Oprah Winfrey is one of the most influential and inspiring women in the world.
She’s the only African American woman included on Forbes’ list of the 400 richest people in America.
She’s now worth an estimated $US 2.8 billion (AU$3.5 billion) and has properties in LA, Chicago, Hawaii, Georgia, and Antigua.
Oh, and if you ask those closest to her, she’s seriously considering running for the presidency in 2020.
But Oprah’s early life was a far cry from the success she enjoys today.
Born in 1954 to a teen mum on an isolated farm in Kosciusko, Mississippi, Oprah’s early life was punctuated by neglect, violence and sexual assault.
Oprah’s grandmother, who was her primary caretaker while her mum searched for work, would savagely beat the young girl at random.
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“I grew up in an environment where children were seen and not heard,” she told David Letterman.
“I went to a well to get some water and carry it in a bucket. And I was playing in the water with my fingers, and my grandmother had seen me out the window and she didn’t like it.
“She whipped me so badly that I had welts on my back and the welts would bleed. And then when I put on my Sunday dress, I was bleeding from the welts. And then she was very upset with me because I got blood on the dress.
“So then I got another whipping for getting blood on the dress.”
When she was just six years old, Oprah was sent to live with her mum in a Milwaukee boarding house.
There, things only got worse.
She was raped for the first time when she was just nine years old.
“He (the rapist) took me to an ice cream shop — blood still running down my leg — and bought me ice cream,” she said during a speech at Indiana’s Ball State University in 2012.
She continued to be sexually assaulted for the next five years until, at the age of just 14, Oprah discovered she was pregnant.
In response, her mum dropped her off at a detention home and left her there. Oprah would later escape and track down her dad in Nashville, Tennessee.
That’s when two things happened that changed her life forever.
First, she gave birth to a baby who passed away just two weeks later.
“I buried all of my feelings about it,” she told Letterman. “I really felt like that baby’s life — that baby coming into the world — really gave me new life. That’s how I processed it for myself.”
Secondly, her dad began to provide the direction, discipline and love Oprah had been desperately craving her whole life.
He introduced her to her great love of reading, making her read a new book every fortnight so she could write a book report about it.