La Toya Jackson has been very open about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her ex-husband Jack Gordon and claims he assaulted her physically and mentally and practically kept her a prisoner and away from her family for years.
The singer/author/filmmaker now turned reality show star is opening up the doors to her life in her new series Life With La Toya which airs on Oprah Winfrey's network, OWN.
OKMagazine.com spoke with LaToya where she shared her story and hopes that other abused women can learn from her mistakes and experience of being in an abusive relationship.
OK!: What do you hope people take from your new show?
La Toya Jackson: I just want people to look at the show and they see positivity. They can take—no matter what you’re going through in your life, or what’s happening in your life. Whatever obstacles you’ve gone through, I want them to know that at the end of the day, you can always look and search for something in a positive direction and bring the positive to the situation and take that away from it.
OK!: You're open about being in an abusive relationship. Do you think talking about it can help other women who are in a similar situation?
LJ: I’m glad you’ve mentioned that because that’s really one of the main reasons I'm doing the show. I wrote a book called Starting Over and I was in a very abusive relationship. I didn’t think I was going to escape that, because when people abuse you, they take away your self-worth, your self-esteem and they instill fear in you. And when you’re going through this and then they threaten you on top of that—saying, ‘If you don’t do what I say, I’m going to do this’ or ‘I’m going to do this to you and kill you.’ The whole bit. You just feel like you’re in a Catch 22 and you’re stuck.
A lot of women are out there going through the same thing I’ve gone through, and I want them to know that I never thought I’d get away. I never thought I’d escape and be free, but I did. And they ask me today, how did you manage to do it and how can I do it. Well, I want them to look at Life With La Toya, and I want them to think to themselves, ‘If she can get away and she can do this, so can I and I can start my life all over again and start new.’ Because that’s what it’s all about is starting over. It doesn’t matter that you go through in life and how many times. Regain yourself and start all over again.
OK!: What did you learn most about that situation?
LJ: I have to tell you that when I look back at the situation, I say to myself, ‘Oh my gosh. What were you thinking? You could have just walked away.’ But it’s not that easy. I look back at it now and I’m out of that situation, and I know women think the same thing. But it’s so—I don’t know what it is. They have you brainwashed. They instill all this in you. And now I look back and say, ‘OK. So he said he was going to kill you. He said he was going to kill your brother if you don’t do these things.’ I should have just walked away even though—you know what I mean? Now I look back and I say, ‘I will never, ever, ever allow this to happen to me again.
God took me through this course and this journey, which I thought was the worst thing ever, for a reason. He wanted me to learn that you escaped this, and if you go back to something like that—if this happens to you again—it’s your fault. He wanted me to know that. I had to go through that to get to where I am today. I’m so much stronger today because of that. It was a terrible situation, but I was too naive and too innocent and so religious. I thought everyone was kind, sweet, and what they said was the truth. I guess God wanted me to know that no, the world isn’t what you think. This is what it’s really like.
OK!: How did you adjust to life after leaving him?
LJ: I was really afraid in the beginning and I was simply afraid because he promised that if I escaped, he would kill me. And that was the only reason that there was so much fear there. But as time goes on, it heals, of course. And it was such an adjustment at the same time, knowing that when I did get strong enough, to say that I can go out without being fearful, I can go out and you can do what you want. But jeez, it was kind of odd for me. It was kind of different, but it was a nice sense of freedom to know that nobody is dictating, beating, or telling me what to do.
You can catch Life With La Toya on OWN, Saturdays at 10.30/9.30c.
Do you think La Toya being vocal about her abuse will encourage other women to get help? Let us know what you think below or tweet us @OKMagazine!