Broadway Star Heidi Blickenstaff Opens Up for the First Time About Being Sexually Abused from Age 4 to 7

At age 4, Heidi Blickenstaff’s reality changed. The Broadway star, presently 50, says she was sexually abused around then by a more seasoned cousin, approximately 12 years her senior, and that it didn’t stop until she was about 7. “I was prepped, and I was especially manipulated into thinking that behavior was normal behavior because we adored each other,” Blickenstaff tells Individuals of her cousin, whom she says she does “not know” anymore.

“It was extremely insidious, and it was not talked about in my family for an extremely long time because when it finally finished, I was only 7. And it had gone on for years.”

The actress as of now stars in the national visit through Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill, a musical about a flawed family that tackles heavy points like sexual assault and addiction. Blickenstaff says she feels “liberated” performing a show that recounts a story she and so many others relate to. In any case, for years, she subdued the trauma.

Growing up in Fresno, California, Blickenstaff says the abuse began early and would happen around holidays enjoyed with her father’s side of the family.

“This cousin, after some time, just gained my trust,” she explains. “It definitely started out as a manipulation of letting me realize that it was extremely common behavior, that this is what individuals do who love each other,” she continues, describing her cousin’s actions as “exceptionally inappropriate and invasive and criminal.”

She doesn’t carefully describe the situation, however says the cousin manipulated her into keeping things mysterious — despite “instinctually” feeling unease.

“There was one time he took me out back and stepped on the head of a dead animal and let me know that in the event that I said anything, that would be me,” she says.

At the point when Blickenstaff was around 7, her more seasoned brother Matt saw the cousin take her away from the others, and he immediately alerted their mother.

“She caught us in… It was anything but a particularly dramatic scene, it was somewhat early,” Blickenstaff says. “Yet, my mother caught us alone together. And a 18/19/20-year-old cousin alone with a 7-year-old young lady, my mother said, ‘What are you doing? You are at no point ever to be alone with her in the future.’ Then my mother checked in with me and said, ‘Are you great?’ ”

Blickenstaff responded that she was; she proceeded to cover the recollections for years. Simultaneously, the actress tracked down an affection for the performing arts.

She started out at Fresno’s Great Company Players, where she played Annie in the musical of the same name.  It was a break from reality, she says, however it came with blended emotions.

At a press occasion for Annie, “I was singing ‘Tomorrow,’ and a spotlight hit me, and out of nowhere I saw all individuals in the audience, and instead of feeling like, ‘Gracious, I get to escape,’ I felt uncovered. And it was the primary real panic attack I had at any point had. I recall it crawling from my toes all the way to each phone in my body,” she says.

“And it was sufficient to ruin what ought to have been this safe place for me because I had a monster living inside of me.”

Around pubescence, Blickenstaff began opening dependent upon her family when she was unexpectedly overwhelmed with “ugly recollections” from her childhood.

They waited “for my signals to lead the way,” she says, however it was only after her 30s that she looked for therapy on her own.

In 2018, after Christine Blasey Ford claimed she had been sexually assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh, Blickenstaff shared on Twitter that she is an overcomer of sexual abuse.

“I wanted to link arms with her,” Blickenstaff says, noting that despite the fact that she doesn’t know Ford, her bravery “gave me solidarity to emerge.”

Blickenstaff’s family was at the forefront of her mind. “I let my parents know that I was gonna [publicly share] it, and I even sent them a draft of what I was going to post before I posted it. And causing me a deep sense of surprise, they were so strong. I recall my dad said, ‘Whatever you really want to do that will assist you with feeling better about this, we absolutely support you.’ ”

She always feared sending a “seismic earthquake” through her family, noting that others in similar situations probably feel the same.

“You are the person that is surviving this awful thing. And yet you also have to be the person that tears everyone’s completely different,” she says.

“So you are troubled by the thing that happened, however at that point the aftermath of what it does.”

Blickenstaff battled in romantic relationships during her adult life. After her most memorable marriage finished in separate, she dove into another relationship that was not the right fit.

She met her currently husband, actor turned entertainment lawyer Nicholas Rohlfing, when she was 39.

“Finally, 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, as well,” she says.

The singer is stepmom to Rohlfing’s two sons, however never had biological offspring of her own.

Looking back, she says that her past — which she remembers daily by performing in Jagged Little Pill — factored into that decision.

Mary Jane Healy — a role that Blickenstaff also played on Broadway before the musical shut in December 2021 — battles with addiction and was sexually assaulted in school.

Blickenstaff’s brother, who is eight years sober, is a recovering alcoholic. Onstage, the actress gluts during Morissette’s “Uninvited”; Blickenstaff’s version of the haunting power ballad, her favorite song from the show, was as of late recorded. “It managed his reality,” she says of her brother’s addiction, adding that she’s “so glad” of how far he’s come.

“There were a few incredibly scary minutes that we really didn’t anticipate that he should survive.”

Jagged, which her brother has seen, has “the absolute most thrilling material that I will at any point get to play. However, as a human, it is completely healing,” she says.

“It has become incredibly healing to have the option to walk from my character’s perspective that are extremely familiar to my own.”

Speaking about her past, Blickenstaff desires to assist the individuals who with having also battled, adding that Jagged Little Pill also makes “individuals feel seen and not alone.”

She adds, “Each time I talk about [my experience], it seems like increasingly more of my weight is lifted.”

Performing the show with her brother in the audience was “the most intense” performance of the musical she’s done. Intense, however healing, she says. “Each step I took during the show, I felt so defensive of him, however it also felt as, I don’t have the foggiest idea about… It’s a jagged little pill,” she says. “I realized it would be great medicine for him — and me — and for us as a family.”

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