MORE: In your new book, you write about experiencing sexual abuse as a child by a neighbor’s kid who was also a family friend.
Kara DioGuardi: Yes. I was 11 years old. We were playing a game that turned into a lot of touching, and I knew it was wrong. It was such a difficult situation because when I told my mom, who was a strict Catholic and a virgin when she married, she just turned away. She didn’t do anything about it and, as a result, I felt betrayed.
MORE: What’s it like to be betrayed by the one person who is always supposed to protect you?
KD: I felt both unprotected and betrayed because this was my mother. I mean, she was supposed to take care of me. I needed her. For me, I started feeling things like, “Am I not worth anything?” “Is there something wrong with me?” “Do you not love me?”
MORE: How did this experience affect the rest of your childhood and teenage years?
KD: It shut me down. It put me in doubt. I think, as a result of having all of these negative feelings, my self-esteem was so low and I got into a lot of bad relationships.
MORE: You also go public with another nightmare: being date-raped by a music producer.
KD: Yes, and that was absolutely terrifying.
MORE: Do you suffer from post traumatic stress disorder? Flashbacks? Nightmares?
KD: No, but there were moments I had to relive while writing the book. It not only made me sad, but it also caused me to have funky days and cry.
MORE: How did this effect your relationships with men? Did you fear you might be attacked again?
KD: No, because I knew I would never let myself get into that situation again. I also knew I couldn’t put that experience on every guy.
MORE: Why didn’t you name your attackers in the book?
KD: Because I don’t want it to be about them. This book is about me.
MORE: You mention that you had an eating disorder.
KD: I was so unhappy with myself. I think I was letting all of my emotions fester inside me. I even read somewhere that statistics show women who have been molested—like me—tend to have eating disorders.
MORE: Tell us about your emotions these days.
KD: All this has made me stronger than I ever thought I could be. I know now I did nothing wrong. They did. I shouldn’t be ashamed, but proud of who I am and what I’m doing, which is making and producing great music.
MORE: What do you hope to accomplish by putting your story out there?
KD: I want to inspire and empower women. My message to them: Go for it because when you hit that high note, it’s a great feeling.
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