Ashley Judd talks of neglect, abuse in memoir

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actress Ashley Judd says in a new memoir that she had a lonely, painful childhood that included sexual abuse and thoughts of suicide while her mother Naomi Judd and sister Wynonna sought to build a career as country music stars.

Actress Ashley Judd attends a news conference to speak about her philanthropic efforts to combat human trafficking, at United Nations Headquarters in New York, June 3, 2008. REUTERS/Chip East

In excerpts of “All That Is Bitter and Sweet”, and in a TV interview on the “Today” show on Tuesday, Judd spoke of feeling neglected and emotionally abused while constantly moving homes with the Judd country legends.

“My family of origin, the one into which I was born, was also brimming with love but was not a healthy family system. There was too much trauma, abandonment, addiction and shame,” the “Double Jeopardy” actress writes in the memoir, which was published on Tuesday.

Judd, 42, wrote that she was molested by a family friend as a teenager, witnessed inappropriate sexual behavior between her mother and her new boyfriends, and said drugs were regularly available in her home.

Many of the memories, including times when she played with her mother’s gun after school and thought about shooting herself, were repressed and were recovered when Judd underwent therapy in 2006.

Judd told “Today” in an interview that the goal of her book was to better explain the humanitarian work she does around the globe involving impoverished and abused women in brothels, slums and refugee camps.

“I was really encouraged by people I trust to include some of my own story, because why I love (humanitarian) work really baffled people, and so I eventually got willing to put it there,” the actress explained.

Naomi Judd said in a statement to “Today”; “I love my daughter. I hope her book does well.”

Ashley Judd called her mother’s attitude to the revelations “exquisitely gracious”.

Naomi Judd and her country singer daughter Wynonna are set to reveal details of their own tempestuous relationship in a six part TV documentary series starting on the Oprah Winfrey Network on Sunday.

Reporting by Jill Serjeant, editing by Christine Kearney