But in the February issue of O magazine, Winfrey blasts one of her relatives for going public with her pregnancy at age 14.
"A member of my family who has since passed away had gone to Florida, headquarters for The National Enquirer, sat in a room, told them the story of my hidden shame — and left their offices $19,000 richer."
Until the relative ratted her out, the talk-show queen had hidden her secret for many years, she says in her magazine.
"I would tell no one until I felt safe enough to share my dark past: the years I was sexually abused, from age 10 to 14, my resulting promiscuity as a teenager, and finally, at 14, my becoming pregnant. I was so ashamed, I hid the pregnancy until my swollen ankles and belly gave me away. The baby died in the hospital weeks later."
The wealthiest woman in entertainment says she "felt devastated" by the public disclosure.
"I took to my bed and cried for three days ... I felt devastated. Wounded. Betrayed. How could this person do this to me?
"I felt beaten and scared. I imagined that every person on the street was going to point their finger at me and scream, 'Pregnant at 14, you wicked girl…expelled!'"
Hornbeck, the Missouri teen who appeared on Winfrey's show Thursday, has said he is not yet ready to tell his parents about what happened in the four years he lived with Michael Devlin, who pleaded not guilty Thursday to kidnapping charges for the abduction of another boy.
In Friday's New York Post, columnist Linda Stasi blasted Winfrey and Hornbeck's parents Pam and Craig Akers for the revealing "Oprah" segment.
"Yesterday, the parents of Shawn Hornbeck ... put him on TV to suffer further pain, shame and humiliation. This, mind you, occurred yesterday — less than a week after the boy's dramatic rescue. Shame on the Akers. Shame on Oprah."
But ultimately, Winfrey says she found the revelation of her own abuse and pregnancy liberating.
"For 20 years, I had been expecting a reaction that never came. And I soon realized that having the secret out was liberating. Not until then could I begin the repair work on my spirit for the sexual abuse and damage done to me as a young girl.
"I realized that all those years, I had been blaming myself. What I learned for sure was that holding the shame was the greatest burden of all," she says in the magazine.