Tag Archives: Maya Angelou

Famous Survivors of Rape: Part 3

19 Aug

This is a continuation of the 4-part series that began on Monday. Click the link if you would like read about Ashley Judd, Billie Holiday, Connie Francis, Fiona Apple, and Fran Drescher, or here if you would like to read about Joyce Meyer, Kelly McGillis, Mackenzie Phillips, Marilyn van Derbur Atler, and Mary J. Blige. I’ve also done posts on Gabrielle Union and Fantasia Barrino that may interest you!


Here’s 5 more rape survivors you may (or may not!) already know about:

Maya Angelou

Maya AngelouThe 83-year-old renowned poet is also the author of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, which is given in many American high schools as required reading for students. She also holds more than 30 honorary degrees and is a Pulitzer Prize nominee, as well as the recipient of 3 Grammy Awards for her spoken word albums. Maya was 3 years old when her parents divorced, and lived under the sole care of her mother from the age of 7 in St. Louis, Missouri. Her mother’s then boyfriend, a man named Freeman, raped Maya when she was 8, and she found the courage to tell her older brother, who told the rest of their family members. Freeman was found guilty in court, jailed for one day, and four days later was found beaten to death, which filled young Maya with so much guilt that she didn’t speak again for almost 5 years afterward. But today her voice is heard around the world as one of inspiration!

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah WinfreyEasily the most influential woman in the world, 57-year-old Oprah Winfrey (actually born with the name “Orpah”, named after a character in the Bible’s Book of Ruth) is a former American television host, the owner of her own television network and countless programs, an actress, a producer, and a philanthropist – and she’s also the wealthiest woman of the 20th century.

At the age of 6, Oprah and her single mother Vernita Lee moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but spent much of her time alone while her mother worked long hours to support their family. She was constantly molested by her uncle and a family friend, and when she was 9 a 19-year-old male cousin began to rape Oprah, forcing her to run away from home  once when she was 13. She never dared to tell anyone about the abuse she had suffered until she confessed everything to her family more than 10 years later, but nobody believed her story or even acknowledged her suffering … until she got her own talk show.

Pamela Anderson

Pamela AndersonThe 44-year-old actress-model is most famous for her starring role in the ’90s hit show Baywatch, her stint as Playmate of the Month for Playboy magazine’s February 1990 issue, and her marriages to Motley Crue’s lead singer Tommy Lee and rock singer Kid Rock. Before she was famous, as a teenager growing up in Canada, Pamela was raped twice. She once said in an interview that:

“My first experience with sex was non-consensual. The guy ran around in a panic afterwards saying ‘What have I done, what have I done’. Looking back it was awful. I felt like everyone knew that I had had sex, like it was tattooed on my forehead.”

In the same interview with Jane magazine, she told the story of her second assault:

“I started growing breasts, discovered make-up and had my clothes ripped off by a crazy abusive guy I was dating who locked me outside my house naked. I’ve been naked ever since.”

Queen Latifah

Queen LatifahToday she glows at 41 years of age, is a former singer and rapper turned into a successful Hollywood actress, and she’s a spokeswoman for CoverGirl cosmetics. Queen Latifah is also the recipient of a Golden Globe award, 2 Screen Actors’ Guild Awards, 2 Image Awards, a Grammy Award, and several nominations for Grammy, Emmy, and Academy Awards. But about a year ago she opened up to Essence magazine about the sexual abuse she suffered when she was a little girl. In the care of a babysitter, Queen Latifah (then a young Dana Elaine Owens) was raped. She said to Essence:

“He violated me. I never told anybody. I just buried it as deeply as I could and kept people at an arms length. I never really let a person get too close to me. I could have been married years ago, but I had a commitment issue.”


Rita Hayworth (October 17, 1918 – May 14, 1987)

Rita HayworthThe late American film actress and dancer was one of the greatest names of her time. Her cute and innocent image was made famous as a pin-up photo, and she worked with other Hollywood greats such as Fred Astaire and was once married to Orson Welles and Prince Aly Khan. She was tutored as a dancer by her father Eduardo, but traveling across the country as a young performing girl with her mother Volga far away at home, her father saw the opportunity to abuse Rita. Eduardo often beat his 10-year-old daughter into submission, slammed her into walls, and began to rape her as often as twice a day. Rita was confused and believed that their relationship of incest was normal for a father and daughter. It wasn’t until many years later when Rita told her husband Orson Welles about her abuse, that she began to see the truth for what it really was.


The final part of the series will be posted Monday, and this time you’ll get to read the stories of a few male rape survivors. Come back for more inspiration!