Even though she’s now 51-years-old, actress Alison Arngrim is still easily recognizable as the once 12-year-old child, Nellie Oleson, from TV’s "Little House on the Prairie." Nellie was the spoiled, loud-mouthed, mean girl character, and foil to actress Melissa Gilbert’s young character, Laura Ingalls.
In a Dec. 3 report from The Huffington Post, Alison confessed to hiding a painful secret of being sexually abused as a child. Alison Arngrim shared her story on a recent episode on TV’s "Oprah: Where Are They Now?"
Alison played the Nellie Oleson character on “Little House” from 1974 – 1982 beginning when she was 12-years-old. The sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of a relative began before “Little House,” when she was just six-years-old.
The actress said she endured that abuse for three years.
"I actually read somewhere the average length of time for someone to come forward about being sexually abused is 14 years from the incident," she says.
"I was in my early 20s when I first started talking about it and went to therapy, so I was right on schedule -- textbook."
At six-years-old, Alison said that she was simply too young to understand what was happening to her and kept the abuse to herself. But once she got older and began to better realize the sexual abuse for what it was, “ … that's when I actually said 'No, I'm not doing this anymore.' And amazingly, it stopped."
Alison said that during the time she portrayed Nellie Oleson on TV, she never shared the story of her abuse with her fellow “Little House” cast mates or her family members.
"It was awful," she says. "It's keeping the secret is the worst part. It's wondering, can someone tell by looking at you?"
Turns out, portraying the fearless, brazen, outspoken Nellie Oleson on TV proved to be healthy and therapeutic for the young actress.
"So here I was playing this girl that everyone was afraid of and it's great."
"I'm paid to play this person who screams, yells, throw things, vents her anger, just lets it out, doesn't care who's looking, shows all the worst parts, makes terrible faces and doesn't care how awful she looks.
"It was absolutely therapeutic," she says.
In addition to going public with her personal story of abuse, Alison also devotes time to working with the National Association to Protect Children, an organization dedicated to the protection of children.
For more on Alison Arngrim and her personal tale of child sexual abuse, see the video accompanying this article.
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