Tara Moss relives trauma of photographer trying to coax her into porn at age 16, being assaulted by a serial rapist and breaks down over her mother’s death on Anh’s Brush With Fame
Model and author Tara Moss has recounted some of the darkest moments of her life in a moving episode of Anh’s Brush With Fame, which aired on Tuesday night.
The 47-year-old told host Anh Do how a photographer attempted to coax her into a pornographic photo shoot when she was just 16.
Sent to the assignment by her agency, the teenager was shocked to discover that she and the man would be alone on the shoot, with no crew or makeup team.
She was then offered vodka by the man – but being underage and wanting to ‘keep her wits about her’, she refused.
‘I kept getting ready and I had a very bad feeling about the situation, which was a good instinct, because he came over later and he showed me this portfolio and he said, “I want to do photos like this.” And they were pornographic,’ she said.
Tara continued: ‘I started packing my things up quickly, quickly, quickly. Put the knapsack together, put the knapsack on my back.
‘And he lunged at me and I punched him unconscious. He fell back and hit his head on the concrete. I was freaked out. I thought I might have killed him.
‘He hit the ground and didn’t move and I ran for it. And the next day everyone knew about it. But I was the one who was in trouble. And, you know, word went out that I was a troublemaker.’
Tara also discussed the fallout of revealing she had been raped at the age of 21 by a man in her acting class.
She first revealed the ordeal in her 2014 book, Fictional Woman, and admitted she struggled with being seen as ‘rape victim Tara Moss’.
’26 years ago, I was attacked by a serial rapist who was an actor. I was changed by that experience, but I did become stronger and I’m a survivor,’ she said.
‘It was like a page in a 305-page book, but it seemed like, at the time, it was all the media focused on.
‘It was hard for me to come to terms with kind of the caption, you know, it wasn’t comfortable for me, but I have no regrets.’
Tara had earlier revealed the man drove her to his house and invited her in for a cup of tea. He then threw himself on her and would not take no for an answer.
The man was jailed for two years, but not for the assault on Tara. He was found guilty of rape against another woman when one of his friends testified against him.
Elsewhere in the interview, Tara broke down as she discussed the death of her mother, Janni, who died of the rare cancer, multiple myeloma, in 1990 at age 43.
Tara was just 19 at the time, and described how her grief galvanised her to achieve something meaningful in her life.
‘I remember the next morning waking up and it seemed impossible to me that the sun rose and life went on and people went about their days and my mum was gone.
‘I remember hearing crying at night in the house, and realising it was my dad alone. You know, they’d been married for 25 years and they were… they were a team and he lost his love.
‘And I just remember hearing these little noises at night and realising that he was crying by himself in his room with his partner gone. That was shattering.’
She added: ‘Her passing lit a fire under me and I needed to feel like I was worth the sacrifice she made to try to stay alive for me.’
Tara has relied on her walking stick for the past three years as a result of a hip injury, and shared details of her daily pain with Anh.
‘I was injured about four and a half years ago. It is something called complex regional pain syndrome, which is related to nerves and nerve damage. So that’s a part of my world,’ she said.
The writer uses a cane she calls ‘Wolfie’ and runs an Instagram account devoted to normalising walking stick use.
Tara began modelling at the age 14, before turning her attentions to writing, publishing her first novel, Fetish, in 1999.
She is now a bestselling author who has published 13 books in 18 countries and 13 languages around the world, and is considered one of Australia’s best crime novelists.
The former model lives in the Blue Mountains with her Australian poet husband Berndt Sellheim and their 10-year-old daughter Sapphira.
If this story has raised issues for you, please contact 1800 Respect 1800 737 732, Lifeline 13 11 14, beyondblue 1300 224 636, Domestic Violence Line 1800 65 64 63