Rapper-turned-actress Queen Latifah has opened up for the first time about her harrowing childhood as a victim of sexual abuse in a candid new magazine interview.
The Chicago star, real name Dana Owens, grew up in New Jersey with her mother Rita. Her dad, policeman Lancelot Owens, left the family home after her parents divorced when she was 10 years old.
Latifah reveals she would often be placed under a babysitter's care, but her life was turned upside down when one teenage male sitter decided to take advantage of the youngster.
She struggled to come to terms with the traumatic experience for years, and refuses to let pals and potential lovers get "too close" to her as a result.
She tells Essence magazine, "He violated me. I never told anybody. I just buried it as deeply as I could and kept people at an arm's length."
Single Latifah, who has long been rumoured to be a lesbian, even admits the abuse has caused irreparable damage to her love life - suggesting she previously turned down a marriage proposal because of her childhood tragedy.
The 39 year old adds, "I never really let a person get too close to me. I could have been married years ago, but I had a commitment issue."