Sophie Ellis-Bextor was raped at age 17 by an older musician: ‘I wasn’t listened to’

Josh Milton September 27, 2021
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Sophie Ellis-Bextor performs in a teal dress standing behind a microphone

Sophie Ellis-Bextor performs at The Palladium. (Lorne Thomson/Redferns)

Sophie Ellis-Bextor has opened up about being raped aged 17 by an older musician.

Writing in her new memoir, Spinning Plates, Ellis-Bextor said she lost her virginity in the incident, something she still “bears the scars” of to this day.

She met the rapist, a then 29-year-old guitarist she refers to only as “Jim”, at a gig before going to his apartment, she wrote in the book which is being serialised in the Mail on Sunday newspaper.

“I heard myself saying ‘No’ and ‘I don’t want to,'” she wrote, “but it didn’t make any difference”.

“He had sex with me and I felt so ashamed. It was how I lost my virginity and I felt stupid.”

The “Murder on the Dancefloor” singer added: “I felt grubby, but also unsure about my own feelings as I had no other experience to compare it with.”

Sophie Ellis-Bextor: ‘One said yes, the other no – and the yes person did it anyway’

After the incident, Ellis-Bextor wrote, she was left feeling confused because of the nature of the attack.

Her perception of rape was “not to do with consent” – rather it was “something you associated with aggression”.

“But no one pinned me down or shouted at me to make me comply,” she wrote, adding: “The things I saw and read and the way sex was discussed [at the time] made me believe I didn’t have a cause.”

Such a perception is one that continues to grip societal attitudes towards rape victims, Rape Crisis England and Wales, a sexual violence awareness charity, has warned.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor performs live at the Audio and Radio Industry Awards. (Andrew Benge/Getty Images)

Sexual violence, assault and rape are rarely reported to the police by victims, the charity says.

In fact, fewer than one in six victims report rape, per the Office for Natural Statistics. Even when it is, “it rarely leads to criminal justice [being] served”, Rape Crisis says.

Rape convictions in Britain have plummeted to record lows in recent years, with fewer than one in 60 rape cases leading to charges in England and Wales, data from the Home Office shows.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor shared her experience to highlight “realise where the line between right and wrong lies”.

“My experience was not violent,” she said. “All that happened was I wasn’t listened to.

“Of the two people there, one said yes, the other said no, and the yes person did it anyway.”

“The older I’ve become,” she added, “the more stark the 29-year-old man ignoring 17-year-old me has seemed.”

Rape Crisis England and Wales works towards the elimination of sexual violence. If you’ve been affected by the issues raised in this story, you can access more information on their website or by calling the National Rape Crisis Helpline on 0808 802 9999. Rape Crisis Scotland’s helpline number is 08088 01 03 02.

Readers in the US are encouraged to contact RAINN, or the National Sexual Assault Hotline on 800-656-4673.

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