Rosie O’Donnell has always been so open about her personal life, but she’s just now revealing the dark secret that her father molested her as a child.
After six seasons with her own syndicated talk show and her time as a moderator on The View, fans thought they knew just about every aspect of Rosie O’Donnell‘s personal life. Except for one dark detail — she was the victim of childhood sexual abuse by her dad Edward. She makes the shocking revelation for the first time in the new book Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of The View by our sister site Variety’s New York bureau chief Ramin Setoodeh. She reveals that it “started very young” and continued until her mom Roseann died at age 38 from breast cancer when Rosie was just 10.
The 56-year-old comedian explains “And then when my mother died, it sort of ended in a weird way, because then he was with these five children to take care of.” Edward passed away at age 81 in 2015, According to Variety, the details about her father’s molestation come in a chapter about her wildly successful daytime talker The Rosie O’Donnell Show, which aired from 1996 to 2002.
“On the whole, it’s not something I like to talk about. Of course, it changes everyone. Any child who is put in that position, especially by someone in the family, you feel completely powerless and stuck, because the person you would tell is the person doing it,” mother of five Rosie continues.
Rosie has long been passionate about causes involving child sexual abuse survivors and was one of the first celebrities to publicly support Dylan Farrow in 2014 when she wrote and open letter in theNew York Times where she alleged that her adoptive father, director Woody Allen, 83, sexually molested her when she was seven-years-old. “I’m very anti-Roman Polanski and anti-Woody Allen,” Rosie says in the book. “It’s a pretty clear line for me.”
Rosie has been critical of her father in the past. In a 2012 interview with Piers Morgan, she told him that “He had his own issues and demons. He had a very tough childhood. He had an alcoholic, abusive father and never really got the help that I think every person needs when they have lived through that as a child. I think that he had a lot of problems to deal with.” She also claimed her dad distanced himself from she and her siblings after her mom died. Rosie alluded that he did something bad to her as a child, but didn’t outright reveal it was sexual abuse when she told Piers “There are some unforgivable things I think that as a child, the statute of limitations has to wear off. You get to be 50 years old, and you can’t be still angry at what your father did in 1970.” Ladies Who Punch comes out in print on April 2.