With the release of her new memoir Open Book, Jessica Simpson has been living up to the title on her promotional tour. Simpson has shown real vulnerability in her excerpts and interviews, giving fans a look behind the curtain of being a pop star.
In her book, she explained that she had been sexually abused from the ages of 6 and 12 by a family friend’s daughter who was only a year older than Simpson. She wrote:
“It would start with tickling my back and then go into things that were extremely uncomfortable.”
Simpson elaborated in an interview with People, she explained that her need to please made her go along with her abuser’s actions for years.
“As a child, I didn’t know what was going on. I just knew I wanted to protect everybody else in the room.”
The trauma was one of the things that caused Simpson to turn to alcoholism and drugs to numb the pain. She would eventually get sober in 2017 and working through her issues in therapy. Part of the process was facing it head on.
“I needed to confront my abuser. It was extremely painful and still is. It’s still shocking. That little girl in me wanting to do the right thing, not knowing how to stand up for herself and not knowing how to stop it.”
In her book, Simpson recounts telling her parents about the incident and how they handled the trauma. Simpson was 12 years old and told them while they were all in the car.
“My mother slapped my father’s arm. ‘I told you something was happening,’ she yelled at him.”
Simpson told People that her parents did the best that they could with this information.
“Normally, I would’ve candy coated it, and I didn’t. They understood why I needed to have it in the book. I know as parents they wanted to protect me from everything in the world. I was a preacher’s daughter and I was so protected — and also I wasn’t. It’s hard for a parent to hear that — but it also wasn’t their fault. It felt good to say it out loud and then it never happened again.
From that moment on, we never went back to that place and we were never alone in that situation again. It broke their hearts. Their way of dealing with it was to make sure that it never happened again.”
Simpson credits sobriety and her family with helping her overcome this trauma. She told People:
“I felt like a lot of who I am, the character of who I am, was built through the trials and the pain of abuse. I allowed it to happen, so I felt that I was as much of the abuser as the abused. So I was very shameful during that time, from 6 to 12 years old.”
As painful as it is to open these old wounds, Simpson hopes that her transparency can help other people in similar situations.
“I wish I would have spoken up earlier but I’m glad that I can now. As a mother, that’s why I wanted to tell people about it — that it’s not your fault.”