iCarly Star Jennette McCurdy reveals abuse at hands of mother in dark comedy show

Jenette McCurdy and Ariana Grande pose backstage at Nickelodeon's 26th Annual Kids' Choice Awards in 2013.
Jenette McCurdy and Ariana Grande pose backstage at Nickelodeon's 26th Annual Kids' Choice Awards in 2013. Photo credit: Getty

Warning: This article details child abuse that may be upsetting to some readers.

Child star Jennette McCurdy of iCarly and Sam and Cat fame has revealed the hideous abuse she says she suffered at the hands of her own mother in a one-woman comedy show entitled I'm Glad My Mom Died

Speaking with People magazine, the Nickelodeon star, now 29, detailed the "intense" physical and mental abuse she endured from her mother Debbie, who died of cancer in 2013. 

McCurdy said she was forced to undergo breast and vaginal exams performed by her mother and was banned from showering alone, as well as developing a serious eating disorder due to her mum's obsession with her looks. 

"My earliest memories of childhood were of heaviness, and chaos," said McCurdy, who is also penning a memoir.

"My mom's emotions were so erratic that it was like walking a tightrope every day. The mood fluctuations were daily." 

McCurdy said that she often witnessed physical fights between her mother and her father, Mark, adding that her mum's outbursts would often turn violent. The singer-songwriter also revealed that her mother was "obsessed with making her a star" and began whitening her teeth and bleaching her hair at age 10, before introducing her to calorie counting at 11. 

The iCarly star said that by the time she had landed the role as Sam on the Nickelodeon series, she was in the grips of fully-fledged anorexia, which later developed into bulimia. 

"I know if my mom were alive, I'd still have an eating disorder," she said, adding that she recovered in 2018 after intense therapy. 

"It was only distance from her that allowed me to get healthy."

McCurdy said she was left "so repressed and delayed developmentally" due to the abuse, eventually leaving Hollywood behind to tackle her eating disorders, alcohol dependency and start a new life. 

"It's a risk to change your life, but I made it my mission," she said. 

"I did not know how to find my identity without my mom. And I'm not going to lie, it was very hard to get here. But now, I'm at a place in my life that I never would have thought was possible. And I finally feel free."

McCurdy said she knew that the title of her show, I'm Glad My Mom Died, was "thought-provoking".

"But even though it may seem black and white, there's a fullness to my narrative. Life can be dark - and messy. Nobody has a perfect life," she said.

Where to find help and support: 

  • Shine (domestic violence) - 0508 744 633
  • Women's Refuge - 0800 733 843 (0800 REFUGE)
  • Need to Talk? - Call or text 1737
  • What's Up - 0800 WHATS UP (0800 942 8787)
  • Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
  • Youthline - 0800 376 633, text 234, email talk@youthline.co.nz or online chat
  • Samaritans - 0800 726 666
  • Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
  • Shakti Community Council - 0800 742 584