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Actress Charlize Theron is speaking out about a key moment from her teenage years: witnessing her mother kill her father in self-defense.
The 44-year-old actress reflected on her past during a recent NPR interview, PEOPLE reports. She was only 15 years old in June 1991 when her father, who she described as an alcoholic and a “very sick man,” came home drunk and brandishing a gun. Her father was “so drunk that he shouldn’t have been able to walk” that night, she recalled, but he tried to force his way into Theron’s bedroom, where she and her mother, Gerda, were pressing back against the door in an effort to keep him out.
“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,” she said, according to the outlet. “None of the bullets ever hit us, which is just a miracle.”
It was then that Theron’s mother made a choice to protect herself and her daughter by shooting her husband. Theron explained, “But in self-defense, she ended the threat.”
The South African-born actress has spoken out about her upbringing before. Speaking to ABC News in 2006, Theron opened up about what life with her father was like; although he never physically abused her, he was a “verbal abuser,” she said. The night her father died — on June 21, 1991 — he had been out drinking with his brother, and when he returned home, he began shooting at various things on the property before eventually making his way to his daughter’s bedroom, where he began banging on the door aggressively. Theron’s mother later testified that her late husband said that night, “Tonight I'm going to kill you both with the shotgun,” according to the outlet.
After Theron’s father fired shots through the door and into the room, Theron’s mother grabbed her own handgun and fired back, mortally wounding her husband and injuring his brother, ABC News reports. Theron again stood by her mother in 2006, telling ABC News, “I know what happened. And I know that if my daughter was in the same situation, I would do the same thing.”
Theron’s mother was never prosecuted, with officials concluding that she’d acted in self-defense, according to the outlet.
Today, Theron speaks openly about her experiences with domestic violence in an effort to raise awareness of just how common it is. As she recently explained to NPR, “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,” she continued. “I think, for me, it's just always been that this story really is about growing up with addicts and what that does to a person.”
Theron stars in the upcoming film “Bombshell,” where she portrays former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly in a retelling of how Kelly and other women who worked at the network publicly accused CEO and chairman Roger Ailes of sexual harassment, setting off a chain of events that would ultimately culminate in his resignation.
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