Naomi Judd is opening up about her painful past.
Appearing on Candy O’Terry’s “Country Music Success Stories” podcast from her 500-acre property in Leipers Fork, Tenn., the 74-year-old country singer speaks candidly about her troubled childhood, filled with drug and sex abuse.
At the age of 18, Judd welcomed her first daughter Wynonna after being “date raped” by a football player the night before her senior year of high school.
“I got pregnant the first time I had sex,” recalls the singer. “Three months later, when I called him to tell him to say I thought I was pregnant, he said, ‘well, tough luck kiddo,’ and he hung up the phone and we never heard from him.”
After giving birth to Wynonna in 1964, Judd says she “had to marry the town jerk to have a roof and a name.”
Judd and her then-husband Michael Ciminella moved to Los Angeles, where they welcomed their daughter Ashley in 1968. The couple later divorced and the singer raised her two daughters on her own while working a receptionist job, admitting she was “a pay cheque away from the streets every night.”
Judd experienced another horror story of sexual abuse at the age of 22, when she was beaten and raped by her drug-addicted ex-boyfriend after he broke into her home.
“He slapped me across the face,” she explains. “He tortured me and he beat me real bad and then he raped me and then he took a shot of heroin, and when he took a second dose of heroin he passed out, so I took the girls and went to the sheriff station.”
This marked a major turning point in Judd’s life, explaining she escaped to a house in Kentucky where she started her career as a nurse before becoming half of the Grammy-winning mother-daughter duo, The Judds.
The singer hopes her story will help others struggling, explaining, “I’ve been through an alphabet of tragedies and trials and I’m still here. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it at all. But I just kept going like the little engine that could. I said to myself: I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”
Fans can listen to the full podcast with Judd here.