Madonna didn't report her rape out of fear. Sadly, she isn't alone.

Madonna has shared her horrifying ordeal with sexual assault, and told of how she feared being “humiliated” and “violated” by the reporting process that is, according to her, “just not worth it.”

Trigger warning: This post deals with sexual assault and may be triggering for some readers.

This week, Madonna spoke about being raped at knife point as a teenager. Yet, she said never reported the assault for the fear of reliving the humiliation and pain of the assault itself.

Sadly, this is a sentiment echoed by rape victims all over the world.

Appearing on The Howard Stern Show to promote her Rebel Heart album, Madonna revealed she was young, trustworthy and a stranger to her new hometown when she was attacked in 1973.

At the age of 19, Madonna left her native Michigan with $35 in her pocket and moved to Manhattan, where, within the first year, her apartment was broken into three times, she was held up at gunpoint, and raped at knifepoint.

Madonna was only 19 when she moved to Manhattan, and within the first year she was sexually assaulted at knifepoint.

“I was going to a dance class and the door was locked and I needed money for the payphone,” the now 56-year-old said.

“[A man] gave it to me … he was a very friendly guy. I trusted everybody.”

He convinced her to make the call from his apartment across the street, where he eventually raped her.

However, when asked if she reported the encounter, Madonna said: “You’ve already been violated. It’s just not worth it. It’s too much humiliation.”

Madonna with Howard Stern. (Image: Instagram)

New York Magazine reports this isn’t the first time Madonna has spoken about her experience with sexual assault.

In 2013, she penned an essay for Harper’s Bazaar, in which she told about being dragged to a roof top and assaulted at knife point.

Related content: Tara Moss speaks about being raped by “someone she trusted”.

Sadly, the singer’s sentiments are echoed by many sexual assault survivors: the process of reporting rape is painful and humiliating — an extension of the assault itself.

Madonna in the 1980s. (Image: Instagram)

Just last week, a female surgeon said Australian hospitals fail to protect and support doctors who report sexual assault.

Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty, has also spoken about the woeful response she received from authorities, after her abusive ex-partner murdered her son in 2014.


This failure to meet Ms Batty’s needs and address her reports has inspired her campaign to revolutionise the way we respond to domestic violence and assault in Australia.

Related content: Rosie Batty just did something incredible for victims of domestic violence.

Supermodel and author, Tara Moss, recently appeared on A Current Affair to share her experience with sexual assault, where she said of police: “I didn’t feel I got the support I would have liked. I think that’s probably a fairly common situation for people.”

Tara Moss recently said she was disappointed with the police response to her sexual assault claims.

Executive officer of Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia, Karen Willis, believes victims of sexual assault often face three main barriers when it comes to reporting the attack:

1. The vast majority of sexual assaults are perpetrated by people known to the victim: friends, family, co-workers or classmates. Less than one per cent of attacks are committed by total strangers. Therefore, fear of indicting a friend or relative, fear of embarrassment or causing conflict within social or familial circles is a big problem.

2.  According to Willis, victim-blaming and perpetrator-excusing is rife. There continues to be widespread acceptance of the myth that sexual assault is the responsibility of the victim.

3. Finally, fear of the process itself prevents victims from coming forward — which is exactly what Madonna was talking about.

Related content: Imagine if men were as disgusted by rape as they are with periods.

“When someone makes a claim, they have to go to the police and make a statement. This initial process usually takes eight hours in total,” Ms Willis told Mamamia.

“The victim has to go into quite incredible detail about what happened before, during and after [the assault], and the police will closely investigate this.

“Then they will ask, ‘can we prove this beyond a reasonable doubt?’ Not, did or didn’t this happen, but can we prove this in a court.”

Madonna expressed fear that reporting her assault would be “humiliating” — a fear that can be founded in many sexual assault cases.

Ms Willis says the following court case is perhaps the most gruelling part of the process, where the victim is often subjected to a vicious cross examination, in which the defence will attack the credibility of the vicitm’s claims.

“We need specialist courts in which we change the way we consider sexual assault matters. We need to start to think about the evidence, before, during, and after, and remove the the traumatic impact on victims, rather than humiliate the affected person.”

Furthermore, Ms Willis points out very few sexual assault convictions are made in the current system, confessing bluntly, and tragically: “it isn’t serving us justice.”

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT(1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

How do you think we can better support victims of sexual assault? Leave us a comment below.