Tyler Perry Reveals How He Healed From His Tragic Childhood Sexual Abuse

Tyler Perry may be known for comedy, but what he suffered as a child is anything but funny. Many aren’t aware of the trauma and sexual abuse that Perry suffered in his younger years. It took a lot of inner work for Perry to heal from the pain and be able to make us laugh today. Here’s the inspiring story about how Perry was able to get past his childhood trauma. 

Tyler Perry experienced unimaginable abuse as a child

Tyler Perry on 'TODAY.'
Tyler Perry | Mike Smith/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

After a long career, Perry is 50 years old and has finally reached a place of healing from his traumatic childhood, but it was a long journey. Before the age of 10, he was sexually molested by three different men and a woman.

The first time was at the age of 5 when a neighbor put his hands down his pants. His first sexual experience with a woman was when an adult coerced him into having sex as a child. He also suffered severe beatings, physical and mental abuse from his own father.

“[It was] a living hell,” Perry told Oprah Winfrey in 2010.

It’s hard to imagine the kind of pain that Perry must have suffered from his years of abuse, and it took a long time before he was able to come to terms with the damage they created. 

Tyler Perry tried to ignore his past

For most of his life, Perry tried to ignore the abuse and move forward without dealing with the trauma.

“I didn’t know what was going on or the far-reaching effects of it,” he told People in a recent interview. “I just moved through it. Go onto the next thing. ‘Boys don’t cry, shut up and move on.'”

Unfortunately, this is a common reaction from those who have suffered sexual abuse, especially males. There’s a lot of misinformation around the sexual abuse of men.

Many people believe that it’s not possible for men to experience sexual abuse because “men always want sex.” These kinds of stigmas can make it very difficult for male survivors to seek help. However, it’s believed that around 1 in 6 men have been sexually abused. 

Pushing the memories away and not dealing with the trauma caused Perry to experience a lot of negative emotions as a young man. He admitted that there was a lot of anger in his teenage years and into his 20s.

“A lot of anger, a lot of confusion, a lot of frustration trying to just be OK,” Perry said. 

Writing helped Tyler Perry heal from his childhood trauma

If we don’t deal with these negative emotions, then they never really go away. Fortunately, Perry did eventually find a way to process what had happened to him.

While watching an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, he was inspired to find a creative outlet. During the episode, Winfrey discussed the healing power of the creative processes, and Perry decided he was willing to give it try. 

Writing was the perfect outlet for Perry. He started creating characters and through that, he was able to understand their motivation and personalities. The process allowed him to understand some of his own motivations and behaviors so that he was finally able to work towards healing. 

Of course, writing helped him in other ways as well. Once he began writing plays, he was able to develop an entire career around his creative process and that’s how we know his name today. Now, Perry is able to relate to others who are struggling and tries to encourage them to keep moving forward.

“I would challenge anyone who is struggling or trying to figure out what to do to press on,” Perry said, “because whatever this plain was, there is an opposite. Here I am in it and I’m loving every day.”