Shania Twain attends the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.

Shania Twain says it took decades for her to fully accept and appreciate her own body after being sexually abused by her stepfather as a child.

Though she was well-known for her songs of female empowerment (“Man! I Feel Like A Woman!”, “That Don’t Impress Me Much”), Twain, 57, faced years of private self-loathing. She told The Mirror: “When I was fondled as a child, it made me retreat from ever wanting to grow into becoming a woman. I hated my body.” Twain was 10 years old when her stepfather Jerry sexually abused her.

Shania says the abuse sparked a lifetime of feeling uncomfortable in her own skin. That was one reason she decided to pose for some revealing shots for the artwork of her new album, Queen of Me. ) (The album is out this week.) “I went into the most uncomfortable scenario I could think of, which was a photo shoot without my clothes on. And that’s what I did. I just faced it head-on. It’s probably something I should have done much earlier in my life. But it feels like I’ve turned a corner – a very important one. It’s about self-empowerment and taking charge of your fears.”

When asked if part of the motivation for going public with the abuse was because it helped other people to understand they can survive these ordeals, she said, “Yes. I believe sharing your experiences helps other people. Sharing helps you first of all… it allows you to let go. But it also helps other people experiencing the same thing, it makes them feel they’re not alone. And that is extremely important.” Twain has publicly spoken of her stepfather’s abuse since 2017.

The Grammy-winning singer never knew her biological father. She says that poverty was the norm while growing up in Ontario, Canada. She said the lack of money caused friction between Jerry and her depressed mother, Sharon Morrison. They often struggled to afford the gas needed to give Shania rides to bars to sing. Twain felt as though she was robbed of the opportunity to confront her stepfather for his abuse after a car accident claimed the lives of both him and her mother in 1987.

Shania Twain’s new album Queen Of Me is out on Friday, February 3.

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