Rina Sawayama was groomed by her school teacher aged 17.
The 33-year-old British-Japanese pop star has spoken for the first time about having to undergo sex and relationship therapy after she was taken advantage of as a teenager.
Speaking on BBC Three and the BBC World Service’s ‘In Conversation’ programme, she began: “This is the first time I’m talking about this, but essentially, through doing sex therapy – sex and relationship therapy – I realised that really something that I thought was a relationship that I had, when I was 17, was actually I was groomed. Then why that realisation happened in my 30s was because I was finally his age.”
Rina penned the song ‘Your Age’ on her 2022 LP ‘Hold The Girl’ about becoming the same age as her groomer and how it was only then that she realised just how wrong it was.
The singer was “s***-shamed” and had anxiety attacks and recalled how it “completely broke my whole world apart”, but through “very intense” therapy sessions, she was able to “come to terms” with it.
She shared: “I remember distinctly how uncomfortable that made me, but I didn’t put the two and two together. 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.
“It came to light that, that was what was happening in my school, basically, it was a school teacher. I was so badly s***-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.”
By writing the song, Rina hoped her fans, particularly the “women or femmes”, could feel heard.
She continued: “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 realise that until I was his age.
“Writing that album was one of the hardest things, but also when I finished it, it was one of the most incredible experiences. 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.”
Now that the ‘Dynasty’ singer has dealt with the trauma through her music, she is aiming to feel comfortable enough to write positively about “love or sex” on her next record.
She added: “I don’t know what I’m gonna write about yet. But I would love a day where I can just write a song that’s just about love or sex, I’m getting there.”