*The following article contains discussion of sexual assault.
Melanie Chisolm, who most of us know as Mel C or Sporty Spice, recently opened up on the podcast How to Fail with Elizabeth Day. During the episode, Chisolm shared intimate details about her personal life, including the impact of her parents' divorce, her struggles with an eating disorder, and the pressures of being in the spotlight.
Chisolm also spoke about an incident that she revealed in her memoir, Who I Am: My Story, which was published September 15. In her book, Chisolm shared that she was sexually assaulted in a hotel spa in Istanbul, Turkey, where she stayed the night before the Spice Girls' very first full-length live concert in 1997.
"It happened to me on the night before the first ever Spice Girls live performance. And we'd never done a full-length concert before, so, obviously, we'd rehearsed for weeks ahead — costume fittings, make-up, hair — everything was leading towards the pinnacle of everything I'd ever wanted to do and ever wanted to be."
Chisolm decided to treat herself to a massage.
"And what drives me is being onstage, being a performer, so here we were the eve of the first ever Spice Girls show, so I treat myself to a massage in the hotel."
That's when the assault transpired, but Chisolm "buried" the incident.
"And what happened to me, I kind of buried immediately, because there was other things to focus on."
"I didn't want to make a fuss, but also I didn't have time to deal with it. And because I didn't deal with it at the time, I realize that I allowed that to be buried for years and years and years."
Chisolm also said she had not planned to include the incident in her memoir—until the memory suddenly came to her.
"When I was writing the book, it came to me in a dream, or I kind of woke up and it was in my mind. And I was like, 'Oh my gosh, I haven't even thought about having that in the book.'"
After wrestling with whether or not to include the assault, Chisolm decided it was an important piece of her life, and writing about it could help her process it.
"I think it's really important for me to say it and to finally deal with it and process it."
Chisolm knew she had felt violated but, as is often the case, she questioned herself.
"I suppose in a version of sexual assault, it's a mild version, you know, but I felt violated. I felt very vulnerable. I felt embarrassed, you know, and then I felt unsure, 'Have I got this right, what's going on?'"
Though conflicted, Chisolm knew that since the situation had impacted her life, she should write about it.
"I was in an environment where you take your clothes off with this professional person. So there were so many thoughts and feelings, and I just thought, you know what, I do want to talk about it, because It has affected me."
Chisolm said that she has learned from her experience and also hopes that talking about the assault could help others who have experienced something similar.
"As I've searched my soul, as I've got older and tried to overcome so many things in that … trust your instinct."
"There's only one person on this planet who knows what is best for you, and that's you. Who knows what is right for you."
"Even if it wasn't that person's intention, it made you feel that way. And you have to let them know."
Chisolm posted a video yesterday promoting the release of Who I Am.
And her fans were nothing short of ecstatic.
Who I Am is now available for purchase!
If you or someone you know experienced sexual assault, help is out there. You can reach the RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline by calling 1-800-656-4673, use their Live Chat tool: https://www.rainn.org/get-help, or visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.
In Canada, help is available through the Ending Violence Association of Canada website.
International resources can be found through the Rape Crisis Network Europe website.