Rita Ora dated a 26-year-old when she was 14: ‘it’s child abuse really, isn’t it?’

Rita Ora

Rita Ora has a new interview with The Sun where she talks about how her first boyfriend kind of messed her up. Rita dated a 26-year-old man when she was 14, which is horrific to hear, but it happens more than one would suspect. The mindset of a guy who would think this was okay is pretty scary. Rita was in theater school in London, and she was (naturally) flattered that an adult male would pay attention to her. We talk about this issue a lot with respect to Kylie Jenner and Tyga’s romance and how the press thought they were so cute when Kylie was 17. Yet the age gap that Rita refers to is even more blatant. Here’s what Rita had to say about how she finally realized that the guy was doing the wrong thing:

Her first boyfriend: “I was 14 when I had my first relationship with a guy. I would say (he was) about 26, and you have to remember I hadn’t had a relationship before then at all. I was very new to the whole world of a man and a female. … It’s child abuse really, isn’t it?”

How she felt: “I can’t begin to tell you how confident I felt when a man was interested in me. I felt like I was sexy, I felt like I had a form of respect, I felt like he listened to me. Now I know he listened to me because he obviously wanted to have sex with me. I felt good that men fancied me.”

[From The Sun]

Well, I can believe it was easy for Rita to fall under a man’s spell when she was only a teenager. And barely a teenager at that! When I was 18, a 26-year-old guy mopped the floor with me because I was such an impressionable romantic at the time. Guys who prey on barely legal teenagers are banking on that level of ignorance, but when they go much younger, there’s something seriously wrong, and there’s a reason why statutory rape laws exist. Rita is correct — it is child abuse. Where were her parents?

Rita Ora

Rita Ora

Photos courtesy of WENN

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74 Responses to “Rita Ora dated a 26-year-old when she was 14: ‘it’s child abuse really, isn’t it?’”

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  1. Nancy says:

    Some many walking wounded on this planet of ours.

    • Naya says:

      This. Its quite possible that her reputed hyperactive sex life stems from this early sexualisation. Np coincidence that every dude she’s dated has accused her (directly or indirectly) of cheating.

      Name that predator Rita. If you are still paying for that event, so should he.

    • MoxyLady007 says:

      I was 20, he was 34. It ended when I matured past him. But it was a real mind f@ck

    • Christo says:

      You nailed it. Her history with men in general can be extrapolated from this bit of her history. Quite telling, indeed.

  2. Bae says:

    Her parents probably didn’t know. Even the best parents don’t know everything about their kid’s lives, and hers were war refugees who had to rebuilt their life from scratch.

    • annaloo. says:

      I agree! I don’t think we should be disingenuous to how much teenagers badly want to be adults. I was ACTIVELY trying to lose my virginity at 16 bc several of my friends had already done so by 14-15, and I just wanted to be able to talk about it too, I was so curious. At 14, a 26 year old is still going to be appealing. 14-15 is also the warning stage for cigarettes, drinking, all sort of things… teenagers will always try to grow up faster than they know how to handle, it has always been this way.

      As for child abuse, it’s a very very strong label, along with rape and sexual abuse. i’m not sure where we reconcile this ,bc I can go back to my teenage journals and know that I was the one initiating a lot of misbehavior that would get others into trouble. I don’t know the answer on this.

      • paranormalgirl says:

        It is child abuse. It is statutory rape. These things deserve their strong labels. A 26 year old man who preys on a 14 year old girl has issues that deserve labels.

      • INeedANap says:

        Small children on Halloween want to eat all the candy in their bags in one night. They ask and beg and demand and plead. But! Parents don’t let them, because the parents know better.

        Even if a 14 y.o. pursued a 26 y.o., he should have immediately shut that down because he should know better. I’m 28 and you bet your a$$ I would curve any child that came around sniffing.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        It IS child abuse. It IS rape. It doesn’t matter what the 14 year old child is doing to encourage the 26 year old man. It is incumbent on the adult to stop it, not to take advantage of it and use it to satisfy his own needs. If, when you were 14, a cute 7 year old boy had tried to initiate sex with you, would you have done it? Or would you say, he’s just a child, he’s not ready for this, it would be wrong? I know that’s a terrible example for a lot of reasons, but my point is that you were still a child, even if you wanted to act like an adult. Morally and legally, and if anyone over 18 took you up on your “initiating” behavior, they were wrong. Men are not helpless creatures at the mercy of their hormones. They have a moral and legal responsibility to steer clear of a relationship with an underage girl.

      • Norman Bates's Mother says:

        In case of doubt, try to imagine Rita dating and publicly packing on PDA with Maddox Jolie-Pitt or Chandler Riggs (Carl from The Walking Dead) – but from 2 seasons ago, before his growth spurt. Icky and disgusting, right? Also child abuse? Only Rita is not even 25, so the age difference is even smaller. It’s as icky and disgusting to think about her relationship with that older guy. It’s gross enough to even think that she dated that guy over a decade ago and she still isn’t as old as he was then.

      • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

        While you’re right that you could look back on your older journals annaloo and see a burning passion to be with an older person. What you can also do now as an older person is look at those men who would have flirted with you and ask yourself why they’d have sought out the affection of a 14/15 yr old.

        Why would someone typically out of college and well into their adult life seek to make their physical and mental equal someone who has only experienced early high school, still living with their parents, no unique experiences, no growth, just a child?

        I think being older now you can examine that situation and see that for all your enthusiasm that doesn’t explain why an adult would want to engage in a sexual relationship with you but that you were an easier, more vulnerable, less informed target.

        That’s what others are saying about Rota. That in the end an adult man took that naive pleasure at being treated like an equal and manipulated it to get something he likely wouldn’t have been able to get from a woman his own age.

  3. Sayrah says:

    Ick. I also used to be so flattered when older men paid attention to my teenaged self. I know now they were either losers who couldn’t date women their age or perverts preying on young girls.

    • jwoolman says:

      A friend coaching a girls basketball team said about the same thing. One kid was 12 years old and dating a 19 year old guy, and the parents thought it was just fine. My friend said that there’s a name for guys who do that: “Loser!!!” His daughter was also on the team, so I’m sure she got an earful from him on that point….

      • pinetree13 says:

        I’m sorry but a 19 year old can’t “date” a 12 year old. That’s just straight pedophilia right there. A 12 year old?!?!?!

  4. Lama Bean says:

    This is the first time I have actually liked Rita Ora in an interview.

  5. Neah23 says:

    It sad that tabloids like People Magazine call relationships like Kim 2.0 and Tyra cute. When if you fallow the time line he started dating her when she was 15.

    • Bae says:

      The thing I don’t get about this site is that the Tyga/Kylie relationship is gross (which it is), but THe Weeknd/Bella Hadid is fine. The age gap is almost the same, a few months give and take. And yes, Bella was at least legal, but does that really matter? Mentally, she wasa kid.

      • GreenieWeenie says:

        I side-eyed that when I learned how old he was. I thought he was more like 21 or something. But 25? He seems like waaayyyy too much for her. Apparently he was into anonymous sex and orgies and loads of drugs and wut. An 18 year old can’t handle that.

        But you can’t really tell an 18 year old what to do. You can, however, slap a statutory rape charge or a restraining order on a man who won’t leave your 15 year old daughter alone.

      • Lilian says:

        Bella Hadid is 19 years old and the weekend is 25. They have only been dating for maybe 6 months. It is not at all the same thing as a 15 year old dating a 23 year old. Which was the case with Kylie and Tyga.

      • Farah says:

        Tyga was a Kardashian family friend who was around Kylie since she was 14! Chyna was friends with Kim. Kylie used to babysit Chyna and Tyga’s son. And they were hooking up when she was (at very least) 16! They then went public when she was 17. It’s clear Kylie has MAJOR self esteem problems, and Tyga probably made her feel special and ‘not like the others’. Throw in a ‘us against the world mentality’ she flaunts.

        The Weeknd and the Hadid girl are gross. They both clearly have substance abuse issues. He sings about his drug addiction. And she had a DUI before she was even 18. But they started dating when Bella was 18. It’s still gross. God only knows how much they are enabling each others addictions.

        Kylie and Bella have something in common though. They are both considered the ‘ugly one’ in their family. That just makes them perfect for an older man to come in and make them feel special. I feel sad for both girls.

      • Neah23 says:

        I don’t mention The weekend and Bella because up until a couple of weeks a ago I didn’t even know theses people existed and until you mentioned it, I had know idea what their ages were. Honestly i still not sure how they are, but yes I find their relationship off as well.

  6. GreenieWeenie says:

    This is why that whole 1970s thing where people were pushing these boundaries is just crap. You just aren’t capable of exercising agency at that age. You’re SO open to exploitation because you just don’t understand what’s going on. You don’t have the tools. It’s not that you aren’t equipped–you haven’t hit that stage in your development yet. It’s SO wrong and I HATE MEN who act like these girls are predatory! A sibling of mine is in a band and he sees a lot of this stuff on tour and another guy in his band just talks so much smack about these young groupie girls. I don’t understand the lack of empathy. They’re GIRLS. Not women. Not adults. They’re children.

    I also think it damages the girls. Like they become way too prone to living their whole lives looking for that kind of validation through their sexuality. Sorta like fame–stunts your emotional growth only in this case, it’s your sense of self.

    • Annie says:

      It definitely messes them up. One of my best friends started having sex at 14 with this nasty 18 year old who treated her badly. Needless to say, the girl has a very unhealthy relationship with sex and men. She just doesn’t have a high standard anymore. She sees sex as this cheap, worthless thing that doesn’t matter that much. It’s sad. She’s never had a guy treat her with love and respect. And she usually goes for dirtbags.

  7. Sara says:

    It boggles my mind how many of my friends had underage sex with older guys. Not on their part- I totally see how a young woman or man can feel validated by attention- but from the older party. One of my exes lost his virginity at 15 to a 26-year old woman, which is really horrid. My father was seduced by a family member at 14. I mean, reverse the genders and we’d be fine calling it rape.

    • Pondering thoughts says:

      @ Sara

      What you described is statuatory rape in most western countries. Most western countries have laws which say that if a significantly older person persues a very young teenager and abuses the teenager’s lack of maturity and agency then the older person can be hold accountable if somebody sues that person. Unfortunately people don’t seem to sue the older person in such relationships: parents, teachers, educators, police… they could all file a suit.

      • Sara says:

        I think it’s also harder when it’s a guy being taken advantage of. It’s harder to wrap your mind around men being raped.

  8. FingerBinger says:

    She at least knows she was abused unlike Chris Brown.

  9. boredblond says:

    Since I know little of her except from gossip columns (seems she’s the reveal to every foreign celeb/bad behavior blind ) is she the token skank in GB or what? It seems a little simplistic to say girls looking for male validation had no fathers..but it turns out that way an awful lot of the time.

    • Franca says:

      Wow, aren’t you lovely, calling a woman a skank.

      Here parents very very much present, her mum’s a psychiatrist and her father was a pub owner.

  10. NorthernGirl_20 says:

    I was one of those girls, I was 15 and he was 22. He had sex with me before I turned 16, he abused me, raped me and threatened me or my family when I tried to leave. He stalked me for years, spying on me or having people spy on me .. When I finally broke things off he tried to kill himself and then he tried to kill me. I never told an adult. It took me over 2 years to finally get the strength to dump him and a long time to get rid of him. I have PTSD because of him. He took away the years that should’ve been carefree and fun for me.

    • Jen says:

      I’m so sorry for what you went through, I wish I could hug you.

    • Farah says:

      I am so sad for what happened to you. No one deserves that hell.

    • Bishg says:

      Be strong NorthernGirl_20! You can overcome this. Your whole life is ahead of you , don’t look back. I’m sending you lots of hugs.

    • I Choose Me says:

      All the internet hugs to you NorthernGirl. I hate how f*cking common your story is and I wish you continued strength and healing.

    • snowflake says:

      Omg, that is horrible! So sorry by our first experience was that. There are nice guys out there.

  11. Annie says:

    What would you do as a parent? I feel like it’s such a recipe for disaster. Those guys just don’t go away. Can you go to the police so receives some kind of warning? It terrifies me that some older dude will be preying on my kids. Parents who allow this have no spine.

    • Pondering thoughts says:

      @ Annie

      Yep, I remember such a case. And my each of my parents has enough of a backbone for several adults. When I was 14 me and my family were eating in a respectable restaurant. Some men over 30 shot some interested glances in my direction!!! My mother shot back one angry-aggressive glance and the guys didn’t dare to look in my direction again. I hadn’t really gotten what was going on. Me late starter. My mother told me later.
      Unfortunately not all parents are like that. Unfortunately many parents have to work such long hours that it is difficult for them to watch over their children. Unfortunately there is too much laissez-faire among police and judges and people in general.

      • N2 says:

        For one, parents can actually tell their children that it’s unacceptable for them to see older men/women and why. I mean some parents don’t allow their high school freshmen daughters to date senior boys, and the girls understand why, so how difficult is it to speak with your children about not dating someone who’s too old to be in high school period. Parents can also try to value their daughters in a way so that they don’t get a self-esteem boost from sexual predators who look their way. Encourage their interest in art, sports, math, whatever. Help them feel confident in something that has nothing to do with how they look and the attention they receive for it.

  12. Leah says:

    She is right and i feel for her but i can’t with her after her comment about Chris Brown. She makes excuses for people she knows or people who can benefit her career.

  13. Mimz says:

    I never had this, actually… the first guy who kissed me, was 20 or 22 and I was 16. Then again, I never saw him again because I was so grossed out by the kissing (he just went all in, tongue saliva… you get the picture).. and OMG I just remembered this! How crazy… He went after me for a while, and we eventually kissed, and it felt so wrong I spent the next few weeks actively avoiding and running from him. This was (thankfully) before cellphones and social media, so it made it much harder for him to find me and i’m so glad.
    Anyway…. I’ve also come to realize much older how certain things happened to me as a teen, that actually are considered abuse, and I had no idea then… It’s very, very scary. I don’t even have kids, and I’m scared of this, considering how perverted the world is today…

  14. Fluff says:

    Kudos to Rita for calling this out for what it is. It’s sick the way mainstream media/gossip mags act like relationships between underage girls and adult men is totally normal. Of course she’s being roundly attacked for it most places online. If anyone questions whether we still need feminism…

  15. EN says:

    I noticed that in some cultures more than others the girls start being seen as sexual earlier. I noticed that about Latin American cultures and Southern European.
    In the US we have laws against dating girls before legal age but not all countries do. It is more acceptable in some places.
    When I was growing up I knew some girls who were 14 y.o. who lived with adults. They didn’t care what their parents said. They wanted to be independent and grown up.
    But how it looks from the man’s point of view – having sex with a child? They must realize it is not right. There should be laws against it.

    • N2 says:

      I think girls this age have historically throughout the world been viewed with sexual interest. It’s only recently in the U.S. that laws like statutory rape were implemented. It wouldn’t have been strange in the early 1900s in the U.S. to have a teenage girl date or marry a man in his 20s.

    • Franca says:

      Really? It seems to me like it’s the opposite, I can’t speak for Latin America, but kids in Western Europe seem to become sexually active earlier than in other parts of Europe.p

      • EN says:

        > but kids in Western Europe seem to become sexually active earlier than in other parts of Europe

        it is kind of weird, and maybe things changed since my childhood. But in the South they are strict Catholics, so the premarital sex is big no-no, then they still do it, just hide it. But there is more sexualization of girls even though everyone hides it. In the North it is more open, and because of it, more transparent and there is less abuse.

      • Dingo says:

        I’m with Franca – In western europe especially nordic countries teenagers become sexually active earlier than in southern europe.

      • Naddie says:

        Here in South America is like a rule. A girl who’s about 13, 14 years old and doesn’t show interest in sex is the weird of the group. But, it has to be all according to the sexist standards, of course.

  16. iseepinkelefants says:

    I dated a 23/24 when I was 15/16. Thinking back on it now yeah it is messed up. Oddly enough after then I dated people 7 years older than me a few more times and even though I was older I could feel it was to much older? If that makes sense? Like even at 26/27 they treated me like I was naive. And I hated feeling that way.

    But yeah when you’re in it you don’t know. It’s only now that I’m 29 that I’m like that was not good for me. Even though he was like a teenager himself, it’s still much older. My current boyfriend is 23 and I feel sometimes like a cradle robber when people bring up his age.

    • N2 says:

      That could be because people are sexist. I’m three years older than my husband, and I’ve been called a cougar by family members. No one would ever comment on this small age difference if he were three years younger than me.

  17. Happy21 says:

    It is considered child abuse now. But who knows what London’s age of consent was at the time so it may not have been illegal. I know Canada bases a lot of their laws on British law and until just a few years ago in Canada where I live the age of consent was 14. It is now 16. It’s entirely possible that in the eyes of the law she was perfectly legal. I’m so glad they changed that. What 14 can make an informed, mature decision when it comes to sex? They can’t!

    • perplexed says:

      I looked it up, and the age of consent is 16 in Britain. She’s only 25 or so now, not 60, so I think the law would have been set at 16 at when she was a teenager.

      • Happy21 says:

        Thank you for looking that up!
        To think that Canada took so long to change it from 14 is appalling.

    • pinetree13 says:

      Wow Happy that is really disturbing and I totally agree with you. 14 is two years older than 12! Seriously! The average 14 year old LOOKS like a child. And even the ones that look older still look super young and act super immature. Only a complete pedo would persue a CHILD that age.

  18. rebelphoenix13 says:

    My 16-year-old best friend dated a guy who was 28 for a year or so, and he got her hooked on heroin because she was so impressionable… It was so awkward and uncomfortable to be around them and her and I eventually stopped being friends. I think now she is older, sober, and wiser!

  19. Marigold says:

    Where were her parents?

    Where were his?

  20. SuperStef says:

    I was 17, he was 27. He lied about his age, of course, and told me he was 20. I was so naive and just wanted to be loved like I knew I deserved to be loved. He was charming, handsome, charismatic…..and a complete psychopath. He abused me in every way possible; trapping me with fear that he would kill me and my family. And I believed him.

    I’m now almost 36, Canadian, married to a cop who adores me and would never abuse me.

    Anyone know what the statute of limitations is for battery, rape, death threats, etc?

    I was a classic latch-key kid from a messed up, abusive, impoverished home. My ‘parents’ worked the graveyard shift. They couldn’t help me because they were either:
    A. Too stupid
    B. Naive
    C. Thought it was normal behaviour
    D. Didn’t care
    E. or too happy to be rid of a strong-willed teenage burden of a ‘daughter’

    His name was John Peckham, and he learned this predatory behaviour from his parents. My only life regret is not charging him, putting him in jail; where he belongs (so he wouldn’t do this to the next poor female, which he did/does) I feel so guilty for not being mature/aware/old enough to put him back in jail; where he belongs. Poor Alisha, she married him, has his kids, and the cycle continues.

    Thanks for reading and everyone who shared their stories. I now see I am not alone, it wasn’t my fault, it was not OK, and it wasn’t just me being dramatic….


    • Little Darling says:

      Aww Steph. Xoxox.

    • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

      Big hugs Steph, life can be a rough road to walk down.

    • pinetree13 says:

      YOu know what…why not try reporting it? I don’t know if Canada has a statue of limitation on ALL of those things…there’s a good chance that maybe one of them is proscacutable forever? OR at least his record would show an accusation? Sorry I don’t know how any of that works. There’s a few lawyer celeb%&^hs on this site…maybe they could weigh in?

      • SuperStef says:

        Wow, thanks for the warm words and encouragement. I’ve had a pretty bad week…I needed this. It’s rather cathartic to express this, get it off my chest.

        All in all, the past is the past and I can’t change anything. I just have one life regret- not nailing this mofo’s preditory a$$ to the wall when I had the chance. I even had a female rcmp officer beg me to admit that he just beat me after the neighbours called one day. She tried, I refused to let her help because I was young, dumb, and hella scared of even more abuse…

        It is what it is. Le sigh….

    • ISPEAKTRUTH says:



  21. Little Darling says:

    In the beginning of my senior year in high school I became involved with an actor who was 15 years older than me. I was 17 and he was 32. And famous. With an equally famous model girlfriend who was traveling. While I was in it, it was intoxicating. To see him on TV and then get a phone call from him…imagine being 17 and having that happen?!

    Now that I’m almost 40, I’m no ashamed of it, he’s still a good friend, but I find that I wonder more and more about that relationship and even though I was a few months shy of 18, it’s still confusing to think about in proper terms.

    Proper terms would be that I was much too young to be sexually involved with a grown man. Proper terms was that he was too old to be with someone my age. Yes I’m mature, I always have been, but it doesn’t exactly make it better.

    Still, I wouldn’t change it because I learned so much from him, because he was always very kind to me, and because he never made me feel young. Are those reasons enough? I don’t know.

  22. Eru says:

    Gosh she is so hungry for press attention. Did this really happened? She could easily make this up so that people would talk about her.

    • Laura says:

      Except, she said this in an interview 2 years ago. It’s only being brought up now because someone is writing a book about her. If you saw the interview, you could tell she was being sincere.

  23. Mili says:

    Actually, this is common dating practice In Albania. Albanian girls are getting married in that age.

    • EN says:

      I also thought that it might be related to the view of women. In places were there is still traditional patriarchal set up, girls are expected to marry early, at 18-20 or so. So, they are looked at as potential brides at 15-16 y.o.

      On the subject of Albania, I read a fascinating article few year ago how they have an old practice of some women choosing to live lives of men because their families didn’t have men and their family needed the support in a men centered society. They didn’t seem very happy with their choice, though, more like resigned.

    • Bae says:

      She is Albanian, but from Kosovo, not Albania. And they do not get married aged 14 there. They did maybe 70 years ago, but not today. just because a country is poor does not mean it’s socially so backwards. Besides, she grew up in London with highly educated parents.
      Jesus, the ignorance.

    • Seán says:

      Rita Ora grew up in the UK though.

  24. Meg says:

    girls in high school always bragged about that, ‘My boyfriend’s 30’ I always thought ‘wow, you think you’re bragging but really you sound sad. Can’t get a guy your own age so you think it’s cool to date someone much older?’ in reality most girls made up the fake boyfriend who ‘doesn’t go to school here’

    • Khanh says:

      I grew up with strict parents who really kept an eye on us. And I also grew up in a religion that stressed virginity until marriage for boys and girls (even though I wasn’t much of a believer). I always felt kind of foolish that I stayed a virgin until 19. And it did strike me as strange but also intimidating when I heard girls brag about their much older boyfriends–some in their 20’s or 30’s. Just as I always felt stupid that I’d never done any of the drugs that people are bragging about. It seems like a pattern that many young women chase after much older men to get some kind of personal validation.

  25. Frosty says:

    I feel for her, and others kids in these adult situations/relationships. I know this is about the UK but similar to this, the NYT just published a piece on how common child marriages is in the U.S. F**k that, there needs to be one age of consent, no exceptions.

  26. Tdub30 says:

    I matured early (12 y/o) and had 18-20 y/o guys coming after me at that age. However, *I* knew there was something wrong and always shied away. Even at 20 I shooed away 25-26 y/o men. I wish all girls had that fight or flight response to creepers, because that is what they are. I’m sorry she was abused this way and hopefully she’ll get some sort of therapy for the damage this has done to her spirit. 😞

  27. Naddie says:

    Seriously, I’ll never understand these guys’s mind. It must be their insecurity, their wish for control, because I just can’t imagine me with a 15 years old boy. Even if he’s very handsome, even if he looks 20, I just can’t, it’s sick and gross. And to think that it’s extremely common… what a f**ked up culture we have.