Bobby Brown Says Being Molested by a Priest Changed the Course of His Life: ‘It Was the Reason I Abused Myself’

    Bobby Brown is sharing things he never thought he would.

    The hit R&B singer sat down with PEOPLE ahead of his new A&E documentary Biography: Bobby Brown, premiering May 30, to discuss the biggest triumphs and tragedies of his life, including his battle with addiction, the loss of two of his children and a traumatic secret he’s kept hidden for over 40 years.

    Brown, 53, grew up in a rough section of Boston and says that his first great loss was that of his innocence. In the documentary, he recalls being a young child and witnessing his mother being beaten and arrested by police after trying to intervene in the arrest of some neighbors.

    RELATED: Bobby Brown Sees Late Children Bobbi Kristina and Bobby Jr. in His Dreams: ‘They’re Always Together’

    In the aftermath, he says in the series, “I was sent to a temporary custody by social services which was supposed to be a religious place but it wasn’t a very nice place to be for a child. One of the priests tried to molest me. He tried to touch my private parts … At that time, I was a young boy. I didn’t know what sexual boundaries were. I just knew I didn’t like being touched. Some things are hard to forget.”

    “That really, really bothered me as a child, and as a grown adult,” Brown tells PEOPLE of being touched inappropriately before fighting back and fleeing the religious facility. In hindsight, he says, “I think it was part of the reason I did things, other things, drugs, alcohol, why I abused myself.” (Brown has now been free of narcotics for 20 years.)

    Bobby Brown and famil shot at a location home in Bel Air, CA on April 19, 2022. Photographer: Nolwen Cifuentes Hair: Mona Shabazz Makeup: Ronald Herrera Stylist: Kenya Ware Watches: Rolex

    Nolwen Cifuentes Bobby Brown

    RELATED: Bobby Brown on the Drug Deaths of His Children: ‘It’s My Duty to Remind People It Can Kill You’

    The star says he did not plan for the painful memory to surface. “I had tucked it down so deep into my soul that I didn’t think that I would talk about it again,” says Brown, who says as a kid he coped by embracing music and rebelling against all forms of authority.

    Now that he’s sharing his story, he says “being able to talk about it and get it out helps.” Looking back, “I could see where things went wrong for me.” Brown adds that talking about it, “helped me get through a lot of other things that had been bothering me, especially that.”

    For more on Bobby Brown’s life, pick up the latest issue of issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.

    If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

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