Rina Sawayama says she was groomed at 17: ‘It completely broke my whole world’

Rina Sawayama says she was groomed at 17: ‘It completely broke my whole world’
via @rinasonline
Michelle De Pacina
October 4, 2023
Japanese British singer and actor Rina Sawayama has revealed that her second album, “Hold the Girl,” was inspired by trauma related to a past experience of being groomed when she was 17.
Sawayama’s revelation: In an interview with BBC, Sawayama shared that through extensive sex and relationship therapy, she came to realize the true nature of a past “relationship” when she was in her 30s. 
“I remember distinctly how uncomfortable that made me, but I didn’t put the two and two together,” Sawayama said. “And it was through this very intense form of therapy, which I feel so lucky to be able to have access to, that I was able to come to terms with that, and it completely broke my whole world apart.”
The 33-year-old singer revealed being involved with a school teacher when she was only 17 years old.

“It came to light that that was what was happening in my school, basically, it was a school teacher. I was so badly slut-shamed, that I developed so much shame around my sexuality, and lost completely my sense of self. I detached from my skin like inside, I don’t know how to describe it. But I just felt so afraid of things. And I’d have anxiety attacks… Seventeen to me is a child, you’re in school, you have no autonomy most of the time, and especially if you’re in a school setting, if a school teacher is coming on to you, that’s an abuse of power. I didn’t realize that until I was his age.”

Connecting with audiences: Her experience led to the track “Your Age” in Sawayama’s 2022 album. She expressed the emotional difficulty of writing the album but also the satisfaction of connecting with audiences, particularly women and femmes, who can relate to her music. 
“Writing that album was one of the hardest things, but also when I finished it, it was one of the most incredible experiences,” she said. “And now it makes me so happy when I see especially like women or femmes in the audience connecting to it because I haven’t talked about this in specifics. I’ve just said it’s about a period in my life when I was younger, but I know the truth and when I look out to the audience, and I see femmes or women connecting to it, I’m like maybe you know what I’m talking about, maybe you’re feeling it right now.”
Future work: Looking ahead, Sawayama hopes to explore different themes for her third album, wanting to move away from revisiting traumatic experiences and focus on topics like love and sexuality.
Sawayama is currently on her “Hold The Girl: Reloaded” North American tour, which ends on Oct. 14 at the Austin City Limits Festival. 
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