Rina Sawayama Says She Was Groomed at 17, Details Extensive Sex and Relationship Therapy

"If a school teacher is coming on to you, that's an abuse of power. I didn't realize that until I was his age," the singer-actress revealed during an interview with on BBC Three and the BBC World Service's program, 'In Conversation.'

Rina Sawayama is opening up about a troubling teenage relationship.

In a new interview on BBC Three and the BBC World Service’s program, In Conversation, the Japanese-British singer revealed she was “groomed” at 17.

“This is the first time I’m talking about this, but essentially, through doing sex therapy – sex and relationship therapy – I realized that really something that I thought was a relationship that I had, when I was 17, was actually I was groomed,” the John Wick 4 actress shared. “Then why that realization happened in my 30s, was because I was finally his age.”

Citing the sexual trauma as the inspiration behind her second album Hold the Girl, Sawayama told BBC Three she was extremely “uncomfortable” with how that relationship played out, but hadn’t put two and two together until working through it in therapy.

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“I remember distinctly how uncomfortable that made me, but I didn’t put the two and two together. And it was through this very intense form of therapy, which I feel so lucky to be able to have access to, that I was able to come to terms with that, and it completely broke my whole world apart,” Sawayama said.

She continued, “It came to light that, that was what was happening in my school, basically, it was a school teacher.”

The relationship, Sawayama said, led to slut-shaming and shaming around her sexuality that saw the actress completely lose her sense of self.

“I was so badly slut-shamed, that I developed so much shame around my sexuality, and lost completely my sense of self, I detached from my skin like inside, I don’t know how to describe it,” Sawayama explained. “But I just felt so afraid of things. And I’d have anxiety attacks.”

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Working on this second album also served as a release, with the 33-year-old singer calling getting to the finish line “one of the most incredible experiences.”

“Seventeen to me is a child, you’re in school, you have no autonomy most of the time, and especially if you’re in a school setting, if a school teacher is coming on to you, that’s an abuse of power. I didn’t realize that until I was his age,” Sawayama said of the aptly titled track, “Your Age.”

She continued, “Writing that album was one of the hardest things, but also when I finished it, it was one of the most incredible experiences. And now it makes me so happy when I see especially like women or femmes in the audience connecting to it because I haven’t talked about this in specifics.”

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“I’ve just said it’s about a period in my life when I was younger, but I know the truth and when I look out to the audience, and I see femmes or women connecting to it, I’m like, ‘Maybe you know what I’m talking about, maybe you’re feeling it right now,'” Sawayama added.

While she’s not sure what she’ll write about on her next album, Sawayama said she’s done revisiting that trauma for now, telling the BBC program, “I would love a day where I can just write a song that’s just about love or sex, I’m getting there.”

The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline — 800.656.HOPE (4673) — provides free, 24/7 support for those in need.

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