Mackenzie Phillips Has 'Great Compassion' for Her Father

Mackenzie Phillips wants the world to know that while her father, John Phillips, may have done the unthinkable with her -- and, eventually, she with him -- he's not a bad man. Just a very sick man.

"If people can separate his body of work with his personal demons, that would be the honorable thing to do," she told Meredith Viera on this morning's Today show. "He didn't set out to hurt me."

As Phillips lays out in her new memoir, High on Arrival, she was not only a victim of abuse by her father, but he also led at an early age into drug abuse. She was eating pot brownies at age 10, and by age 11 she was doing cocaine.

"It was a different time," Mackenzie said. "I believe my father did the best that he could with what he was given as a child. He did the best he could, and my mother was integral in keeping me healthy and well for as long as possible."

Mackenzie also clarified some of the gruesome details of their sexual relationship, which began when she was 19 on the night before her first wedding.

"This was a warped event that occurred over time," she said. "What it started out as -- which was an act of molestation -- and what it became were two entirely different things."

Since the media blitz surrounding Mackenzie's revelatory memoir, there has been a lot of shock and some distortion of her relationship with John Phillips. In the Today interview, she clarified that it started with the aforementioned rape and that her father continued to violate her a few years later, but when Mackenzie was in her mid-twenties their sexual interactions became consensual.

Mackenzie's relationship continued with her father, and it wasn't until she became pregnant that she finally decided to end things with "Papa John". She wasn't sure if the child was her father's or her husband's.

"The implications were just so intensely disturbing to me that I had an abortion and never let him touch me again," Phillips said. John Phillips paid for the abortion.

The Phillips family is having very mixed reactions to the public statements Mackenzie has made.

As for why Mackenzie decided to write about her incest, she said it was for her own sake and for the sake of other incest survivors, who have given her an "outpouring of support" since the book came out on Tuesday.

"There needs to be a dialogue. The covers need to be pulled. We can't keep sweeping it under the carpet." Phillips told Viera. "This is affecting families all over the world."


You can read an excerpt from her book on

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