24-year-old Rita Ora, who is currently a judge on the UK X Factor mentoring the 'Girls' category, is known for her open heart and joyous personality on panel. But in a recent interview with Lifetime TV, the 'I Will Never Let You Down' star opened up about a more serious issue regarding her sexual experience with an older man when she was only 14.
The star sat down with interviewer Amanda De Cadenet to talk about her relationship with a 26-year-old man, which was also her first relationship. The star revealed:
"I hadn’t had a relationship before then at all. I was very new to the whole world of a man and a female.”
Rita also talked about how she was naive and over-trusting of the man's intentions:
"I felt like I was sexy, I felt like I had a form of respect, I felt like he listened to me. Now I know he listened to me because he obviously wanted to have sex with me. I felt good that men fancied me."
The star explored the issue of why she pursued the relationship, discussing how the approval and validation of a man was necessary for her self-esteem, stating:
"It's strange how, once it starts, you kind of feel you can take over the world. Even to this day if someone fancied me I'd feel so great. I was almost obsessed with having a man feel like he wants me. [...] I didn't care what he did or how old he was. I wanted it. It's crazy."
During her account of the relationship, De Cadenet interjected and stated that what Rita was describing was a case of child abuse. The MOBO award winner paused, exhaled and sat back into her chair stating:
“It’s child abuse, really, isn’t it?”
The star added:
"I don’t want people to think that I was forced to do it. I don’t want people to think I was abused as a kid but I was definitely more mature than I should have been at 14.”
It is really brave for a star like Rita to open up about such personal issues and it must be said that the more visibility such a crucial issue that so many boys and girls face gets, the better.
Sexual abuse and consent are complex issues and even a relationship that may not seem abusive in the way its most usually portrayed, may still be so. If either party is below the legal age of a sexual relationship or if either party does not feel comfortable in any context, then this could be classed as abuse.
Rita's story also brings up the issue of finding self-esteem from being with a partner. As Rita is implying, self-esteem should not derive from the validation of another person, but should come from an internal place that another person can enrich. If you are battling with low self-esteem, then you should seek help through therapy and counselors who will have professional advice and experience.
RAINN is an organization that offers international and confidential help for people who feel abused or have been victims of abuse. In an emergency, you are able to contact them with the following numbers:
- 1-888-407-4747 (US and Canada)
+1 202-501-4444 (Overseas)