In a radio interview, actor Charlize Theron (41), recently opened up about her experience growing up with a father addicted to alcohol and the night her mother killed him in an act of self-defense. A teenager at the time of the incident, the aftermath was worse than the incident itself, she shared. Theron told the interview host Howard Stein, how her father would physically abuse her mother and verbally abuse Charlize as a child.
The things that affected her the most were living with a man dependent on alcohol and not knowing what would happen next and whether he was going to drink or not. Charlize told the listeners how her father’s alcoholism was a major reason why she never invited her friends home. She said, “I think what affected me for my adult life that happened in my childhood was more the everyday living 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 drink.”
Describing her father’s death as a traumatic event, the Academy Award winning actor told Stein about the incident in detail. Her father had come home drunk one night and opened fire with a shotgun in her bedroom. In an attempt to protect their only child, Charlize’s mother Gerda fatally shot Charlize’s father. The court ruled that Gerda had acted in self-defense. Charlize pretended like it never happened and never mentioned the reality to anyone, to cope with the whole situation. On being asked, she often told people that her father had died in a car crash. Charlize added, “I didn’t tell anybody — I didn’t want to tell anybody. Whenever anybody asked me, I said my dad died in a car accident. Who wants to tell that story? Nobody wants to tell that story.”
According to Charlize, she struggled with the trauma brought on by living with her father until she actually started therapy when in her 20s and 30s. During therapy she realized that it was not her father’s actual death that haunted her, but the day-to-day uneasiness she felt when her father was alive.
Calling her mother a huge inspiration and someone who never had therapy for living under such traumatic conditions, Charlize shared her mother’s incredible philosophy as follows, “This is horrible. Acknowledge that this is horrible. Now make a choice. Will this define you? Are you going to sink or are you going to swim?” Charlize said that while both she and her mother dealt with that night very well, they still have to deal with the life that they had. According to her, it was not just about what had happened that one night but what she and her mother would have to deal with throughout most of their lives.
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