Rosie O'Donnell Says She Was Sexually Abused by Her Father as a Child

Rosie O'Donnell
Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

The TV host opens up about her childhood in the new book, 'Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of ‘The View.''

Rosie O'Donnell is getting more personal than ever.

In the upcoming book, Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of ‘The View' by Ramin Setoodeh, the 56-year-old former co-host on The View speaks out about the alleged sexual abuse that was inflicted on her by her late father, Edward Joseph, when she was a child.

“It started very young,” O’Donnell tells Setoodeh in an excerpt for the book published by Variety on Wednesday. “And then when my mother died, it sort of ended in a weird way, because then he was with these five children to take care of. On the whole, it’s not something I like to talk about. Of course, it changes everyone. Any child who is put in that position, especially by someone in the family, you feel completely powerless and stuck, because the person you would tell is the person doing it.”

O'Donnell lost her mother to breast cancer when she was 10 years old. Her father died in 2015. The details about the alleged abuse appear in the chapter about The Rosie O'Donnell Show. While this is the first time O'Donnell has gone into detail about the alleged abuse, the Sleepless in Seattle actress has been a longtime advocate for sexual abuse victims.

In the book, she also touches on public figures who have been accused of sexual misdeeds involving minors.

“I’m very anti-Roman Polanski and anti-Woody Allen,” O’Donnell expresses in the book. “It’s a pretty clear line for me.” Allen has vehemently denied the accusations made against him. Polanski, meanwhile, fled the country while awaiting sentencing for statutory rape in 1978. The director pleaded not guilty to all charges, but later accepted a plea bargain which included dismissal of the five initial charges in exchange for a guilty plea to the lesser charge of engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse. 

This isn't the first time that O'Donnell has mentioned the alleged sexual abuse she endured. During an interview on The Howard Stern Show in November of 2017, she opened up about her struggles with mental illness, which she claimed stemmed from sexual abuse she experienced as a child.

“I have major depressive disorder. Luckily, I’m medicated," she said, admitting that she's experienced "suicide ideation."

"It means you think about it. You never make the plan necessarily of how you’re going to do it," she explained, also touching on her body-image issues.

“I think it’s what your body does to protect you if you’re a kid who’s sexually abused, which I was,” she revealed. “You kind of disconnect from your body, you dissociate. You don’t pay attention to it. You don’t want to love it, because it’s kind of betrayed you in some way.”

For more on O'Donnell, watch below.