"The first year [in NYC], I was held 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."

Madonna writes about her past struggles, including being raped as a young woman in New York City and her spiritual education, in an essay written for Harper’s Bazaar.

Madonna, who appears on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar’s November issue, wrote a personal essay for the magazine about her “daring” life. Madonna writes about being an outcast in high school due to her penchant for being different, for separating herself from the herd, and she reveals that her dream of escaping normal life in Michigan kept her going until she was finally able to leave and move to New York in 1978.

“New York wasn’t everything I thought it would be. It did not welcome me with open arms. The first year, I was held 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,” Madonna writes.

Madonna goes on to explain how her experiences as a new New Yorker made her want to be a “survivor.” In a 1995 interview, Madonna used that same word when talking about her rape, saying, “Although it was devastating at the time, I know that it made me a much stronger person in retrospect. It forced me to be a survivor,” Madonna said.

According to reports, Madonna spoke of her experience after critics accused her of glamorizing rape in her book, Sex. She insisted that glamorizing rape was not her intention, and that the photos in question depict only willing participants.

It seems that by 1995, Madonna had already come to peace with her rape. “It happened a long time ago so over the years I’ve come to terms with it. In a way it was a real eye-opening experience. I’d only lived in New York for a year and I was very young, very trusting of people,” Madonna said at the time.

In her Harper’s Bazaar essay, Madonna does not disclose any more details on her rape. She only elaborated on feelings of fear and strength that arose in her early New York years. “I felt like a warrior plunging my way through the crowds to survive. Blood pumping through my veins, I was poised for survival. I felt alive. But I was also scared shitless and freaked out by the smell of piss and vomit everywhere, especially in the entryway of my third-floor walk-up.”

Instead, the pop star writes about her spiritual education and introduction to Kabbalah and the media backlash she faced when her religion was exposed to the world.

“For some reason, that made people nervous. It made people mad. Was I doing something dangerous? It forced me to ask myself, Is trying to have a relationship with God daring? Maybe it is,” she writes.

Madonna’s Harper’s Bazaar November cover will be released Oct. 22.

Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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