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Oprah Winfrey opens up about child abuse in her newest book

By Camille Santiago Published Apr 29, 2021 11:05 am

Oprah Winfrey has opened up about her childhood abuse and trauma in her upcoming book, saying she was "beaten for the slightest reasons."

"Most of the struggles I endured as a child resulted in trauma that would define many relationships, interactions, and decisions in my life. It took decades of work, conversations, and healing to break those cycles and make peace with my past," Winfrey wrote on social media introducing her new book What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience and Healing, which she co-wrote with Dr. Bruce Perry.

In a series of posts, Winfrey shared that as a child, she was "whipped" regularly, discriminated for being a "nappy-headed dark child," and even feared of her grandfather hurting her and her grandmother. Because of that, she added, she became "a world-class people pleaser for most of my life."

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In an exclusive clip published by ET Online, Winfrey shared a traumatic childhood experience on The Dr. Oz Show.

"My grandmother and I slept in the bed together. My grandfather was in a room on the other side of the wall and one night in the middle of the night, my grandfather gets out of bed and comes into the room," she recalls. "And I wake up and he has his hands around my grandmother's neck and she is screaming," the media mogul shared.

"She manages to push him off of her and step over him. He falls. She steps over him and runs to the front door. I run out of the bed with her. It's pitch black in the middle of the night in rural Mississippi," she continues. "And she goes out on the porch and she starts screaming 'Henry, Henry.' There is an old man who lived down the road that we call Cousin Henry, he was blind."

"Cousin Henry comes down the road in the middle of the night to help my grandmother get my grandfather up off the floor," she continues. "And after that my grandmother put a chair underneath the doorknob and some tin cans around the chair. And that is how we slept every night. I'm sleeping, I always slept with, listening for the cans. Listening for what happens if that doorknob moves."

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The TV personality and philanthropist says that she was fortunate to be able to get through her trauma, and that others can do it too. "Through conversations with my co-author Dr. Bruce Perry, my eyes have been opened to the fact that although I experienced abuse and trauma as a child, my brain found ways to adapt. This is where hope lives for all of us—in the unique adaptability of our miraculous brains."

Winfrey hopes that through her book, others would learn to be more empathetic. "We hope that through these pages, we help people hold more empathy for themselves and others as we learn to shift from asking 'What’s wrong with you?' to 'What happened to you?'"

She also wishes that people will be able "to build a renewed sense of personal self-worth and ultimately recalibrate your responses to circumstances, situations, and relationships" and be able to share their stories "because together we can break those cycles and resolve that pain."

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