The Hollywood star is sharing her story in the hope that it helps someone else going through domestic abuse.
Trigger warning: This story contains themes of domestic abuse that some readers may find disturbing
Charlize Theron was just 15 the night her mother, Gerda, shot her father, Charles Theron, in self-defense 30 years ago. The actor's father was heavily drunk on the night and threatened her and her mother with a gun during a night in June 1991. Gerda shot Charles to protect herself and her daughter, Charlize. The Academy award-winning actor opened up about growing around a father who was abusive and an alcoholic scarred her in so many ways. She recently spoke about her father's death to raise awareness on domestic violence, reported by NPR.
“My father was so drunk that he shouldn’t have been able to walk when he came into the house with a gun," said Theron, recalling that horrible night from 1991. "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 the bullets ever hit us, which is just a miracle,” said Charlize. Having almost lost their lives, Gerda shot her husband in self-defense. She was not charged and subsequently let go. “But in self-defense, she ended the threat,” said the actor. It was not the first time Gerda had saved her daughter's life. Gerda jumped into a swimming pool to save Charlize Theron from drowning when the actor was just two-years-old. When asked about it, Theron replied, "She saved my life many other times too."
Charlize Theron said she's not ashamed to talk about the night. Having suffered years of domestic abuse, she's hoping her story will help someone else who is being subject to domestic abuse. “This family violence, this kind of violence that happens within the family, is something that I share with a lot of people. 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,” said Theron before adding, “I think, for me, it’s just always been that this story is about growing up with addicts and what that does to a person.”
For Theron, as a teenager, her father's death was an escape from the abuse and hopelessness. “I only knew him one way, and that was as an alcoholic. 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,” said Theron. “I think our family was an incredibly unhealthy one. And all of it, I think, scarred us in a way. Of course, I wish what happened that night would have never happened. It’s unfortunately what happens when you don’t get to the root of these issues.”
She paid tribute to her mom at Elle‘s 2018 Women in Hollywood event. "I am lucky enough that I had a great mom who really kind of made me brave and always told me to be brave. I don’t know who I might have been without that,” said Theron, reported People. The actor and her Mom also posted a picture of themselves at a rally supporting the call for better gun laws in the country.
After Harvey Weinstein was accused by several women as a sexual predator, Theron was asked about the Hollywood producer. Theron replied that she had, in fact, outed Weinstein as the person who sexually harassed her, in an interview, but his name didn't make it to print. "I actually did disclose his name. You don't know that because every time I disclosed his name, the journalist made the decision to not write his name, and it goes to show just how deeply systemic this problem is," Theron told NPR.
She also started The Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project (CTAOP) to invest in African youth and their ability to keep themselves and their peers safe from HIV/AIDS. CTAOP started in 2007 with the hope of making a difference in fighting HIV in her home country of South Africa. CTAOP supports community-based organizations implementing innovative HIV prevention programs that serve adolescents.
If you or someone you know has is being subjected to domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.