Rina Sawayama Was Groomed at 17, Had Sex and Relationship Therapy

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Japanese-British singer and “John Wick 4” star Rina Sawayama has revealed the trauma that was the inspiration behind her second album “Hold the Girl.”

In an interview on the BBC Three and the BBC World Service “In Conversation” program, Sawayama said that the album emerged after extensive sessions of sex and relationship therapy. “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. Then why that realization happened in my 30s was because I was finally his age,” Sawayama said.

That experience led to the “Your Age” track in 2022 album “Hold the Girl,” Sawayama said. “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. “It came to light that, that was what was happening in my school, basically, it was a school teacher. 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. But I just felt so afraid of things. And I’d have anxiety attacks.”

“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 added. “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. 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.”

After “Hold the Girl,” Sawayama does not want to revisit trauma anymore for her third album. “I don’t know what I’m gonna write about yet. But I would love a day where I can just write a song that’s just about love or sex, I’m getting there,” Sawayama said.

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