Selma Blair is opening up about her decades-long battle with alcohol addiction that began at age 7, as well as her experience with sexual assault and other trauma. In an interview with PEOPLE and excerpt of her upcoming memoir Mean Baby, the Cruel Intentions star, 49, revealed that she used alcohol as a "coping mechanism" from a young age.
"I don't know if I would've survived childhood without alcoholism," Blair told the outlet. "That's why it's such a problem for a lot of people. It really is a huge comfort, a huge relief in the beginning. Maybe even the first few years for me because I did start really young with that as a comfort, as my coping mechanism."
In an excerpt from Mean Baby, Blair recalls getting drunk for the first time at age 7 during a Passover seder off of the Manischewitz, calling it a "revelation" to her. In her early years of drinking, Blair writes she didn't get drunk, "just quick sips whenever my anxiety would alight. I usually barely even got tipsy. I became an expert alcoholic, adept at hiding my secret."
In her teens and 20s, Blair's alcohol abuse escalated, and in the memoir she recalls being sexually assaulted during a college spring break trip after a day of drinking. "I don't know if both of them raped me. One of them definitely did," she writes. "I made myself small and quiet and waited for it to be over. I wish I could say what happened to me that night was an anomaly, but it wasn't. I have been raped, multiple times, because I was too drunk to say the words 'Please. Stop.' Only that one time was violent. I came out of each event quiet and ashamed."
Blair told PEOPLE that sharing her story about being raped for the first time publicly is part of her continued healing process, which also includes therapy. "Writing that stopped me dead in my tracks," she explained. "My sense of trauma was bigger than I knew. I did not realize that assault was so central in my life. I had so much shame and blame. I'm grateful I felt safe enough to put it on the page. And then can work on it with a therapist and with other writing, and really relieve that burden of shame on myself.
Blair said she hopes Mean Baby can reach out to not only her own son but also "people trying to find the deepest hole to crawl into until the pain passes." For now, the actress noted, "I'm in a good place. I cannot believe all this happened in my life, and I'm still here and I'm okay." Mean Baby is available May 17.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call the National Drug Helpline at (844) 289-0879. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to rainn.org.