'You didn't want to be a girl in my house.'
In a heart-wrenching new interview, Shania Twain revealed that the childhood sexual abuse she survived at the hands of her stepfather shaped her perspective on gender and sexuality well into adulthood.
Speaking with The Sunday Times, Twain said that her stepfather, Jerry Twain, physically and sexually abused her while growing up.
In an attempt to avoid or limit the abuse, the singer said, "I hid myself, and I would flatten my boobs. I would wear bras that were too small for me, and I'd wear two, play it down until there was nothing girl about me. Make it easier to go unnoticed."
"Because, oh my gosh, it was terrible—you didn't want to be a girl in my house," she shared.
Twain learned to physically fight back against her stepfather to defend herself and her mother, Sharon Morrison, from his abuse, saying, "I think a lot of that was anger, not courage. And it took a long time to manage that anger. You don’t want to be somebody that attacks me on the street because I will f---ing rip your head off if I get the chance."
She faced even more struggles and obstacles when her mother and stepfather died in a car accident when she was only 22 years old, leaving her and her older sibling to raise the three younger Twains.
The 57-year-old singer was the second-oldest sibling of five, and her sudden push into adulthood was very challenging, as new responsibilities didn't improve her perspective on being a woman.
In the interview, Twain described: "Then you go into society, and you're a girl, and you're getting the normal other unpleasant stuff too, and that reinforces it. So then you think, 'Oh, I guess it's just s---ty to be a girl. Oh, it's so s---ty to have boobs.' I was ashamed of being a girl."
She continued, "All of a sudden, it was like, well, what's your problem? You know, you're a woman, and you have this beautiful body? What was so natural for other people was so scary for me."
Twain started singing and writing songs at a young age, and her first studio album, Shania Twain, came out when she was 28. Twain shared that, at the time, she "felt exploited."
The Grammy winner told The Sunday Times, "I didn't have a choice now. I had to play the glamorous singer, had to wear my femininity more openly or more freely. And work out how I'm not gonna get groped or raped by someone's eyes, you know, and feel so degraded."
But luckily, Twain eventually found her footing and achieved great success, inspiring many young women everywhere. Over time, she became comfortable with herself and found the strength of being a woman.
Twain said that now, "I am celebrating escaping this horrible state of not wanting to be who I am. And I’m so confident. Now that I discovered that it’s OK to be a girl.”
"The unapologetic woman is a very powerful person indeed," she concluded.