Autopsy reports showed that Amanda Peterson died of an accidental morphine overdose at age 43 this past July, but her family says that doesn't tell the whole story of the secret pain the actress had been enduring for decades.
"At the height of Mandy's career, she suffered a very serious trauma. She had been raped," says Peterson's mom, Sylvia, in an exclusive interview with The Doctors airing Monday.
Sylvia explains that Peterson was 15 years old when she was assaulted by a man more than twice her age. "She just felt so ashamed. She didn't want people to know," says her heartbroken mom. "I think it affected her forever."
Even Peterson's sister, Anne-Marie, did not know about what her sister had endured. "I think for her to carry the secret, this burden of the assault, must have just been overwhelming," says Anne-Marie.
"After [the rape], she became more defensive, less trusting, some of the sparkle was gone," adds Peterson's dad, James, explaining that his daughter refused to press charges.
Peterson was best known for her role opposite Patrick Dempsey in the 1987 film "Can't Buy Me Love." According to the toxicology report, the actress had several prescription drugs in her system at the time of her death, including morphine. The Weld County Coroner named the cause of death “accidental.”
In the video above, her family recalls finding out that Peterson was using heroin and meth, the rollercoaster of addiction and sobriety, how they discovered she was dead, and why they say she struggled in Hollywood.
"I want to stress why we're here is to warn and counsel people. We are among perhaps millions who have gone through these problems. You have to be very well attuned to what your children are doing, what they're saying," says Peterson's dad. "We all have to be more aware, and that doesn't diminish your love."
The Doctors' Dr. Travis Stork points out, "Every 19 minutes, an American dies of a drug overdose, largely driven by prescription drugs." That's more than the number of deaths from heroin and cocaine overdoses combined.
This episode of The Doctors airs Monday. Click here to see where you can watch.
For warning signs of addiction, and resources, click here.
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