"Are you a virgin?"
Hearing that one question from her best friend Kathy Hilton sent La Toya Jackson reeling last year. The famous Jackson sister had been making progress in her love life -- opening up about an abusive relationship and going on her first date in decades -- but when Kathy asked about her virginity, La Toya become overwhelmed with emotion and completely shut down. The reaction even surprised La Toya herself, who realized she had more work to do when it comes to her view of relationships.
So, the "Life With La Toya" star agreed to meet with a therapist. She chose Dr. Mike Dow, who she met while filming an episode of "The Talk."
"I liked some of his relationship advice that he gave, so I figured he'd be a good person to start this journey with," La Toya says in the above clip.
Sitting in Dr. Dow's office in Beverly Hills, La Toya begins the therapy session by explaining how her abusive relationship of the past continues to affect her today. "He instilled fear and he controlled me, so that takes away your self-worth, your self-esteem, everything," she says. "And no one knew what was going on."
Though she's proud of the steps she's taken to address her issues, La Toya also says that she's come to realize that she has more to work on. "My friends tell me that when it comes to my personal relationship and getting close to people, I kind of shun them off and shun them away. I get nervous about it," she says.
"You use avoidance as sort of a way to keep you safe," Dr. Dow says.
La Toya agrees and makes an emotional confession. "If anybody tries to even touch me or things of that nature, I get very uncomfortable," she says.
La Toya's struggle with physical touch is especially difficult for her to reconcile in today's culture. "Everybody's so promiscuous. And for me just to not want anyone to touch me, people think, 'That's so odd. That's so strange,'" she says. "A part of you thinks that something's wrong with you."
The impact of what she's saying seems to catch up with her. "Oh gosh, I can't believe I'm actually telling you this," La Toya says to Dr. Dow, tears forming. "It's frightening but it's also embarrassing because I'm opening myself up for people to know what my problem was or slightly is today."
"I really want to make sure that you know just how normal it is for people with a history of abuse to be afraid of touch and physical intimacy," Dr. Dow tells her. "But I see that if we can get you there, I see that it will be life-changing."
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