Oprah Opened up About Her Own Abuse on After Neverland
She said Michael Jackson was a "good" abuser.
In her special after-show to Leaving Neverland, host Oprah Winfrey took a few moments to open up about her own experience with sexual abuse, telling the documentary's subjects, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, that the Michael Jackson documentary had done what she'd tried to do in 217 episodes of her own show. According to Jezebel, Winfrey applauded the Leaving Neverland's frank discussions about abuse and everything that accompanies it.
"I have said for years that if the abuser is any good, you won't know it's happened," Winfrey explained as Robson and Safechuck recounted why they had previously denied any wrongdoing by Jackson. "If the abuser is any good, he or she is going to make you feel like you're part of it."
Winfrey went on to explain that she could relate to both of them and the struggles that they faced. She said that it took a long time after her own experience to come to terms with exactly what happened, too. Together, the three of them — director Dan Reed was also there — showed that abuse isn't always violent or forceful. She added that it's often overlooked, and applauded Reed's portrayal.
"I was 42 years old, actually, and I was doing a show with men who had molested their children and stepchildren," she said. "And it wasn't until one of the child molesters, the accused, said out loud how he had practiced grooming his 13-year-old daughter that I had a light bulb moment and finally realized, at 42, that it was not my fault."
Robson's story further illuminates Winfrey's self-realization. He explained to her that he never saw what happened as abuse, saying that he genuinely loved Jackson and actually sought to protect him when he took the stand in 2005 after Jordan Chandler accused Jackson of molesting him.
"I had no understanding of it being abuse. I loved Michael, and all the times that I testified and the many, many times that I gushed over him publicly in interviews or whatever it may be, that was from a real place," Robson said. "While never forgetting any of the sexual details that happened between us but having no understanding that it was abuse, having no concept in my mind that anything about Michael could ever be bad. Anything that Michael did was right to me for so many years."
Winfrey also asked Robson and Safechuck whether or not they'd forgiven Michael, a common question she asked survivors back on the Oprah Winfrey Show. While past guests have explained how they turned anger into forgiveness, Safechuck said that he still felt guilt over coming forward, like there was something still hanging over him.
"You what's strange? I felt guilt this weekend — like I let him down," he said. "It's still there. That shadow's still there."