchcraft, you name it,” she remembers. “This was an eye-opening experience. A real low point in my life. I could get my head around people giving me a hard time for simulating masturbation onstage or publishing my Sex book, even kissing Britney Spears at an awards show, but trying to save a child’s life was not something I thought I would be punished for. Friends tried to cheer me up by telling me to think of it all as labor pains that we all have to go through when we give birth. This was vaguely comforting. In any case, I got through it. I survived.”