08/01/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

You Are Not Alone: Michael Jackson's Abusive Childhood and How to Heal If It's Yours

Heal The World/Make It A Better Place/For You And For Me/And The Entire Human Race - Michael Jackson

Let's face it, millions of words will be printed and spoken about Michael Jackson in the months and years to come, about his death, his pyrotechnic life and all the things that make his eccentric kind of notoriety never die.

But what I hope won't get lost in the screech and shuffle likely to come is one fact: Michael Jackson was, by his own admission, both a victim and survivor of a childhood weighted in violence.

There is much research to show how such trauma invades the mind and body with pain and shame. Physical, verbal, emotional abuse lives on. Jackson happened to have the grace and talent to rise above it and, in the process, alter the world. But millions upon millions of others die anonymously of such trauma with drugs, suicide, and other destroyed lives.

Jackson did not make himself a poster child, as so many celebrities do; but the singer was clear that he bore deep scars from his childhood traumas. Tragically, the anodyne eluded him.

[Since Michael Jackson was also the survivor of an exploitative childhood which turned him into a global cash cow -- not just for fame but for the wealth of so many others who were without talent -- it gave him a double harsh burden to carry.]

My hope in the wake of his sudden if not completely shocking death: that people learn to speak out more and more about the violence in their past, whatever it may be.

Violence Unsilenced is one website that gives trauma survivors a safe place to give voice to their silent anguish. It's a relatively new site, and according to the woman who started it the stories are pouring in: she already has a 6-month back-up. The point in speaking up is not to point fingers (which many people fear), but to have your damaged voice heard. Then the real healing can begin.

Send the site to someone you know who may benefit; urge them to speak up and get help. Violence, control, fear and abuse thrive in silence. Merely aging doesn't make this pain diminish. In fact, it often gets stronger and louder.


Yes, I was a fan -- of Jackson's music, his persona, his life -- the same as endless others. No one, save Elvis and The Beatles, wrangled the world's music-icon imagination as he did and Jackson did it with all global races for four decades of his five-decade life. That side of him is solid in cement.

But as the media shifts to things more lurid and sensational, I think that Michael, himself, would now want to help free others who experienced his brand of childhood pain, even if it's something he ultimately could not do for himself. Real freedom is possible from these kinds of experiences, but it takes hard work, focused energy and ultimately time; something Michael Jackson no longer has.

Janet Kinosian is a 25-year print journalist who has reported on Entertainment for the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times Syndicate, The New York Times Syndicate and People Magazine. She provides Media Consulting at