Twenty years after her controversial book La Toya: Growing up in the Jackson Family, a book that erupted a media tsunami around the most famous family in music, the outspoken fifth sibling of the Jackson family, La Toya Jackson releases the paperback version of her New York Times bestselling memoir, Starting Over. But this time, the recent contestant on Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice", doesn't reveal painful accusations about her family, she's turning the mirror on herself, unveiling a life of abuse and shame at the hands of former manager, and ex-husband Jack Gordon. Starting Over, re-released by Simon & Schuster's Gallery Books and Ja-Tail Publishing Company, details in depth and personal accounts on how a once naive and sheltered child star managed to escape a world of torment, isolation, and trauma. In a recent interview with EBONY.COM, La Toya remembers her journey from hell and back, "I was embarrassed letting people know that I was treated this way—embarrassed to let people know that I was locked in closets and doors were closed on me, and just the beatings I endured." But now this Jackson daughter is starting over.
Read on for an exclusive look at the first two chapters of Starting Over now!
LA TOYA JACKSON with JEFFRE’ PHILLIPS – “STARTING OVER”
I never believed I would survive to write a second book, but by the grace of God, here I am. Twenty long years have passed since I wrote my first autobiography, La Toya. The truth is that I didn’t want to author that first book. My ex-manager, Jack Gordon, made me publish the book and speak out against my will in its pages, just as he forced me to marry him in 1989, and made me make so many career moves that were contrary to my wishes and beliefs. For almost a decade, Gordon controlled me with a campaign of brutalization and manipulation, beating me several times a week, threatening my life and the lives of my family members, and proving he had the mob ties to carry out his most violent promises. As is very common with abusers, he also isolated me from anyone I loved, who might have come to my aid or inspired me to rebel against him. By the end of his first year of management, I was so insecure and traumatized that I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror. I hated the person I saw there because everything about her was ugly to me, and I thought it was my fault.
I am thankful that, this time around, I have the freedom to write what I want, the way I want. It truly is the most wonderful feeling to finally be free from the misery of my prior life. I am absolutely overjoyed to find myself still here on this earth, experiencing the most extreme happiness every day, in the company of my dear family and friends. Believe me, this is no exaggeration. After the horrors I have lived through, and the despair I have felt, every breath is truly a gift. I am so grateful for my freedom and the person I am now, even if I had to endure such painful experiences to get here.
There was a time, before Jack Gordon, and all of the tragedy that befell my family, when I was extremely happy. I lived at Hayvenhurst, the family home in Encino, California. I traveled the world, making a very good living as an entertainer. I spent all of my time with my family, who were my best friends, and the people I loved most in the world.
Every day was a blessing, and I couldn’t wait to wake up each morning to hear my sister Rebbie singing Mandy Patinkin’s version of the song “When the Red Robin Comes Bobbin Along.” Even though my more famous siblings’ performances were already filling arenas at that point, nothing made me happier than hearing Rebbie croon that special song just for me. It would put the biggest smile on my face. My brothers’ fame, as well as the Jehovah’s Witness religion with which Mother raised us, meant that we were isolated when I was growing up. This was especially true of Rebbie, Michael and I, who were the most devout. I’m sure this helped to make Michael and I vulnerable to our eventual fates, as did the fact that we didn’t really understand the value of money, having always grown up with the ability to earn plenty. But as a child and young woman, I was cheerful and helpful, and I wanted for nothing in the world.
When Jack Gordon preyed on my naïveté and took me away from all of this, I could not understand why God had brought such dark forces into my life and allowed me to suffer so greatly.