Ashley Judd's Story of Abuse Echoes Family's Sad Narrative

Actress says she survived incest and depression.

ByABC News
March 31, 2011, 4:49 PM

April 1, 2011— -- Ashley Judd, one of the most beautiful actresses in Hollywood and a crusader for AIDS awareness, reveals in a new memoir, "All That Is Bitter and Sweet," that she was the victim of incest and abuse.

Judd, 42, writes about her traumatic childhood, attending 13 schools before she was 18. She says she struggled with depression and loneliness as her mother, Naomi, and her half-sister, Wynonna, traveled as successful country singers -- the Judds. Not a singer, she was left with her father during the school year.

Judd, the star of "Double Jeopardy," writes of abuse at the hands of numerous men, including an unnamed family member. She also writes that she was exposed early and inappropriately to sex because of her mother's affairs with men.

"This doesn't surprise me," said Amy Palmer, senior editor of In Touch magazine, about the memoir, which comes out April 5.

Coincidentally, she said, Naomi and Wynonna Judd go on tour again in 30 cities on April 10.

"When you are trying to make it in show business, everything else falls by the wayside. She was left alone so much with her mother and sister touring the country to make it. Something suffers and it was Ashley's childhood."

Judd's admission is one chapter in her family's traumatic narrative.

"You couldn't script this," said Palmer. "It could be a mini-series of the week. This family has had so much tragedy, one by one. It's an amazing kind of cautionary tale about when you chase fame. All of America thinks I want to be famous. They have it all. But there are pitfalls to super stardom."

Ashley's mother struggled to raise two girls on her nurse's salary before she took up a career as a singer. She and Wynonna reportedly wore second-hand clothes and occasionally lived without electricity or indoor plumbing in poor, rural Kentucky.

Naomi Judd, now 65, was the daughter of a Kentucky gas station owner and a riverboat cook. She was abandoned by her boyfriend Charles Jordan, the father of her first daughter, Wynonna, who was born in 1964. Naomi was only 18 at the time.

She then rushed to marry Michael Ciminella and gave birth to Ashley in 1968, but the troubled relationship only lasted four years. She ended up raising both daughters as a single parent.

With her daughter Wynonna, Naomi signed a contract with RCA Records in 1983 as a mother-daughter duo. The Judds charted 23 hit singles and won five Grammy Awards in less than a decade. The duo was successful but the mother-daughter relationship was tumultuous.

Naomi Judd was forced into retirement in 1991 after she was felled by chronic Hepatitis C. Wynonna continued as a solo artist.

Wynonna, 46, has had her share of trauma. Her marriage to Arch Kelley III ended after two years in 1998. They had a son and a daughter. She remarried her former bodyguard, D. R. Roach, in 2003, but three years later, he was arrested for sexual assault of a child under the age of 13.