Suzanne Somers said she grew up scared of her alcoholic and abusive father. He terrorized her life and dominated her fears. But one night, after he’d had one too many, and she’d had enough, she snapped. And this time made him afraid of her.
Somers says the abuse started early. She struggled in school and felt insecure and alone. But she’d managed to land a date for her junior prom. She told Closer Weekly in 2019 that it was her first big date. As a matter of fact, she worked on her dress with her mom.
“I loved it,” she said of the dress. “I remember we picked up sequins for the top — I’ve always loved sequins — and two layers of chiffon for the skirt. One was pink, the other peach, and I couldn’t wait. I went to bed dreaming about it.”
However, one night her father came home particularly drunk and decided to take out his rage on her beautiful new dress. He tore it to pieces.
“My mother came in screaming, ‘Are you crazy?’ and he punched my mother in the breast and knocked her down to the floor,” Suzanne Somers said. “I picked up my tennis racket and, with all my might, I brought it down on his head. I’m 16-years-old, and my father is beating up my mother. I’m absolutely powerless, and he was a champion prizefighter, but I did give him a concussion. And a lot of stitches. From there on in, I was afraid of my father, but what I realized, later on, is that he was afraid of me, because, for that one moment, I got the attitude of, ‘I’ll show you. You can’t do this anymore.’”
Somers Wrote about Her Childhood to Help Others
Suzanne Somers wrote about the incident in her book Keeping Secrets in 1988. She’s written more than a dozen books on everything from nutrition to abuse. Keeping Secrets was a success, and it was turned into a TV movie in 1991.
Somers said it resonated with people because abuse is more common than we’d like to think. However, not many people are willing to talk about it or share how it affected them.
“It was the first time a celebrity ever told the tale on themself — it’s easy to tell the story about your alcoholic dad,” The Three’s Company star said. “The other story is, what did it do to me? And what’s the part I played in it? I remember being berated over and over again as a child and I realized how bullies have to bully you to stay with you: ‘You’re nothing, you’re stupid, you’re hopeless, you’re worthless, you’re a piece of crap.’ And I believed it.”
But as she got older, Somers forgave her father, she told Good Morning America. She didn’t want him or the trauma he’d inflicted to continue to have power over her. But she said it “was the greatest training” in learning how to stand up for herself.
“We all have moments where your life can fall apart,” she said, “or you can use it like judo — using forward energy to win, making the negative work for you.”