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Edinburgh-born singer Shirley Manson has revealed she was sexually assaulted at the age of 13 – and it’s the first time she has ever publicly spoken about the incident.
The Stockbridge-raised frontwoman of alt-rock superstars Garbage went into detail about the harrowing experience during an interview with Billboard.
“A boy fingered me, then grabbed a knife and told me he was going to stick it up my vagina. I was 13 years old,” recalls the 49-year-old icon. “It frightened the shit out of me.”
A couple of days later, Manson realised she’d left a bra at the boy’s house. He threatened to post it to her parents.
“I think that’s where it all began to unravel,” says Manson. “I just had this realisation: Why am I distrustful all the time? It’s probably because of that. I spent so long disgusted about myself. I would sob in the bathroom, because I thought I was failing.”
During a 2013 interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Manson revealed she engaged in an underage sexual relationship with an unnamed Edinburgh music teacher when she was 15, admitting she would have sex with him in the back of his van.
Manson cut her teeth in Capital bands that very nearly but never quite made it big – Goodbye Mr Mackenzie and Angelfish – before being invited over to America to audition and record vocals on a couple of unfinished tracks for a newly-forming band which featured producers Butch Vig and Duke Erickson.
The audition was unsuccessful (Vig later said that its disorganised nature along with the Yanks not understanding Manson’s Scottish accent caused communication problems) and she returned home for a short time before giving it another try a few months later. This time she was successful.
Garbage’s debut album was released in August 1995 and went on to sell over four million copies worldwide, buoyed by the now-classic hits Only Happy When It Rains, Stupid Girl, Vow and Queer.
The band’s sixth studio album, Strange Little Birds, is released on June 10.