Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan Suffered Horrific Sexual Abuse: ‘I Buried It’

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In 2013, late Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan told LIFE Magazine she was molested for four years starting when she was 8 years old by someone whom she trusted.

“I was only a kid,” the musician — who leaves behind three children, Taylor, 20, Mollie, 16, and Dakota, 12 (with ex-husband Don Burton) — told the outlet. “It gets hard as well when you have daughters because you get flashbacks when you’re with them and when you are watching them. You wonder, ‘How can anyone get satisfaction in any way, you know?’”

The rocker often talked about how motherhood was her priority, and also said having children changed her life for the better. “The kids were actually completely elemental in my healing process,” she told LIFE about trying to move on from the abuse.

Dolores also discussed the abuse in an Irish Independent interview.

She said: “We moved into a busy housing estate when I was seven. There were tons of people around all the time. My mother worked a lot to pay the bills and my father was oblivious to it [he was left with permanent brain damage after an accident].

“He [the abuser] used to masturbate me when I was eight years old. It was inappropriate touching. For four years, when I was a little girl I was sexually abused. I was only a kid.”

Dolores revealed the sexual abuse resulted in her becoming anorexic as she developed “self-loathing”.

She continued: “You think it is your own fault. I buried it. It is what you do initially. You bury it because you are ashamed of it. You think: ‘Oh my god. How horrible and disgusting I am.’

“You have this terrible self-loathing. And then I got famous when I was 18 and my career took over. It was even harder then. So then I developed the anorexia.”

Due to the eating disorder, Dolores admitted she would put on a “charade” which ultimately made her depressed.

The Irish singer added: ”When I Googled anorexia and studied it, I found out it was a common pathology that develops later on in life. So I was putting on this charade, this perfect face. I had anorexia, then depression, a breakdown.”

  • makingconnections

    I’m so sorry to hear of what Delores O’Riordan suffered as a child. Thanks to her for her openness and the education that it gives to all of us. Not meaning to blame anyone for her suffering but please people can we please be watchful of our children, boys and girls. Abusers are so excellent and seeming to be friendly and caring towards children and their illness is incurable. It’s up to us to make certain our young ones are safe.

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  • Kay B

    She is absolutely right. I was sexually abused when I was 14 by a family member. I have a daughter who is 6 now and I have always told her if some one does something that isn’t right to tell me. You can not imagine how much I fear what happened to me happening to her….and it’s for no reason at all. The thing is….it never leaves you. Your relationships suffer because of it because you can’t trust another male. You feel dirty when touched. It feels down right uncomfortable. I also went into a great depression and wasn’t anorexic but never ate because of the stress. I was 5’5 and 88 lbs in my 20s. I really feel for her. RIP Delores.

    • makingconnections

      A woman from this area wrote a book called “The Silent Scream” about child sexual abuse and spoke at various places about it quite a few years ago. She really opened people’s eyes to the insidious nature of such abuse. It had been passed on in her family for many generations by the men, abusing various members of their family. It’s the most devastating thing. I thank anyone who is famous like Dolores O’Riordan for speaking out and I’m very sad she had to leave.

      • Kay B

        I give anyone who can open up about it a lot of credit. Man or woman. Girl or boy. But what didn’t help was that my mother has always had the mentality that if she doesn’t hear or talk about something it will go away. I knew I had to break that chain. Thank you for your thoughts.

        • makingconnections

          That’s typical. Geez, even some Canadian hockey players have written books and spoken publicly and helped young abuse victims because of what they went through. They too suffered depressions and other troubles but the reaching out helps I think. We have to as much as possible put an end to this sick behaviour that was hidden away for so long.

          • Olga Stewart

            I remember Therorn Fleury talking about how a coach sexually abused him.

            In fact, I think there was a program on CBC about this a few years back.

            And I can’t even begin to wrap my head around how someone could both hurt and harm a child in that way. And to also take their innocence away from them. It’s just beyond my understanding that this happens.

            But it needs to be stopped.

        • Olga Stewart

          My Mom was like that when she learned I was depressed.

          In fact, she told me that if I just take a pill, then it will all go away.

          This is a part of the reason why we no longer have contact.

          • Kay B

            Yes. My older sister has not had contact with our mom in 8 yrs or so. Because of that very reason. She has depression and other issues and my mom would just pray it away. My mother has never even met her own grandson who is 8 now. I can put it aside for my daughter’s sake. But it is certainly hard.

    • Olga Stewart

      I am so very sorry to know that this also happened to you.

      My heart and thoughts are with both you and your daughter.

      • Kay B

        Thank you Olga.

        • Olga Stewart

          You are very welcome.

  • Olga Stewart

    My heart truly breaks for her.

    She was this tiny woman who both had a powerhouse voice and such lovely, haunting lyrics.

    Now I understand better where those lyrics came from.

  • Bruno Sílvio Martins

    This is heartbreaking. And infuriating. The abuse.
    I can’t begin to imagine the pain of someone who is abused… and for a child to suffer this sickening abuse…
    Our misogynist society leads to the silent abuse. All who speak up, no matter when, are heroines (and heroes).
    Wish a change would happen in my lifetime. Wish men would change their mentality.
    Rest In Peace, Dolores.

    • makingconnections

      Actually men can help a lot by not just ignoring these men when they get out of prison. I heard of a town in England that had a program that dealt with any man convicted of sexual abuse. They formed a large group and made sure they when the man left his house he was never alone…they were not cruel to him, but gave him no opportunity to hang out at the wrong places. That’s commitment!
      I understand woman have abused as well, but I’ve never personally heard of a case.
      The hockey coach that did so much abusing of young hockey players in our country left here when his jail time was up and lives in a country that doesn’t take abuse as so unusual.

  • Tony A.

    Is the abuser still alive?. Gotta find that monster!