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7 Other Celebrities Who Were Sexually Abused As Children

Ashley Yang |
May 22, 2014 | 6:10 p.m. PDT

Executive Producer

Anderson is only one of many celebrities who experienced childhood sexual abuse. (PETA, Wikimedia Commons)
Anderson is only one of many celebrities who experienced childhood sexual abuse. (PETA, Wikimedia Commons)
On Friday at the launch of her animal rights charity, former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson revealed that she suffered sexual abuse throughout her childhood. The abuse began when she was molested by her female babysitter at age six and continued two years later when she was raped by a friend's boyfriend. She was again assaulted in the 9th grade, this time gang raped by her boyfriend and his friends.

Although she "just wanted off this earth" after this nightmarish childhood, Anderson states that she found real purpose in her work to protect animal rights, for which she has fervently advocated for the past 20 years.

Anderson's story is horrifying, but sadly by no means unique. Here are seven other celebrities who suffered from sexual abuse as children.

1. Oprah Winfrey was raped by a relative when she was nine years old. Winfrey states that the abuse continued until she was 13, at which point she became sexually promiscuous and pregnant at the age of 14 with a baby that died in infancy.

2. Julianne Hough was abused by various adults during her time at boarding school, beginning around the time that she hit puberty. Although she declined to reveal specific details about her experience (claiming "what's past is past"), she attributed the abuse to the nature of her work as a dance student and the older facade that she adopted.

3. Tyler Perry was molested by a number of adults, both male and female, while also suffering extreme physical abuse at the hands of his father. Perry admitted to attempting suicide at age 11.

4. Teri Hatcher spoke out about having been sexual abused by an uncle from the time she was five years old. After she learned that another victim of her uncle's had committed suicide, she told her story to prosecutors, resulting in a 14 year prison sentence for her abuser. 

5. Queen Latifah was sexually abused by a childhood babysitter.

6. Ashley Judd was molested as a pre-teen by a stranger, and later experienced attempted rape while working as a model in Japan.

7. Mo'Nique was repeatedly molested by an older brother, beginning at age seven. During her acceptance speech, she dedicated her Golden Globe award for her role in Precious to victims of abuse. 

All too often, we feel that sexual abuse—especially when suffered during childhood—is a tragedy we see in the news, something that happens to "other" people. The names listed here, however, are public figures; people whose faces we see on TV, movie screens, and magazine covers all the time. And never for a second have we associated them with being victims of such horrors.

Just like there are many more survivors of sexual violence among us than we know of, there are probably more household names who have had similar experiences than these few who have dared to speak out.

Not only has their bravery challenged the way we think of who is targeted for sexual violence, they have also changed the ways we see victims themselves. After surviving what is arguably the worst kind of trauma for any child, these individuals did not shut down and retreat from the world. Instead, they have led productive lives and successful careers in an industry that attracts millions but offers real opportunity to only a chosen few. 

Yes, these celebrities were victimized. But they did not permanently assume the identity of victims.

They became survivors, and did the work best done by survivors themselves: educate others about how they wish to be viewed. Perhaps we should consider that the gains they have made in this respect for all victims of sexual violence rival, and even surpass, the importance of their prominent works in the entertainment industry.

Reach Executive Producer Ashley Yang here. Follow her on Twitter here



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