Charlize Theron's path to fame hasn't been easy. The Academy-Award winning actress recently spoke with Howard Stern about the childhood domestic violence she faced as a result of her father's alcoholism. More specifically, about when she was 15, her mother shot and killed her father in self-defense.
She talked about what it was like to live with an alcoholic as a child. "I think what more affected me for my adult life that happened in my childhood was more the everyday [life] of a child living in the house with an alcoholic and waking up not knowing what was going to happen. And not knowing how my day was going to go and all of it dependent on somebody else and whether he was not going to drink or [not.]” After her father's death, Theron didn't discuss it too much in her everyday life, explaining that she "just pretended like it didn't happen," which is a common reaction to trauma.
Theron first spoke publicly about her father's death in 2008 with Diane Sawyer. She said that while he did not abuse her physically, he abused her verbally. Coming to terms with the shooting was understandably difficult for her, as she describes feeling "...for me, it took a long time to sink in, what had really happened because you just don't think stuff like that will ever happen to you, you always think it happens to somebody else."
A 2007 study showed that up to 30% of adults in the US have experienced alcoholism and spectrum alcohol abuse (for more on the difference between the two terms, read this story). While the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence states that "two-thirds of victims of spousal violence report that the perpetrator had been drinking," it's important to note that alcohol is not an excuse for domestic violence. The only thing responsible for abuse is the abuser.
If you are struggling with substance abuse, please call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for free and confidential information.
If you are experiencing domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224 for confidential support.