Marina Sirtis Reveals Childhood Abuse in The Times Interview

Star Trek: The Next Generation actor Marina Sirtis has opened up about her childhood sexual abuse, in a new interview with The Times today.

Sirtis is in London, performing in the West End play Dark Sublime, in which she plays an aging science fiction actress. If it seems like a role that’s close to home, it is. She said, “This play is absolutely me; the character is me, her personality is me. It’s uncanny — it’s like the playwright lives inside my head — but it’s actually terrifying because I like to disappear into characters and here I can’t do that.”

She explained that her childhood in East London was traumatic, and that she used to sit close to the television and use it as an escape. “It was great because I could get to be all those other people who didn’t have my history,” she said.

Sirtis was born in Hackney to parents who had emigrated from Greece to flee persecution. At the age of three she was sexually assaulted. She said, “My mom used to leave me with a baby-minder and it was her teenage sons who molested me. I never told anyone because even at three you know it’s shameful and you think somehow it’s your fault. My mother never knew - it would have killed her.” Sirtis blames the molestation for her having had an eating disorder from the age of 13.

She said, “What happened to me was awful and I have never talked about it before in public, but I feel that there comes a time when I have to say something and that time is today.”

Sirtis credits her time in therapy for helping cope with the trauma, but notes it might never have happened had she not gone to LA. She said, “The therapy helped, but if I had stayed in England it would never have happened. When I left over 30 years ago we didn’t do therapy — we had a [cigarette] and a cup of tea and just got on with it. That was the stoicism of the British character. I would have been a very different person, emotionally and psychologically, if I hadn’t gone to America.”

Marina Sirtis is appearing in Dark Sublime at Trafalgar Studios, from June 25th through August 3rd.

Alison Pitt