Demi Lovato attends the 2018 Billboard Music Awards 2018 at the MGM Grand Resort International in Las Vegas. File / AFP
US singer Demi Lovato revealed she was raped as a virgin during her teenage years as a Disney Channel actor and pop star, in a tell-all documentary that opened the online South By Southwest festival on Tuesday.
“Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil,” a YouTube Originals series, centres on Lovato’s notorious 2018 fentanyl overdose that caused her brain damage and partial blindness, and her ongoing battles with addiction.
The four episodes, presented as the opening night film of a SXSW forced online by the pandemic, also contained new details of sexual assaults suffered by Lovato, including an attack on the night of her overdose.
Demi Lovato performs during the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. File / AP
“I know what I am about to say is going to shock people too. But when I was a teenager I was in a very similar situation — I lost my virginity in a rape,” says Lovato.
“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,’” she recounts.
“And that didn’t matter to them — they did it anyways.” Lovato, now 28, does not name her attacker, but says the rape happened when “I was part of that Disney crowd,” and that she “had to see this person all the time” following the assault.
Dubbing the incident “my #MeToo story,” Lovato says she reported the attacker but “they never got in trouble for it — they never got taken out of the movie they were in.”
Lovato shot to fame with the Disney Channel movie “Camp Rock,” filmed when she was 15.
She has long spoken of her struggles with depression, eating disorders and addiction, belying her happy persona as a smiling star of the children’s show “Barney and Friends.”
"I count this as another rape in itself," Sidra Humayun, an activist who handles sexual assault cases, said. "Most rape victims I have worked with have spoken of being traumatised by it."
Adviser to PM Babar Awan, who is also a member of the Cabinet Committee on Legislative Cases, said Prime Minister Imran Khan was very much concerned over the recent incidents of rape in different parts of the country.
There was once a time, just two short years ago, before “Weinstein clauses” and “Weinstein taxes,” before “intimacy coordinators” and “disgrace insurance.”
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance told reporters afterward that the judge "sent a message today that this type behavior is something that any potential offender is going to have to consider. The judge took it seriously, which is exactly how we think he should have. And we're grateful."
Expo 2020 Dubai wrote on Instagram, “We celebrated Latvia’s National Day at Expo 2020 Dubai today, where we were honoured to welcome His Excellency Egils Levits, President of Latvia, who attended a ceremony at Al Wasl Plaza with His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, UAE Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence and Commissioner General of Expo 2020 Dubai.”
Shafi’s performance at the Expo 2020 Dubai would be her first major live act in nearly a year and a half. Fans from across the world once again have the chance to come together to enjoy Shafi’s powerful vocal performance and charismatic presence on stage.
The operetta featured a rendition of the poems of Emirati poet Maryam Al Naqbi by Fayez Al Saeed, Walid Al Jassem and Faisal Al Jassem, while a group of female students from Abdullah bin Al Mubarak school in Khorfakkan, performed a graceful dance in the background.