We always knew Madonna was a survivor. The 55-year-old has kept her music career going for decades by constantly reinventing herself. However, not until today did we understand just how much the legendary performer has overcome.

In an essay for Harper’s Bazaar — Madonna’s the cover girl for the November issue — she shares her harrowing experience of being raped during her first year in New York City.

“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, she wrote, via Us Weekly.

The revelation is obviously a startling one, but Madonna is quick to add that despite the challenges she encountered as a young newcomer, “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.

It was a dare that paid off with Madonna signing a deal with Sire Records in 1982, four years after she’d arrived in New York as a University of Michigan dropout. And from there, as they say, the rest is history.

Source: Harper’s Bazaar via Us Weekly

Elisabeth Kramer is an Assistant Editor at Wetpaint Entertainment and our resident Downton Abbey expert. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!