Halle Berry unlocks memories of abuse
Halle Berry says her mother, Judith, was beaten at home
John Harlow in Los Angeles
DRESSED in old jeans, wearing little make-up and holding a dripping paint brush, Halle Berry was almost unrecognisable as the luminescent Bond girl who became the first black star to win an Oscar for best actress.
Yet, standing in the hallway at a battered woman’s shelter, cracking jokes with wary children, Berry said this was where she belonged — exorcising the ghosts of violent men who haunt the star of Die Another Day and X-Men.
The 43-year-old actress has been a low-key volunteer on the night shift at the Jenesse centre in Los Angeles for years but has only now chosen to reveal this part of her life, discussing for the first time how her father beat her mother and how she escaped her own abusive relationships.
She hopes the publicity will help the six shelters run by Jenesse overcome the financial stresses of the economic downturn. In the past Berry has refused to talk about the beatings meted out to her mother by her father, Jerome Jesse Berry, who left her family in Cleveland, Ohio, when she was four. But she has said a boyfriend once hit her so hard she is still largely deaf in her left ear.
Last week, accepting a “leadership” award in Hollywood, Berry said she and her elder sister, Heidi, were still recovering from witnessing the violence inflicted on their mother, Judith, a retired nurse who was born in Liverpool.
“I saw my mother battered, and could not do anything to stop it,” she said. “My father was tyrannical, lashing out at her for no reason. I felt the effects that had on our family — I’ve experienced what these women have gone through.”
She said her mother was still working out why she took it for so many years. “That is a deep question, and I am not sure she will ever come up with one answer. I have one answer to anyone in a similar situation — get out.”
Berry never forgave her father, a hospital porter, even as he lay dying with Parkinson’s disease in 2003. He sold his account of their estrangement to a tabloid “for a pack of beer and cigarettes”, Berry said.
She wondered if her parents’ relationship had affected her past romances.
She said: “I never had to run to a shelter, but I did choose the wrong partners. Not always good men. Luckily, in recent years, I have been smart enough to hit the door when violence even becomes a possibility. That is something I will not tolerate.”
After two marriages she feels more settled with her boyfriend, the Versace model Gabriel Aubry, and their 20-month-old baby girl, Nahla.
A former resident of the shelter said she did not realise the woman she called Halle Baby, who told silly jokes to her children, was a film star.Technorati Tags: Halle,Berry,memories,Child,Domestic,Violence,Frank,Trapper,Judith,John,Angeles,COMMENT,RECOMMEND,jeans,Bond,girl,Oscar,hallway,woman,children,Another,volunteer,Jenesse,life,father,relationships,downturn,Jerome,Jesse,Cleveland,Ohio,LINKS,décolletage,Last,leadership,Hollywood,elder,Heidi,Liverpool,situation,hospital,porter,Parkinson,disease,account,estrangement,beer,relationship,partners,door,Versace,Gabriel,Aubry,Nahla,Baby,ghosts,marriages,women,boyfriendNote: Cross posted from [wp angelfury] Battered Mothers Rights - A Human Rights Issue.