Shania Twain: How She Survived Abuse and Poverty and Became a Music Legend

Shania Twain is a country legend and one of the most successful music artists of all time. There is no denying the success of Shania Twain, given her five Grammy awards, stars on Canada’s and Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, sold-out world tours, and over 100 million records sold. In many of her songs, she reflects on her own memories and experiences, which more times than not, resonates with her listeners.

Not many people know that Shania Twain has been through a variety of personal obstacles in her life. In her autobiography, From This Moment On, Shania indicates that her family was physically and emotionally abused by her stepfather, Jerry Twain. The abuse had gotten so bad that she often thought her mom had died as a result of the injuries. Around the age of ten, Shania was also sexually abused by her stepfather. Shania prefers not to disclose too much information about this part of her past.

“I’m not going to go into details about it. I don’t mind saying it, because I do think it’s important that people understand you can survive these things.”

Along with the abuse, Shania was also living in extreme poverty. Shania indicates that her family was often unable to afford rent and groceries. She recalls being jealous of other kids' lunches but never spoke to school authorities or child services due to the fear that it might tear her family apart. As a result, Shania turned to songwriting and music as an escape.

“I wanted to escape [from] everything. Violent home. Tensions. Nothing to eat. When you’re hungry, you can’t do anything about it but distract yourself from hunger. And it really works. It’s therapeutic. A lot of kids play with dolls and I played with words and sounds.”

By the age of eight, Shania began singing folk and country songs at clubs to pay the family bills. After graduating from school in 1983, Shania went to Nashville to sing country. She was on the verge of a breakthrough when Jerry and her mother died in a car crash in 1987. As a result, Shania moved home to take care of her four siblings. During this time, Shania considered the possibility of leaving her music career for good. Nonetheless, music was her glimmer of hope and route to freedom. She decided that music was a dream worth pursuing.

Shania’s story reminds us that life is unpredictable. One cannot change their past, however, we have the power to move forward and create a new destiny. By following her passion, Shania was able to brave her past and become the person she is today.

Written By: Jasper