Before Madonna became a famous artist, her life was anything but glamorous, especially during her first year in New York City in the late 1970s, when she was raped at knifepoint and robbed on multiple occasions.
“New York wasn’t everything I thought it would be," the 55-year-old reveals in the November 2013 issue of Harper's Bazaar, according to Radar Online. "It did not welcome me with open arms. The first year, I was held up at gunpoint. Raped on the roof of a building I was dragged up to with a knife in my back.”
Madonna said that her life was a struggle after dropping out of the University of Michigan to follow her dreams in New York. Her apartment was robbed at least three times, she struggled to make ends meet, and fate put her in a situation she wasn’t prepared for, the artist said.
“Trying to be a professional dancer, paying my rent by posing nude for art classes, staring at people staring at me naked," she said. "Daring them to think of me as anything but a form they were trying to capture with their pencils and charcoal … I was defiant. Hell-bent on surviving. On making it. But it was hard and it was lonely, and I had to dare myself every day to keep going.”
She eventually signed a record deal with Sire Records in 1982, and she married actor Sean Penn on her birthday in 1985. The marriage was short-lived and the couple called it quits four years later. Madonna said she next began to search for a purpose to her life, and this prompted her to become a mother.
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"At 35, I was divorced and looking for love in all the wrong places," she said. "I decided that I needed to be more than a girl with gold teeth and gangster boyfriends ... I wanted to be a mother, but I realized that just because I was a freedom fighter, [that] didn't mean I was qualified to raise a child."
But at 45, the singer was once again married, this time to Guy Richie, and the couple had two children and lived in England. However, although she loved her life there, Madonna “had an embarrassment of riches” when she realized there were a number of children languishing in orphanages, without anyone to love them.
This realization prompted her decision to adopt, but it wasn’t an easy process, which led to a period that Madonna calls “a real low point in my life.”
“I didn’t know that trying to adopt a child was going to land me in another sh*t storm," she said. "I was accused of kidnapping, child trafficking, using my celebrity muscle to jump ahead in the line, bribing government officials, witchcraft, you name it."
“I could get my head around people giving me a hard time for simulating masturbation onstage or publishing my 'Sex' book, even kissing Britney Spears at an awards show, but trying to save a child’s life was not something I thought I would be punished for ... In any case, I got through it. I survived.”