Demi Lovato said she was raped as a teenager while working for Disney Channel. The act was committed by someone she knew, and even worse, the person faced no repercussions, and she had to see this person “all the time” afterward.
Lovato made the revelation in her YouTube docuseries Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil, which premiered at SXSW on Tuesday. The docuseries explores her trauma, addiction, and her near-fatal drug overdose in July 2018.
“I lost my virginity in a rape,” she said. “I called that person back a month later and tried to make it right by being in control, and all it did was just make me feel worse.”
Lovato did not name an offender and said it was a consensual experience that turned traumatic: “We were hooking up but I said, ‘Hey, this is not going any further, I’m a virgin and I don’t want to lose it this way.’ And that didn’t matter to them, they did it anyways. And I internalised it and I told myself it was my fault, because I still went in the room with him, I still hooked up with him.”
Lovato said she blamed herself for years and “had a really hard time coming to terms with the fact that it was a rape when it happened”.
She traumatic experience happened while she was “a part of that Disney crowd that publicly said they were waiting till marriage”, referring to the purity rings – jewellery symbolising one’s commitment to waiting for sex until marriage – temporarily worn in the late 2000s by young teenage Disney stars including Nick and Joe Jonas, Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez.
She said the encounter, and the pressure to maintain an image of purity, contributed to her bulimia and self-harm at the time, and that she struggled to recognise it as rape.
She said she was speaking publicly “because everyone that that happens to should absolutely speak their voice if they can and feel comfortable doing so”.