"A torture chamber": Sinead O'Connor claims her mother sexually abused her as a child.

Content warning: This post deals with suicide and themes of sexual and physical abuse. 

When Sinead O’Connor was just 21 years old she had the number one song in the world. She also felt like an impostor.

Behind the chart toppers and the fame, the Irish singer-songwriter was silently trying to recover from a brutal and traumatic childhood.

In August this year, the now 50-year-old was hospitalised after suffering a mental breakdown. This week she sat down with TV physician Dr Phil to discuss what led her to that point.

sinead o'connor dr phil
"She ran a torture chamber, it was a torture chamber. She was a person who would smile and delight when she was hurting you." Image via Dr Phil.

O'Connor told Dr Phil her recent mental health problems stem from the physical and sexual abuse she allegedly suffered at the hands of her mother while she was growing up.

"She was not well, she was really very, very, very not well. I would say she was possessed, although I’m not sure I believe in such things," she said.


"She ran a torture chamber, it was a torture chamber. She was a person who would smile and delight when she was hurting you."

O'Connor said her mother allegedly made her repeat "I am nothing" over and over again while she beat her. The abuse continued until O'Connor ran away from home when she was just 13 years old.

On 10 February 1985, O'Connor's mother was killed in a car accident.

O'Connor and Dr Phil also discussed her recent hospitalisation which occurred after the Nothing Compares To You singer posted a video to Facebook telling her fans she was feeling suicidal and struggling to cope with her daily life.

The musician also told Dr Phil she has struggled with limited family support.

“What happened was I had been writing to my family begging – letters, and angry letters, and raging," she said.

"I don’t want to make out like I’m a victim here, I give as good as I get. I thought it might be better if my family, if they saw how I’m feeling they would relate to it.”

Listen: Why reporting on suicide is so complex. (Post continues...)

O'Connor was hospitalised after authorities saw the video and performed a welfare check on her.

Months on, O'Connor said she was "fed up" with being a defined as the "crazy person" and the "childhood abuse survivor", adding she's relieved she's now accessing mental health care.

If you or someone you know requires information or support regarding child sexual abuse, you can call Bravehearts on 1800 272 831 or Kids Help Line on 1800 55 1800.

If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health, Mamamia urges you to contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit this website

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