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Jesse James: Did Childhood Abuse Lead to Cheating?

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Jesse James said on "Nightline" that he had been a victim of abuse as a child, and that it may have led him to cheat on his wife and destroy his marriage.

"I was a terrorized kid," he said. "I was petrified of my dad. It wasn't so much getting the sh*t beat out of me, or getting my arm broken, or getting kicked or whatever or punched; it was the in-between time. It was the fear of that happening again."

Jesse continued, "He beat my ass pretty good a bunch of times. I just remember, like, clenched-teeth, strained-neck look on his face. My whole childhood, I never had a chance to be a kid ... I was always scared."

He added, "I tripped over this little low fence wire and snapped my wrist, and I remember my dad laughed at me when I hit the ground and called me a dummy."

Jesse said that this may have led to his cheating: "I grew up with a huge amount of shame and fear and abandonment on my shoulders from a very young age," he said, "and I think, you know, the way my mind rationalized [cheating], 'Well, you know, I might as well do whatever I can to like run her off, 'cause she is going to find out what I am anyway and leave me anyway.' The struggle within myself for the things that I did ... to damage marriage and my life and everything else, it's all me. I'm doing it because, you know, I've basically never felt good enough for anyone."

(James' father denies the abuse claims.)

Does this make you feel any different about Jesse James -- or do you think he's just playing the blame game?

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3 comments so far | Post a comment now
CaroleJ May 26, 2010, 2:42 PM

At some point, ppl need to be adults & bear the responsibility for their actions. I’m sorry if he was abused, but either get over it or get counseling. You don’t have the right to abuse someone else because you were abused. You’re an adult, behave like one.

Amy May 26, 2010, 11:24 PM

Before I became a responsible adult and took on my actions; before I went to therapy and found myself; before I realized I had a choice, I cheated on my first husband. I was physically, emotionally, and sexually abused for most of my life before I met my husband. I did not know how to cope with a normal life. I could not be happy; I had to be bad. I believe him because I know. Eventually, yes, people have to live up their decisions and choices, but that does mean that there is not validity to his situation. A person who is abused has to feel bad, and also normally seeks negative attention (or sex - through cheating - a form of self-degradation) to fulfill that subconscious need. I am not saying that he isn’t responsible for what he has done, but I am saying that it’s highly possible that he was not ready to deal with his past yet, either. This event may or may not be the catalyst to his change.

John May 27, 2010, 1:56 AM

I, too, was abused as a child, but do not use that as an excuse to cheat on my wife. Give me a break! That is the lamest excuse ever. Seems when people have to reap what they’ve sewn that is inconvienient, they always find an excuse to shift the blame.

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