Jennette McCurdy was a child star on Nickelodeon. She never wanted to be.

After that fateful cry-on-cue audition, Jennette said she and her mum knew she hadn’t landed the role. Still in a booster seat because of her young age, Jennette wrote in her 2022 memoir that the drive home was extremely tense.

When Jennette told her mum Debra that she didn’t want to act anymore and that it made her uncomfortable, she was told she didn’t have a choice.

“‘You can’t quit!’ mum sobbed. ‘This was our chance! This was ouuuuur chaaaaance!’ She banged on the steering wheel, accidentally hitting the horn. Mascara trickled down her cheeks. She was hysterical,” Jennette recounted. 

Jennette didn’t get to quit acting. As she said, Debra’s own dream as a child had been to act and perform, so Jennette felt as though that dream was forced upon her. 

“My earliest memories of childhood were of heaviness, and chaos,” Jennette told PEOPLE in 2021. “My mum’s emotions were so erratic that it was like walking a tightrope every day. The mood fluctuations were daily. She became obsessed with making me a star.”

Over time Jennette said things became worse.

Jennette said she was 10 years old when her mother started bleaching Jennette’s hair and whitening her teeth. When Jennette was 11, Debbie fixated on her daughter’s weight. By the time she was a teenager, Jennette was struggling with anorexia, which later swung to binge eating and then bulimia.

And until the age of 17, Jennette said Debra insisted on performing vaginal and breast exams and never let her daughter shower alone. Jennette also said that when paparazzi photos emerged of her in Hawaii in a bikini, Debra sent a barrage of abusive emails, calling Jennette “a little slut” and an “ugly monster”.