EXCLUSIVE: Fran Drescher is opening up about a “traumatizing” ordeal in 1985 in which intruders broke into her home, blindfolded, and tied up her then-husband, and proceeded to rape and assault Drescher and a very close pal.
“It’s really hard. I felt like I was shattered in a million pieces,” Drescher told Fox News of the incident that occurred while she and her husband at the time, Peter Marc Jacobson, were at home with a friend of Drescher’s enjoying dinner and discussing her girlfriend’s approaching wedding.
“It took me at least a year before I even felt close to being myself,” Drescher continued. “I remember I was once in a restaurant with my manager, maybe, but we were having lunch and a busboy dropped a tray of utensils and it made a loud noise and I literally jumped out of my seat and screamed. And everybody in the restaurant looked at me as I [slinked] down back into my chair.”
The “Nanny” star and executive producer, 62, revisited the harrowing incident on “Fran Drescher: In My Own Words,” slated to air on Aug. 16, and said the experience left her skittish and unable to focus on many things in her day-to-day life while the perpetrators remained at large.
“You’re really on edge and you’re not yourself at all. And you keep replaying in your head, ‘What if I did this? Or maybe if I never went home that night and I was supposed to maybe go out for dinner with other people and if only I had done that and blah, blah, blah,’” explained Drescher. “And, you know, we all got therapy, which helps because we got tools on how to not dwell in the moment of horror and walk ourselves – our minds all the way through the process of ‘and then they left and then we lived and then they were caught and now they’re in jail and we’re okay,’ you know, and all of that.”
Continued the Emmy-winner: “And very often when you have a horrific experience, you become stuck in that moment and you keep replaying in your head like a loop [of] that moment of horror. But you have to learn how to walk your mind past that and into the present now.”
Drescher said she carries great empathy for victims of violent crimes who never saw closure due to their offenders never being caught and brought to justice.
“I think that in a way, we were lucky because they were apprehended and we did get closure where a lot of victims of violent crimes don’t have that, which is unfortunate,” she said. “And I know that before the guy was arrested, every time I turned a corner and looked at someone sideways, I thought, ‘Is that him? Is that him?’ You know, and it’s just – you’re traumatized. And I don’t even think that I dealt with it when it first happened like I should have or would have today knowing what I know now about how to deal with my feelings.”
The comedian and author said at the time her method of recovery was simply to “pick myself up, dust myself off and get on with it and not dwell in anything, including my pain.”
However, years later, Drescher had to relive the ordeal in the public eye when a news publication got wind of the ordeal and reported the story.
“Then, you fast forward like 10 years later and I’m doing ‘The Nanny’ and suddenly there’s one of these tabloid magazines – a TV magazine shows, and they talked about it like it just happened,” recalled Drescher. “And people were calling my parents and they even tried to get in touch with the rapist at the prison who refused to meet with them. But the whole thing brought on a post-traumatic stress response in me and fortunately, I was in a whole other level of therapy at that point so I had a very trained ear – a very serious woman to help me through it and actually experience what I didn’t allow us to experience 10 years earlier.”
During Drescher’s “In My Own Words,” she revealed that it was during counseling for the home invasion and rape that her husband, Peter Marc Jacobson, “was very loving and understanding of what my experience was through that horror.”
The pair would immediately move in with close friends Dan Aykroyd and Donna Aykroyd, and Drescher and Jacobson continued in their recovery.
“We were also very blessed to have very supportive, generous friends and Danny and Donna Aykroyd, who took us in that night,” said Drescher. “And we stayed in their home for like three months recovering and to this day, I’m very security conscious and if I fall asleep and forget to put my alarm on, I really marvel at that because that just for me, illustrates that I’ve come a really long way. But then as soon as I realize that, I get up and put it on,” she explained through laughter.
The “Indebted” co-star likened the paranoia to what a serviceman or woman might feel after returning home from war.
“I don’t think that you’re ever the same. You can never be the same,” she said. “And I developed a deeper empathy for people’s pain and an understanding of what it must be like – the horrors of war or being a prisoner of war. For me, the whole episode lasted about an hour or an hour-and-a-half – something like that.”
She maintained: “It seemed like in that amount of time, your whole body – everything – you don’t know whether you’re going to be killed or not. And you don’t know who is going to get killed first. And who’s going to be the last to live but to see the other two die? All of this stuff is running through your mind when it’s happening.”
The physical and emotional scars paint a picture of despair and a sense of hopelessness she had never felt before.
“I mean, I fried my adrenal glands from that night,” said Drescher. “When you have extreme horror your adrenals get so scared and then they dim forevermore. Like they can’t recover from that level of a primal scream.”
“People that go to war for two years or more; I mean, no wonder they have some kind of post-traumatic stress that we’re seeing and understanding what’s happening now more than ever with our military,” she added. “You can’t undergo that level of stress because I only did it from maybe 60 to 90 minutes and it has left imprints on me that I’ll take to my grave.”
“Fran Drescher: In My Own Words” premieres Sunday, August 16 at 10 pm ET on Reelz.
If you or someone you know is suffering from abuse, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.