Celebrities open up on their experience of domestic violence

Celebrities open up on their experience of domestic violence

It's likely that someone you know has been the victim of domestic abuse.

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four women in the US will be subject to "intimate partner violence". That is, physical violence, sexual violence, stalking or psychological aggression.

Globally, the United Nations estimates that this figure is a horrifying 70% of people. This is not only a women’s issue. One in nine men are also affected in the US. However, this phenomenon is believed to be heavily underreported.

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Ultimately, there is no “type” of person that domestic abuse does or doesn't happen to. And to prove that point, here are five celebrities who have opened up about their experiences of domestic violence.

1. Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron has a tough past. Her father was an abusive alcoholic who attacked her mother physically and abused Charlize verbally.

In 1991, when Theron was 15, her mother fatally shot her father in self-defence when he threatened the pair. While the actress acknowledged that her father’s addiction and death had had a big impact on her life, she is determined not to let it control her. She has said: "It’s a part of me, but it doesn’t rule my life."

2. Rihanna

In 2009, photos showing the pop sensation's beaten and bruised face hit the front pages of publications across the globe. Rihanna was attacked by fellow singer, and her then-boyfriend Chris Brown. And the images gave a public face to the brutal realities of domestic violence.

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Although charges were later pressed against Brown, Rihanna has been vocal about the fact that legal justice isn't necessarily the end of things.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Rihanna criticised how survivors are treated. "I just never understood that; how the victim gets punished over and over," she said.

3. Mariah Carey

While Mariah Carey's diva reputation may make her seem like someone whom you wouldn't dare to challenge, the singer has previously opened up about the coercion she experienced at the hands of ex-husband Tommy Mottola. Having married Mottola - who was also her manager - at just 23-years-old, the relationship soon became controlling.

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"I had to get permission to leave [the house]” she revealed on her show Mariah's World. She has also been vocal about the long term effects of such a relationship and how hard it can be to move on. In a 2005 interview with Aliya S. King, she stated: "That relationship shaped who I am. It beyond shaped me. I still have nightmares about it."

5. Sarah Hyland

In 2014 actress Sarah Hyland was granted a restraining order against Matt Prokop, her former partner of five years. Court documents showed that she was repeatedly subject to violence and emotional abuse, including an incident where she was choked until she was left in fear for her life.

Hyland turned to Modern Family co-star Julie Bowen for support, who reportedly accompanied her to break up with Prokop and ensure that she was safe. Although Hyland hasn’t spoken extensively about the abuse, she did reveal on The Meredith Vieira Show that she determined to move on. She cited poetry as something that helped her deal with it.

The bottom line

While domestic violence rates in the US have dropped over the past 30 years, an astonishing 20 people per minute are still victims of intimate partner violence in the US, according to the CDC. That means that in the, let's say, two to three minutes it has taken you to read this article, sixty people will have encountered some form of physical, sexual, or psychological harm.

As these celebs show, no matter how “perfect” someone’s life may seem, you can never know what’s going or has gone on behind closed doors. All around the world, women and men of all ages and all positions in society are subjected to violence. But each of these stories also show that there's hope, that people can break free, bounce back and build a better life.

Please visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center's website if you are experiencing or have been affected by domestic violence.