Joshua Bassett recalls childhood sexual abuse: ‘When I picture 5-year-old me, I burst into tears’
High School Musical star Joshua Bassett has opened up about the sexual abuse he experienced as a child in a new interview with radio DJ Zach Sang.
Bassett revealed he was a victim of child abuse in a landmark interview with GQ earlier this year, explaining to the magazine that he had repressed his memories of the horrific experience and only remembered last year.
Speaking to Sang on the broadcaster’s radio show, Bassett talked about his experience in more detail, revealing that his childhood abuser was a member of his family and that the abuse spanned roughly four years, beginning when the actor was just five-years-old.
“It started when I was about five and it was domestic,” he stated. “This person told me ‘You can’t tell anybody,’ so I’m thinking, if I tell anyone I’m gonna get in trouble.”
He went on to speak about a second abuser in his adolescence, an older man he met through theatre who Bassett says groomed him from the age of 13. The man would have been 18 or 19 at the beginning of their relationship.
“When I was about 13 or 14 this much older guy, who was one of my close friends, started grooming me and it started becoming something else. I didn’t really fully understand what was wrong.
“By the way, I have five sisters, I didn’t know what a normal guy friendship was. I didn’t have any friends growing up, I didn’t really know what a normal relationship was like.
“So it started off with, ‘We should go jerk off. You go in the other room and I’ll stay in this room.’ And I was like, ‘OK, I didn’t think guys did that but sure.’ And then next it was like, ‘Oh, you know, we can just stay in the same room,’ and it progresses and progresses.”
Joshua Bassett also revealed he had confided in this older man about the previous abuse he experienced as a younger child: “When this relationship with this guy began I remembered what had happened with my family member and I told him what happened.
“His reaction was like, ‘Ew, what the hell, that’s disgusting. Why would you tell me that? It’s so embarrassing. That’s gross, why would you tell me that.’
“He was the first person I had told. That was the first time I remembered, I pushed it all away again, and then last year it came back.”
The performer also spoke to Sang about how he is processing the trauma of these experiences, explaining: “I’m angry. That was not OK.
“When I picture five-year-old me, I burst into tears. When I picture 13-year-old me, I burst into tears. When you’re able to see the outside version of you who was being abused then you’re able to see that that person didn’t deserve that.”
Joshua Bassett is due to release a podcast series in 2022 which will cover his experiences with sexual abuse in more detail. He previously told GQ in November that he hopes it will be “the podcast that I wish I had when I was a kid.”
Earlier in his interview with Sang, Bassett also spoke about his coming out as queer earlier this year.
Speculation around the singer’s sexuality was rife following a video interview he did in May 2021 in which he gushed about his love for Harry Styles, remarking that Styles is “hot” and “charming”, before adding: “This is also my coming out video, I guess.”
“Two months later the interview is trending number one on Twitter. My entire team is texting and calling me saying, ‘What are we going to do? This is a crisis, we have to figure this out,’ and there’s all this panic,” Bassett recalled to Sang.
“I remember I was at such a place at that moment where I was like ‘Hold on. It’s OK, we’re going to turn this around. This isn’t the end of the world, this is OK.’
“It could have been the end of the world for me but it was like… I don’t really have anything to hide here and this isn’t something that needs to be the end of the world.”
Joshua Bassett reflected on the moment as being one of relief after living many years in closet up until that point. “Everyone was like, ‘Was that not the scariest thing ever?’ And, honestly, it was one of the most relieving moments of my life.
“What’s scarier was the 15-plus years I spent afraid to live my truth. That’s much scarier than me saying my truth.”
If you’ve been affected by sexual abuse you can speak to someone at SurvivorsUK for support via the free helpline on 020 3322 1860, or by visiting the official website here.
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