Carrie Ann Inaba Dressed as a Tomboy After Being Molested as a Child: 'I Thought It Was Because I Was Attractive'

As a child, Carrie Ann Inaba thought it was her fault that she was sexually molested — and she did what she could to make sure the abuse wouldn’t continue.

“When I was a child I was molested and I thought that it was because I was attractive,” Inaba, 51, said on Friday’s episode of The Talk.

“You get a lot of attention when you’re young and you’re a cute little girl and people come up to you — men included, boys included — and sometimes the advances are unwanted,” she explained.

In response, the Dancing with the Stars host avoided her more feminine clothing and opted for a tomboy look in hopes that it would deter the “unwanted” attention.

“And I think because of that I really grew up kind of more like a tomboy. I would look in the mirror and be like, ‘I like this,’ and then I would do something to make it uglier on purpose. … ‘Oh it looks too pulled together, this outfit, I better wear flip flops with this dress’ or something to make it feel less pulled together. I’ve always done that,” she said.

More than a year ago, Inaba opened up about the abuse she suffered as a child when she was a guest co-host on The Talk. (She was officially named as co-host in December.)

While discussing a documentary about Whitney Houston that claimed she was sexually abused by her cousin, late singer Dee Dee Warwick, Inaba said that she could relate.

“It’s so sad that she was molested,” said Inaba. “Being molested is such a horrible thing and it does affect you. I think that the director’s right to notice that and try to figure it out. When you share that you’ve been molested, it’s usually to get some sort of closure for yourself or to make sure it doesn’t happen to other people, and I don’t think that that served any of those purposes in this case. I feel like it’s sensationalizing something and trying to get the most out of it for the documentary.”

After host Sharon Osbourne said, “[Whitney] had a hole in her heart and she couldn’t fill it and that’s why she turned to drugs because she was desperately unhappy,” Inaba revealed, “It’s true, I was molested as a kid and I feel exactly what you just said, there is a hole in me that I can never fill.”

Inaba teared up and continued, “So I get that.”

During an appearance on The Talk in October 2017, Inaba shared her own #MeToo story involving a martial arts teacher who sexually assaulted her.

“What’s really important about shame is it’s something that you suffer alone,” she said. “Something happened to me when I was studying martial arts with the person training me. He did something inappropriate and pulled down my pants. I froze. Because I froze, I felt guilty. I felt guilty, but what was so great is that night I went home and I said, ‘I’m going to tell somebody because I didn’t do anything.’ “

“They actually told me to wear baggy clothes, nothing sexual, and I did,” she continued. “I was wearing a sweatshirt and the baggiest pants I could find. I knew maybe something in there told me it wasn’t my fault that it had happened. I told my friend and he said, ‘What are we going to do about it?’ Because of that, I walked away from that with no shame. I still have emotions about it, but I didn’t feel shame for me. If I didn’t, I would probably still be living with that kind of shame inside of me.”

In March, the talk show host further opened up on The Talk about her painful past, saying that she “had to” forgive her mother, who didn’t see the abuse she suffered.

“She couldn’t see things,” Inaba said of her mother. “It’s not that she allowed it. She couldn’t see it because she loved the various people around.”

Still, Inaba admitted that she felt the family matriarch should have noticed what was happening.

“At the beginning of the healing, when you start to recognize that you have had this experience, you want that apology,” said Inaba, who revealed that “it was hard” for her mother to “believe” her.

“I understand that. At first that made me so angry. Why are you not believing me? And it made me feel super alone. That’s why I have so much compassion for these boys because they’re asking for compassion to feel less alone in the struggle that they’ve had. And it’s okay. I think people can believe whatever they want to believe, whichever side you land on, that’s your choice,” she said. “But for me, somebody whose been through it, you need them to recognize, you need someone to say, ‘Yes, I’m sorry it happened.’ You may or may not get it and if you don’t get it, you still have to learn how to forgive and move on for your own life.”

The Talk airs weekdays on CBS.

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