Entertainment & Arts

Duffy: Singer was ‘drugged for four weeks, raped and taken abroad’

Duffy Image copyright Getty Images

Singer Duffy has opened up about a four-week ordeal during which she says she was drugged in her own home, raped and taken to a foreign country.

It's the first time she's given details of the terrifying experience, which led to her retreating from the spotlight.

"Rape is like living murder, you are alive, but dead," she wrote.

"All I can say is it took an extremely long time, sometimes feeling never ending, to reclaim the shattered pieces of me."

She says she didn't go to the police because it "didn't feel safe".

Duffy had the UK's best-selling album of 2008 and won three Brit Awards and a Grammy, but she virtually vanished after releasing her second album in 2010.

Her lengthy written account, in which she does not name her attacker, comes a month after she posted the first details on Instagram.

She wrote on her website: "It was my birthday, I was drugged at a restaurant, I was drugged then for four weeks and travelled to a foreign country.

"I can't remember getting on the plane and came round in the back of a travelling vehicle. I was put into a hotel room and the perpetrator returned and raped me."

The star said she then "could have been disposed of by him". She contemplated running away but was afraid he would call the police.

"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."

How Duffy came to reveal painful secret - Ian Youngs, BBC arts and entertainment reporter

Duffy has given not just horrifying details of her assault and captivity, but a vivid description of the deep psychological impact of rape and kidnap, the fear, the hiding, and the difficulties rebuilding relationships.

The lengthy account she has published on her website comes a month after she gave some details on Instagram, and said she had told a journalist everything last summer.

I had two long conversations with her in August after writing a letter suggesting I might be able to help tell the story of why she had been away for so long, whatever that was.

The conversations weren't interviews and were off the record. There was no question of me publishing.

After the Instagram post in February, more lengthy and sometimes emotional phone calls followed as she worked out the best way forward. Mostly, I listened.

She hasn't told me the identity of the perpetrator and has said she didn't report it to the police. As a journalist such cases are difficult to corroborate - but her account was consistent during our conversations, and the impact clearly very real.

She thought about an interview, but decided she would find that too difficult, so instead chose to write an account. We discussed publishing it on the BBC News website but on Sunday she phoned to say the time was right and she had decided to post it on DuffyWords.com.

I had been entrusted with this story. Except it's not just a story - for her it's her life, and her recovery, and the paramount thing was that she got her experiences and message into the open in the way, and at the time, that was best for her.

'Life in danger'

She explained that she flew back to the UK with the accused but "knew my life was in immediate danger" because he made veiled threats to kill her.

"It didn't feel safe to go to the police. I felt if anything went wrong, I would be dead, and he would have killed me. I could not risk being mishandled or it being all over the news during my danger."

She said she did later tell two female officers - first when someone later tried to blackmail her with the information, and then again when three men tried to break into her home. But Duffy didn't reveal whether they investigated the original ordeal.

Afterwards, the singer was at high risk of suicide, she revealed.

"I would not see someone, a physical soul, for sometimes weeks and weeks and weeks at a time, remaining alone," she added. "I would take off my pyjamas and throw them in the fire and put on another set. My hair would get so knotted from not brushing it, as I grieved, I cut it all off.

"In hiding, in not talking, I was allowing the rape to become a companion."

Image copyright Getty Images

She said she considered changing her name and appearance and disappearing altogether to live in another country.

"I thought the public disclosure of my story would utterly destroy my life, emotionally, while hiding my story was destroying my life so much more. I believe that not singing is killing me," she wrote.

"So, I just have to be strong and disclose it and face all my fears head on. I've come to realise I can't erase myself, I live in my being, so I have to be completely honest and have faith in the outcome."

She concludes: "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."

'Great courage'

Katie Russell, the national spokeswoman for Rape Crisis in England and Wales, told the BBC: "Any experience of sexual violence or abuse can be traumatic and have wide-ranging, long-term impacts on the lives, health and wellbeing of those subjected to it. Every survivor is unique and copes and recovers in their own way, and simply to survive an experience like this takes great courage and resilience.

"When someone in the public eye uses their profile to speak out about something so personal, to support others and to raise vital awareness and understanding of a subject that affects so very many but is still clouded in myth and stereotype, it's both generous and positive.

"We know the suicidal thoughts and feelings Duffy has described are not uncommon. Like her, we want those people to know they are not alone. We are still here, to listen and provide support, and our thoughts and best wishes are with Duffy and all survivors, today and every day."

If you would like help and support on these issues, a number of organisations are listed on the BBC Action Line website.

They include rapecrisis.org.uk

Follow us on Facebook, or on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

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