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7 Celebrities Who Survived Domestic Violence

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battered women
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Heartbreak

These brave women found the strength to survive.

Domestic violence is an epidemic that many of us are familiar with. And though we can see the signs of domestic violence, that doesn't mean it's easy for women (and men) to leave their abusive relationships. Most battered women are fearful to come forward about their abuse, hence why domestic abuse isn't reported as often.

But this abuse extends past the average American; it affects Hollywood as well. And these seven women know first-hand what it's like to survive domestic violence, and become stronger through their pain.


RELATED: 11 Horrifying Myths (And Eye-Opening Facts) About Domestic Violence


1. Rihanna

Back in early 2009, Rihanna's performance at the 51st Annual Grammy Awards was canceled due to her now ex-boyfriend Chris Brown beating her. As soon as word got out thanks to TMZ, the news of her assault exploded.

Rihanna's face was all over the news and we followed her and Chris Brown to trial. It was a complicated time for the pop star as she temporarily rekindled with Brown in 2013, and it doesn't help that he still appears to have feelings for her

2. Halle Berry

"My mother was a battered woman and that was my childhood for a good chunk of it," Halle told NBC's Natalie Morales. The actress, who has been involved for years with fundraising and support for the Jenesse Center, a shelter for domestic violence victims in L.A., said she grew up watching her father abuse her mother and older sister and then repeated the pattern in her own life.

In 1993, she told Ebony magazine that a boyfriend's beatings had caused her to lose 80 percent of the hearing in her right ear. "The minute he did that, I was gone," she told The Daily Mail in 2007. "My mother always told me, 'If a man hits you, you leave.'"

3. Charlize Theron

Now she's a UN messenger of peace, but as a child in South Africa, Charlize Theron lived with an abusive, alcoholic father who threatened to kill her and her mother. When Charlize was 15, her mother, Gerda, shot and killed her father in self-defense.

The actress doesn’t talk about the experience much, but 1999 she founded the first of two rape crisis centers in South Africa, which has very high rates of intimate partner violence. She has also participated in Eve Ensler's V-Day Project, which raises money and awareness to help abused women.

4. Robin Givens

The former Head of the Class and The Game actress was married to boxer Mike Tyson for just a year, and later said that Tyson, who served three years in prison for rape after their divorce, had beaten her during their marriage.

"I didn't understand how a man could say that the best punch he ever threw was against his wife," Robin said at a gala benefit for the charity Knock Out Abuse. But she also said that she became a stronger person from overcoming the abuse. "I know there is opportunity in adversity. He really helped make me the woman I am today... Far from perfect, but on a good road. I like myself, you know?"


RELATED: 8 BRUTAL Truths Domestic Violence Victims Wish They Could Tell You


5. Christina Aguilera

The singer spoke about growing up with an abusive father in a documentary for E!, saying that her father, Fausto, was mercurial and violent. "I witnessed a lot of unpleasant things — a lot of pushing and shoving and fighting and quarreling," she said. "Growing up I did not feel safe. Feeling powerless is the worst feeling in the world. I turned to singing as an outlet. The pain at home is where my love for music came from."

Christina and her father briefly reconciled in 2000, but she later broke off contact with him. Now, Christina says her relationship with her now ex-husband helped her break the cycle of abuse. She has also auctioned off concert tickets and memorabilia to benefit domestic violence charities, and spoken of opening a shelter for battered women.

6. Tina Turner

The diva Tina is one of American pop music's most inspiring stories, from her R&B beginnings with ex-husband Ike Turner, her revelations of his abuse, and her later success with "What's Love Got to Do With It" and enduring popularity as a consummate entertainer. Tina and Ike were married in 1958 and began churning out a string of hits. The marriage began to fall apart in the 70s due to Ike's drug use and abusive behavior.

Tina fled the marriage in 1976 with less than a dollar to her name and the divorce was finalized in 1978. She struggled to find her artistic footing, but came roaring back in 1984 with the smash "What's Love Got to Do With It." In 1986 she published her autobiography, I, Tina, which discussed her abusive marriage candidly.

She has gone on to tour like a woman half her age for the past three decades. Ike died in 2007 and Tina released a terse statement: "Tina hasn't had any contact with Ike in more than 30 years. No further comment will be made." When Oprah Winfrey presented Tina with a Kennedy Center Honor in 2008, she said, "I love you. I respect you. And you make me proud to spell my name w-o-m-a-n."

7. Madonna

Back in the 1980s, Madonna's then-husband Sean Penn was known for his violent outbursts. Around the time he hit a photographer in 1987, he also struck Madonna with a baseball bat (however, she didn't press charges). There is also report saying that Penn tied Madonna to a chair and beat her, threatened to shave her head, and chased her out of a hotel room. 

Needless to say, their toxic marriage lasted only four years (four years too long). Now they detest one another, compete with one another, and flirt with one another, showing us that relationships can be super-complicated.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, the National Domestic Violence Hotline can help. Call 1−800−799−SAFE(7233) or visit http://www.ndvh.org.


RELATED: WTF: 16% Of Americans Still Think It's OK For Men To Hit Their Wives


Sara Brady is a freelance writer and editor living in Manhattan. You can find her at sarabrady.com (which is perpetually under construction).

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