Jessica Simpson Opens Up About 'Painful' Confrontation With Her Abuser

by Cassandra Stone
Jon Kopaloff/Getty

The way she describes how she felt as a little girl being abuse is absolutely heartbreaking

In her upcoming memoir, Open Book, Jessica Simpson reveals that she was sexually abused from the ages of 6 to 12. Her abuser was the daughter of a family friend, a girl only a year old than Simpson. She also recently opened up about getting sober after struggling with alcohol and stimulant addiction in recent years — something she attributes to the abuse.

“It would start with tickling my back and then go into things that were extremely uncomfortable,” she writes. In her book, she describes how the trauma drove how she evolved as a person — she was afraid of being alone and was too scared to stand up for herself as she got older.

Recently, she shared that she became sober in November 2017, after hitting her rock bottom during a Halloween party. Part of her sober journey, she tells PEOPLE magazine, was confronting her abuser. She felt it was something she had to do in order to heal.

“I needed to confront my abuser,” Simpson says. “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.”

After getting sober and going to therapy, Simpson was able to acknowledge that her trauma and emotional pain clouded the way she thought about herself and who she is.

“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,” she says. “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 six to 12 years old.”

In her book, she describes the moment where she told her parents what was going on. Like many child victims, Simpson was afraid to tell her parents because she believed she was somehow at fault. Eventually, six years later, she told them during a car trip. She writes that her mom, Tina, slapped her father’s arm while he was driving and yelled, “I told you something was happening.”

She tells PEOPLE that while it was difficult to share that tidbit in her book, it’s a valid part of her story and she ultimately chose to share it because of that.

“Normally, I would’ve candy-coated it, and I didn’t,” she says. “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. Their way of dealing with it was to make sure that it never happened again.”

Simpson, who’s releasing six new songs to accompany the release of her book, says the reason she finally decided to open up about her past publicly is because of her children: Maxwell, 7, Ace, 6, and Birdie, 10 months. “I wish I would have spoken up earlier but I’m glad that I can now,” she says.“As a mother, that’s why I wanted to tell people about it — that it’s not your fault.”