Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

David Bowie and believing children.

David Bowie is dead. Everywhere I look, I see people mourning his death; talking about how important his music is to their life.

I was okay watching all the media talking about what an awesome man Bowie was. I shared the information about his "relationship" with a 13 year old girl in the 1970s where she apparently "lost her virginity to him". Lots of other people were sharing this information  about child rape because that's what it was. A child can never consent to "sex" with an adult. It is always child sexual abuse.

I was okay until a woman said she didn't believe me; that the evidence from the 13 year old girl wasn't believable because people lie about rape. And, anyways, she was probably trying to flog a book.

Because a 13 year old girl who spoke publicly about her experiences has to be lying about a famous man taking advantage of his power to sexually abuse her. This is the same woman who believed the victims of Jimmy Savile and Roman Polanski. But, David Bowie. His music was important so she must be lying.

I cried. For hours. I was massively triggered because I was once that child who no one believed. Who no one still believes. Who is still called a liar.

The problem is I did lie. I was only 8 and I was sent to the bus stop by myself to go to school for the first time. I was terrified of the dark and I begged my mother not to send me. But, she insisted. I only lasted a few minutes before running back into the house claiming that a strange man had come to the bus stop.

I lied about a strange man coming to the bus stop and trying to take a non-existent little boy.

I lied because I was terrified of the dark.

I lied because I was terrified to tell why I was afraid of the dark.

I lied because I didn't know how to describe what the male babysitter did to me at night; why I always hid before he came.

I lied because his father was a powerful man in the local church and I knew no one would believe me. I was 7 and he was very clear that no one would ever believe me.

My mother phoned the police to tell them what I said. They came to the school and a police officer spoke to me with the headteacher of our school who were all afraid of because she shouted. A lot. I was too afraid to talk and just kept shaking my head. Two official adults behind a desk were not exactly a friendly face.

So, the police, the school and my mother labeled me a liar. She still says I lie when I say something that she doesn't remember or disagrees with. She calls me a liar when we argue.

I was 34 before I could sleep without a night light.

It took me 25 years before I could process what happened to me. Before I could label my experience as sexual abuse. The 13 woman who "lost her virginity" to Bowie doesn't use the word child rape either. But she was a child. He was an adult.

My selective mutism started that day and I still suffer with it. People who meet me think I'm a blabbermouth who *shares* everything. But I don't. This is only the second time I've ever written or spoken about my experience. My fears.

I'm writing this because I was triggered today. Not by another example of child rape. But because the victim wasn't believed. That feeling of being labelled a liar; of attention seeking behaviour. It never ends.

#Ibelieveher changed my life. It made me think people would believe me too. Today, I got the reminder that not only rapists label women liars.


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18 thoughts on “David Bowie and believing children.

  • Bronwen Davies says:

    I’m so sorry to hear of your experience, Your testimony is very powerful.

  • Cath says:

    You have to forgive the little girl, for being a little girl, you know. None of this was your fault and you dealt with as a child would. Well done for writing about it now.

    • Alison says:

      I agree with Cath. Am so sorry for what happened to you and really sorry that you were met with such denial today too. Horrible.

      Am hugely conflicted myself as I am one of those who is upset by the death of someone who was such an integral part of my formative years and am upset with myself for being so upset. And confused. And conflicted. And selfishly mourning my youth and a time when I lived in blissful ignorance that someone I revered for so many years was an abuser. Apols if I have upset and triggered you.

      I believe you and I believe the woman DB raped.

      Much solidarity to you and much kudos for sharing this. xx

  • YoungCrone says:

    I believe you. I believe you and I am so sorry that you went through all that.

    I too am appalled at the excusing of Bowie’s crimes just because he was talented (something I don’t even agree with, on a personal taste level). The idea that we can overlook, minimise or even deny the misogynist and paedophilic crimes of men who are famous or talented or whatever is disgusting and also feeds into the myth of the monster hiding in a dark alley; that it’s doubtful that ordinary men can do these things and absolutely impossible for ‘important’ men to do them.

  • Blef says:

    I’m so sorry you’ve been triggered. Your reaction is natural. The reaction to the abuse, to the dark, to being called a liar, to the news today.

    I believe you. I will always believe you.

  • Katie says:

    Thank you for sharing and being so open. I have had similar experiences and have lied about things to save myself from things I am scared of as a result of the abuse I suffered. I have also not been believed about my abuse or taken seriously and I think it’s the most hurtful thing about it,and retraumatises people all over again. My mum also called me a liar and still does. It actually comes as a shock to me when people do believe me, which is a sad way to live. I hope that you find healing and can believe in yourself.

  • Books says:

    I believe you with every heart beat. You are a wonderful, caring, strong, intelligent, inspiring woman who does so much for others. Take care of yourself. Some people are selfish. Believing you hurts. It hurts because it is so awful and upsetting just knowing someone has done this, let alone for you who has experienced it. Some people can’t cope with their world view being disrupted. Some people are too weak to face the truth. They wish to carry on believing what they believe so life is easy for them. One day they won’t be believed and all those times they’ve not believed others will begin to seep in. Meanwhile, you will have continued being successful, helping and believing others and being supported by women who do believe you. Always. xxx

  • Barbara says:

    I absolutely believe you, brave woman.

  • Portia says:

    Hi Anon.

    Thank you for sharing this post. Your experience and the experience of the 13 year old girl are real and I believe you.

    Speaking out will help many women and girls who find it hard to do so and I value your decision to share with us.

    Thank you and much love xx

  • lynda says:

    thank you for sharing I too feel your pain I no what it feels like not to be believed not only about the rape abuse but about everything in my life. I despise liars because I always tell the truth and it hurts when others think you could lie about something that is often to personal to talk about and at times to personal. I was abused as a child I tried to tell my mum but she said I didn’t know their word problems I was fifteen pushed away and never went to her about anything. I eventually told her when I moved to London she turned and said to me she always knew their might have been something going on also my sister told her at fifteen eventually she turned her back and called us both liars but went further and told everybody we were crazy so I feel for you. In DV relationship same thing happened but I decided to fight back and complained about the shrink telling people I lied. It’s soul destroying when you’ve told the truth and people your family believe then don’t and you have no one to talk about it. Your very brave to discuss and open up on here it’s not your fault their the perpetrators who hurt you at 7 years of age your brave and courageous to stay quite for so long and not to tell anyone you have amazing strength to voice it here and tell us your story. The adults who spoke to you at school should have made you feel safe not scared to open up that wasn’t your fault and your mother should never treated you like that and not believed you. David Bowie like many celebrities at that time in the 70’s felt it was ok to rape and abuse children well it wasn’t and never is to rape and abuse a child or an adult. Society still hasn’t change still hopefully over time the many scandals we have of people being let down by the systems in place it is and never is ok to not listen and believe another person. if investigations were investigated many people in society would feel less hurt and let down. We have failed our children in the past hopefully lessons will be learned for the future of all our children to feel believed listened to respected and come to know that abuse, rape, physical, emotional abuse was and never is their fault. We all have a responsibility to protect our young and teach them body awareness and safety it was never your fault it was never the victim of David Bowies fault it was his and his alone and the person who abused you. Thank you for sharing your story your amazing and wonderful brave to share here remember you do have a voice on here I send my love hugs to you keep strong and take care Lynda.

  • KT Fuschia says:

    I love you and I believe you if it means anything at all coming from a stranger but I’m a stranger like you <3 I will share this story over and over and over <3 Thank you for writing this. Your strength inspires me. Stay strong xoxo

  • […] David Bowie has passed away. Women who were fans of his music, or were affected by his presence as a cultural icon, attempt to reconcile mourning for him with the knowledge of his child sexual abuse. […]

    • anne e. oakley says:

      What happened to you is a horrible, protracted situation no child should have to go through and your sharing it is extraordinarily courageous. We all know you’re not the only one it’s happened to, but we shall never know just HOW much it happens because most people lack your courage, to spill your guts to the world.

      You’ve done an immensely powerful thing for three-and-half billion people–the women and girls of the world, that is–and for the little boys, as well. People who defend the violation of children are horrible, and worse still is the way they do it. They just parrot one another, in a pitiful attempt to reduce their own cognitive dissonance. It’s easier than thinking and much easier than doing the brave thing and make an attempt to empathize.

      I’m so sorry you had to endure that, Woman! And I am SO SO glad you made it to Womanhood! You are an enormous and important credit to your generation. Thank you for helping us all understand something about children and childhood that we MUST grasp if we’re going to remain a human species.

  • Germaine says:

    I believe you, and I believe every women who tells she is abused.

  • alana murray says:

    Labelling people liars is all part of rape culture

  • james meister says:

    I believe you. I am sure if Bowie had criticized Barry Soetoro publicly the way Bill Cosby did, he would have found himself in the same situation long ago. Fame, money and power. And a culture of woman abuse and pedophilia.

  • Vanessa says:

    I am so sorry for all the pain that you have struggled with . My 10 year old daughter has Selective Mutism diagnosed at 5 years old and I am well aware how children with SM can be prisoners .
    I hope that you were able to get some help for this trauma and that it doesnt consume you in every aspect of your life anymore ?
    Sending you love and light