Madonna reveals in the November issue of Harper's Bazaar that she was held up at gunpoint and raped during her early days in New York.
In a first person essay for the magazine's "Daring Issue," the star writes:
"New York wasn't everything I thought it would be. 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, and had my apartment broken into three times. I don't know why; I had nothing of value after they took my radio the first time."
But the pop star eventually recovered, and focused on pushing the envelope. In the essay, Madonna expounds on her need to push boundaries -- not just in music and art, but in all facets of her life.
"If I can't be daring in my work or the way I live my life, then I don't really see the point of being on this planet," the 55-year-old pop icon writes.
As a teen, when she says "most people thought I was strange" and she didn't have "many friends," she moved to New York in hopes of becoming "a REAL artist. To be able to express myself in a city of nonconformists. To revel and shimmy and shake in a world and be surrounded by daring people."
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Her need to be daring even helped her through trying times when she arrived in the Big Apple, she says. "This wasn't anything I prepared for in Rochester, Michigan. Trying to be a professional dancer, paying my rent by posing nude for art classes, staring at people staring at me naked. 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."
And even when she says she didn't specifically intend to be daring when adopting son David from the African country of Malawi, the intense negative reaction and scrutiny she received as a result began another "daring chapter of (her) life."
"I decided that I had an embarrassment of riches and that there were too many children in the world without parents or families to love them. ... I didn't know that trying to adopt a child was going to land me in another s--- storm. But it did. I was accused of kidnapping, child trafficking, using my celebrity muscle to jump ahead in the line, bribing government officials, witchcraft, you name it. Certainly I had done something illegal!
"This was an eye-opening experience. A real low point in my life. 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. Friends tried to cheer me up by telling me to think of it all as labor pains that we all have to go through when we give birth. This was vaguely comforting. In any case, I got through it. I survived."