Jessica Simpson's new memoir Open Book is out February 4, and in it, she opens up for the first time about being sexually abused as a young child, and her subsequent addiction to alcohol and pills. The singer, actress, and fashion mogul courageously details the painful after-effects of the abuse, and how that, combined with the pressure from her ever-growing career, led her to self-meditate with drugs and alcohol.
In an excerpt of her book published in this week's People Magazine, Simpson describes her alcohol and stimulant use. Eventually her doctor told her she was in danger. “I was killing myself with all the drinking and pills,” she writes.
The 39-year-old reveals that the abuse started as a young girl. “I 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 describes.
“I wanted to tell my parents,” she adds. “I was the victim but somehow I felt in the wrong.” When Simpson was 12, she did open up to her parents, Tina and Joe Simpson, while on a road trip.
People reports that Simpson recalls her mom slapping her dad’s arm, yelling: “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.”
As the years flew by, Simpson became a household name. Her popularity began with the debut of her 1999 album Sweet Kisses. She went on to star on the reality show Newlyweds, which put a microscope up to her marriage to Nick Lachey. She later started a successful clothing line, and is now a mom of three with her new spouse Eric Johnson.
But in private, Simpson was hitting rock bottom. At a Halloween party at her home in 2017, she found herself telling 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.”
That November, Simpson got sober and says she hasn’t had a drink 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.
“When I finally said I needed help, it was like I was that little girl that found her calling again in life,” she says, according to People. “I found direction and that was to walk straight ahead with no fear.”
Ultimately, she ended up in therapy: “With work, I allowed myself to feel the traumas I’d been through,” she says. Still, for a long time, only her close family and friends knew what happened to her.
Simpson was first approached about writing a novel five years ago — a motivational book about “living your best life." At the time, Simpson knew she'd have to decline. “I didn’t feel comfortable talking about myself in a way that wasn’t honest,” she told People. With this memoir, she was brave enough to reveal her pain and empower others to get help too.
Along with Simpson’s book, she’s also releasing six songs to help tell her story. “It’s been a long hard deep emotional journey,” she says, “one that I’ve come through the other side with pure happiness and fulfilment and acceptance of myself. I’ve used my pain and turned it into something that can be beautiful and hopefully inspiring to people.”
If you have experienced sexual violence of any kind, please visit Rape Crisis or call 0808 802 9999.