Vanessa Williams’ problems — a scuttled Miss America reign, a troubled marriage — have mostly played out in the tabloids. Until now. In her new memoir, You Have No Idea (out April 17), Williams reveals that a family friend sexually abused her when she was only 10 years old. Excerpts from the book appear in the current issue of People.
During a trip to California to visit family friends, Williams writes, the family’s 18-year-old daughter crept into the den where she was sleeping and pulled down her bloomers.“’What are you doing?’ I asked. ‘Don’t worry — it’ll feel good.’ I lay there paralyzed. What was going on? I didn’t speak. She kept at [the molestation] for I don’t know how long. She slid my bloomers back up and whispered: ‘Don’t tell anyone.'”
Williams did as she was told and kept it a secret for years. In fact, the Desperate Housewives actress says she didn’t understand what happened to her until many years later.
She tells People that she’s moved on. “I don’t dwell,” she said. Instead, she uses the tale as a learning experience for her children: Melanie, 24, Jillian, 22, Devin, 19, and Sasha, 11.
“I was verbal about it so they knew what to look for,” she said. “It was part of my journey that led me to them and to where I am today.”