Marilyn Monroe Was Pressured Into Getting Married at 16 To Escape Her Abusive Foster Home

Marilyn Monroe was transferred through childhood from one nursing home to another. And after she was abused at those nursing homes that would stop the celebrity for the rest of her life, she realized there was only one way out.

At the tender age of 16, she was pressured into marrying a man she knew only to overcome the endless abuse at the hands of these nursing homes.

Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe | Bettmann / Fios

How many nursing homes did Marilyn Monroe live in?

Marilyn Monroe has often said that she does not belong to “anyone.”

She was told, “I knew I belonged to the masses and the world, not because I was talented or even beautiful, but because I was never with anything or anyone else. ”

Norma Jean Baker
Norma Jean Baker | Silver Screen Collection / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

This feeling of belonging did not come from her childhood, where she never had a proper family. Her father was never in the picture, and her mother never wanted a burden of caring for a child.

So, instead, Monroe would live in foster care all her childhood. Sadly, according to Monroe’s memoirs, she suffered sexual abuse at these homes. According to Monroe, she lived in 11 nursing homes all her life.

But in the end, she had enough. Monroe refused to stay in another nursing home, and realized there was only one way out: Marriage.

Marilyn Monroe felt the pressure of getting married when she was only 16 years old

James Dougherty and Marilyn Monroe
James Dougherty and Marilyn Monroe on their wedding day in 1942 | Sunset Boulevard / Corbis tro Getty Images

Monroe, who was just a teenager at the time, was pressured into marrying a 21-year-old man. Her mother had decided to marry Monroe, so she would not have to go from one nursing home to another. She believed that the boy next door would be the most suitable for her daughter.

A boy next door said it was James Dougherty. According to the autobiography with the title Marilyn Monroe: Private Image Public Life, Dougherty was lazy about marrying the teenager because she was “just a baby. ”

But after a few dates, he decided that Monroe’s marriage was the right move. They got married after just a few weeks of getting to know each other.

Marilyn Monroe chose her career rather than a housewife

Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe | Sunset Boulevard / Corbis tro Getty Images

Monroe decided early in their marriage that there was more to life than being a housewife. When her husband went to service in the Marines, Monroe started making model gigs. In a short time, she was on the front page of hundreds of magazines.

Although Dougherty was okay with her model at first, it wasn’t long before he felt as if his wife’s career intentions were gaining the upper hand over her domestic responsibilities. He wanted Monroe to retire as a model, but she refused.

Able to get a strong taste ahead of her, she decided to split up Dougherty to pursue her future as Marilyn Monroe.

How to get help: In the US, call the RAIN Sexual Assault National Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to connect with a trained employee from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

Scroll to Top