President Joe Biden’s new press secretary was sexually abused by an older male cousin as a child and hid in an attic to avoid him, according to her memoir.
Karine Jean-Pierre, 44, the first Black woman and openly gay person to become White House press secretary, opened up about the trauma she faced in her 2019 memoir, Moving Forward, which included a story about the abuse she suffered suffered from an unnamed cousin.
Details of the abuse Jean-Pierre suffered resurfaced in a New York Times profile that described the difficulties she faced earlier in her life.
Jean-Pierre wrote that between the ages of seven and 10, an older male cousin sexually abused her, forcing her to hide in an attic to try and avoid him in her Queens home.
She said the abuse game was finally over when a female relative spotted the problem and stepped in, separating Jean-Pierre from the cousin.
It is unclear if the police were ever informed of Jean-Pierre’s abuse.
The traumatic experience was one of many that Jean-Pierre endured growing up and that underscored her historic achievement when she took over Jen Psaki’s role as White House press secretary last Friday.
Karine Jean-Pierre, 44, the first black woman and openly gay person to become White House press secretary, was sexually abused as a child by an older male cousin
Born in Martinique, Jean-Pierre celebrates a birthday as a child. When she was five years old, the family moved to Queens. She said she suffered the sexual abuse between the ages of seven and 10, where she often hid in an attic
In a Twitter post last year, Jean-Pierre opened up about her mother’s disappointment when she came out as a lesbian when she was 16. The trauma would accompany Jean-Pierre’s depression and struggles with her sexuality, which came to a head when she planned to take her own life
One of the biggest traumas Jean-Pierre faced was a suicide attempt, fueled by her Catholic mother’s chilly reaction when she came out as a lesbian.
Her mother is now fully supportive and close to Jean-Pierre’s CNN journalist Suzanne Malveaux.
In her 2019 book, she writes that this, along with struggling with her sexuality, led her to become depressed and attempted suicide – saved by her sister Edwine, who found her after attempting carbon monoxide poisoning.
“I felt like an idiot,” she writes.
“Due in large part to my inability to face my sexuality, I was so scared of who I really was that I invested absolutely everything my parents and siblings thought I was and what I wanted to be.
“Becoming a doctor should be my salvation. I had always clung to it like it was a life raft.
“So when I failed at that one thing, my whole world fell apart. I wanted to die,” she said after a poor performance on her medical college admissions test.
She said she now knows she “wasn’t thinking straight” but had spent weeks planning how she might take her own life.
Despite the dark moments that plagued her formative years, Jean-Pierre, the daughter of Haitian immigrants and an immigrant herself, found great purpose in her life when she became a volunteer firefighter and a student at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.
The darkest years of Jean-Pierre’s life came when she realized she was abandoning her family, who were leaving Haiti to pursue a career in America. The family is pictured in an undated photo outside the White House, where Jean-Pierre would make history
Jean-Pierre is pictured in New York on the day of her graduation after graduating from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs
Jean-Pierre was mentored in politics by New York’s first black mayor, David Dinkins, who is pictured holding the daughter of Soleil, Jean-Pierre and Suzanne Malveaux
Jean-Pierre is seen with Jen Psaki on Thursday when her new job was announced
Jean-Pierre said she was initially never interested in politics – she associated it with corruption in her parents’ home country – but was mentored by David Dinkins, mayor of New York City from 1990 to 1993: the first black the mayor of New York became the city.
She served on the New York City City Council before getting involved in national politics—working on the John Edwards campaign during his 2004 presidential bid and then in 2008 as political director of the White House Office of Political Affairs during the Obama administration.
Before joining the Biden presidential campaign, Jean-Pierre was chief public affairs officer for progressive group MoveOn.org and a former political analyst for NBC and MSNBC.
Biden offered Jean-Pierre the job Thursday in the Oval Office.
White House staffers were gathered after the bid and greeted Jean-Pierre with applause, an official said.
Two “warm bottles” of champagne were procured for a toast in paper White House cups, the official added.
Jean-Pierre had occasionally taken the podium in the press conference room in place of Psaki and more often “gagged” off-camera with reporters when Biden was flying Air Force One.
The new spokeswoman lives in Washington DC with her partner Suzanne Malveaux, a CNN national correspondent.
They met at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina and now have a seven-year-old daughter, Soleil.