A celebrity’s fame brings many benefits — but it’s not enough to protect against domestic violence. “It’s a myth that domestic violence only happens to poor women and women of color — it happens to celebrities as well as to people like you and me,” says Angela Gover, PhD, professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Colorado Denver.
“No matter who the victim is, people ask questions, the most common of which is, ‘Why does she stay?’” says Dr. Gover.
“Here’s the real question to ask: ‘Why does he abuse her?
Charlize Theron: A Witness to Her Mother’s Abuse
You know her as the elegant star of many films, including her Academy Award-winning role in Monster. But you might not have known that Charlize Theron witnessed horrific episodes of domestic violence during her childhood in South Africa. During an interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC's Primetime Thursday, Theron talked about the events. Her father, Charles, was an abusive alcoholic. One night, he returned home after drinking and began shooting into the house. Theron’s mother, Gerda, shot back and killed him. The attorney general ruled that the shooting was an act of self-defense, and Theron’s mother was never charged. Theron told Sawyer during the interview that if she could change the past, “I would force my parents to get a divorce.” Today, she is a Messenger of Peace for the United Nations.
According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry some 10 million children in the United States witness parental violence each year. Studies have found that children can experience long-term adjustment difficulties, higher rates of violence in dating relationships, higher levels of antisocial behaviors, depression, and more symptoms of trauma than children who grow up in violence-free homes, notes Gover.