Rape is a violent act. It’s offensive in every sense of the word and while a great deal of focus when it comes to rape is about the crimes committed against women, men can also be victims of rape.
When we look to the world of celebrities, it’s easy to think of them as having the perfect life, of having money, being able to do things, and travel whenever they want. We see people who live a charmed life, as we define it. What we don’t see are the challenges they’ve had to overcome. We don’t see the trials and tribulations.
And we don’t often find out about crimes they’ve had to endure, such as rape. There are many celebrities through the years who have been victimized by a family member, stranger, or even close friend. These 20 celebrities have all been victims in the past and each of them have found a way to overcome their past and make their futures as bright as they can be.
Some of them still wear the scars of those attacks, but as we can see, they do so with grace, dignity, and a confidence that deserves our respect.
20. Queen Latifah
Few actresses are so well loved as Queen Latifah. She began her career as a rap musician and then branched out into film. She starred in movies with some of the biggest actors in the industry and has shown her depth of emotion. She now hosts a successful talk show and admitted that when she was a child she was sexually assaulted by a babysitter. It can be difficult to build any kind of new trust after something like that occurs, and Queen Latifah may inspire more girls and women to come forth and admit what happened to them because of her strength and resolve.
19. Sandra Dee
Sandra Dee was a child actor who helped to build a solid career for herself. She claimed that she was repeatedly raped by her stepfather from the time she was 5 until she was 12 years old. She once told an interviewer, “Gene didn’t molest me only in the mornings, but during the day, the night, whenever he wanted to and there was an opportunity.” The abuse ended just before Gene passed away and before stardom entered her life. She admitted that she was too young, too small, and too weak to fight back.
18. Lady Gaga
Musician and fashion offender Lady Gaga revealed at the end of 2014 on the Howard Stern show that she had been raped by a record producer when she was 19 years old. She didn’t admit the name of the producer, only saying that he was 20 years older than her. She went on to admit that her song “Swine” was written specifically for him. She stated that the song allowed her to show herself at her ugliest, most vulnerable and that no one could denigrate her the way that she could and that she is still beautiful in the end. It wasn’t orthodox in how she handled the rape years later, but it seemed to have helped her take power back.
17. Tyler Perry
It’s not often that one hears about a male celebrity admitting to having been raped by a woman, but that’s what Tyler Perry did. The 46-year-old comedian, television producer, filmmaker, and songwriter told about a time when he was young when the mother of a childhood friend of his held him hostage in her home and wouldn’t let him leave until he had sex with her. It was an important revelation that highlights the emotional trauma that rape can have on a person of any gender.
16. Gabrielle Union
The Bad Boys II and Straight Outta Compton actress has built a solid career for herself as a model, actor, and advocate, and her revelation is that when she was 19 years old, she was working in a shoe store and was raped. It is unclear by her admission whether or not it was another employee who raped her or a customer. She continues to put her past behind her and work on her career and worthy causes that are most important to her.
15. Anne Heche
Anne Heche has played a variety of roles in Hollywood through the years, but from the time she was a young toddler until she was 12, she admitted that her father repeatedly molested her. She said this led directly to mental illness that she suffered from for years. She spoke in detail to Barbara Walters during an interview and said, “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 admitted that acting was a way for her to escape.
14. Fiona Apple
Fiona Apple has created some dark and foreboding music in her career and has built a strong and loyal fan base as a result. It was revealed some time after the launch of her successful career that she had been raped outside her family’s apartment when she was just 12 years old. She didn’t mention whether or not she knew who had raped her, but at that young age, listening to some of her music provides some insight into how much of an impact it truly had on her. She is 38 now living in Manhattan and has managed to provide a good life for herself.
13. Fran Drescher
While rape itself is a violent act that can leave emotional and physical scars, Fran Drescher and her friend as well as her husband were the victims of a violent crime. The 58-year-old actress admitted that when a friend was visiting her home, they were robbed and raped. She stated that her husband, Peter Jacobson, who was home at the time, was tied up and forced to watch the rape. There was no word on whether or not the suspect was ever identified or arrested, but it certainly left emotional scars on Fran Drescher, her friend, and her husband.
12. Teri Hatcher
When Teri Hatcher was 5 years old, according to her admissions, her uncle began raping her. This went on for three years until she was 8 years old. She didn’t reveal this until 2006 because she long believed it had been her fault. She revealed to Vanity Fair that she would be forced to touch him even though she didn’t want to. She believes that it impacted relationships with men and caused her to be unable to have a normal sex life. Her uncle was arrested and sentenced to 12 years in prison as he did these acts to another young girl as well, it was revealed later on.
11. Maya Angelou
Famous and iconic writer Maya Angelou admitted that she had been raped by her mother’s boyfriend when she was just 8 years old. She told her brother what had happened and he told everyone else in the family and even though he was found guilty of the rape, he only served one day in jail. He was murdered 4 days later, possibly by Maya’s uncles, though no charges were ever brought. At that point, Maya went mute, believing her voice helped kill a man and that eventually helped form one of the greatest writers in history.
10. Tori Amos
Musician Tori Amos has struck a chord with many people throughout the world on a number of emotional topics. Rape is one of them. In 1984, she was raped at the age of 21. When she was performing at a bar, a person there asked for a ride home and she gave it to him. But he raped her at knifepoint. Years later she wrote a song, “Me and a Gun” about the rape and ended up performing it a cappella that night in London. She recorded it for her first full length studio album, Little Earthquakes and made it a point to sing it in front of live audiences.
9. Ashely Judd
Ashley Judd may be a Southern Belle and a sweetheart in many of her films, including A Time to Kill, co-starring with Matthew MacConaughey, which, interestingly enough, is a story by John Grisham about a father enacting revenge on two men who raped his daughter, but she revealed in an autobiography that she had survived a rape herself. In her memoir, All that is Bitter and Sweet, she talks in detail about how it impacted her life and how she managed to finally overcome it and move on with her life.
8. Tim Roth
This English actor may be best known for his role in Pulp Fiction, but he was also the victim of rape when he was growing up. As with so many victims of rape, they can occur at any age but many of these crimes take place when the victims are young children. They are surrounded by adults, family members, or friends of family in a trusting environment. They often feel guilt for what happened and even fear for telling anyone about it. Tim Roth finally opened up to incest that occurred during his childhood in England.
7. Kelly McGillis
Kelly McGillis may be most well-known for her role in the movie Top Gun, but before her career took off, she was a student in New York City at the prestigious Julliard School of Performing Arts in Manhattan. She was living in an apartment at the time and when a friend was with her, two teenagers broke into her apartment, tied her and her friend up, and threatened to kill them before raping them. She managed to identify one of the rapists from a mug shot and he admitted to the crime and served three years in prison.
6. Shia LaBeouf
Shia LeBeouf is best known for his role in the Transformers movies, and as the years have marched on he has seemed to get himself into more and more trouble. He reportedly had problems with drugs and alcohol and in 2014 claimed that he had been raped during a performance called #IAMSORRY. He claimed that when he was wearing a bag over his head and allowing people to interact with him, a woman raped him. Some people had difficulty believing his story and he did not press charges.
5. Fantasia Barrino
Fantasia made a name for herself through the reality TV show American Idol, but when she was 14, she was raped. She admitted this during an interview with Oprah Winfrey and she told Oprah that after the rape, she was afraid to tell anyone about it. She went home and threw her clothes away and worried that her mother might tell her ‘I told you so,’ but after she hadn’t gone to school in a few days, she said her mother knew something had happened. They turned the boy in but eventually she dropped out of school. By 17 she was an unwed mother.
When Madonna first moved to New York to help build her career, she was a kind, naïve young woman who put herself in a dangerous situation. She told Howard Stern on his radio program that she was always talking to people, being friendly, and one day she needed to use a payphone, but a stranger offered for her to use his phone instead. She agreed and that’s when he raped her in his apartment. She claims she never pressed charges and it’s not likely that she was so willing to just walk into a stranger’s home again.
3. Rita Hayworth
Rita Hayworth may be most well-known today for her modeling career that turned many young men’s heads during her youth, but her late second husband, Orson Welles, revealed that she had been repeatedly beaten, raped, and abused by her father growing up. For Rita growing up, she didn’t know any better and thought that was normal for a family relationship until she was an adult. She kept most of these details to herself, but a biography about her life revealed the truth.
2. Pamela Anderson
Pamela Anderson is most noted for her appearances in Playboy magazine, and while she built a successful career in modeling and in TV (in shows like Baywatch), she also had a secret she kept to herself for most of these years. Last year Pamela revealed that she had not only been raped when she was 12, but also that she was molested when she was 6 and once gang raped by her boyfriend at the time and 6 of his friends. She felt that she could have completely fallen apart if it wasn’t for her love of animals that saved her.
1. Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey is a media mogul. She has built a career that most men and women can envy, and it wasn’t always easy for her. She dealt with a trauma that dated back to when she was 9 years old. She doesn’t talk much about it, aside from aiming to help other women who suffered the same assault, but she was raped by a relative. She took the challenges that this attack placed on her life and found a way to overcome them and inspire other women to be stronger.