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Skunk Anansie’s Skin reveals how an abusive ex gave her the mentality to become a rock star

Jayne Cherrington-Cook
·4-min read
In her memoirs, Skin reveals she was in an abusive relationship at age 16 (Image: Getty Images)
In her memoirs, Skin reveals she was in an abusive relationship at age 16 (Image: Getty Images)

Having fronted a rock band for over a quarter of a century, Skin from Skunk Anansie was bound to have a tale or two to tell about her life, which prompted her to release her new memoir, It Takes Blood And Guts, last month.

The memoir, which she co-wrote with author Lucy O’Brien, began when the pair were at the songs Skin had written and what they were really about. One of the band’s standout early hits was Weak.

Released in 1996, Weak, was the band’s fourth single and as revealed in a conversation with Kate Thornton on White Wine Question Time, it was actually about an abusive relationship Skin had when she was much younger.

Read more: The strong woman’s one-step guide to exiting a toxic relationship

“It was about this abusive boyfriend I had when I was 16 and he was 29,” the singer said.

Listen: Skin talks about why cancel culture is making people fearful to discuss things openly

Skin, who turned 53 in August, revealed exclusively to Thornton that the relationship was much more sinister than she has revealed in her book.

“I didn't quite tell the whole story,” she admitted. “There was a much deeper and darker story to it. I was never wined and died, because he just took me back to the house and just had his wicked way.”

Read more: Melissa Benoist reveals she's a victim of domestic abuse: What is IPV?

She continued: “Those were my first kind of experiences with men with the opposite sex and sexually those were my first experience and it was all negative.”

Her boyfriend, who was 13 years older than Skin, realised that the young, quiet singer could be easily manipulated.

“I was just a very shy, quiet Christian girl who didn't know how to say no to men because I thought I was being rude,” she admitted, going on to say she was much younger emotionally, and more like a 12-year-old, at the time.

Thankfully, Skin eventually escaped the abusive relationship due to an older friend called Susan, who made her realise she didn’t have to do what he asked.

Read more: Skunk Anansie rocker Skin recalls historic Glastonbury headline slot

“She was the one that said to me, 'You know, you don't have to just say yes, and you don't have to take it!'” she recalled. “And that just spun around in my head.”

While the experience was definitely negative, it’s one that the singer doesn’t regret as she fully believes it gave her the courage to find herself and eventually pursue her dreams.

Studio portrait of Skunk Anansie, Skin; Martin "Ace" Kent, Richard "Cass" Lewis, Mark Richardson, Vaartkapoen (VK), Brussels, Belgium, 8 February 1996. (Photo by Gie Knaeps/Getty Images)
Studio portrait of Skunk Anansie, Skin; Martin "Ace" Kent, Richard "Cass" Lewis, Mark Richardson, Vaartkapoen (VK), Brussels, Belgium, 8 February 1996. (Photo by Gie Knaeps/Getty Images)

She told Thornton: “I thought, ‘Well, if I can do that and I can get out of that relationship and I can get out of that situation, that means that I'm capable of doing other things in my life’.”

In fact, the Brixton-born rocker believes if she hadn’t had the relationship – and eventually escaped from it – she wouldn’t have become a singer.

“I wouldn't have existed in the same way,” she said. “I wouldn't be the same person. I wouldn't have been in a band. I'd be sitting here with eight kids and I would have been a different person.

Skin believes she wouldn't have become a rock star if she hadn't gone through the hard times in her life (Image: Getty Images)
Skin believes she wouldn't have become a rock star if she hadn't gone through the hard times in her life (Image: Getty Images)

“I don't regret it at all because that relationship gave me a choice in life. You know, that was my crossroads. That was the start of me being myself and being Skin and being in a rock band. And if I hadn't had that happen, who knows what would've happened?”

Hear Skin talk about finding love, the lockdown lessons she’s learnt and why she wanted to write her memoir in the latest episode of White Wine Question Time. Listen now on iTunes and Spotify.