Musician Kate Miller-Heidke has revealed she was sexually abused as a child by her great-grandfather, saying she felt inspired by activists Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins and musician Jaguar Jonze to share his story with the world.
In a statement released Thursday morning, Miller-Heidke opened up about the abuse while announcing a re-release of her recent song You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore as a duet with outspoken sexual misconduct activist Jonze.
“I usually say this song is about dancing on an asshole’s grave,” Miller-Heidke wrote. “My latest album Child in Reverse is about childhood. One thing that happened to me when I was a very young child (4-6 years old) was that I was sexually abused by my great-grandfather Archibald Barnes. He was a pedophile and a serial offender. I was neither the first nor the last. (Although obviously my family didn’t know it at the time, and didn’t know until a few years later.)
“This song is about how I felt when he died. Ultimately, it’s a really empowering song to sing.
The 40-year-old singer said she felt she could now express herself thanks to the “examples of Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins”, but called Jonze “the most important inspiration”. Miller-Heidke said she spoke to Jonze the morning she wrote You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore, which was first released in October but has now been remixed into a duet between the two women.
“[Jonze] describes some very shocking things that happened to her as a child, and I felt very connected to her, and full of admiration for her resilience too – that’s when the song title You Can ‘t Hurt Me Anymore came to mind,” Miller-Heidke wrote, calling it “one of the most powerful songs I’ve written.”
Jonze, real name Deena Lynch, said in a statement Thursday morning that she was unaware at first that the song was based on the conversation they had years before.
“At the time, I had no platform and less power, so to have had this impact on Kate is really a testament to the momentum that is created when we speak out and share our stories and experiences,” said she declared.
“I am honored that she invited me to sing and create a reworked version of the song alongside my band. It was a precious opportunity for both of us to channel our pain, our resilience and our triumphs through what we love – music, art and honest storytelling.
“I support Kate for being so strong and finding her voice. I hope that by sharing these experiences, others will be encouraged to speak up, so that we can continue to break down walls as survivors and take the stand that we will no longer tolerate abuse.
Jonze previously publicly alleged that she was sexually assaulted in 2019 and was a leading voice in Australia’s #metoo movement.
In the song, Miller-Heidke sings, “We’re so good at hiding the bruises / We’re so good at feeling the shame / When you’re tiny nobody’s listening / Nobody’s gonna name the name.”
“I cried a little,” she said, writing You Can’t Hurt Me Anymore. “I had never written directly about this before, and it was cathartic.”