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Jessica Simpson recalls sexual abuse: 'I knew something was wrong'

Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Jessica Simpson is looking back on the sexual abuse she experienced as a child.

The 39-year-old singer and fashion designer discussed the abuse she suffered at age 6 during an interview Wednesday on Today.

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Simpson was sexually abused from the ages of 6 to 12 by a young girl who was a family friend. Simpson previously said the abuse happened when they shared a bed during sleepovers at the friend's house.

"At the time I didn't really understand what was happening. I knew something was wrong. I knew it was wrong, what was going on," she said on Today. "This was a very close person, and she was being abused. It happened throughout a long time in my life."

Simpson struggled to tell her parents about the abuse, in part because of her religious upbringing. Simpson's father was a Baptist youth minister in their home state of Texas.

"I was a preacher's daughter," Simpson said. "I was taught to be a virgin until I got married, and so I never wanted to share these sexual things that were happening because I didn't want to hurt anybody."

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Simpson said her parents cut ties with the friend's family but didn't discuss the abuse after she told them what was happening.

"My parents' reaction -- they did the best that they could," the star said. "That's a heavy thing to hear from your child."

"They ignored it with their words, for sure, but they took action, and I never had to do the sleepovers again. I never had to go back," she added.

Simpson went public about the abuse in an excerpt from her forthcoming memoir, Open Book. Simpson told People she confronted her abuser after getting sober in 2017 and starting therapy.

"I needed to confront my abuser," the star said. "It was extremely painful and still is. It's still shocking. That little girl in me wanting to do the right thing, not knowing how to stand up for herself and not knowing how to stop it," she said.

"I felt like a lot of who I am, the character of who I am, was built through the trials and the pain of abuse," she added. "I allowed it to happen, so I felt that I was as much of the abuser as the abused. So I was very shameful during that time, from 6 to 12 years old."

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Open Book is scheduled for release Feb. 4.

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