Simpson turned to booze, pills after sex abuse
Jessica Simpson has opened up for the first time about the sexual abuse she suffered as a child, and also revealed the depths of an alcohol and drug addiction that was "killing" her.
In an excerpt from her forthcoming memoir, Open Book, the singer-turned-reality-star-turned-business-mogul writes that the sexual abuse began when she was just six years old.
"When I shared a bed with the daughter of a family friend," she writes, according to excerpts obtained by People magazine. "It would start with tickling my back and then go into things that were extremely uncomfortable … I was the victim but somehow I felt in the wrong."
Simpson says that the deep emotional fallout from the abuse, along with career pressures later on, led her to abuse alcohol and pills to such an extent that she was warned by her doctor that her life was in danger.
"I was killing myself with all the drinking and pills," she writes.
Ultimately, Simpson knew she had to change her life after she was asked to write a "motivational book".
"I didn't feel comfortable talking about myself in a way that wasn't honest," she writes. "I'm a horrible liar."
Simpson stopped drinking in November 2017 and hasn't had a drop since.
"Giving up the alcohol was easy," she says. "I was mad at that bottle. At how it allowed me to stay complacent and numb."
Therapy, however, proved challenging. "With work, I allowed myself to feel the traumas I'd been through," she writes.
She also recounts telling her parents, Tina and Joe Simpson, about the sexual abuse while the family was in the car. Simpson was just 12 at the time.
She writes that her mother slapped her father's arm and yelled at him: "I told you something was happening."
"Dad kept his eye on the road and said nothing," Simpson writes. "We never stayed at my parents' friends' house again but we also didn't talk about what I had said."
Simpson became a major star in the late 1990s with her debut album Sweet Kisses, which went on to sell four million copies worldwide.
But it was the reality show, Newlyweds, which she starred in with ex-husband and boy band star Nick Lachey that made her a pop culture phenomenon.
The show premiered in 2003, four years before the Kardashians became reality TV behemoths, and it became a worldwide hit.
The show documented her three-year marriage to Lachey, endearing Simpson to a whole new legion of fans who loved her guileless and innocent persona. (Who could forget the 'is tuna chicken or fish' moment?)
The show ended after three seasons and she and Lachey divorced in 2006.
Simpson, however, only went from strength to strength, founding the clothing line, the Jessica Simpson Collection, which went on to become a billion-dollar business.
She also appeared to find personal happiness with former San Francisco 49ers player Eric Johnson. The couple wed in 2014 and has three kids, daughter Maxwell, 7, son Ace, 6, and baby girl Birdie, 10 months.
Still, while she was enjoying personal and professional success, Simpson was hiding deeper traumas.
Indeed, in the book she describes hitting rock bottom after a Halloween party at her home in 2017. That's when she told her friends: "I need to stop. Something's got to stop. And if it's the alcohol that's doing this, and making things worse, then I quit."
She says in the book her friends gave her a group hug and, along with her family, and doctors she's been sober ever since, calling her new life "a continual gift."
"When I finally said I needed help, it was like I was that little girl that found her calling again in life," she writes. "I found direction and that was to walk straight ahead with no fear."
"Honesty is hard but it's the most rewarding thing we have," she says. "And getting to the other side of fear is beautiful."
To go with the book (which also has a Simpson-narrated audio version), the star is releasing six new songs which tell her story.
Simpson says she wants the book and the music to let people going through similar struggles know that they're not alone.
"It's been a long hard deep emotional journey," she says, "one that I've come through the other side with pure happiness and fulfillment and acceptance of myself. I've used my pain and turned it into something that can be beautiful and hopefully inspiring to people."
Open Book is published by HarperCollins on February 4, 2020.