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Diva (UK)
August 2009

[excerpt from Diva website]

ROCK STAR AND... THERAPIST - the other side of Tori Amos

How the singer Tori Amos is helping female survivors of rape and sexual abuse

Words: Deborah Finding

When Tori Amos released her iconic debut album Little Earthquakes in 1992, few could have guessed the impact that one a capella track towards the end of the album would have. But "Me And A Gun," a harrowing rape narrative based on Amos' personal experience, was to set in place a chain of events that would help countless women who had been in Amos' position. It is a chain that continues to grow, even now, 17 years later.

Rather than setting the story in the past, "Me And a Gun" narrated the rape as happening in the present, with its wrenching internalised description: 'It was me and a gun / And a man on my back / And I haven't seen Barbados / So I must get out of this.' After the song was released, Amos received thousands of letters from young women who had also experienced sexual violence and had been feeling alone until they heard Amos' voice in solidarity with theirs. The response was so great that it led Amos to co-found RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) in 1994 - the first national support network of its kind in the USA. Amos isn't alone in realising that, as a public figure, she has something more to offer her audience than her music. Other singers have been spokeswomen for anti-domestic violence charities, including Jamelia in the UK and Christina Aguilera in the US.

But in addition to the official channels of support that were created, other, unofficial networks formed, inspired by Amos' music and her example. When Shannon Lambert created a personal website peppered with Tori Amos lyrics, telling her own story of how she had been raped at the age of 15 by an older boy at her school, she too received a huge response, including an invitation to speak about her experiences on a national news show. Knowing she could not respond personally to everyone who would write to her after such exposure, Shannon set up an online forum called Pandora's Aquarium (named after another Tori Amos song).

[end of excerpt]

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