President Joe Biden’s new press secretary was sexually abused by an older male cousin as a child and would hide in an attic to avoid him, according to her memoir.
Karine Jean-Pierre, 44, the first black woman and openly gay person to become the White House press secretary, recounted the trauma’s she faced in her 2019 memoir, Moving Forward, which included a tale of the abuse she suffered from an unnamed cousin.
Details of the abuse Jean-Pierre endured re-emerged in a New York Times profile that detailed the hardships she faced earlier in life.
Jean-Pierre wrote that between the ages of seven and 10, an older male cousin would sexually abuse her, forcing her to hide away in an attic crawl space to try and avoid him in her Queens home.
She said the abuse finally game to an end when a female relative discovered the problem and intervened, separating Jean-Pierre from the cousin.
It is unclear if the police were ever informed of the abuse Jean-Pierre endured.
The traumatic experience was one of many Jean-Pierre suffered growing up that has emphasized her historic accomplishment as 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 the White House press secretary, had been sexually abused as a child by an older male cousin
Born in Martinique, Jean-Pierre is pictured celebrating a birthday as a child. The family moved to Queens when she was five. She said she suffered the sexual abuse between the ages of seven and 10, where she often hid away in an attic
In a Twitter post last year, Jean-Pierre recounted her mother’s disappointment when she came out as a lesbian at 16. The trauma would would go couple with Jean-Pierre’s depression and struggles with her sexuality that 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 frosty reaction when she came out as a lesbian.
Her mom is now fully supportive, and is close to Jean-Pierre’s CNN journalist partner Suzanne Malveaux.
In her 2019 book, she writes that that, coupled with struggling with her sexuality, led her to spiral into depression and attempt suicide – saved by her sister, Edwine, who found her following an attempted carbon monoxide poisoning.
‘I felt like an idiot,’ she writes.
‘Thanks in large part to my inability to confront my sexuality, I was so afraid of who I really was that I invested absolutely everything into who my parents and siblings thought I was and wanted me to be.
‘Becoming a doctor was to be my saving grace. I had always clung to it as if it were a life raft.
‘So when I failed at this one thing, my entire world crumbled. I wanted to die,’ she recounted after a poor performance on her Medical College Admission Test.
She said she now knows she ‘wasn’t thinking straight’, but spent weeks planning how to taking 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 meaning in her life as she became a volunteer firefighter and student at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.
The darkest years of Jean-Pierre’s life came as she convinced herself that she was letting down her family, who left Haiti for opportunities in America. The family is pictured in an undated photo in front of the White House, where Jean-Pierre would make history
Jean-Pierre is pictured on the day of her graduation, in New York, after finding success at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs
Jean-Pierre was mentored in politics by New York City’s first black mayor David Dinkins, who is pictured holding Soleil, Jean-Pierre and Suzanne Malveaux’s daughter
Jean-Pierre is seen with Jen Psaki on Thursday, as her new job was announced
Jean-Pierre has said she was never initially interested in politics – associating it, in her parents’ homeland, with corruption – but was mentored by David Dinkins, mayor of New York City from 1990 to 1993: the first black person to be mayor of the city.
She worked in New York City council before becoming involved in national politics – working on the John Edwards campaign during his 2004 presidential run, and then in 2008 as the political director for the White House Office of Political Affairs during the Obama administration.
Before joining the Biden presidential campaign, Jean-Pierre was the chief public affairs officer of the progressive group MoveOn.org and a former political analyst for NBC and MSNBC.
Biden offered the job to Jean-Pierre on Thursday in the Oval Office.
White House staffers were gathered after the offer and greeted Jean-Pierre with applause, an official said.
Two ‘warm bottles’ of champagne were procured for a toast in White House paper cups, the official added.
Jean-Pierre had occasionally taken the lectern in the press briefing room instead of Psaki, and more frequently held off-camera ‘gaggles’ with reporters when Biden was traveling on Air Force One.
The new press secretary lives in Washington DC with her partner Suzanne Malveaux, a CNN national correspondent.
They met in 2012 at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, and now have a seven-year-old daughter, Soleil.