Vanessa Williams is opening up about the sexual abuse she suffered as a young girl.
In an interview featured in the latest issue of People magazine, the “Desperate Housewives” star said the molestation she endured at age 10 “didn’t paralyze me, and I don’t dwell.”
She describes what happened in an excerpt from her upcoming memoir, “You Have No Idea.” She was visiting family friends in California who had an 18-year-old daughter, Susan. One night, Susan walked in on Williams while she was sleeping.
“Susan pulled down the bloomers of my cotton baby-doll pajamas,” Williams writes. “‘What are you doing?’ I asked. ‘Don’t worry — it’ll feel good.’ I lay there paralyzed. What was I going to do?”
Williams kept the incident to herself for years; only in college did she realize she was molested. But, she writes, the effects of what happened were immediate.
“After that trip I felt something change in me,” she writes. “I had always been defiant but I became a bit more rebellious. I began to pull away from my parents.”
And it informed how she raised her children. “I was verbal about it so they knew what to look for,” she told People.
Williams also revisits the Penthouse nude photos that led her to give up her Miss America crown in 1984. Though she and her family were “stunned” at the time, she now embraces the scandal as part of her story.
“When my kids have asked about Miss America, those photos, or any other part of my life, I told them what I always tell them — the truth,” she writes. “After all, it was part of my journey that led me to them and to where I am today.”