In an interview with ABC’s Nightline, Vanessa Williams discussed her new memoir, ‘You Have No Idea’ co-wrote by her mother Helen Williams, where she reveals she was molested as a 10-year old child.
As they wrote the memoir, Vanessa told her mother secrets that she has kept her entire life. Vanessa Williams told her mother about being molested when she was only 10-years old by an 18-year old girl when they were on a family trip with friends.
“I was young, it was the summer of going into fifth grade. It happened one night where she told me ‘Come over here.’ I didn’t know that it was wrong, but I knew that it wasn’t right because I wasn’t supposed to tell anybody,” Vanessa Williams spoke of the molestation.
Helen Williams, Vanessa’s mother said she was stunned when she heard about this, but also it became more clear to some of Vanessa’s reactions during her pre-teen years.
Vanessa Williams said, “I think I was highly sexualized because I was in fifth grade and I had this experience. Because it feels good, you’re like, OK, well this is supposed to be normal. That’s not normal for a 10-year-old to be seduced.”
She’s convinced that her early sexual contact affected her behavior in high school. A behavior led to her getting pregnant before she graduated and an abortion because she knew she wasn’t able to take care of a child.
“Being pregnant is the most frightening thing that happens in your life. I knew in high school that’s something that I was not prepared to do or fight or struggle with,” Vanessa Williams tells Nightline.
Vanessa Williams was the first black Miss America in 1984, but had to give up her crown after nude pictures submerged in Penthouse. Williams says she trusted the photographer when he promised to keep them private.
“I started out on top of a cab and ended up in a studded collar upstairs an hour later,” Williams said. “That was my joke, saying, you know, ‘How could I go from this trusting, you know, photo shoot, to being in S&M clothing within the same shoot with a guy I didn’t know.'”
“I’ve learned to embrace my past. I embrace the choices that I have been given in my life,” Vanessa Williams told Nightline.