Ashley Judd talks sexual abuse, advocacy work in new memoir on 'Today'

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Actress Ashley Judd has a book coming out titled "All That Is Bitter & Sweet." As she details in an interview on "Today," the memoir is a blending of her childhood and adult experiences with abuse and a dysfunctional family situation, which led to her recovery and advocacy work around the world with abuse victims and displaced persons.

Judd says of the book, "Why I love this work really baffled people, so eventually I got willing to put [my personal story] in there."

The abuse she suffered is detailed in the book, citing sexual abuse with several men during her childhood, including one family member, and how upon the first instance of a men luring her into an empty store, no one would believe her that it happened.

She also says of her personal struggle with sexual abuse, "The book is very honest. It's not necessarily accurate because everyone in a family has their own perspective and their own experience. But it's very true for me ... It's not so much that I had repressed [the abuse], it's that I didn't know. That's what sexual predators do. They groom their victims and psychologically manipulate, and because they are shameless when they are perpetrating ... they put their shame on me and I have given those SOBs back their shame."

Here is an excerpt from the book. A longer excerpt can be found on the "Today" website:

I began to understand the dynamics of my past, and how we are only as sick as our secrets, when I was thirty-seven years old and started on a simple and practical path of personal recovery. It as then that I discovered we all belong to two families: our family of choice and our family of origin. My family of choice is a colorful assortment of surrogate grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends who infuse me with love, belonging, and acceptance. 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. My mother, while she was transforming herself into the country legend Naomi Judd, created an origin myth for the Judds that did not match my reality. She and my sister have been quoted as saying that our family put the "fun" in dysfunction. I wondered: Who, exactly, was having all the fun? What was I missing?

"All That Is Bitter & Sweet" is in bookstores and available online Tuesday (April 5).
Photo/Video credit: Today, Ballatine Books