"I imagined that every person on the street was going to point their finger at me and scream, ‘Pregnant at 14, you wicked girl … expelled!’ ”
Trigger Warning: This story discusses sexual abuse that may be disturbing to readers.
Oprah Winfrey experienced great grief when she was just a teenager. At the tender age of 14, not only did Winfrey give birth, but she then lost her child.
The former talk show host opened up about her painful past when speaking to her fans at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia in 2015, according to news.com.au.
“I did an interview with a reporter before I came to Australia and she said you should name the baby son who died,” Winfrey, 68, reportedly told the audience of 15,000.
“So I have named him, I had a little boy named Canaan,” Winfrey reportedly said, not specifying the spelling. “I did have a son. And I named him Canaan because Canaan means new land, new life.”
During the same event, she opened up about how she suffered abuse at the hands of people she considered family. She was assaulted multiple times by multiple members of her family, which ultimately resulted in her pregnancy.
“I was raped at 9 years old by a cousin, then again by another family member, and another family member,” Winfrey reportedly said, adding that she tried to hide her pregnancy at 14 because she felt so much “pain and shame.”
Winfrey gave birth as a teen to her son, who died in the hospital weeks later. News of her loss first came out in 1990, when a relative of Winfrey’s revealed the story. At the time, her loss shattered her, she revealed. “I took to my bed and cried for three days. I felt devastated. Wounded. Betrayed. How could this person do this to me?” she wrote in the February 2007 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, according to PEOPLE.
She also said she was worried about her career; she thought it would be damaged if people found out about the pregnancy: “I imagined that every person on the street was going to point their finger at me and scream, ‘Pregnant at 14, you wicked girl … expelled!’ ”
But, once the story was out, Winfrey said she felt free. “And I soon realized that having the secret out was liberating,” she wrote in 2007. “What I learned for sure was that holding the shame was the greatest burden of all.”
Winfrey suffered such great loss at such a tender age, but she only came out stronger at the end of it.
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