“I felt pressured into sharing, but I’m kind of glad it happened.”
In May, TikTok star Loren Gray revealed she had been sexually assaulted at the age of 12.
It was only after receiving a message that someone knew and might share her story “in the wrong way”, that she decided to speak.
In her only interview about it since, the 18-year-old tells Radio 1 Newsbeat she’s grateful for the positive response.
“It was really difficult for me, because I didn’t know what to expect. And I was afraid that people were going to look at me differently.”
“I wasn’t prepared for it, you never can be. It was hard but I feel like I handled it in the best way I could.”
In the TikTok video, Loren wrote she was assaulted in a basement belonging to somebody she trusted.
“I struggled to put the pieces together as to why this had happened to me. I felt dirty, hopeless, broken, and worthless,” the American added on the video.
Loren didn’t tell anyone, including her parents, that she was planning on sharing publicly what happened to her.
“I just went for it because at the end of the day, it’s my story. So it’s on me when I share.
“But my parents were really proud,” she adds.
Loren says she hasn’t reported what happened to the authorities.
“I didn’t because at the time, it wasn’t right for my healing process.”
But she knows reporting “can help and be right for other people”.
Circumstances were different for her because her parents “had never dealt with anything” like that so they “were really unsure about what to do”.
“By the time I told anyone, it had already been a couple of months. I just wanted to move forward.”
‘It’s not your fault, talking can help’
Loren has more than 60 million followers across her social media pages. Since sharing, she says many of her fans have told their own stories of being sexually assaulted.
It shows “you never really know what’s going on in someone’s life”.
“But I’m glad I could help people share their own stories, because it’s something that happens to a lot of people.”
Information and support
If you need support with any of the issues raised in this article, these organisations may be able to help.
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, 15% of sexual assault victims in the US are aged between 12 and 17.
Initially, Loren blamed herself for the assault. She says there are always questions inside about what could have happened instead.
“You ask ‘What if I did this differently, or what would have happened if I did something else?’”
“It’s a natural feeling. But it takes a lot of learning and realisation to realise it’s not your fault and talking to people really helps.”
Having other people hear what she was going through helped ease some of those feelings.
“Even though it’s really difficult for people to understand, for me, talking to my parents was really hard, but in the end was like therapy.”
‘Making videos separated the two worlds’
The other thing which helped Loren was making videos, which she started doing a few months after the incident to pass time when being home schooled.
“I feel making videos separated the two worlds, especially once I started gaining a following.
“It helped me separate what I was feeling and the life that I could have.”
She credits her fans for helping her get through a tough time.
“They didn’t know what had happened, so they were just there to support me in what I was doing and what I’m passionate about, which is making videos.”
The most important thing for Loren was to not let what happened control her future.
“I know that especially at the time, it feels really life defining.”
“You’ll look at yourself differently, even thinking other people are looking at you differently, even when they aren’t,” she adds.
“But it’s important to know that’s not always the case. There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.”