Melanie Chisholm, also known as “Mel C” and Sporty Spice from the Spice Girls, is opening up about a night she alleges she was sexually assaulted prior to her first performance as a Spice Girl.
In an interview on Elizabeth Day’s How to Fail podcast ahead of the Sept. 15 release of her forthcoming memoir Who I Am, the Spice Girl shared that she was sexually assaulted by a massage therapist at a spa in an Istanbul, Turkey, hotel in 1997. Chisholm was staying in the hotel the night before the girl group was about to have their first live performance.
“We were in Istanbul. We did two shows over there and we’d never done a full-length concert before, so obviously we’d rehearsed for weeks ahead, costume fittings, makeup, hair, everything was leading to towards the pinnacle of everything I ever wanted to do, and ever wanted to be,” Chisholm recalled. “What drives me is being on stage, 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.”
She continued, “And what happened to me — I kind of buried, immediately, because there were other things to focus on. I didn’t want to make a fuss but also I didn’t have time to deal with it.” She added that because she “didn’t deal with it at the time,” she has since realized that that allowed for that night to be “buried for years and years and years.”
She said that the she didn’t think about the incident until writing about it for her memoir: “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.’ Then, of course, I had to think, ‘Well, do I want to reveal this?’ And I just thought, actually, I think it’s really important for me to say it, and to finally deal with it and process it.”
“Terrible things happen all the time and this situation wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been,” she said. Though she didn’t share further details of the assault, she described her experience as a “mild version” of sexual assault. “But I felt violated. I felt very vulnerable. I felt embarrassed. And then I felt unsure — have I got this right? What’s going on? I was in an environment where you take your clothes off with this professional person.”
Chisholm went on to say that there were “so many thoughts and feelings” about that moment in her life, but she ultimately wanted to share and talk about it because of the impact it had on her: “It has affected me. But I’d buried it, and I’m sure … lots of people do.”
This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.