Multi-hyphenate celebrity Jessica Simpson is detailing childhood sexual abuse, and a serious battle with alcohol and pills in a new memoir, Open Book. The 39-year-old said honesty was the only option: She told People: “I didn’t feel comfortable talking about myself in a way that wasn’t honest. I’m a horrible liar.”
In her memoir, she shares the horrifying story of her sexual abuse as a young girl, and the emotional pain that resulted, with a domino effect of pressure on her career, which could lead to self-medication with alcohol and stimulants.
The abuse started when she was 6, “when I shared a bed with the daughter of a family friend,” she writes. “It would start with tickling my back and then go into things that were extremely uncomfortable.”
She wanted to share her story, but was afraid. “I wanted to tell my parents,” she writes in an excerpt shared with People. “I was the victim but somehow I felt in the wrong.”
Simpson did eventually tell her parents, Tina and Joe Simpson, while they were on a car trip. Her mom knew. She yelled at Joe, Simpson writes: “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.”
Later, she skyrocketed to fame via her voice and on the reality TV show Newlyweds, with then-husband to Nick Lachey. The show aired at the height of her fame, from 2003-2005.
In 2010, she met Eric Johnson, whom she married in 2014. They share three children: Maxwell, 7, son Ace, 6, and baby girl Birdie, 10 months.
“I was killing myself with all the drinking and pills,” she writes.
“When I finally said I needed help, it was like I was that little girl that found her calling again in life,” she says. “I found direction and that was to walk straight ahead with no fear.”
Simpson recalls hitting rock bottom after a Halloween party at their home in 2017.
She got sober in November 2017 and hasn’t had a drink or drug since.
Simpson says: “Giving up the alcohol was easy. I was mad at that bottle. At how it allowed me to stay complacent and numb.”
Simpson hopes her story will help others. “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.”