The pop legend has opened up about her traumatic ordeal for the first time in nearly two decades, revealing she was sexually abused by a stranger at knifepoint shortly after arriving in New York City from Rochester, Michigan, to pursue her dreams of stardom.
Writing in the November issue of Harper's Bazaar magazine, the 55-year-old singer recalled: "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.
"I had my apartment broken into three times. I don't know why; I had nothing of value after they took my radio the first time."
The Like a Prayer singer was determined to survive in the Big Apple in spite of her terrible experiences and was all the more "hell-bent" on making a name for herself, even if it meant doing jobs she didn't like.
Madonna explained: "Arriving in New York wasn't anything I prepared for. Trying to be a professional dancer, paying my rent by posing nude for art classes, staring at people staring at me naked. Daring them to think of me as anything but a form they were trying to capture with their pencils and charcoal.
"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."
The superstar first made the shocking admission she had been raped when she was younger in a 1995 interview with NME, but hasn't dwelled upon it since.
She confessed at the time: "It is not an experience I would ever glamorize. Although it was devastating at the time, I know that it made me a much stronger person. . . . It forced me to be a survivor."