Alcoholism and domestic violence are a harsh reality of the society and nobody is immune to it. In a recent radio interview, actor Charlize Theron (41) talked about growing up with a father dependent on alcohol and the spate of domestic violence that ensued at her home. The “Monster” and “Mad Max” star, Theron actually had talked about it in 2004, revealing how her mother Gerda faced physical abuse at the hands of her father. Being a mute spectator, Theron experienced emotional turmoil and trauma.
Things turned so brutal that one day her mother was forced to shoot her father in self-defense. However, the reverberations were so lethal that they left an indelible scar on the psyche of a young Theron. She decided to keep the entire incident under wraps, only telling the world that her father had died in a car accident.
Coping with violence harder than coping with death
She admitted that coping with domestic violence was harder than coping with the killing of her father. Her turbulent childhood, riddled with “everyday domestic violence” caused so much pain, that it stayed with her through her adult years. “I think what more affected me for my adult life…was more the everyday (life) of a child living in the house with an alcoholic and waking up not knowing what was going to happen,” she said.
Her happiness depended on somebody else’s behavior. Every morning, she would keep guessing about the rest of her day – whether her father would go on a bender or not, or whether there was going to be another round of ugly brawl at home.
Violence and trauma led to therapy
Although the killing of her father was shocking and ended the violence; the trail of domestic violence left Charlize completely shattered for which she had to undergo therapy. The trauma was too tough for her to handle alone. However, she began seeking therapy only in her late 20s, with her mother helping her handle the stress.
Fortunately, her relationship with her mother was simply great, which anchored her emotionally, and prevented her from sliding into a mental debris. “I have an incredible mother,” said Theron. “She’s a huge inspiration in my life. She’s never really had therapy.”
Her mother taught her to deal with it and not let the trauma due to domestic violence define her life. “Are you going to sink or are you going to swim?’ That was it,” Theron drew inspiration from her mother’s words.
Dealing with trauma
Living with trauma is never easy for anyone, nor is it possible to deal with it on one’s own sometimes. However, with mental health therapy, an individual can assuage symptoms and overcome it. Since mental health disorders are treatable with timely intervention, one should not defer approaching a rehab in the advent of any psychological problems.
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