In February, Duffy took to social media to reveal that she recused herself from her career and the limelight as the result of trauma from being kidnapped and raped. The U.K. singer had been inactive for the better part of a decade — in the late 2000s, she seemed poised for the kind of massive neo-soul career that Adele has enjoyed in her wake.
Now the singer reveals in a 3,600-word post on her website the horrific details of the assault and of the long road to recovery from the trauma. She also explains her absence from music and estrangement from friends and family which caused her to isolate out of fear and mental torment.
“It was my birthday, I was drugged at a restaurant, I was drugged then for four weeks and travelled to a foreign country,” writes Duffy. The perpetrator, whose name she does not reveal, says Duffy, “made veiled confessions of wanting to kill me.”
Duffy continues: “It didn’t feel safe to go to the police. I felt if anything went wrong, I would be dead, and he would have killed me. I could not risk being mishandled or it being all over the news during my danger. I really had to follow what instincts I had.”
She managed to escape but lived petrified for years, although she did go to the police eventually. “I have told two female police officers, during different threatening incidents in the past decade, it is on record,” states Duffy. “The identity of the rapist should be only handled by the police, and that is between me and them.”
Duffy says she had at one point considered changing her name to “disappear to another country and maybe become a florist or something, so that I could put the past behind with a new life and not trouble anyone else with it, to carry it alone.”
The trauma of her experience seeped into her romantic relationships, Duffy goes on to explain: “Each one would ‘love bomb’ me and want the person on the album cover, while I was just a person hurt. It was futile.”
The isolation of the current coronavirus pandemic served as a catalyst for getting her story out. As did significant therapy allowing her to go public. “I mourned wishing I had been dealt another hand, but it happened, and I have come to terms with it,” Duffy writes.
As for a possible return to music, Duffy offers optimism but not much else in the way of firm plans. Says the singer: “I’m doing this to be freed, for all of me to be freed. What follows remains to be seen.”
In 2008, Duffy’s single “Mercy” spent five weeks at the top of the British charts and became the third biggest selling track of the year, remaining on the chart for more than a year. Her debut album, “Rockferry,” was also a massive hit in Europe and won her critical acclaim in the U.S. as well. It won her a Grammy for best pop vocal album, and dominated the Brit Awards, where she won best British album, best female solo and British breakthrough. The album was said to have ultimately sold 9 million copies globally.
A follow-up album, “Endlessly,” released in 2010, represented a stylistic break toward more modern production and was not nearly as well received, peaking at No. 9 in the UK.
As years went by with no signs of Duffy in public, journalists began to speculate why she was MIA, seizing on statements she had made at the height of her popularity about how difficult newfound fame was to handle. After her second album was released, she was quoted as telling a newspaper in her native Wales that “I thought about walking away, I really did,” she said. “Not because I thought I’d done it. It’s just that I missed the simple things in life. Life had got so complicated.”
Duffy did some film work, appearing in the 2010 movie “Patagonia” and again taking to the screen in a role in the 2015 film “Legend,” which starred Tom Hardy in dual roles as the gangster Kray brothers. In 2013, she appeared at New York’s Beacon Theater as part of a tribute to Edith Piaf. Other than that, she went off the radar, except for a 2017 social media post in which she vowed “to see you, with something new, at some point soon.” In 2018, an attempt to track her down by a Welsh newspaper resulted only in word being passed along by mutual acquaintances that “if Duffy doesn’t want to be found, she won’t be found.”
Today, she writes: “I can now leave this decade behind. Where the past belongs. Hopefully no more ‘what happened to Duffy questions,’ now you know … and I am free.”
Read the full post on Duffy’s official site.