Actress Mackenzie Phillips told Oprah today that her father, John Phillips, a member of the '60s folk group The Mamas and the Papas, raped her when she was a teenager. Mackenzie says the abuse continued for 10 years, and that she began to believe that their sexual relationship was consensual, even when she, a heroin and cocaine addict for years, went to rehab with her father.
"I boxed it away," Mackenzie said. "I started very early on in my life compartmentalizing, boxing away difficult memories, difficult experiences." She says she was 17 or 18 when her father first sexually abused her; now 49, she says she's spent the last three decades trying to get over the abuse, which has affected her relationships with men as well as her multiple attempts at sobriety.
Mackenzie says in her new book, High on Arrival, that her father raped her while she was unconscious the night before her wedding to her first husband, Jeff Sessler, in 1979. She and Sessler were divorced in 1981, and she has been married twice since. "My father was not a man with boundaries. He was full of love, and he was sick with drugs," she writes. "I woke up that night from a blackout to find myself having sex with my own father. Had this happened before? I didn't know. All I can say is it was the first time I was aware of it." When Sex Is A Weapon: Surviving Date Rape
Mackenzie discusses the abuse and her drug addictions in her book, saying that her father continued to rape her when she was traveling with a reconstructed lineup of his band in the 1980s, but he referred to it as "making love," which frankly makes us sick. She did not specifically tell Oprah why she continued subjecting herself to the abuse, since she was an adult and did not live with her father during most of the time he was raping her. She referred to her attachment to him as a kind of "Stockholm syndrome," in which a prisoner forms a relationship with her captor. Why Do Victims Of Domestic Violence Stay?
The ongoing relationship, during which Mackenzie was married, divorced, and had a son with musician Michael Barakan, ended in 1989 when John suggested he and Mackenzie run away together and raise her siblings Tamerlane and Bijou as their children. Mackenzie told Oprah she became pregnant and had an abortion around that time, fearing that her father had impregnated her. John Phillips died in 2001.
If you are a victim of abuse, you can get help. Go to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.
Via People.com. Photo courtesy Flickr user feastoffun.