To begin again

In his new solo album, “Self-Titled”, Marcus Mumford, the frontman of Mumford and Sons, makes known for the first time the sexual abuse he suffered as a young child. In his first song away from the band, “Cannibal”, he tells the story of what happened to him when, as a 6-year-old little boy, he was sexually abused. Now at the age of 35, happily married with 2 children, he has spoken about it for the first time. The sexual abuse deeply traumatised him and the lyrics of the song vividly express this in a heart-rending way.

“I can still taste you and I hate it. That wasn’t a choice in the mind of a child, and you knew it. I can still taste you and it kills me. That there’s still some sick part of it that thrills me, that my own body keeps betraying me. There is such power there, it may destroy me, but it compels me. Of course, I deny it, can hardly believe it, dismiss, or demean it, ‘cause I know I can’t speak it. But when I began to tell, it became thе hardest thing I ever said out loud. The words got locked in my throat, man, I choked, and this is what it feels like to be free even though it follows back down, stares into the dark with me. Even then I deny it, can hardly believe it, dismiss, or demean it, but I know I must speak it. If I could forgive you now, release you from all of the blame, I know how. If I could forgive you now as if saying the words will help me know how to begin again, to begin again.”

Mumford, like other victims of sexual abuse, struggles with a sense of guilt, deep feelings of anger and the shame of telling those he loves what happened to him. Because of the trauma he experienced he and his wife are involved with the charity War Child, because he knows how hard it is for kids to recover. The second song on the album is called “Grace” and is about his mother, Eleanor, who heard “Cannibal” for the first time and asked him what it is about. His mother and father are leaders in the Vineyard group of churches. They had no idea their son had been abused.

Mumford grew up in a Christian family and has been open about his faith. At a church conference at the Royal Albert Hall in 2017 he said, “I love Jesus.” When asked if the abuse he suffered made him lean into faith, or walk away from it, he replied, “Lean in.” He has been given extraordinary grace. He says, “It makes me more compassionate to people condemned for the worst thing they’ve ever done because, often, there is something in their history that’s been done to them.” In the final beautiful song on the album, “How”, he sings, “I’ll forgive you.” He explains, “It’s in the future tense because it’s a process, but I’m getting there.”

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