WARNING: This story contains details that readers may find disturbing. Discretion is advised.
A survivor of a disturbing child sexual abuse ring at the hands of foster parents in Prince Edward County is now putting her pain into her music as an adult.
Mandolynne Knott released her single Scream under her YouTube channel, Mandolynne.
The song contains lyrics about sexual assault, child grooming and abuse she faced at the hands of the foster care system in a small village in Prince Edward County when she was 15.
Knott, who has written songs since she was able to pick up a pen, found the drive to go to music school at the age of 24, then began her journey as a solo artist in 2019.
“To be honest, I had never really planned on releasing it. It was one of those songs I worked on myself to work through some challenging feelings to navigate that.”
A little over a year ago, Knott says she realized releasing the song would be important for both awareness and would serve as “representation for other child sexual abuse survivors.”
“Man says pull down your pants, and open your mouth…. Mind’s a terrible place, but I can’t leave,” she sings over an ominous instrumental.
Knott says her music helps her reclaim her identity, but her journey to becoming an artist wasn’t an easy one. It comes after many years of therapy and fighting internal battles.
“I wanted to raise awareness about this epidemic that’s happening within the child welfare system,” Knott said.
“The public unfortunately isn’t aware. And I think by creating this video, I just wanted to express how it feels to be silenced, abused and groomed. To have your experience minimized and disregarded. I wanted other people who’ve experienced these things to know that they’re not alone.”
Knott told Global News in 2019 that some of the abuse at the hands of her foster parents, located just outside of Bloomfield, Ont., included forcing her and the other foster children to watch pornography, and forcing her to perform sexual acts while in the shower.
“When I came forward as a survivor, I felt it was an isolated incident. I felt my home was the only home this was happening in, only to find out this was happening everywhere,” said Knott.
In 2011, Knott’s foster parents, Janet and Joe Holm, were sentenced to a total of seven years in prison after they were convicted of charges stemming from the sexual abuse of five children they fostered in their home.
Then in April of 2021, the former executive director of the Prince Edward County Children’s Aid Society, Bill Sweet, pleaded guilty to one count of failing to care and provide for a child on behalf of the now-defunct children’s aid society.
The other 20 criminal charges laid against him were withdrawn and Sweet faced no jail time, but was sentenced to community service.
“I sat in the courtroom and I listened to survivors speak about their experiences within the foster care system,” Knott said of Sweet’s sentencing. “I heard the list of reports and these are from community members, from youth themselves, even from my own experience. Workers came into my home, we discussed things.
“To receive community service for an organization of his choosing, it’s just absolutely shameful. I don’t know how he sleeps at night.”
Knott says she has a performance in Toronto next week and plans to tour by next year.
Scream will also be a part of a film titled Eyes for you by director Chelsy Althea Ubaldo, who also experienced sexual violence.
The film will premier at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s Rendezvous with Madness festival next year.
Knott hopes by that sharing the most painful experiences in life, she can help spare others the same fate — or at least let them join her on her journey toward healing.