[object Window] 4, Heidi Blickenstaff‘s world changed.
NS 브로드웨이 별, 지금 50, says she was sexually abused at that time by an older cousin, 약 12 years her senior, and that it did not stop until she was about 7.
“I was groomed, and I was very much manipulated into thinking that behavior was normal behavior because we loved each other,” Blickenstaff tells PEOPLE of her cousin, whom she says she does “not know” anymore. “It was very insidious, and it was not talked about in my family for a very long time because when it finally ended, 나는 단지 7. And it had gone on for years.”
The actress currently stars in the national tour of 알라니스 모리셋'NS Jagged Little Pill, a musical about a flawed family that tackles heavy topics such as sexual assault and addiction. Blickenstaff says she feels “liberated” performing a show that tells a story she and so many others identify with. But for years, she repressed the trauma.
Growing up in Fresno, 캘리포니아, Blickenstaff says the abuse began early and would occur around holidays spent with her father’s side of the family. “This cousin, 시간이 지남에 따라, just gained my trust,” 그녀는 설명한다.
“It definitely started out as a manipulation of letting me know that it was very normal behavior, that this is what people do who love each other,” 그녀는 계속한다, describing her cousin’s actions as “very inappropriate and invasive and criminal.”
She does not go into further detail, but says the cousin manipulated her into keeping things secret — despite “instinctually” feeling unease. “There was one time he took me out back and stepped on the head of a dead animal and told me that if I said anything, that would be me,” 그녀는 말한다.
When Blickenstaff was around 7, her older brother Matt saw the cousin take her away from the others, and he immediately alerted their mother.
“She caught us in… It was not a particularly dramatic scene, it was sort of very early,” Blickenstaff says. “But my mom caught us alone together. And a 18/19/20-year-old cousin alone with a 7-year-old girl, my mom said, '뭐하세요? You are never to be alone with her again.’ Then my mom checked in with me and said, ‘Are you good?’ ”
Blickenstaff responded that she was; she went on to bury the memories for years.
Simultaneously, the actress found a love for the performing arts. She got her start at Fresno’s Good Company Players, where she played Annie in the musical of the same name. It was a break from reality, 그녀는 말한다, but it came with mixed emotions.
At a press event for 애니, “I was singing ‘Tomorrow,’ and a spotlight hit me, and suddenly I saw all of the people in the audience, and instead of feeling like, '오, I get to escape,’ I felt exposed. And it was the first real panic attack I had ever had. I remember it crawling from my toes all the way to every cell in my body,” 그녀는 말한다. “And it was enough to ruin what should have been this safe place for me because I had a monster living inside of me.”
Around puberty, Blickenstaff began opening up to her family when she was suddenly flooded with “hideous memories” from her youth. They waited “for my cues to lead the way,” 그녀는 말한다, but it wasn’t until her 30s that she sought therapy on her own.
“I wanted to link arms with her,” Blickenstaff says, noting that even though she doesn’t know Ford, her bravery “gave me strength to come out.”
Blickenstaff’s family was at the forefront of her mind. “I told my parents that I was gonna [publicly share] 그것, and I even sent them a draft of what I was going to post before I posted it. And much to my surprise, they were so supportive. I remember my dad said, ‘Whatever you need to do that will help you feel better about this, we absolutely support you.’ ”
She always feared sending a “seismic earthquake” through her family, noting that others in similar situations likely feel the same.
“You are the person that is surviving this awful thing. And yet you also have to be the person that rips everybody’s worlds apart,” 그녀는 말한다. “So you are burdened not only by the thing that happened, but then the aftermath of what it does.”
Blickenstaff struggled in romantic relationships during her adult life. After her first marriage ended in divorce, she dove into another relationship that was not the right fit. She met her now-husband, actor turned entertainment lawyer Nicholas Rohlfing, 그녀가 였을 때 39.
“마침내, after all the work I did and all the excavation I did on myself, I think my heart and soul were finally ready, and he was ready, ~도,” 그녀는 말한다.
The singer is stepmom to Rohlfing’s two sons, but never had biological children of her own. 다시 찾고, she says that her past — which she relives nightly by performing in Jagged Little Pill — factored into that decision.
Mary Jane Healy — a role that Blickenstaff also played on Broadway before the musical closed in December 2021 — struggles with addiction and was sexually assaulted in college. Blickenstaff’s brother, who is eight years sober, is a recovering alcoholic. 무대 위에, the actress overdoses during Morissette’s “Uninvited”; Blickenstaff’s version of the haunting power ballad, her favorite song from the show, ~였다 recently recorded.
“It ruled his world,” she says of her brother’s addiction, adding that she’s “자랑” of how far he’s come. “There were some incredibly scary moments that we really did not expect him to live through.”
Jagged, which her brother has seen, 가지다 “some of the most thrilling material that I will ever get to play. But as a human, it is utterly healing,” 그녀는 말한다. “It has become incredibly healing to be able to walk in my character’s shoes that are very familiar to my own.”
Speaking about her past, Blickenstaff hopes to help those who have also struggled, 추가 Jagged Little Pill also makes “people feel seen and not alone.” 그녀는 덧붙인다, “Every time I talk about [my experience], it feels like more and more of my burden is lifted.”
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Performing the show with her brother in the audience was “the most intense” performance of the musical she’s done. Intense, but healing, 그녀는 말한다.
“Every step I took during the show, I felt so protective of him, but it also felt like, I don’t know… It’s a jagged little pill,” 그녀는 말한다. “I knew it would be good medicine for him — and me — and for us as a family.”
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