THE singer Dolores O'Riordan has revealed that she was sexually abused as a child.
In an interview in the Sunday Independent's Life Magazine, the Cranberries lead singer spoke for the first time about the trauma she suffered growing up in Limerick. Dolores said the abuse started when she was eight and continued until she was 12.
"We moved into a busy housing estate when I was seven. There were tonnes 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]."
She said her abuser "used to masturbate me when I was eight years old. He made me do oral sex for him and ejaculated on my chest when I was eight years old."
Dolores, the youngest of seven children, told nobody.
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She eventually suffered a breakdown after becoming world famous at the age of 18 as lead singer with the Cranberries. The band sold 40 million records worldwide but Dolores was all the time carrying the burden of what she called "my little dirty secret" and, as she says, "putting on this charade, this perfect face".
"I had anorexia, then depression, a breakdown," she said. "I knew why I hated myself. I knew why I loathed myself. I knew why I wanted to make myself disappear."
Dolores said she told her mother eight years ago. She never told her father, who died two years ago.
She said her abuser turned up to her father's funeral in Ballybricken, Co Limerick.
"I didn't see him for years and years, and then I saw him at my father's funeral. I had blocked him out of my life. I was going to talk to the priest at my father's funeral about it.
"But I didn't. I asked him to pray for me as I was about to go on another world tour and I worried that I might not make it through it."
Dolores married the Canadian musician, Don Burton, in 1994 and the couple have a son, 15, and two daughters aged eight and 12.
"Don showed me love I never knew. I love him and the kids with all of me. They are my salvation. They saved me."
She said it has taken "years and years of counselling" to be able to be talk about the abuse.
"There is a great sense of a great burden off my shoulders. I feel it is going to help me by opening up and just confessing to all of those people who bought my albums, and that love me and come to my gigs and all those fans," she said. "If I tell them that this happened to me and they still love me, that is going to make me feel good about myself."