On television, Alison Arngrim played mean, vindictive little girl Nellie Oleson, the enemy of the oh-so-perfect Laura Ingalls in the classic drama Little House on the Prairie
. Behind the scenes, Alison was being physically and sexually abused by a family member. No one knew.
Eventually, in her late 40s, Alison went public with her story. She appeared on Larry King Live
and gave countless interviews, telling the world what happened to her. She and the National Association to Protect Children
were trying to repeal a California law that allowed relatives to avoid prison time for child molestation.
Ultimately, the bill was passed unanimously. As Alison tells the Oprah Winfrey Network, she believes Hollywood today likely has just as much of a sexual abuse problem as it did in the '70s. Alison explains that child predators are attracted to places where kids may go unsupervised, and Hollywood is a top candidate.
"There were parents dropping their kids off at these guys' houses," Alison says. "Did it occur to you that maybe it's odd for a 40-year-old guy to want that many 11-year-olds in his pool without their parents all day?"
"With show business, it's very weird," Alison says. "People will get starstruck" and are willing to let complete strangers spend more time with their children than they would allow with neighbors.
Recently, Alison decided to take her inspiring story to the stage. She's co-created the Indomitable Spirit Symposium
, a platform for people, both celebrities and regular folk, to share their stories of survival. The inaugural event will be held at Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles on February 25, 2017, and Alison hopes to expand to other cities.
"We're gathering up these people who have these incredible stories of courage and strength and survival, people who've overcome seemingly insurmountable odds and not only are still with us and alive but have thrived and have incredible lives and talking about how they did this," Alison says. "People who need to hear this, come and find out what we're doing."