Shania Twain has shared additional details about her traumatic childhood, this time saying she tried to alter her appearance to avoid attention from her allegedly sexually abusive stepfather.
In an interview with British newspaper The Sunday Times, the Canadian country music star explained how she would intentionally wear ill-fitting undergarments as a teenager in an effort to hide her changing figure.
“I hid myself and I would flatten my boobs,” Twain said.
“I would wear bras that were too small for me, and I’d wear two, play it down until there was nothing girl about me. Make it easier to go unnoticed.
“Because, oh my gosh, it was terrible — you didn’t want to be a girl in my house.”
Twain, 57, told the U.K. outlet she had a difficult childhood growing up in Ontario. She lived with her four siblings, her mother, Sharon, and her stepfather, Jerry Twain. She said puberty, and the subsequent changes to her body, put her at risk of even more abuse from Jerry, who she said was also abusing her mom.
It’s not the first time Twain has gotten candid about her stepdad’s alleged abuse.
In 2018, Shania said in an interview with The Guardian that abuse started when she was just 10 years old.
“I feel the sexual abuse goes hand in hand with the physical and psychological abuse when it’s somebody you know,” she said at the time. “I learned to block it out. Abusers need to manipulate you, whether it’s before or after, and what I said to myself is: ‘OK, there’s something wrong with this person and that person is not well.’”
She also referenced the alleged abuse in her 2011 memoir From This Moment On, and while doing press rounds to promote her book she told ABC’s Nightline that she recalled witnessing Jerry plunging her mom’s head into a toilet.
“I thought he’d killed her,” Twain said at the time. “I really thought she was drowned, or dead, or that he had just smashed her head in and she was never going to wake up. … She looked dead. She was unconscious, she was limp, hanging from his, you know, her, he had her hair in his hands.
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“So I’d gone through the shock and experience of really believing my mother had died at that moment,” she continued. “Also, through the humiliation of how I thought she had been killed, by drowning in a toilet seat. … It was very, very obviously very hard to take.”
Twain also told Nightline that she had very conflicted feelings about Jerry. Despite the abuse she said she witnessed and experienced, she also said he taught her how to be a good person.
“It was the Jekyll and Hyde in him that was the greatest torture,” she said. “I loved him and I respected so much what he did for us, being the hard worker, he set a great example. So I’m still left confused. I’m baffled by all of that, I really am.”
Sharon and Jerry died in a car accident when Twain was 22 and she was left to raise her three younger siblings. She told The Sunday Times that she struggled with her relationship with her body for many years after.
“All of a sudden it was like, well, what’s your problem? You know, you’re a woman and you have this beautiful body? What was so natural for other people was so scary for me. I felt exploited, but I didn’t have a choice now. I had to play the glamorous singer, had to wear my femininity more openly or more freely. And work out how I’m not gonna get groped, or raped by someone’s eyes, you know, and feel so degraded,” the singer said.
However, she said she gained confidence as she moved through her 20s, and learned to use her body language to communicate to people when she was feeling uncomfortable or didn’t want them to get closer.
Twain also told the outlet that she’s been embracing her confidence as she ages, having fun with her performances, career and fashion choices.
“I am celebrating escaping this horrible state of not wanting to be who I am. And I’m so confident. Now that I discovered that it’s OK to be a girl,” she shared. “The unapologetic woman is a very powerful person indeed.”
On Tuesday, Twain announced that she was adding a second leg to her Queen of Me tour, due to overwhelming demand.
An additional 19 shows are being added to the 2023 tour, including shows in Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. The tour begins in late April of next year and will run until mid-November.
It’s Twain’s first tour in almost five years and will feature 70 shows across North America and Europe. Tickets for the additional shows go on sale Dec. 16.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault or is involved in an abusive situation, please visit the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime for help. They are also reachable toll-free at 1-877-232-2610.
Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868; Their texting service is free and available across Canada 24-7. text CONNECT to 686868.
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