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Country Star Shania Twain Discusses Stepfather's Alleged Sexual Abuse
The five-time Grammy winner said on The TODAY Show that her stepfather would "fondle" her and make her go without a shirt when she was a child growing up in Ontario.
Superstar Shania Twain is opening up about the trauma she suffered from allegedly being sexually abused as a child at the hands of her stepfather.
The Canadian country-pop entertainer sat down with The Today Show co-host Hoda Kotb on Thursday to discuss her upcoming studio album, “Queen of Me,” which the 57-year-old said was about “loving who you are.”
“I’m just in this moment now where I’m happy in my own skin,” she said. “It’s the only skin I have, so I don’t have a choice. Otherwise, I’m going to hate myself for the rest of my life.”
The "That Don’t Impress Me Much" singer made headlines last fall after appearing topless, albeit still covered, for the cover of her single, “Waking Up Dreaming.”
Twain said that posing without clothes helped her overcome the feelings brought on by her stepfather’s alleged abuse that started when she was just 10 years old, saying it was time to start loving herself and “embracing” herself without regret.
“It’s a way of really saying, ‘Listen, I was abused as a kid,’” Twain told The Today Show. “My father would fondle me up on the top and make me go without a shirt — and I was already maturing.”
In December, the five-time Grammy winner also spoke to the Sunday Times about the abuse, explaining that she would flatten her breasts as a means of making herself less feminine when around her alleged abuser.
Twain told Kotb that "this cringe-y, horrible, wanting to escape being in my own skin” led her to create music in the first place.
Kotb also asked about Twain’s 2022 Netflix special “Shania Twain: Not Just A Girl,” in which the singer previously described growing up in an abusive home, sometimes without food and electricity.
“It’s sort of a double-edged sword because there’s elements of going through all those difficulties that make you stronger,” Twain admitted in Thursday’s interview. “But on the other hand, you also develop insecurities, insecurities like ‘If I don’t take care of myself, nobody will.’”
“You can’t really rely on anyone else, and you feel more alone in the world; there’s an anxiousness that comes with that, a vulnerability,” Twain continued.
It’s not the first time the singer opened up about her stepfather’s alleged abuse. In a 2018 interview with The Guardian, Twain described her alleged abuser, Jerry, as a member of the Ojibwa nation who struggled with alcoholism, mental health issues and fits of violent rage during her upbringing in Ontario.
Twain claimed that Jerry and Twain’s mother — who also reportedly lived with depression — were physically abusive to one another.
“I was worried about my father killing my mother,” Twain told the Guardian. “Many nights, I went to bed thinking, ‘Don’t go to sleep, don’t go to sleep, wait ’til they’re sleeping.’ And I would wake up and make sure everybody was breathing.”
In Twain’s 2011 autobiography, “From This Moment On,” the musician revealed an incident when her father allegedly repeatedly pushed Twain’s mother’s head into the toilet.
After graduating high school, Twain moved to Nashville to focus on her singing, but after Jerry and her mother died in a 1987 car crash, the then-22-year-old Twain moved back to Canada to raise her four siblings. To support her family, Twain performed music at a local hotel.
Twain’s songs made her a fixture in the country and pop music industry, with hits including “From This Moment On,” “Man, I Feel Like A Woman” and “You’re Still The One.” Referred to as “The Queen of Country Pop,” Twain was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
“Queen of Me” will be released in February 2023.