Idol Fantasia Reveals Troubled Past

Idol Fantasia Reveals Troubled Past
Fantasia Barrino
Scott Kirkland/FilmMagic.com

09/30/2005 AT 03:00 PM EDT

American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino may still be savoring her victory of two years ago, but the 21-year-old single mom reveals in her new memoir, Life Is Not a Fairy Tale, that parts of her past were anything but idyllic.

The singer admits to hiding the fact that she can neither read nor write – sometimes having to fake lyrics and not even understanding her record contracts – and that she was raped as a 9th grader in school.

She says that not being able to read or write is like having on blinders to the world. "You're illiterate to just about everything. You don't want to misspell," she tells ABC's 20/20 in a segment due to air Friday. "So that, for me, kept me ... in a box and I didn't, wouldn't come out."

As for how she was able to deliver scripted segments on Idol, the High Point, N.C.-native concedes: "Somebody would say, 'You know, it's pronounced this way' and I'd be like, 'Oh, I'm sorry, you know, I'm country, you know."

The most difficult aspect of her illiteracy, she says, is that she is prevented from reading a book to her 4-year-old daughter, Zion: "That hurts really bad."

As for the sexual assault, Fantasia said the perpetrator was a popular male student on whom she had a crush, and after the incident (which occurred in the school auditorium), she crawled right into bed at home.

"And my mom comes upstairs and she says, 'Something is wrong with you.' I wouldn't even talk. She says, 'Have you been touched?' I still said nothing," said Fantasia, as quoted on the ABC Web site. "I laid in that bed for two days. I wouldn't even go to school."

Once Fantasia finally told her mother, the boy was disciplined. Except, says Fantasia, at "one point in time I was saying it was my fault – just because of the way I was dressed, I caused it on myself."

Later that year she dropped out of school, and by age 17 Fantasia was an unwed mother.

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