The actress reflects on the impact her molestation at age 10 had on her life

By Kathy Ehrich Dowd
Updated July 16, 2014 07:30 PM
Credit: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty

Vanessa Williams is sharing more details about the molestation she suffered at age 10 – and the impact it had on her growing up.

“I think it made me more sexually promiscuous and more sexually curious at a younger age than I should have been,” the actress and former Miss America says in a new episode of Oprah’s Master Class, which aired Sunday.

In 2012, Williams, now 51, first spoke to PEOPLE about being molested by the 18-year-old daughter of her friend’s family while they were away on vacation. She also discussed the incident in her memoir, You Have No Idea.

“One night she came into the room where my friend and I were sleeping, and she told me to lie down on the floor. She took my bottoms off and she said, ‘Be quiet,’ and she went down on me,” she recounts again on the OWN show. “I knew it felt good, but also something that was not supposed to be happening.”

Williams said she was “conflicted” after it happened and wanted to speak to her family about it. But when she returned home from the trip, she discovered her father’s brother passed away, so she chose to suppress the incident.

However, she now realizes that despite her best efforts to forget about what happened, it found a way to bubble up to the surface.

“At that young age, having that happen to you in your body, it awakens your sexuality at an age where it shouldn’t be awakened,” she said.

Williams famously lost her 1983 Miss America crown after racy photos of her in lesbian poses were sold to Penthouse.

Yet the twice-divorced mother of four went on to have a successful career as a singer and actress, despite never forgetting the incident that had a profound impact on her life.

“I think had that not happened in my life, and I had an opportunity to have a normal courtship with a boyfriend at 16 or whatever … there wouldn’t have been that shame that was always haunting me.”
Vanessa Williams Opens Up About Being Molested as a Child

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