Kehlani spoke out on Monday about being sexually assaulted after a recent concert during the European leg of their Blue Water Road Trip tour, posting a since-deleted Instagram story detailing the assault.
“I’ve made video after video after video and deleted it because I don’t want any video of me as angry, triggered, crying upset as I am anywhere,” Kehlani, who uses she/they pronouns, wrote in the story. “I don’t care how sexual you deem my music, my performances, my fun with my friends dancing at clubs, or ME… That does not give any of you the right to cross a boundary like sticking your hands up my skirt & pulling my underwear to TOUCH MY GENITALS as I am being escorted through a crowd after performing.”
While outlets including Complex and Stereogum speculated that a fan had committed the assault in Manchester, England, where Kehlani performed on Monday night, the singer did not say in their Instagram where or when the assault occurred.
Kehlani added that the experience was particularly traumatizing given that they are a survivor of sexual assault: “This shit made me sick to my stomach. As a victim of sexual assault, I am endlessly triggered and mindblown.”
They have spoken about their own experiences with sexual assault in the past, and have been particularly vocal about showing their support for other survivors. In a 2019 episode of the Sunday Gems podcast, they talked about how difficult it is to discuss what they went through: “I don’t want to add more hurt, I don’t want to add more pain,” Kehlani explained. “All I want to say is, ‘Sending love to everybody who’s on a healing path right now, and sending love to everybody who needs it.’”
Last year, they openly supported the women who accused Superfly actor Kaalan Walker of sexual assault, who was eventually sentenced to 50 years in prison. “i apologize in advance if everything i’m going to be retweeting involves rape & assault, i am standing with the victims of a serial RAPIST who i knew personally to be aggressive, dangerous & twisted,” they said on Twitter.
During the height of the #MeToo movement in 2017, Kehlani gave the following advice to women: “We are women, we are life, we are the life source,” they told Billboard. “That can be scary for people and it can result in terrible things, but don’t forget who you came from and what you are. Don’t forget your power, don’t let any trauma take away your power. That’s easier said than done, but you got this.”
As Kehlani said in their Instagram post, conflating the way that they express themself in their music with permission to touch their genitals is a gross violation of their autonomy and safety. We hope Kehlani has all the support that they need to begin healing from this incident.