Halle Berry on Growing Up in Abusive Home: "I've Spent My Adult Life Trying to Heal"

"Monster's Ball" star opens up about dad's violence toward her mom and pet dog

By David Chiu
|  Saturday, Jun 11, 2011  |  Updated 1:03 AM EDT
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Actress Halle Berry attends the launch of the Court of Jewels recreation at Harry Winston on November 16, 2010 in New York City.

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Halle Berry is speaking about her own childhood experience with domestic abuse.

The Oscar-winning actress revealed on CNN’s "Big Stars, Big Giving " special about growing up in a household where her father would abuse her mother repeatedly.

“My father one time threw our little dog against a wall and the dog bit his tongue in half,” she recalled. “That's frightening for a child to see that kind of abuse."

Berry admitted there were times when she didn’t feel worthy as she tried to deal with what happened as she grew older. Responding to interviewer Alina Cho’s comment that she’s Halle Berry, the actress said: “But before I'm Halle Berry, I'm little Halle, who was a little girl growing in this environment that damaged me in some ways. And I've spent my adult life trying to really heal from that.”

The star hasn’t forgotten about her experience and is channeling that to help others with the Jenesse Center, a Los Angeles program for domestic abuse victims, where Berry volunteers.

"I've worked in many capacities here and I've really seen the women who are running to the shelter, with their kids in tow, who have just been beaten up. And who are confused and a bit dazed and scared. I've seen it.”

As far as advice for women who are in an abusive relationships, Berry said: “Get out. Don't stay a moment longer. If there's no shelter, go to a friend. Go to the police station. Go somewhere, but you go.”

In addition to Berry, CNN’s "Big Stars, Big Giving," which aired last night, also featured interviews with Justin Bieber, Nicole Kidman, Edward Norton and Julianne Moore who talked about their causes. The program will air again today--check your local listings for times.

Selected Readings: CNN, NBCNewYork, Jenesse Center Web site

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