Jessica Simpson is using her power to empower others. She recently told the world that she suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a family friend as a young girl—and we thank her for opening up this conversation because she is going to help so many families prevent and heal from abuse.
The singer was interviewed on TODAY as she promotes her upcoming memoir Open Book. She told host Hoda Kotb that she was just 6 years old when the abuse started—and another child was responsible. Simpson said she was so young that she didn't fully understand what was happening to her—but knew that it was wrong. "This was a very close person, and she was being abused. It happened throughout a long time in my life."
Children can abuse children, and it's important for parents to know this so we can educate, protect and hear our kids.
Simpson recalled how difficult it was for her to tell her parents. "I was a preacher's daughter. I was taught to be a virgin until I got married, and so I never wanted to share these sexual things that were happening because I didn't want to hurt anybody." Eventually, she summoned up the courage to tell her mom and dad what was going on—knowing even at that young age she was dropping a bombshell on them.
"That's a heavy thing to hear from your child," she says. Simpson says her parents did the best they could. "They took action, and I never had to do the sleepovers again. I never had to go back."
SImpson also notes, however, that her parents "ignored it with their words," finding it difficult to talk about.
For parents looking to protect kids from abuse, though, talking about it is one of the most important things you can do to keep them safe. The more comfortable you are discussing abuse, the more comfortable your kids will be. It's never too early to start talking to children about their bodies, their boundaries and their personal safety.
Hopefully, Simpson's bravery in sharing her story will inspire others to initiative those tough conversations. Sex abuse is just one of many raw, emotional topics Simpson is addressing in Open Book. She's also sharing her struggles with drinking and how motherhood helped her realize that she needed to get sober. "People are really going to understand me, I think, for the first time," she says, and she wants her story be an uplifting one. "They're going to see everything that I have gone through… all the fears and the struggle that I did face, and how I came through on the other side."