Rape is a difficult subject to talk about and even more painful for the one who’s suffered through such a horrible experience. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network 68% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police. These famous moms lived through the nightmare of rape; some found justice, most did not, but hopefully their story will in some way bring encouragement to those who need it.
1. Kate Mulgrew – Orange is the New Black actress, Kate Mulgrew, talks about her painful experience in her new memoir Born With Teeth, in which she recently shared an excerpt with People Magazine. At 26-years-old the actress was raped at knifepoint inside her Manhattan home. She knew she could not physically fight back, but the star said she fought back mentally. “In the rape, I kept my eyes on him and thought, ”If I just keep my eyes on him he won’t cut me.’ And he didn’t.” Although her rapist was never caught, the now 59-year-old says she has forgiven him. “I never blamed him,” the star shared. “It was absolutely impersonal… I did a lot of stumbling, a lot of staggering, a lot of crying…. You have to fight your way through. To become embittered because of the fight is to lose the fight. And I have no intention of losing the fight.”
2. Fantasia Barrino – In an interview with Oprah Winfrey American Idol alum, Fantasia Barrino, opened up about her horrific experience of being raped while at school when she was 14. …”I went home and threw away my clothes. I didn’t tell my mama because I thought she would say, ‘I told you so.’ I just lay on my bed, and I didn’t go to school for a couple of days. My mom came to me and said, ‘Something’s not right with you. I know that somebody put his hands on you.’ That’s when I knew I had her support. We turned the guy in, but going back to school was hell…” The singer eventually dropped out of school later that year, and by age 17 Barrino had become an unwed mother.
3. Maya Angelou – Poet and prolific writer, Maya Angelou, was raped by her mother’s boyfriend when she was 8-years-old. She told her brother, who told the rest of their family. The rapist was found guilty but was jailed for only one day. Four days after his release, he was murdered, presumably by Angelou’s uncles. Angelou became mute for almost five years, believing, as she stated, “I thought, my voice killed him; I killed that man, because I told his name. And then I thought I would never speak again, because my voice would kill anyone …” It was during this period of silence when Angelou developed her extraordinary memory, her love for books and literature, and her ability to listen and observe the world around her. Angelou credits a teacher with helping her speak again. She was introduced to authors such as Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare, as well as black female artists like Frances Harper and Anne Spencer.
4. Rita Hayworth – According to biographer Barbara Leaming, Rita Hayworth suffered not only brutal beatings at the hands of her father but sexual abuse as well. “Eduardo raped her in the afternoons,” says Leaming, “and danced with her at night.” This shocking revelation appeared in Leaming’s book, If This Was Happiness. The secret was confessed to her in 1983 by Hayworth’s second husband, the late Orson Welles.
5. Sandra Dee – Child actress and Gidget star, Sandra Dee, was repeatedly raped by her stepfather between the ages of 5 and 12. “Gene didn’t molest me only in the mornings, but during the day, the night, whenever he wanted to and there was an opportunity,” Dee once revealed in an interview. “He’d say, ‘Let’s snuggle’, and I never fought back – I was too small. Too young.” The abuse ended just before Gene died, when Dee was 12 and on the verge of stardom.
6. Pamela Anderson – Last year, former Baywatch beauty, Pamela Anderson, made a heartbreaking confession. She was molested at the young age of 6; raped at 12, and gang-raped by a boyfriend and six of his friends in high school. She said her affinity for animals saved her.
Related: Five Brave Celebrity Moms
7. Teri Hatcher – Teri Hatcher’s uncle began raping her from the age of five until the age of eight. Her ordeal was revealed in 2006, but Hatcher was convinced it was her fault and didn’t speak about it for years. In an interview with Vanity Fair the actress revealed painful memories. “I remember him making me touch him and feeling like I don’t want to do this at all. I was completely horrified… I haven’t tried to kill myself but I’ve certainly thought about it.” She even said that it ruined her relationships with men, and left her unable to have a normal sex life. Hatcher finally came forward after she found out her abuser had been raping another young girl, who, sadly, committed suicide. Her uncle was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
8. Kelly McGillis – Top Gun actress, Kelly McGillis, revealed that she had been raped in 1982 in a New York Apartment. She was a drama student at the prestigious Juilliard School in Manhattan. Two teenagers forced their way into her apartment and tied her up, along with another female, then threatened to beat them to death, before raping them. McGillis later identified one of the rapists from a mug shot. He pleaded guilty and was jailed for three years.
9. Mackenzie Phillips – Mackenzie Phillips claims that in 1978, when she was 19 (the night before her wedding), she was raped by her father, John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas. The relationship turned consensual and lasted almost ten years. Mackenzie became pregnant and didn’t know if it was her father’s or her husband’s baby, so she had an abortion, and that’s when she ended the incestuous relationship.
Related: Celebrities Who’ve Had Abortions
10. Anne Heche – Anne Heche was raped and molested by her father from the time she was a toddler until she was 12, which led to her mental illness. She spoke in detail to Barbara Walters about her horrifying ordeal. The actress even contracted herpes as a young girl. “I had a rash, I had sores, I had welts on my nose and on my lips.” When she found out her father had AIDS, she feared for her life. To get away from her painful upbringing, Heche says, “I drank. I smoked. I did drugs. I had sex with people. I did anything I could to get the shame out of my life.” She said she used acting as a way to escape.
11. Tori Amos – In 1984, musician Tori Amos was raped at age 21. After she performed at a bar, a patron asked her if he could have a ride home. She obliged, and he raped her at knifepoint. She escaped. Years later, in London, the singer watched the film Thelma and Louise and was moved by it. On the way to a show, she wrote a song in her head, Me and a Gun, which was about her tragic rape. That night, she performed the song a cappella. It was released as the first single from her debut studio album Little Earthquakes, and she made it a point to sing it in front of live audiences.
12. Madonna – Madonna was raped during the first year she moved to New York. “My stupid friendliness and chatting with someone…” the singer told Howard Stern. A stranger raped her after she agreed to use his phone in his home as opposed to a pay phone. Madonna never pressed charges.
If anyone’s been impacted by sexual assault, whether it happened to you or someone you care about, you can find support on the National Sexual Assault Hotline. You can also visit online.rainn.org to receive support via confidential online chat.