Madonna Reflects on Being Raped, Fighting Against Long Odds

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Madonna's life has been an open book for so long that few things surprise us, but one striking admission in the new Harper's Bazaar is an exception:

Shortly after arriving in New York City as a scrappy unknown from Rochester, Mich., in 1978, with dreams of stardom, the singer was a victim of rape.

"New York wasn't everything I thought it would be," she recalls.

Madonna Harper's Bazaar Cover

"It did not welcome me with open arms. The first year, I was held up at gunpoint. Raped on the roof of a building I was dragged up to with a knife in my back."

Madonna also says that she "had my apartment broken into three times. I don't know why; I had nothing of value after they took my radio the first time."

The future icon dropped out of the University of Michigan, where she had a dance scholarship, to move to the Big Apple. She describes that experience:

"I was defiant. Hell-bent on surviving. On making it. But it was hard and it was lonely, and I had to dare myself every day to keep going."

"Trying to be a professional dancer" entailed "paying my rent by posing nude for art classes, staring at people staring at me naked."

"Daring them to think of me as anything but a form," Madonna says, "that they were trying to capture with their pencils and charcoal."

The queen, a predecessor to Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, Rihanna, Lady Gaga and many others, writes of her first few years of fame:

Madonna Harper's Bazaar Photo

"When you're 25, it's a little bit easier to be daring, especially if you are a pop star, because eccentric behavior is expected from you."

"At 35, I was divorced and looking for love in all the wrong places. I decided that I needed to be more than a girl with gold teeth and gangster boyfriends."

"More than a sexual provocateur imploring girls not to go for second-best. I began to search for meaning and a real sense of purpose in life."

"I wanted to be a mother."

Now a mother of four - biological kids Lourdes and Rocco, and adopted children David and Mercy - she says adopting David was "a real low point in my life."

"I didn't know that trying to adopt a child was going to land me in another sh-- storm," she says of the baby she brought home from Malawi.

"I was accused of kidnapping, child trafficking, using my celebrity muscle to jump ahead in the line, bribing government officials, witchcraft, you name it."

"I could get my head around people giving me a hard time for simulating masturbation onstage, publishing my Sex book, even kissing Britney Spears."

"But trying to save a child's life was not something I thought I would be punished for," she adds, although, "In any case, I got through it. I survived."


Madonna Biography

Best. Kiss. Ever.
Madonna, a.k.a. The Material Girl, is still going strong even as she nears 50. She's also adopting babies and speaking with a British... More »
Full Name

Madonna Quotes

Leave her alone. She’s gonna be 16 soon and then 17 and then 18, and then she might show her knees and then what's gonna happen?

Madonna [on Miley Cyrus Vanity Fair photos]

My husband and I are not planning on getting a divorce. I know Alex Rodriguez through Guy Oseary, who manages both of us. I brought my kids to a Yankee game. I am not romantically involved in any way with Alex Rodriguez. I have nothing to do with the state of his marriage or what spiritual path he may choose to study.