The UK pop girl group called Spice Girls was formed in 1994 and consisted of five women who toured the world and became household names. One of the members, Mel C, reveals that she survived a sexual assault just before their first live concert, but she was too scared to tell anyone it happened at the time.
The Spice Girls released hits like "Wannabe" and "Say You'll Be There," eventually selling 100 million records worldwide and becoming the best-selling girl group of all time. Victoria Beckham became the most well-known face from the group, but the others went on to have successful careers of their own. Mel C, who was known as Sporty Spice, came forward in an interview on Elizabeth Day's "How to Fail" podcast to reveal that she was sexually assaulted early on in her Spice Girl career.
Mel C Shares She Was Sexually Assaulted at a Spa Just Before Her First Live Spice Girls Concert
The Spice Girls were in Istanbul in 1997 and about to do their very first full-length concert. Mel C decided to relax and get a massage at the hotel, but it turned into a harrowing event.
"We’d rehearsed for weeks ahead, costume fittings, makeup, hair, everything was leading towards the pinnacle of everything I ever wanted to do, and ever wanted to be,” she said. "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."
"And what happened to me—I kind of buried, immediately, because there were other things to focus on," she said. "I didn’t want to make a fuss but also I didn’t have time to deal with it."
Mel C ended up suppressing the memory of being sexually assaulted by a stranger, and it stayed a secret "for years and years and years." She later got the courage to write about it in her upcoming memoir Who I Am.
"It came to me in a dream, or I kind of woke up and it was in my mind," she said. "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."
She said "terrible things happen all the time and this situation wasn't as bad as it could've been," but it was still something that haunted her for a long time.
"But I felt violated. I felt very vulnerable," she recalled. "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."
Mel C, 48, wants to share her story so that other women can feel like they can come forward to confront their own experiences if they've been sexually assaulted too. "I'd buried it, and I'm sure lots of people do," she said.