One in three women have been victims of physical violence at the hand of the person they're with. Nearly 700,000 children are abused per year in the United States, and 80% of those kids suffer at the hands of their parents. These stats are staggering, and they do not discriminate.
People often think that abuse is restricted only to lower class families, or people who are considered "lowlifes," but the reality is that anyone can suffer from domestic abuse at any time, regardless of class or wealth.
Though we often see celebrities as people with "perfect" lives, there are too many who have also suffered from domestic abuse. Some of their stories are well-known, while others are low-profile about their past.
These celebrities have all experienced, and triumphed over, domestic abuse in their lifetime, either at the hands of a former partner or a family member.
1. Christina Aguilera
The pop sensation was beaten often by her father at a young age. She and her mother were both abused, and her mom has often been outspoken about the damage it caused. When Christina was four years old, her mom found her with blood dripping from her face. The singer spoke about her childhood in 2007 with Glamour magazine.
"I work very closely with a shelter near Pittsburgh," she said. "One day I hope to open a shelter of my own. I think it's really important to share my own story with women who've been abused, because going through that experience has lead me to where I am today: It's given me the strength and motivation to be the best that I can be."
2. NeNe Leakes
Though she may put up a strong front when she's on Real Housewives of Atlanta, Leakes was once a vulnerable woman in an abusive relationship. She spoke about how her son Bryson's father would often abuse her.
"The first person to really say ‘I love you’ a lot became my abuser," she said. "He hit me and then later on he would say ‘I love you’ and I thought that this must be what love is."
At one point, he held Leakes at gunpoint, and that's when she knew she had to leave.
"I cannot do this any longer for the sake of me and my child," she realized.
3. Charlize Theron
When Theron was growing up, she lived with her abusive and alcoholic father in South Africa. One night when she was 15 years old, her dad came home drunk and began threatening her mom with a gun. He shot at her, which prompted Theron's mom to grab the gun and shoot back, killing her husband. It was deemed self-defense, and Theron says it was a defining moment in her life.
"I survived that, and I'm proud of that," Theron said. "I've worked hard for that, too. And I am not scared of that. I am not fearful of the darkness. If anything, I am intrigued by it, because I think it explains human nature and people better."
4. Halle Berry
Though she has never named names, Berry says she was abused in the early 90s by someone "well-known in Hollywood" while they were dating. She was hit in the head so hard that her left eardrum punctured, causing her to lose 80% of her hearing in that ear.
“I left so fast there were skid marks,” she said. “It never happened to me before – or since.”
5. Lionel Richie
Yes, men can be victims of domestic abuse as well. Look no further than Lionel Richie. The singer was caught having an affair by his wife, and she didn't take it well. Allegedly, Brenda Harvey-Richie drop-kicked Lionel in the "stomach area", which only makes sense if his "stomach" is about 6 inches lower on his body than everyone else (if you catch my drift).
"Our officers arrived in less than a minute, observed suspect Brenda Richie striking and kicking the victim on the floor of the apartment," Lt. Robert Curtis said.
The couple tried to make the marriage work afterwards, but ultimately got divorced.
6. Tina Turner
This case is extremely well-documented, but it's always great to read about Turner's triumph after being abused by her husband, Ike Turner.
"He liked to show the public that he was in control and that he was a woman hater," Turner told Oprha. "He also liked for his women to get up and walk across the floor for display so that other men could see what he had. I didn't know how to get out of the whole situation. There were many times when I picked up the gun when he was sleeping."
Say what you want about her music, but Rihanna's abuse made headlines in 2009 and effectively ended any good reputation Chris Brown had left. The singer was attacked by her boyfriend at the time, Brown, while in his car. She was left bloodied, bruised, and emotionally scarred. Brown spoke about the incident years later, saying he "felt like a monster." As for Rihanna, she opened up about her opinion on the way society views victims.
"I just never understood how the victim gets punished over and over," she told Vanity Fair. "It’s in the past, and I don’t want to say ‘Get over it,’ because it’s a very serious thing that is still relevant; it’s still real. A lot of women, a lot of young girls, are still going through it. A lot of young boys too. It’s not a subject to sweep under the rug, so I can’t just dismiss it like it wasn’t anything, or I don’t take it seriously. But, for me, and anyone who’s been a victim of domestic abuse, nobody wants to even remember it. Nobody even wants to admit it. So to talk about it and say it once, much less 200 times, is like … I have to be punished for it? It didn’t sit well with me."
8. Christina Applegate
The Married With Children star may seem like an always-happy actress, but the reality is she suffered for three years during the beginning of her career.
“I met what I thought was the most dynamic and sexy and wonderful, charming man that I’ve ever met in my entire life,” Applegate told members of the Women’s Progress Alliance. "And from that moment on, for three years, I lived in fear for my life from the time that I woke up to the time I went to sleep. He had such a way of beating me that it wouldn’t leave any marks, because he knew everyone would know. He basically brainwashed me. I almost lost my life."
9. Mariah Carey
It's important to remember that abuse is not always physical, but can also be emotional as well. Mariah Carey, the self-acclaimed diva, has earned the right to be as such due to her incredible career, but she also overcame her abusive ex-husband, Tommy Mottola.
"For me, to really get out, it was difficult because there was a connection that was not only a marriage but a business thing where the person was in control of my life," she told Larry King "You just get into a situation and feel locked in. He was older than me by a lot and had a lot of power and he wanted me to remain away from most people, like sequestered. I had to get permission to leave [the house]. I never thought I would get out of there."
Carey said she was inspired to open up about her struggles due to Rihanna's abuse problem which had just been revealed.
10. Tyler Perry
He may be worth millions of dollars now, but the movie producer endured a childhood of emotional and physical abuse at the hands of his own father.
"He got the vacuum cleaner extension cord and trapped me in a room and beat me until the skin was coming off my back. To this day, I don't know what would make a person do something like that to a child," Perry wrote in an email to fans. "I'm tired of holding this in. I don't know what to do with it anymore, so, I've decided to give some of it away."
Even Perry's grandmother, his dad's mom, would subject him to abuse. Perry was sick a lot as a child, and no one in his family believed there was anything actually wrong.
"She came and got me out of the living room leaving my Matchbox cars on the floor," Perry wrote. "She said she was going to kill these germs on me once and for all. She gave me a bath in ammonia."
Perry said his faith in God is what gave him the courage to live, despite contemplating suicide.
"I tell people, if you're thinking about suicide, all that stuff I've attempted and thought about it," he said in 2008. "If you think about it, life gets better. The key to life when it gets tough is to keep moving. Just keep moving."