“I didn't remember that until last year, which is pretty insane. I buried it so far.”
When Joshua Bassett sat down to talk about his new music with GQ, things got heavy. During the interview, published on Dec. 3, Bassett recalled a history of childhood sexual abuse and explained how one of his newly-released songs, “Set Me Free,” is about processing the traumatic experiences that followed him throughout his childhood and teenage years. "I experienced sexual abuse a lot in my childhood,” Bassett told the outlet, unprompted.
“I didn't remember that until last year, which is pretty insane. I buried it so far,” Bassett revealed during the conversation. Psychologically speaking, repressing these memories is a common trauma response. “Repressed childhood memories or amnesic blocks can be indicative of trauma,” Rev. Sheri Heller, LCSW and psychotherapist, previously told Bustle.
Bassett continued, “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." According to RAINN, the United States’ largest anti-sexual violence organization, this is also typical. “After a traumatic experience, it’s common for survivors and those around them to experience denial,” their website explained.
Bassett’s “Set Me Free” is a reflection on this abuse. In the interview, he called the song, “an anthem for me and the sort of people who’ve held pain and power over me my whole life.” Per Bassett, the message of the song is, “you’ve taken so much from me, but you don’t get to take all of me.” In a way, this song helped him work through some of this trauma.
In the song, Bassett sings heartbreaking lyrics like, “And nothing I say will ease the pain/ Why must I hurt for you to feel OK?” and “You don't get to take all of me, set me free/ And I don't need your apology.”
But “Set Me Free” is only the start of Bassett publicly exploring his past. During the interview, he revealed that he is planning to start a podcast devoted to “heavy talks” in 2022. His goal is that it will become “the podcast that I wish I had when I was a kid” and that it will “hopefully help people who are experiencing that.”
On that front, it sounds like he’s already on the right track.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.
Rev. Sheri Heller, LCSW and psychotherapist