Gov. Haley makes rare public disclosure
July 9th, 2013
12:33 PM ET
1 year ago

Gov. Haley makes rare public disclosure

(CNN) – In a rare moment on Monday, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley shared publicly her experience being abused as a child.

Speaking at a press conference in Greenville on the state's efforts to combat child abuse, the Republican governor relayed her story, saying violence against children can happen in any community.

"It doesn't matter your background, it doesn't matter your education, it doesn't matter the wealth of your family," Haley said, according to The State newspaper. "Every child is subject to child abuse."

While Haley has previously disclosed her story in her book, "Can't Is Not an Option: My American Story," it's rare for the first-term governor to talk openly about it in a public setting.

When Haley was young, her mother asked a nearby couple living in a trailer to care of Haley in the morning while she worked. However, after a few days, her mother sensed Haley was uncomfortable.

"I never wanted to go," Haley said Monday. "But she didn't know quite what it was and didn't think anything of it."

"One day I came home and I had a lot of bruises and a lot of issues," she added.

The couple quickly packed up and left after Haley's mother confronted them about her concerns. "They packed up and they left," Haley said. "We never got to deal with it."

Monday's press conference was held to promote a study called Silent Tears, which provides South Carolina with a number of recommendations for improving child abuse prevention and response, according to The State.

"When it happened to me, my parents didn't know what to do," she said. "They didn't know who to go to. No one knew how to handle it."

– CNN's Ashley Killough contributed to this report.


Filed under: Nikki Haley • South Carolina
soundoff (137 Responses)
  1. Dr Albert

    Well, at least she hasn't used it as an excuse to shoot somebody. She is just a lousy governor.

    July 9, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  2. 2EL8

    She was told no, when she was a child. That's the abuse.

    July 9, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  3. Guess

    Jim, bingo, well said, and spot on, smith, we dont take the issue lightly, she is likely lying, in which case she is slighting the seriousness of said issue, and doing homework, her voting records reafirm the latter

    July 9, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  4. Douglas

    She is even more abhorrent each time she opens her mouth. Now, when she thinks it is politically expedient, she is exposing her past abuse. Well big deal. After treating women's issues as mere fodder for her conservative agenda and draconian cuts and attacks, she wants sympathy. No way. Keep your personal stories personal. Nobody cares. The abused child grew up to be mean and ugly. Go away.

    July 9, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  5. Libdumb

    What does this have to do with the job she was elected to do. Why are you telling us now you are a victim. I get so sick and tired of listening to these people that want us to sympathize with them and absolve them of doing what they are expected to do. Excuses, excuses, excuses.

    July 9, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  6. Guess

    Were horrible, so we are to belive her mother, a school teacher no less, just let it go, and them dirty trailer park democrats perverted justice with their vast wealth? she is lying, which makes her dispicable, regardless of political offiliation

    July 9, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  7. Reggie

    Everyone at some time in their life is subject to abuse. To learn from it, become stronger, be smarter is the key. Don't dwell on it because when something isn't right only you can do something about it. When an Lion takes out a Zebra it looks horrific but the fact is it happens. The real problem is we will be abused in many ways in our life span so placing energy in picking up and becoming a better person is always number one. Never forget to "love" life.

    July 9, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  8. maximusvad

    That's not a valid excuse for being a Sociopath Governess.

    July 9, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  9. Jack M

    Try being abused all during your childhood, but multiple people.

    July 9, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  10. sevensins

    I was abused as a tax payer all my adult life.. whats your point?

    July 9, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  11. iceload9

    With the power of governor, these people shouldn't be hard to find.

    July 9, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  12. The Real Tom Paine

    You know, this is a serious issue, and we can't allow ourselves to become so jaded and cynical as to suspect that EVERYTHING a public figure does has an ulterior motive. Cut her some slack, wilya?

    July 9, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  13. vp

    "One day I came home and I had a lot of bruises and a lot of issues," she added.

    That's a whole lot of specious nothing.

    go on or be quiet....

    July 9, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  14. general tso

    @Dominican mamma..at least she is doing more than sitting on her backside taking cheap shots. Your "tag' indicates you are proud of not being US born, and yet you feel entitled to put down someone in the US political arena....could you do that in your home country???

    July 9, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  15. Wake up People!

    As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I would hope she is telling the truth. And she should be doing everything possible to ensure NO other child has to go through this. It's very hard to deal with or even tell anyone because you are constantly being told by your abuser that no one will believe you. I remember begging my grandmother to find us another sitter so I wouldn't have to see the creep again. But I NEVER told her why......

    July 9, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  16. bill

    It's the exact same thing the GOP has been doing to America since dubya. I think the entire republican party should be required to register as sex offenders.

    July 9, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  17. steveNJXN

    While I rarely agree with Governor Haley on anything, I agree with her on the the risks of child abuse. I thank her for being courageous enough to make this very private matter public, at the risk of exposing herself to the kind of vilification I'm seeing from some of the previous commenters.

    July 9, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  18. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The Real Tom Paine

    You know, this is a serious issue, and we can't allow ourselves to become so jaded and cynical as to suspect that EVERYTHING a public figure does has an ulterior motive. Cut her some slack, wilya
    -------------------------------------------------
    No one is saying that this is not a serious issue. No one is saying that EVERYTHING that a public figure does has an ulterior motive. I AM SAYING, however, that based on the content and context of this story this is nothing more than a book promo. It does not negate the fact that "things" happened to her but the details or even gist of her story are so non-existent that I for one cannot see any other purpose for this piece of journalistic excellence. Sarcasm intended.
    Matter of fact I'm getting kinda pissed that she would use this serious topic to draw attention to herself and her book.

    July 9, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  19. cc423

    And yet she cut funding to after school programs that give children of the working poor a safe place to stay after the last school bell rings. What a hypocrite.

    July 9, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  20. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ general tso (nice "tag")
    YAWN!
    Spin again that whole "Dominican...not proud...in your own country" thingy is whacked and has been "done" by your betters.

    July 9, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  21. Pander Bear

    If she was indeed abused, it is horrible that she had to endure that experience. NO child deserves to be abused.

    But as "Monday's press conference was held to promote a study called Silent Tears, which provides South Carolina with a number of recommendations for improving child abuse prevention and response" I'm curious to see what she does with those recommendations. If as Governor she does not mandate funding/actual action for improving child abuse prevention, then my fear is this announcement was lip service and an excuse for her to do nothing.

    July 9, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  22. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ Wake Up People!
    Your post told me everything and more about your experience. I feel for you my friend.
    Without buying Nikki's book I couldn't really tell you what happened to her, much less how she was abused, if indeed she was.

    July 9, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  23. Rudy NYC

    general tso

    @Dominican mamma..at least she is doing more than sitting on her backside taking cheap shots. Your "tag' indicates you are proud of not being US born, and yet you feel entitled to put down someone in the US political arena....could you do that in your home country???
    --------------------
    Of course, she can. You're looking at proof of it.

    You see, this is a textbook example of what is wrong with the right wing. It's fine for those on the right to be proud of their southern heritage, or their European roots. But, it is totally and spitefully wrong for a minority to be proud of the country of origin of their ancestors? Most people would view that as hateful.

    July 9, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  24. Richard Miller

    Really? What a miserable excuse for a woman. So what do want? my sympathy? Forget it! I only have that for the women and children your state has screwed over all of these years. That is child abuse lady. Get a life of get the hell out of politics.

    July 9, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  25. dfb69

    Who wasn't? Seriously, that was child rearing back then. I am not excusing it just saying it is what it was

    July 9, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
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