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The ethereal singer survived a sexual assault and went on to give hope to millions of other victims.
Tori had just finished a performance in a Los Angeles hotel lounge when she agreed to give one of her fans a ride home. He was a regular at the lounge so she trusted him. Later, when he turned on her during the ride, she was completely shocked. Tori had no choice but to do what he said. The attack was brutal. "It was a knife he had," she recalls. "And the idea was to take me to his friends and cut me up, and he kept telling me that for hours. And if he hadn't needed [to get] more drugs, I would have been just one more news report, where you see the parents grieving for their daughter. And I was singing hymns... because he told me to. I sang to stay alive."
Though her life was spared, Tori's sanity was almost lost. "I survived that torture, which left me urinating all over myself and paralyzed for years. I really do feel as though I was psychologically mutilated that night," she reveals.
Like many victims of sexual assault, Tori blocked out the events of that horrific night for years. It was actually a rape scene from the film Thelma & Louise that triggered the memories. "People had to move away from me in the theater," se says.
Soon after, she sat down and wrote the hauntingly powerful song, "Me and a Gun." "After I wrote [it] I had to start waking up every morning going, 'Okay, I've acknowledged it. Now how am I going to start healing this?'"
When she started receiving letters and hearing stories from fans backstage, the singer decided to put her energy into making a change. She formed RAINN (The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), a rape crisis hotline that connects callers to crisis centers in their area. "A lot of times you shut your whole heart off from your experience; you close the door, and you wither and die. My hope is that the telephone line can be a bridge to the next step," she says. "I'm doing this so that people who feel that at 21 their lives are over, or [who] don't know how to have an intimate physical relationship can be beautiful people again."
[scan by Laurahey]
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