In 1991, Roseanne Barr made damning allegations against her mother and father, who denied them. She later shared her regret about opening up but insisted her claims were valid.
ROSEANNE’S ALLEGATIONS ABOUT PARENTS
In 1991, while married to fellow actor Tom Arnold, Roseanne Barr accused her parents, Jerome and Helen Barr, of childhood sexual abuse. She also claimed her father molested her daughter, Jessica, on her wedding day to Arnold.
Roseanne, then-38, first went public with her allegations in September 1991. The television personality made the claims in Denver before an incest conference attended by therapists and incest victims.
Roseanne Barr appears on Walt Disney Television on “The View” on March 27, 2018 | Photo: Paula Lobo/Disney General Entertainment Content/Getty Images
Roseanne spoke up about the drama during an appearance on “Sally Jesse Raphael Show.” She revealed that during her 1990 wedding, Jessica was molested by Jerome but kept it to herself for six months.
The “Roseanne” show star explained that the revelation was the reason why she and Arnold repeated their marriage vows later. However, it seems not only her daughter faced the apparent rath of her father.
Roseanne Barr with her husband, actor Tom Arnold, circa 1990 | Photo: Kypros/Getty Images
ABUSE ROSEANNE & TOM ENDURED
The comedian alleged that she began recalling the childhood incidents she endured in 1980 when a sister shared her own childhood abuse. However, it was only when Arnold opened up about his childhood traumas, around 1989, that Roseanne’s trauma started surfacing.
One of the damning claims she made was that Jerome burst into the bathroom while she bathed when she was just a teenager. The star said her father recorded her in her vulnerable state with his movie camera.
She also alleged that Helen once grabbed her by the hair on her 17th birthday before saying, “‘she wished I had died in the car accident the year before.'” Roseanne actually reached out to her parents before going public, but they reportedly didn’t respond.
The ABC comedy series star went on to describe herself as an “incest survivor.” The controversial comedian said her mother psychologically and physically abused her while her father molested her throughout her life.
EFFECTS OF ABUSE & REASON FOR FAME
The comedian claimed the abuse caused her to consider suicide, abuse drugs, alcohol, and food, and smoke five packs of cigarettes a day. She confessed that she transformed herself into a television star, hoping that being famous would keep her safe.
Roseanne’s hourlong speech at the incest conference happened before an audience of 1,000 at Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church in Denver. She spoke to correspondent Vickie Bane a day after the invitation-only gathering and shared her experience.
THE REACTION OF HER PARENTS
Even though Jerome and Helen initially didn’t respond to their daughter’s letter informing them about going public, they had no choice when the topic was on everyone’s lips. The couple started doing interviews and speaking up in their defense.
Since People magazine published Roseanne’s story, her parents said they were going to sue the publication. They also denied the claims; Jerome said he and his wife were upset about the allegations.
Jerome also said he never had an incestuous relationship with his daughter. According to his and his wife’s attorney, Melvin Belli, the couple took lie detector tests, and both passed.
Roseanne responded by sharing that she was not going to be stopped or silenced by her parents. She said she found it funny that her parents took lie detector tests since they didn’t have consciences or feel any guilt.
The star claimed Helen and Jerome never felt any of those things; otherwise, they wouldn’t have done all the despicable things she alleged they did. In 1991, Jerome appeared on CBS This Morning, where he reiterated his innocence.
When Roseanne got her 1988 book deal, her mother allegedly insisted on knowing what her daughter was going to write about. The comedian responded that it, the 1989 memoir “My Life as a Woman,” would be about her life, and Helen reportedly said:
“Don’t humiliate us.”
In 1997, Roseanne made an appearance on “The Oprah Show,” where she spoke about forgiving her family after the childhood abuse she had to endure. The actress admitted to Oprah Winfrey that she’d forgiven her parents.
In July 2018, while speaking to Fox News, Roseanne [Barr] retracted her statement saying the abuse from her father had not been sexual but was only psychological.
However, she still didn’t have a relationship with them. Roseanne also revealed to the media mogul that there was a time she regretted opening up about her abuse; that’s why she stopped addressing it for over three years.
However, she regretted the most that children who were being abused and saw someone famous opening up about their abuse but being ridiculed for it wouldn’t be so easy for them to share their own experiences.
In February 2011, Roseanne had another candid interview with Winfrey, but this time her story changed. She said she wished someone had told her to wait until her therapy was done before she went public with her claims.
The star shared that she wished she had done things differently and called the whole thing a big mistake – especially describing it as incest. She blamed her claims on the psychiatric drugs she was taking to deal with her mental issues before noting one of the reasons she made the allegations, stating:
“I just wanted to drop a bomb on my family.”
However, the one thing Roseanne didn’t retract was that the abuse did happen to her, and she didn’t make it up. She noted that no one would accuse their parents of abuse without valid justification.
In July 2018, while speaking to Fox News, Roseanne retracted her statement saying the abuse from her father had not been sexual but was only psychological. She said she had a different view of the abuse she endured.
“The Roseanne Show” comedian said everyone in her family was “messed up.” Sadly, the television personality lost her father in 2001 after suffering a heart attack in Nevada.