Joshua Bassett Says He 'Experienced Sexual Abuse a Lot' as a Child and Teen: 'I Buried It So Far'

"You've taken so much from me but you don't get to take all of me," he sings on "Set Me Free"

Joshua Bassett
Joshua Bassett. Photo: Luke Rogers

Joshua Bassett is continuing to heal from childhood trauma.

In a touching interview with GQ, the singer — who released a trio of emotional songs on Friday — revealed that he was sexually abused both as a child and as a teenager. He also shared that he hopes sharing his story will help others heal from their own trauma.

"I experienced sexual abuse a lot in my childhood," the 20-year-old told GQ. "I didn't remember that until last year, which is pretty insane. I buried it so far."

He added, "And when I was a teen, a much older man routinely abused me, and I wasn't able to see it for what it was at the time."

In the interview, he said the track "Set Me Free" also refers to his journey of processing the trauma he endured at his abuser's hand.

"[It's] an anthem for me and the sort of people who've held pain and power over me my whole life," he said, before referring to the song lyric: "You've taken so much from me but you don't get to take all of me."

The "Crisis" singer also explained that he plans to explore the issue of childhood sexual abuse further on a "heavy talks" podcast that will "hopefully help people who are experiencing that."

It's "the podcast that I wish I had when I was a kid," he said, before adding that he's now "so much stronger than I was before."

Bassett has been played off as a villain over the last year following the release of Olivia Rodrigo's song "drivers license," which is speculated to be about the two High School Musical stars' relationship. In the GQ interview, he said that "people haven't seen me as a human being" over the past year.

Joshua Bassett
Joshua Bassett. Luke Rogers/GQ

Bassett said that he has "a right to stand up for myself," and is "glad" that it took him this long to release the songs "Crisis," "Secret" and "Set Me Free," which were written six months ago.

"I finally found the courage to speak up for myself," he said. "I'm not here to expose people. It was eating me alive, and I couldn't keep it in anymore."

While he remained coy about the songs' subjects, he did admit that "Crisis" is about "all the crazy PR over the year."

The track features lyrics like: "And honestly I didn't want to write this / Don't know if I can / Still holding back, still want to run / And if you get to tell your truth then so do I / And it's cool if you want me to play the bad guy / But don't you dare act like I didn't love you."

If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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