Oprah has never been one to shy away from difficult conversations, but in a sneak peek of her upcoming appearance on The Dr. Oz Show (set to air Thursday), the talk show host is revealing a traumatic story from her past.
In an emotional clip released by ET Tuesday, the 67-year-old reflected on witnessing domestic violence as a kid, describing how that trauma has affected her to this day. She candidly recalled:
“My grandmother and I slept in the bed together. My grandfather was in a room on the other side of the wall and one night in the middle of the night, my grandfather gets out of bed and comes into the room. And I wake up and he has his hands around my grandmother’s neck and she is screaming.”
Whoa! The WW spokesperson continued:
“She manages to push him off of her and step over him. He falls. She steps over him and runs to the front door. I run out of the bed with her. It’s pitch black in the middle of the night in rural Mississippi. And she goes out on the porch and she starts screaming ‘Henry, Henry.’ There is an old man who lived down the road that we call Cousin Henry, he was blind.”
Starting to get emotional, the SuperSoul producer explained how Henry helped the family, sharing:
“Cousin Henry comes down the road in the middle of the night to help my grandmother get my grandfather up off the floor.”
As you can imagine, things could never be the same after experiencing that shocking moment. To help protect young Oprah (who didn’t specify her age at the time), her grandmother set up a system to alert them of any unwanted visitors in the night. Winfrey detailed:
“And after that my grandmother put a chair underneath the doorknob and some tin cans around the chair. And that is how we slept every night. I’m sleeping, I always slept with, listening for the cans. Listening for what happens if that doorknob moves.”
No wonder she had trouble sleeping after that! Not only was she likely experiencing symptoms of PTSD after watching the altercation between her grandparents, but now she’d lay awake at night paranoid of hearing those cans! That’s a kind of fear and worry that can’t be shaken lightly.
The fact that this terrifying moment was used as a teaser for the upcoming interview suggests a new level of vulnerability from Oprah, who is promoting her new book, What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience and Healing. Co-written with neuroscientist Dr. Bruce Perry, the book (which hit shelves Tuesday) aims to connect with and inspire readers working through their own challenges. It’s said to be a candid look into the celeb’s life, as well as will provide guidance into PTSD, trauma, and severe stress. Sounds like an important read, especially for so many suffering in these last few years with the consequences of isolation amid the pandemic.
Sadly, there were more instances of violence and abuse in Winfrey’s childhood. Watch the full preview (below) to hear snippets of other emotional moments ahead of the full interview Thursday.
We imagine revealing such personal information to the masses is incredibly nerve-wracking, but Oprah’s honesty will surely connect with viewers. It’s amazing to see her use her difficult upbringing to lift others up rather than hold her back.
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