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Aftonbladet (Sweden)
January 2000

Tori Amos' way back

In 1998, 1600 rapes were reported to the Swedish police. If you count the unreported rapes along with that, the number becomes considerably higher. The singer Tori Amos was raped 15 years ago. Now she helps others - through her music and the organization RAINN

"The rapist has got the power until you make sure that he doesn't."

For some reason, I had expected to see a slightly suspicious girl, with messy hair and odd clothes enter the room in Grand Hotel in Stockholm. Instead a woman with a traditional haircut and a completely normal sweater sits down in the couch next to me. Tori Amos could be mistaken for a Swedish grade-school teacher.

The mystique is in her words and her soft voice. When I ask her how she is, she bursts out in a long monologue, describing how she spent the day before walking around in the Old Town of Stockholm. She then goes on to drawing parallels to when she visited the town four years ago, and then ends with a deep analysis of how she relates to the older parts of towns.

Miscarriage and rape

But nothing she says is nonsense. There's a thought behind every sentence. And above all, a true joy in storytelling. Maybe it's that joy that encourages her to ignore taboos, and to say what she thinks is really important instead.

"You know, there are people who have cameras installed in their houses, and who broadcast everything that they do, around the clock, on the Internet. That's kind of what I do."

Tori Amos has shocked and fascinated people ever since her first album "Little Earthquakes" from 1992. Among other things, she has written about the misscarriage she had in 1996, and how she was raped when she was 21. Today she runs the organization RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), that is trying to spread information and knowledge about sexualized violence among young people. Every week she gets letters from fans who have had similar experiences as she has. Surprisingly often it boys, whose girlfriends have been abused, that write to her.

"They say it feels like they too are violating the girl, because she is stuck in the role of the victim. It is common to have problems with letting yourself be touched if you have been raped. You feel like you are being used even though you're with someone you love."

Tori Amos has had the same problems. For several years she has been trying to seek help and to work through what happened.

"It took me a while. There was just so much shame that I had to get rid of. I had to go back and relive certain things, but today I feel so much better."

"Boys are confused"

Now she understands that the men who rape are weak persons.

"I think they feel powerless. A strong person doesn't need to take anything from someone else. Historically speaking, women's rights haven't received any attention at all until quite recently."

Tori Amos thinks that some men have a hard time coping with the change.

"I think many men are confused nowadays. 20 years ago, women were never a threat at work. You never hear about amazing female composers, painters or architects from the 19th century. It doesn't mean that they lacked talent, but that they were raised to help their husbands achieve their goals."

Tori Amos thinks that many people see the struggle between for equality the sexes as a competition. And that that results in pain. She also stresses the fact that many women often look at men in the wrong way. She points at the differences in how you react in a relationship, when one of the persons loses their job.

"The boyfriend takes his girlfriend in his arms, gets some wine, and takes care of her. When the boyfriend loses his job, the girl sees it as a turn-off, because men are expected to be successful. I think there's a lot of anger bubbling under the surface of many men. I understand the anger, but it needs to be expressed in the right way."

Wants to help others

Tori Amos hopes that the terrible things she's been through will help her help others. She encourages victims of rape to talk about it to someone who will listen.

"The rapist has got the power over you until you make sure that he doesn't anymore. You have to move on from victim to survivor. It's a long process, but it's necessary. It hurts, and everything is filled with anger. You look at yourself, and then you want to kill everyone. The most dangerous thing is when you refuse to let love into your life."

Tori Amos' eyes darken. Her soft voice grows hard and clear when she says:

"Kick everything back on the rapist. 'Here's your shit - you hold it!'"

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