'He'd fondle me': Shania Twain reveals shocking childhood sexual abuse by stepfather
LAKE GENEVA, WISCONSIN: Country music icon Shania Twain is speaking out about her stepfather's alleged sexual assault of her when she was a child. In an interview on Thursday, January 5, she addressed the abuse allegations she made in 2018 and described how her stepfather, Jerry Twain, made her feel ashamed of her own body.
Years after the five-time Grammy winner refused to talk about details of abuse in a 2018 interview with The Guardian, Twain has discovered more courage and is ready to talk about her pain. The singer recently did a risqué photo shoot posing nude for her upcoming album 'Queen of Me,' which she claims helped her overcome the abuse she faced as a child. The 57-year-old star said on Today show, “It’s a way of really about saying, listen, I was abused when I was a kid, my father would fondle me up on the top and make me go without a shirt, and I was already maturing.”
Shania also spoke of wanting to "escape" her skin, but now she wants to flourish there. “I’m happy in my own skin. It’s the only skin I have, so I don’t have a choice,” she added. “It’s time to start loving myself in my own skin and really embracing that and not being embarrassed by it or shy of it.” She was "petrified" to pose naked, yet she found the photo shoot to be "empowering."
Speaking about her violent past Shania said in the 2018 interview, “I was worried about my father killing my mother. I thought they’d kill each other. My mom was quite violent, too. Many nights I went to bed thinking: ‘Don’t go to sleep, don’t go to sleep, wait ’til they are sleeping.’ And I would wake up and make sure everybody was breathing.” She describes a night when her stepfather, Jerry, allegedly beat her mother, Sharon, to the point of unconsciousness and forced her head into a toilet bowl in her 2011 memoir, 'From This Moment On,' which is cited in the piece. Twain claimed that she retaliated by slapping Jerry across the back with a chair, which caused him to swing at her and strike her in the jaw. She had turned eleven at that time
The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer says she never imagined being famous and only used songwriting as an "escape" from a brutal and hungry reality. “When you’re hungry you can’t do anything about it, but distract yourself from the hunger. And it really works. It’s therapeutic,” she revealed. “A lot of kids play with dolls, and I played with words and sounds.”
Twain further claimed she used to flatten her chest to go "unnoticed" in her house, but you wouldn't know it from the colorful, carefree photos promoting her upcoming album. “I hid myself, and I would flatten my boobs. I would wear bras that were too small for me, and I’d wear two, play it down until there was nothing girl about me,” Twain told the Sunday Times in December. “Make it easier to go unnoticed. Because, oh my gosh, it was terrible — you didn’t want to be a girl in my house." Twain also said that because of abuse, she found it difficult to embrace her femininity and channel her repressed wrath. “It took a long time to manage that anger. You don’t want to be somebody that attacks me on the street,” the “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” singer said. ‘Because I will f–king rip your head off if I get the chance.”
The 2022 Netflix documentary 'Not Just a Girl,' in which Twain described her upbringing and household as "violent," was also discussed by "Today" co-host Hoda Kotb. She recalled that she occasionally went without food and electricity and that she lost both her mother and stepfather when she was in her 20s, causing her to take on the role of parent for her siblings. As a "double-edged sword," Twain's experiences made her stronger, but at what cost? “There’s elements of that, of going through all those difficulties that make you stronger,” she said. “What you survive makes you stronger, but on the other hand, you develop insecurities.”
She added that her stepfather had "physically and psychologically" assaulted her and that there had been instances of sexual abuse since she was 10 years old, but she would not elaborate. Additionally, Twain left it out of her book. “Uh huh, uh huh. I’m not going to go into details about it,” she said. “I don’t mind saying it, because I do think it’s important that people understand you can survive these things." “I feel the sexual abuse goes hand in hand with the physical and psychological abuse when it’s somebody you know. I learned to block it out,” she added. “Abusers need to manipulate you, whether it’s before or after, and what I said to myself is: ‘OK, there’s something wrong with this person, and that person is not well.’”