Madonna: I was raped at knifepoint

Singer writes of how she was held up at gunpoint, raped on a rooftop and burgled three times in first year in New York

Madonna has detailed how she was raped not long after she moved to New York City at the age of 19, in a revealing account of her life to date.

In an article for Harper's Bazaar magazine, the singer said she was forced on to the roof of a building at knifepoint and attacked. The first-person account, which accompanied a fashion shoot, spans Madonna's life from growing up in the US midwest and moving away from home, to her marriages and children.

"New York wasn't everything I thought it would be. 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," she wrote.

Madonna says her breath was taken away by the size and scale of the city, and she was "scared shitless and freaked out by the smell of piss and vomit everywhere".

"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," she said.

The move to England, following her marriage to the film director Guy Ritchie, "wasn't easy for me".

"Just because we speak the same language doesn't mean we speak the same language. I didn't understand that there was still a class system. I didn't understand pub culture. I didn't understand that being openly ambitious was frowned upon. Once again I felt alone. But I stuck it out and I found my way, and I grew to love English wit, Georgian architecture, sticky toffee pudding, and the English countryside. There is nothing more beautiful than the English countryside."

Madonna described the decision to adopt her son David from Malawi as "another daring chapter" in her life and one which threw her back into "another shit storm".

"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 wrote. "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 labour 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."

When she adopted her second child, Mercy James, the singer said she put her "armour on".

"I tried to be more prepared. I braced myself. This time I was accused by a female Malawian judge that because I was divorced, I was an unfit mother. I fought the supreme court and I won. It took almost another year and many lawyers. I still got the shit kicked out of me, but it didn't hurt as much. And looking back, I do not regret one moment of the fight."


Shane Hickey

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Madonna at Madison Square Garden review – 'There is no other performer like her'
In the first of two Rebel Heart tour shows in the historic venue, the pop queen brings out Amy Schumer, Game of Thrones, transgender nuns, a ukulele … and her greatest hits

Alex Needham

17, Sep, 2015 @9:35 AM

Article image
Madonna performs at surprise New York rally: ‘Save this country, vote for Hillary Clinton’
Delivering an astonishing concert of hits to a crowd at Washington Square Park, Madonna pitches for Clinton on dramatic final day of US election campaign

Emma-Lee Moss

08, Nov, 2016 @11:56 AM

Article image
Psy joins Madonna on stage to perform Gangnam Style - video

South Korean pop sensation Psy joins Madonna on stage in New York to perform his hit Gangnam Style

14, Nov, 2012 @11:22 AM

Article image
Madonna buys $40m New York townhouse
With its 26 rooms and 3,000 sq ft garden, Madonna's new Manhattan mansion is probably bigger than a Malawian orphanage

Sean Michaels

15, Apr, 2009 @9:01 AM

Article image
Madonna accuses media over adoption

An interview with Madonna, who spoke publicly for the first time about her controversial adoption of a 13-month-old boy from Malawi, was broadcast today.

Jackie Dent and agencies

25, Oct, 2006 @3:49 PM

Madonna reinvents herself as film director

Queen of pop 'inspired by Fellini and Godard', but debut movie met with disbelief at Berlin festival

Mark Brown in Berlin

14, Feb, 2008 @10:51 AM

Article image
Inside Kabbalah: Raquel Hecker on how she longs for the old Madonna

Raquel Hecker used to worship at the same Kabbalah centre as the singer. Now she's become disillusioned - both with mystic Judaism and with her favourite star.

Raquel Hecker

31, Oct, 2004 @1:38 PM

Article image
Madonna adoption: Malawi court delays decision
Singer's plan to adopt four-year-old girl would 'exacerbate' children's plight in developing countries, charity warns

Helen Pidd

30, Mar, 2009 @11:00 AM

NBC forced to cut Madonna crucifixion shot

The evangelical Christian right notched up a victory yesterday when the NBC television network decided to cut a crucifixion scene from footage of a Madonna concert to be broadcast next month.

Ed Pilkington in New York

20, Oct, 2006 @11:08 PM

Article image
Madonna don't preach | Emma Brockes

Emma Brockes: Good for Madge, sticking up for Pussy Riot and pissing off Marine Le Pen. But as a rule, she does pop better than politics

Emma Brockes

07, Aug, 2012 @4:37 PM