Summary: Christina Aguilera found release from domestic violence through music. Now, she uses music to speak out against it.
Christina María Aguilera was born to parents Fausto and Shelly on December 18th 1980 in Staten Island, New York. Raised in Wexford, Pennsylvania, Christina’s life was surrounded by violence. Fausto abused and terrorized his family, until Shelly left with her children to live with her mother in Rochester, Pennsylvania. In 1989, their marriage was officially over.
“Growing up, I did not feel safe. Feeling powerless is the worst feeling in the world…I turned to singing as an outlet. The pain was where my love for music came from.”Christina Aguilera, E! Special
Christina’s second album, Stripped was released in 2002 with the help of Linda Perry from 4 Non Blondes. One of the most-known and loved singles from the album, “Beautiful” was written by Perry. She wrote it when she was feeling the unattractive, which is why the song is as emotional as it is uplifting. Originally, Linda did not feel that Christina could perform it in the way it’s meant to be because she felt that Christina was too “beautiful” to relate. Today, it’s hard to imagine her not singing it, and Linda no longer feels the song belongs to anyone else:
“…I knew right there that she is just as vulnerable and she’s just as scared as I am, and I got chills; and I knew that song was going to be hers.”Linda Perry. Ok! Magazine.
Linda pushed Christina to be raw in her music. For the first time, she was able to be honest about her life.
Christina wrote the song “I’m OK” about the abuse she endured by her father. She recorded it laying on the floor of the studio, connecting with her own lyrics. The song is so honest that one can hear the tears through her voice. It makes you feel as she does:
“Daddy, don’t you understand the damage you have done?
To you it’s just a memory,
but for me it still lives on.”Christina Aguilera. “I’m Ok.” Stripped.
Christina has commented on the irony of the track’s title. Even though the song is “I’m Ok,” it isn’t the truth. Abuse leaves lasting effects. At the same time, as sad and scary as the song is, it comes with the hopeful message that Christina survived, and so can others:
“That was kind of my story of putting it out there and letting people know that you can survive it and get through it, and turn it into something positive.”Christina Aguilera. MTV Diary. 2002
Back to Basics (2006)
To follow up, Christina wrote a song for her third album Back to Basics released in 2006. The song “Oh Mother” is a letter of appreciation to her mother for taking her away from the abusive situation, and always being there for her, ever since. The song reminds her that they are both free from all the violence. The song is equally as emotional for Christina as “I’m OK.”
“Oh, Mother, don’t look back (Oh, Mother, don’t look back, again).
‘Cause he’ll never hurt us, again. (‘Cause he’ll never hurt us, again).”Christina Aguilera. “Oh, Mother.” Back to Basics. 2006.
The Shade Tree is a nonprofit shelter for domestic violence victims in Las Vegas. In 2019, Christina was chosen for the Deacon Bonnie Polley Community Hero Award. During her speech, she talked about traveling with her mother and sister to her grandmother’s to get away from her father. For her show, she donated one dollar from every ticket towards the shelter:
“I’m so happy and honored to be able to donate to this charity in particular. “Christina Aguilera.
Christina continues to also support other causes such as the 1736 Family Crisis Center and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Her compassion and dedication is shown through her efforts for the cause.
When survivors speak about their experience, it makes society uncomfortable; therefore, survivors are less likely to ever do so. This is the worst outcome. Survivors like Christina should be embraced for sharing their stories; otherwise, the cycle will continue. Together, we can stop situations that make it possible for abusers to thrive.