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While on the press tour for her new movie Bombshell (opens in new tab), Charlize Theron (opens in new tab) talked candidly about her childhood experiences of domestic violence. Speaking on NPR's Fresh Air, she recounted the night her mother, Gerda, killed her father, Charles, in self-defense, after her father came home drunk and fired shots at his family through a closed door.
As People reports (opens in new tab), Theron was 15 in June 1991, when her mother was forced to shoot her father. "My father was so drunk that he shouldn't have been able to walk when he came into the house with a gun," she recalled on NPR. "My mom and I were in my bedroom leaning against the door, because he was trying to push through the door. So both of us were leaning against the door from the inside to have him not be able to push through."
"He took a step back and just shot through the door three times. None of those bullets ever hit us, which is just a miracle. But in self-defense, she ended the threat," Theron said.
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Theron's father grappled with alcoholism, she explained. "I only knew him one way, and that was as an alcoholic," she said. "It was a pretty hopeless situation. Our family was just kind of stuck in it. And the day-to-day unpredictability of living with an addict is the thing that you sit with and have kind of embedded in your body for the rest of your life, more than just this one event of what happened one night."
She speaks openly about her childhood, she said, in order to prevent others experiencing domestic violence from feeling alone. "This family violence, this kind of violence that happens within the family, is something that I share with a lot of people," Theron said. "I'm not ashamed to talk about it, because I do think that the more we talk about these things, the more we realize we are not alone in any of it."
Emily Dixon is a British journalist who’s contributed to CNN, Teen Vogue, Time, Glamour, The Guardian, Wonderland, The Big Roundtable, Bust, and more, on everything from mental health to fashion to political activism to feminist zine collectives. She’s also a committed Beyoncé, Kacey Musgraves, and Tracee Ellis Ross fan, an enthusiastic but terrible ballet dancer, and a proud Geordie lass.
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