In 2019, Jessica Simpson announced that she was writing a memoir on the challenges she’d faced in her life. But no one — not even the star herself — predicted just how raw and revealing this memoir would be. Simpson revealed her childhood sexual abuse in this new memoir, Open Book, delving into her struggles with substance abuse and addiction that followed, and her road to recovery since getting sober in 2017.
For Simpson, the memoir had started out as an exercise in motivational writing. But it quickly became clear that wasn’t the story she needed to tell. In Open Book, out February 4, 2020, she details her experiences with sexual abuse for the first time and explains how she’s finally allowed herself to start to heal from that trauma.
The abuse started at age 6 for Simpson. When she “shared a bed with the daughter of a family friend…It would start with tickling my back and then go into things that were extremely uncomfortable,” she writes, per an excerpt published by People. “I wanted to tell my parents…I was the victim but somehow I felt in the wrong.”
At age 12, she did work up the courage to say something on a drive with her parents: “I told you something was happening,” Simpson’s mother reportedly yelled at her father. “Dad kept his eye on the road and said nothing. We never stayed at my parents’ friend’s house again but we also didn’t talk about what I had said.”
Today, Simpson has been going to therapy to finally process the emotions from that time in her life: “With work, I allowed myself to feel the traumas I’d been through.”
But before the healing could begin, Simpson had tried to drown out the pain in other ways: “I was killing myself with all the drinking and pills.” As her alcohol and stimulant use worsened, her doctors started to express concern. But it wasn’t until a Halloween party gone wrong in 2017 that Simpson knew she needed a change.
“I need to stop. Something’s got to stop,” she told her friends. “And if it’s the alcohol that’s doing this, and making things worse, then I quit.”
Simpson’s been sober since 2017 and says that awakening changed everything for her: “When I finally said I needed help, it was like I was that little girl that found her calling again in life. I found direction and that was to walk straight ahead with no fear.”
The actress, singer, and entrepreneur lives with husband Eric Johnson and their three kids: Maxwell, Ace, and baby Birdie. “It’s been a long hard deep emotional journey,” the mom of three writes. “And getting to the other side of fear is beautiful.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, you can get help by calling the Drug Addiction Hotline at 1-877-813-5721.