This story includes discussion of alleged sexual abuse involving minors.
Country artist Catherine Britt has alleged that in the early years of her career – which began in 1996, when she was just 12 years old – she was sexually abused by several “big names” in the Australian music industry.
Britt aired these claims in a series of four videos shared on Instagram yesterday (November 17). She began by alluding to an increase in “bullshit” that “comes out about [her] and [her] past”, which she noted is frequently used to devalue her.
“I just want to fight back,” she said. “I could write an autobiography. I could ruin people’s lives [and] careers. But you know, I’ve always taken the high road – I’ve always tried to be the bigger person when people have put me down and talked shit about me online, and done all this stupid shit to make me feel littler than I am. And I’m getting to a point where I feel like I need to speak up… There’s so many things I want to address.”
In the second video she posted, Britt alleged that in her teenage years – when she was “start[ing] out in the music industry” around the late 1990s and early 2000s – she was “abused by several people in the music industry”. She did not specify any names, but described them as “big names” and “people that you all look at as heroes and musical icons”.
She elaborated: “These people touched me inappropriately when I was young, took advantage of me when I was young, had sex with me when I was underage [and] tried to have sex with me when I was underage.”
Britt went on to say that she has “spent so many years in therapy trying to deal with this shit”, and claimed that she would often be the one blamed for the incidents that she mentioned. She said that people in her circles would refuse to “actually address what’s actually going on”, and that she would often be held to account for the abuse she suffered because “that’s the easy way out”.
“Sorry,” she continued, “but a young girl in the music industry should not be touched inappropriately by older men. [She should] should not be sexually harassed [or] used and abused.”
In her third video, Britt addressed her alleged abusers directly, saying: “I won’t be as shallow and small as you, and call you out. You know who you are. You know what you’ve done to me. You know your history. You know your past. You know the bullshit you’ve spun. You know the lies that you have webbed into your own little freaking fairytales that you want to make the world believe.
“But I sleep at night knowing exactly my place in this world, exactly what I’ve done. Yeah, I’m not perfect. Yeah, I’ve fucked up. Absolutely. Because you know what? I’m a human being, who set out in the music industry when I was 12.
“You should have known better. You should have shown me the way. You should have taught me what was right and wrong. You should not have taken advantage of me and then blamed me for it, and then caused many, many lies and rumours throughout the years, to benefit your career. You know who you are.”
Britt ended her statements with a message to “all the women out there that have ever felt like I feel”, saying to them: “I have your back. 100 per cent. Reach out to me. I will look after you. I will take care of you. They won’t.”
The Newcastle-born Britt’s first release was an EP titled ‘In The Pines’, which she released independently in 1999 (when she was 14). Her debut album was 2001’s ‘Dusty Smiles And Heartbreak Cures’, and she’s since released a further seven full-length efforts, the most recent being last year’s ‘Home Truths’.
Her accolades include one AIR Award and five Country Music Awards, as well as seven ARIA nominations, two APRA nominations and a further 18 Country Music Award nominations.
Meanwhile, in September of this year, an independent report titled Raising Their Voices – which surveyed over 1,600 workers in the Australian music industry – found that 55 per cent of participants said they had experienced sexual harassment or harm during their career. The report deemed there to be “unacceptable levels of sexual harm, sexual harassment and systemic discrimination in the contemporary music industry in Australia”.