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iGuide (US)
January 1996

The Story Behind "Me and A Gun"

by Murray Weiss

Tori Amos is a huge pop star with a smash album at the top of the charts but -- behind the glamour -- she has lived with an enormous burden. Like hundreds of thousands of women, Amos has struggled with the memory and horror of being raped.

"It was something I penned up inside me for years," said Amos.

For six years, the 32-year-old superstar refused to admit to herself that she had been forced into a car and raped after a performance at a small club in 1985.

"There was an incredible shame... that made me feel that I somehow had brought this on," Amos said, expressing a feeling shared by many rape survivors. "I erected a huge defense around it to hide it somewhere beneath my heart."

Her relationships suffered, she refused to get close to anyone. "I became very, very tough." she said. But finally, in 1991, her defenses came crashing down when she found herself "frozen" in her chair watching a rape unfold in the movie Thelma and Louise. In a rush of grief that day, Amos wrote a haunting song, "Me and a Gun," about her tortuous rape experience.

"5 am. Friday morning Thursday night. Far from Sleep. It's me and a gun. And a man on my back.

"It's kinda funny. The things you think at times like these. Like I have not seen Barbados. So I must get out of this."

The song struck an emotional chord among her legions of fans and sparked an emotional outpouring from victims that took her by surprise. "Letters arrived backstage." Amos said. "Letters arrived at the record company. At my fan club. My management. There were thousands upon thousands of letters. It was incomprehensible. And in every letter, there was this deep, deep hurt." Some letters were so filled with pain, she could barely stand to read them. "There were girls who knew they were going home that night to be raped, because they had been raped every night for years by a stepfather," she said.

"Yes I wore a slinky red thing Does that mean I should spread. For you. Your Friends. Your father.

"It's me and a gun. And a man on my back. But I haven't seen Barbados, so I m must get out of this.

"Tell me What's right? Is it my right? To be on my stomach. It It's me and a gun. And a man on my back."

Amos said she was "fortunate" to write about her attack. It began the healing process for her. "My floodgates opened," she recalled. "Thank God I did. I can love again and separate the incident from other relationships." She was determined to try to help other victims. With her manager, Arthur Spivak, she established a nationwide victims crisis center called RAINN (Rape Abuse, Incest Nationwide Network) two years ago. (The toll-free number is: 1-800-656-HOPE; the hot line gives victims an opportunity to contact rape-crisis and intervention centers near their homes.)

Amos says the solution to the rape crisis lies in Washington, but lawmakers "have ignored" the issue, and she believes her generation "is going to turn this around," she added. "Rape has been a secret ... a shame . . . for thousands of years, but we are breaking this chain," she concluded.

"Do you know Carolina. Where the biscuits are soft and sweet. These things go through your head. When there's a man on your back and you're pushed flat on your stomach."

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