Long before the “#MeToo” movement swept over Hollywood, empowering women to call out harassers and abusers in showbusiness, Oprah Winfrey was sharing her own story of sexual abuse. However, in a new interview, she explains why she waited as long as she did to make her story public.
The “A Wrinkle in Time” star, 64, appeared on the cover of the latest issue of People, where she detailed her account of being molested as a child by her cousin, an uncle and a family friend.
“It happened to me at 9, and then 10, and then 11, and then 12, 13, 14. You don’t have the language to begin to explain what’s happening to you,” she told the outlet. “That’s why you feel you’re not going to be believed. And if the abuser, the molester, is any good, they will make you feel that you are complicit, that you were part of it. That’s what keeps you from telling.”
Oprah made the reveal on her show in 1986, but says she was tempted to go public with her story long before that.
“The moment I first confessed on ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ to being molested, I confessed because there had been a time years before when a girl on the ‘People Are Talking’ show I did in Baltimore had told the story of being molested, and I did not have the courage at that time to say out loud, ‘Me too,’” she confessed.
Winfrey explained that she spoke with the woman off-camera after the interview. She was asked by the woman why she didn’t speak up and had to admit in that moment that she was scared. The moment, however, stuck with her and compelled her to jump at a second chance to tell her story years later.
Winfrey recently made headlines with regard to the #MeToo movement when she gave an impassioned speech about a great many issues while accepting the Cecil B. de Mille award at the 2018 Golden Globes. The speech was so well-liked by those in show business that it quickly prompted speculation about a 2020 presidential run for the media mogul.
So far, she’s denied any rumor that she’s planning to run, but hasn’t ruled out the possibility entirely.