TV favorite Denise Van Outen has revealed she was the victim of a horrifying covert sex tape at 15.
The Gogglebox star was filmed without her knowledge by an older man while they had sex.
Denise, now 47, relives the ordeal in a new book and told The Sun: “I realized it’s more common than ever and it has to change.
“I’m a mum to a 12-year-old girl and I hope talking about my own experiences, good and bad, will both highlight the problems and set a good example to her.”
West End star Denise finally opted to speak about her traumatic experience, which took place in the late 1980s, after seeing a similar incident involving two reality TV stars.
And she admits her ordeal has been a major trauma in her life since.
Her new autobiography also tackles her life as a 1990s party-loving “ladette”.
She discusses her recent heartbreak after splitting from Gogglebox star fiancé Eddie Boxshall, who she discovered had been seeing other women.
Denise, whose former husband Lee Mead is dad to their daughter Betsy, added: “I’m trying to be reflective, but mostly I want my daughter to look at my life and see me as a good example. I wanted her to see me strong, and understand the importance of prioritising self worth. “
She’s been a fixture on the showbiz scene for more than three decades – the glamorous party girl with the lifestyle women dreamed of and who men wanted to be with.
But now for the first time after writing her autobiography and reflecting on her rollercoaster life, Denise van Outen reveals all about the highs and lows of her career in the spotlight.
She covers her high-profile romance with rocker Jay Kay and parties with A-listers Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell.
Speaking ahead of today’s release of her memoir, she told The Sun: “I’ve been asked to write a book before – but it felt too early. Now I feel able to reflect, and really I needed an older head to be able to talk about some of the tougher experiences I wanted to share.
“For example, I’d never been ready before – but now I talk about a situation when I was 15 when an older guy who I actually lost my virginity to filmed us having sex without me knowing.
“He was older than me, and it was very traumatic afterwards. He knew my age, and he was 23, and he’d set up a dodgy camcorder in his bedroom di lui without me knowing.
“It later turned out I wasn’t the only girl he’d done it to – and when it emerged a few years later, the police tore up the floorboards and found loads more girls had been filmed too. It was my worst nightmare.
“It all went to court and it became well known what he was really like, but if I’m honest it was something I had put to the back of my mind until now – I’d tried to block out and forget about it. “
The video resurfaced several years later, once Denise had become a household name as the host of Channel 4’s The Big Breakfast.
Her ex-boyfriend, who she identifies by the pseudonym Mike in the book for legal reasons, was threatening to speak out about their fling and show off the recording.
She was given anonymity in the case and has never spoken about it before.
But she bravely explains: “We all do that when you have trauma, but I think it was important for me to revisit that as I do think it caused trust issues for my relationships going forwards.
“Recently I saw a case involving two reality stars where he had been accused of putting a video online without her consent, and I thought, ‘I need to talk about my experiences now as well’.
“It is really important as young women and young guys, we need to be made aware.
“Those moments can completely change the course of someone’s life and their mental health.
“My experience had a massive impact on my life but I have only really spoken about it now because I want to use it to help other people.
‘I FELT EMBARRASSED’
“I am not doing it to sensationalise my book. It happened, and I think it is important that I addressed it.
“Maybe on a personal level I should have addressed it years ago. I just did what most people do – lei brushed it under the carpet and tried to forget about it. I felt embarrassed by it.
“He has been held accountable and he did go to court many years ago. It was in the Nineties and this sort of thing was pretty much unheard of – now it is very relevant as it does happen a lot. “
Denise was able to rebuild her life – enjoying widespread continued success as a TV host, West End performer, singer and model.
But it was to be her personal life which attracted the most attention, with glamorous Denise often seen at London’s most exclusive venues with a string of A-list pals, including then-boyfriend Jay Kay of Nineties chart stars Jamiroquai.
On occasions, she would leave a nightclub at 2.30am then head to her TV job soon after.
She jokes: “I never missed a single day at work – but I couldn’t do it now.”
She recalls: “I think talent and ability is important, but hard work, and a bit of luck along the way – a bit of everything is key.
“But I’ve had a really good time, too, and I’m extremely grateful for the career I have had.
“Actually, back in the Nineties, we had a reputation for being party girls but I would say it was probably wilder than people even know about. But myself, Zoe Ball, Sara Cox, the Spice Girls – we were all a strong group of women too.
“It was a crazy time and a fun time. I have fond memories of that time – it was hedonistic, but it can’t last forever. Fortunately there were no phones with cameras and things so people used to just feel comfortable.
“There was always a little circle of trust, so things never got out. But I don’t really do it now.
“Actually I always joke that now I play golf – it’s like clubbing for the middle-aged.
“I play with Ronan Keating, Mike Tindall, Brian McFadden, we all go out on the course and hit the 19th hole – but I couldn’t do what I used to do.
“Sometimes I joke with Zoe Ball, ‘Do you even remember it back then’? I’m still partial to a kitchen disco at home with my mates.
“I love dancing and having a good time, but it’s more in moderation – and I’m a very hands-on mum to my daughter.
“But I never minded the partying reputation because I feel like we owned it, and we all still did our jobs properly. Even after the nights out, I never called in sick.
“I remember it being half two in the morning at The Groucho Club and thinking, ‘I should probably go home, I’m being picked up for telly in 45 minutes’. But I always managed. I definitely couldn’t now! “
In recent months, her personal life has been turned upside down. The unexpected breakdown of her relationship di lei with Eddie after seven years prompted her to hurriedly add a final chapter to her book di lei.
They became a popular couple on Channel 4’s Gogglebox, sitting side by side on their sofa – a scene which she says is exactly how their life was.
But earlier this year it emerged he was contacting and meeting other women.
Denise discovered he was unfaithful by reading messages on his iPad and seeing racy images sent to him. It devastated Denise but she is determined to rebuild her life di lei and is excited at the prospect of “falling in love all over again”.
She says: “I try to be upbeat and see positives, even with something like this. I want to learn a lesson and also set a good example for Betsy.
“I felt like I had to walk away for that reason, and because my mum told me, ‘Once is a mistake, any more is a habit’.”
She adds: “Sometimes in life things don’t work out the way you think. It can be disappointing. In that recent situation, I was completely floored by it because I had absolutely no idea.
“It is hard, when you are not aware that something like that is happening behind your back. . . it’s a very hard thing to accept. But people say to me, ‘Do you regret the relationship now? Do you feel angry? ‘ And I don’t.
“The relationship I was in was still the relationship I thought it was. I had no idea. We had our ups and downs about silly little things but never anything that bad.
“It was a happy home. I worked really hard to build a lovely home for us. I was the one doing the work and paying for the house and everything so it’s even more devastating to me that there was deceit and lies. It was heartbreaking .
“But I knew I needed to go, for my self-respect. I could think, ‘My life has turned to crap,’ but instead I’ve changed my mindset to, ‘Now I will have the opportunity to fall in love all over again – to meet someone who is honest and loyal and respectful and I can have a really good solid relationship with ‘.
“How amazing is that? I’m back in a really good place again.”
She would be tempted out on a date with a man again tomorrow, explaining: “I didn’t do anything wrong. I don’t want to feel like I shouldn’t be able to have a nice time. It’s been a few months now.
“It would be a slow burner, I’d have to really get to know somebody because, genuinely, I’ve had the wind taken out of my sails in as much as you trust somebody with your home, your child, and your heart .
“And when this happens, there’s a bit of damage there. But it’s all repairable. I’ll just take my little old heart into The Repair Shop.”
Next, Denise hopes to rekindle her singing career. She adds: “I’ve always managed to pour heartbreak into something new before – and keep building a career for myself.
“I’ve got a part in a film coming up, Sumotherhood, which Ed Sheeran, Jaime Winstone and Jennifer Saunders are in too, and I’ve been working on some music.
“There’s The Masked Singer tour too which I’m a judge on with Aston Merrygold. Then who knows? I always work hard to build something new, and I think everyone loves a comeback kid.”
- DENISE’S autobiography, A Bit Of Me: From Basildon To Broadway, is released today, published by Ebury. Denise’s fee for this interview has been donated to Unicef in support of their work di lei helping children affected by the Ukrainian crisis.