JK Rowling reveals shock sex assault
Harry Potter author JK Rowling has emotionally revealed that she was a sexual assault and domestic violence survivor, as she pleaded for open debate about transgender issues.
Rowling, 54, made the confession as she defended herself from a storm of online protest when she insisted that women be called women instead of "people who menstruate."
And she claimed that survivors of sexual assault were being "slurred as bigots" because they raised concerns they may feel uncomfortable if transitioning men were allowed in "single sex spaces."
She also claimed that there were times when "the only thing keeping me alive was the shaky self-restraint of my attacker."
"I've been in the public eye now for over twenty years and have never talked publicly about being a domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor," she said.
"This isn't because I'm ashamed those things happened to me, but because they're traumatic to revisit and remember. I also feel protective of my daughter from my first marriage. I didn't want to claim sole ownership of a story that belongs to her, too."
The controversy began when Rowling criticised the headline on an article that described women as "people who menstruate" in a post to her 14.5 million followers late on Saturday night.
"I'm sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?"
She poured out her soul in a 3690-word essay on her personal website early on Wednesday morning Australian time following a fierce Twitter backlash that began generating headlines around the world.
Daniel Radcliffe, who starred as Harry Potter in eight films that generated more than $9 billion AUD, apologised on behalf of Rowling following her comments at the weekend.
"I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused you," he said.
He added "transgender women are women" regardless of biology.
There had been some suggestions previously that Rowling's first marriage, which only lasted a year, was violent, but she had never addressed them publicly, or revealed she was sexually assaulted.
Eddie Redmayne, the star of Rowling's Harry Potter spinoff franchise Fantastic Beasts, has spoken out against Rowling's comments: "Respect for transgender people remains a cultural imperative, and over the years I have been trying to constantly educate myself. This is an ongoing process," said the actor, who was Oscar nominated for his portrayal of Lili Elbe, a transgender woman, in Focus Features' The Danish Girl.
Rowling, whose books have made her worth $1.4 billion AUD even though she generously gives to charity and pays a significant amount of tax in the UK, is now married to a doctor.
She said that she was opening up now after discussing it with her daughter.
"I'm mentioning these things now not in an attempt to garner sympathy, but out of solidarity with the huge numbers of women who have histories like mine, who've been slurred as bigots for having concerns around single-sex spaces," she said.
"I managed to escape my first violent marriage with some difficulty, but I'm now married to a truly good and principled man, safe and secure in ways I never in a million years expected to be.
If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) June 6, 2020
"However, the scars left by violence and sexual assault don't disappear, no matter how loved you are, and no matter how much money you've made."
Rowling supported Maya Forstater in December, who had lost her job after she was accused of "transphobic Tweets."
She said she had been exposed to threats of violence, abusive language, and that people were burning her books, however, one man even told her he had composted copies of them.
"All I'm asking - all I want - is for similar empathy, similar understanding, to be extended to the many millions of women whose sole crime is wanting their concerns to be heard without receiving threats and abuse," Rowling said.
idk how to express the depth of hate i have for jk rowling. to be so arrogant. so pompous and self-righteous. so insidiously destructive towards trans people, especially trans kids, convinced it's in the name of feminism. all while being the most famous children's author alive.— Alice Oseman (@AliceOseman) June 10, 2020
Sophia Gaston, director of the British Foreign Policy Group told News Corp Australia, that Rowling had tapped into a theme that many women felt.
"The majority of women empathise with the transgender movement, but seek assurances that their safety and spaces will be protected," she said.
"The divisive tone of social media debate in the UK since the Brexit referendum means these important discussions are played out in an increasingly tribal environment."
Originally published as JK Rowling reveals shock sex assault