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Charlize Theron watched her mom kill her dad in self-defence when she was just 15

Charlize Theron watched her mom kill her dad in self-defence when she was just 15

One night in June 1991, her drunk father threatened her and her mother with a gun. In order to save her daughter and herself, Gerda shot her husband. 

Charlize Theron was just 15 when her mother Gerda killed her father, Charles Theron, in self-defense in 1991. One night in June 1991, her drunk father threatened her and her mother with a gun. In order to save her daughter and herself, Gerda shot her husband. 

During an interview with NPR, the 45-year-old Oscar-winner described her father as a "very sick man" and said he "was an alcoholic all my life." Elaborating further she said, "I only knew him one way, and that was as an alcoholic. ... It was a pretty hopeless situation. Our family was just kind of stuck in it."

"And the day-to-day unpredictability of living with an addict is the thing that you sit with and have kind of embedded in your body for the rest of your life, more than just this one event of what happened one night. I think our family was an incredibly unhealthy one. And all of it, I think, scarred us in a way. Of course, I wish what happened that night would have never happened. It's unfortunately what happens when you don't get to the root of these issues," she continued. 



 

 

Recalling the terrifying details of the fateful night, the Mad Max: Fury Road star said, "My father was so drunk that he shouldn't have been able to walk when he came into the house with a gun. My mom and I were in my bedroom leaning against the door, because he was trying to push through the door. 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. None of those bullets ever hit us, which is just a miracle. But in self-defense, she ended the threat. 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. 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," she shared. 



 

It's never easy for a child to grow up in such a turbulent environment and Theron "just pretended like it didn't happen," according to Us Weekly. Speaking to Howard Stern about dealing with the trauma of her father's death, she said, "I didn’t tell anybody — I didn’t want to tell anybody. Whenever anybody asked me, I said my dad died in a car accident."



 

"Who wants to tell that story? Nobody wants to tell that story. I didn’t want to feel like a victim. I struggled with that for many years until I actually started therapy. I think what more affected me in my adult life that happened in my childhood was more the everyday living of a child living in the house with an alcoholic and waking up not knowing what was going to happen. And not knowing how my day was going to go and all of it dependent on somebody else and whether he was not going to drink or [not.]" she shared.

Despite this, she maintains that her incredible mother helped her become the strong woman she is today. "I have an incredible mother. She’s a huge inspiration in my life. … Her philosophy was, 'This is horrible. Acknowledge that this is horrible. Now make a choice. Will this define you? Are you going to sink or are you going to swim?' That was it," she told Extra. "I am lucky enough that I had a great mom who really kind of made me brave and always told me to be brave. I don’t know who I might have been without that."

Cover image source: Getty | Photo by Bennett Raglin

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