Vanessa Williams Reveals Sexual Abuse in New Memoir

4:15 PM PST 04/06/2012 by THR Staff
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

The actress addresses childhood molestation and the nude pictures that cost her the Miss America crown in 1984.

Vanessa Williams made viewers laugh with her comedic turns on Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives, but the actress is now sharing a dark look into her past with her new memoir, You Have No Idea.

In the book, excerpted by People, Williams reveals that she was molested when she was just 10 years old. While visiting family friends in California, the family's 18-year-old daughter entered her room and "pulled down the bloomers of my cotton baby-doll pajamas," Williams writes. "'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 it for I don't know how long. She slid my bloomers back up and whispered: 'Don't tell anyone.'"

Williams kept the incident a secret for many years but says the gravity of the situation didn't affect her until college. "After that trip I felt something change in me," she writes. "I had always been defiant, but I became a bit more rebellious. I began to pull away from my parents."

Williams also addresses her nude photo scandal, which cost her the Miss America crown in 1984. She says that honesty is the best policy when it comes to addressing the past, and explains why she tells her own children the full truth about that incident.

"When my kids have asked about Miss America, those photos or any other part of my life, I told them what I always tell them -- the truth," she says. "After all, it was part of my journey that led me to them and to where I am today."

Williams has four children: three from her first marriage to manager Ramon Hervey II and one from her marriage to former NBA star Rick Fox.

Williams' memoir is due to hit shelves April 17. You Have No Idea: A Famous Daughter, Her No-nonsense Mother, and How They Survived Pageants, Hollywood, Love, Loss (and Each Other) is co-penned by Williams' mother, Helen Williams.

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