Rosie O’Donnell, comedian and television personality, opened up about her disturbing childhood.
In an upcoming book – Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of The View – by Ramin Setoodeh, Variety’s New York bureau chief, O’Donnell for the first time accused her late father, Edward Joseph, of sexually abusing her throughout her early childhood. Joseph died in 2015, battling with cancer.
“It started very young,” O’Donnell told Setoodeh of the alleged abuse. “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. 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.”
In a chapter about The Rosie O’Donnell Show – that was aired from 1996 to 2002 – details about the alleged sexual assault are given.
Rosie O’Donnell, 56, was a panelist on the US talk show from 2006 to 2007, and again in 2014. On the show, the actress usually spoke about her troubled family history and how she has been an advocate for sexual abuse survivors. However, she never revealed her side of the story, until now.
Previously, in an interview with Piers Morgan in 2012, O’Donnell had said that she has forgiven her dad for past wrongdoings.
“He had his own issues and demons. You get to be 50 years old, you can’t still be angry at what your father did in 1970… I have forgiven him.”
In November 2017, when Rosie O’Donnell appeared on The Howard Stern Show, she spoke about her own mental health and connected her sexual abuse experience with her body-image struggles when she was a child.
“I have major depressive disorder — luckily, I’m medicated,” she had said.
“I think it’s what your body does to protect you if you’re a kid who’s sexually abused, which I was,” she said. “You kind of disconnect from your body, you dissociate. You don’t pay attention to it. You don’t want to love it, because it’s kind of betrayed you in some way.”
Rosie O’Donnell has four children with ex-wife Kelli Carpenter-O’Donnell – sons Parker, 23, and Blake, 19, and daughters Vivienne, 16, and Chelsea, 21. She also has a daughter Dakota with ex-wife Michelle Rounds. O’Donnell is now engaged to 33-year-old Elizabeth Rooney.