Duffy has called rape a “weapon of war” in a painful account of her experience of being kidnapped, drugged and sexually assaulted.
The singer last released an album with 2010’s ‘Endlessly’, before disappearing from the public eye.
Back in February, she broke her silence on her decade-long absence, explaining that she had been “raped and drugged and held captive over some days” and that her subsequent recovery “took time.”
Now, she has posted a lengthy piece on her website, titled The 5th House. In it, she shares what happened to her, as well as her life since the attack. “If you are reading this, I must warn you it contains information some may find upsetting,” she advised. “This story is not going anywhere, it will remain online, if you are not able to take on someone else’s suffering or the recounting of such, I recommend you do not read on.”
WARNING: The rest of this article contains details some readers may find upsetting
Duffy said that by not talking about her ordeal she felt like she was “allowing the rape to become a companion”. “I no longer wanted to feel that intimacy with it, a decade of that intimacy has been destructive,” she wrote. “I had to set myself free. I have been hurt and it would have been dangerous to talk from that hurt place in the past, prior to feeling ready.”
She shared that she was afraid that revealing what had happened to her would “utterly destroy my life” but said hiding it was destroying it “much more”. “Rape stripped me of my human rights, to experience a life with autonomy from fear. It has already stolen one third my of life,” she explained. “Deep down I do know it would have been a shame and done such an immense disservice to my existence to just delete myself and forget what I had experienced in music publicly.”
The musician went on to explain that she had been drugged at a restaurant on her birthday, before being drugged for four weeks and taken to a foreign country. “I can’t remember getting on the plane and came round in the back of a travelling vehicle,” she wrote. “I was put into a hotel room and the perpetrator returned and raped me. I remember the pain and trying to stay conscious in the room after it happened. I was stuck with him for another day, he didn’t look at me, I was to walk behind him, I was somewhat conscious and withdrawn.”
She said she couldn’t run away because she didn’t have any money and she was afraid he would report her to the police as a missing person.
“I do not know how I had the strength to endure those days, I did feel the presence of something that helped me stay alive,” she continued. “I flew back with him, I stayed calm and as normal as someone could in a situation like that, and when I got home, I sat, dazed, like a zombie. I knew my life was in immediate danger, he made veiled confessions of wanting to kill me. With what little strength I had, my instinct was to then run, to run and find somewhere to live that he could not find.”
Although Duffy has now told two police officers on separate occasions about the kidnapping and rape, she didn’t feel safe to report it at the time. “I felt if anything went wrong, I would be dead, and he would have killed me,” she wrote. “I could not risk being mishandled or it being all over the news during my danger. I really had to follow what instincts I had.”
Speaking about the aftermath of first sharing what had happened to her, Duffy said many people had offered to invite her into their homes or have a meal with them, given them their numbers and shared their own stories with her. She said she had also received messages from people who had also been through sexual abuse and rape.
“If you saw the messages I have received, on Instagram, from young males whom have been raped, women whose cases were adjourned, lives that have been stolen in violence,” she wrote. “One young man said, ‘I will never be able to be liberated like you’ (from rape). He cannot walk the streets of his home, afraid. This is a weapon of war. I hope they too can find a way to be liberated in their own way, as I am finding mine.”
She added that this would be her last unannounced statement on the subject and thanked Jo Whiley for letting her share a new song on her radio show earlier this year. “I owe it to myself to release a body of work someday, though I very much doubt I will ever be the person people once knew,” she said of releasing music in the future. “My music will be measured on the merit of its quality and this story will be something I experienced and not something that describes me.”
She concluded the post by writing: “I can now leave this decade behind. Where the past belongs. Hopefully no more ‘what happened to Duffy questions’, now you know … and I am free.”