Leslie Jones Reveals She Was Once Sexually Abused as a Child: ‘I Wish I Could Fight That Guy’ (Exclusive)

The comedian and 'SNL' alum opens up about trauma, loss and chasing laughter in her new memoir

Leslie Jones
Leslie Jones

Leslie Jones is being even more brave and candid than fans already know her to be.

In her new memoir titled Leslie F*cking Jones, out Sept. 19, the Emmy-nominated comedian and Saturday Night Live alum is opening up like never before about childhood trauma and her rocky road to stardom. In a wide-ranging interview in this week's issue of PEOPLE, Jones, 56, reveals why she's baring her soul now.

"I knew I would write a book one day, but I'm kind of glad I did it now, so I can remember some of it," says Jones. Still, the process of remembering in some cases, was "very emotional," she says, "very hard."

An army brat born Annette Leslie Jones to Sundra Diane Jones, who worked for the cable company, and Willie Jones Jr., a radio station electrician, in Memphis, Tenn., Jones experienced her earliest hardship when she was just a toddler. “It was one of my babysitters who messed with me,” she writes of being sexually assaulted at age 2 or 3.

<p>Leslie Jones/ Twitter</p> Leslie Jones

Leslie Jones/ Twitter

Leslie Jones

“Man I wish I could go back and fight that guy — that little girl couldn’t protect herself,” Jones writes, adding that she's unsure if her parents, who've since died, ever knew what happened. She adds that when she looks back at pictures, the abuse coincides with when the light in her eyes seemed to dim.

The star largely credits her father with helping her regain and maintain her confidence.

<p>Leslie Jones/ Facebook</p> Willie Jones, Jr.

Leslie Jones/ Facebook

Willie Jones, Jr.

"My dad would always say to me, 'I don't care what they tell you, you can do whatever you want to do as long as you work hard,' recalls Jones. "'They're going to tell you you're Black, they're going to tell you you're a female,' he'd say, 'but none of that matters.'"

<p>Leslie Jones/ Facebook</p> Leslie Jones with Her Mother Diane and Brother Keith

Leslie Jones/ Facebook

Leslie Jones with Her Mother Diane and Brother Keith

In hindsight, the star, whose mother also connected her with mentors and after-school activities to help boost her self-esteem, is convinced that the encouragement from her parents (both of whom died in the early 2000s from heart-related illnesses) is what led to her eventual success and ability to overcome all obstacles.

Related: Leslie Jones Prepares to Share Untold Stories in Revealing New Memoir, Says Writing Was 'Very Therapeutic'

"That's why I never quit," says Jones, who after discovering comedy in college would set out on a bumpy, decades-long ride on the stand-up circuit before hitting it big on SNL. “There were days where I was just crying and worrying, but the thought always came to my head, ‘Okay, what can I do.’ Dad said, ‘Become undeniable.’”

For much more on Leslie Jones' raw new memoir and rocky road to comedy stardom, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, out Friday.

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Read the original article on People.