Sally Field Opens Up About Childhood Sexual Abuse, Secret Abortion At Age 17

In a new book, actress Sally Field talks about childhood sexual abuse and Hollywood relationships.

Sally Field
Charley Gallay / Getty Images

In a new book, actress Sally Field talks about childhood sexual abuse and Hollywood relationships.

In Pieces, the forthcoming memoir from Sally Field, offers a look behind the Hollywood curtain at the life and career of one of America’s most beloved actresses, and that life was not always rosy.

The most egregious stories come from her childhood, during which she was sexually abused by her stepfather, Jock Mahoney, until age 14. The Daily Mail states that Field kept the abuse secret from anyone until her mother was on her deathbed, decades later. It’s clear that childhood was a confusing time for young Sally, because she knew that the abuse shouldn’t be happening, but that at the same time, Jocko (as he was called) could be charming and “magical,” as she put it. She also says that she felt powerful at times during the ongoing abuse, implying that she felt like she had more power than other children because she was engaging in adult activity, even though the activity was inappropriate. After the abuse ceased, Field went through a sort of sexual awakening in her late teens, resulting in a secret abortion in Tijuana when she was 17. Jock and Sally’s mother divorced in 1968, and he died in 1989. Field is now 71.

The book also dishes about her Hollywood relationships, in particular her five-year relationship with Burt Reynolds. Although their relationship, which began in 1975 during the filming of Smokey and the Bandit, is often held up as an example of a successful Hollywood pairing, Field says that it wasn’t as healthy as it appeared. In an interview about the book with the New York Times, she calls the relationship “confusing and complicated, and not without loving and caring, but really complicated and hurtful to me.” The two shared a powerful connection, but Reynolds was controlling and often under the influence of strong drug cocktails, making things difficult for the former Gidget actress. In the book, she states that during her time with Reynolds, she thinks she was trying to recreate the complicated relationship with her stepfather. “I was somehow exorcising something that needed to be exorcised. I was trying to make it work this time.”

Despite the difficulties, Field was sad when she heard that Reynolds had passed away last week. She told ET the following in a statement.

“There are times in your life that are so indelible, they never fade away. They stay alive, even forty years later. My years with Burt never leave my mind. He will be in my history and my heart, for as long as I live. Rest, Buddy.”

Field said that she’s glad Reynolds passed before her book came out, because she thinks it would have hurt him. For his part, Reynolds said that Field was the love of his life, and spoke highly of her many times after they split.

In Pieces is being published by Grand Central Publishing and hits bookstore shelves on September 18, 2018.

Sally Field as Gidget
Sally Field as Gidget ABC Television / Getty Images