Content warning: This article about Sophie Ellis-Bextor contains references to sexual assault.
In her new autobiography, Spinning Plates, Sophie Ellis-Bextor detailed a sexual assault she experienced at the hands of an older musician when she was 17-years-old.
In an excerpt from the autobiography, Sophie Ellis-Bextor recalls an evening where she met an unnamed 29-year-old musician, whom she refers to as Jim, at an afterparty following a gig when she was 17-years-old. She was studying history at the time, and the pair bonded over their shared degree. He invited her back to the flat to see his history books.
“Probably the lamest chat-up line in the world, but I went in a taxi with him back to his flat,” she writes.
Ellis-Bextor detailed that once back at the musician’s apartment, “Jim and I started kissing and before I knew it we were on his bed and he took off my knickers.”
She continued, “I heard myself saying ‘No’ and ‘I don’t want to’, but it didn’t make any difference. He didn’t listen to me and he had sex with me and I felt so ashamed. It was how I lost my virginity and I felt stupid.
“I remember staring at Jim’s bookcases and thinking: I just have to let this happen now.”
Get the latest Pop news, features, updates and giveaways straight to your inbox Learn more
The assault left Ellis-Bextor disorientated, she writes that she “lay on the bed feeling odd, trying to process what had just happened.”
The musician acknowledged that she felt confused about the experience, because of the cultural discourse surrounding sexual assault at the time. That assault was “something associated with aggression” rather than consent.
“On the way home I wondered if everyone else on the Tube could tell what had happened to me,” she recalled. “I felt grubby, but also unsure about my own feelings as I had no other experience to compare it with.
“At the time, the way rape was talked about wasn’t to do with consent – it was something you associated with aggression. But no one had pinned me down or shouted at me to make me comply, so why should I feel so violated?”
Ellis-Bextor notes that she did not feel “overly traumatised” at the time, though retrospectively acknowledges that “the culture that surrounded me – the things I saw and read and the way sex was discussed – made me believe I didn’t have a case.”
She continued, “My experience was not violent. All that happened was I wasn’t listened to. Of the two people there, one said yes, the other said no, and the yes person did it anyway.
“The older I’ve become, the more stark that 29-year-old man ignoring 17-year-old me has seemed.”
Elsewhere in the excerpt, Ellis-Bextor writes that her experience with sexual assault has influenced the way she has raised her five children. “I’m a mother of five young men now, and I introduce the concept of consent pretty early,” she says.
“I want to raise considerate, kind people who can take other people’s feelings into account. I want them to actively want the other person to be happy, too, rather than just stopping because they have to.”
Spinning Plates: Music, Men, Motherhood and Me: the Autobiography is out October 7th.