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I knew one thing in my heart when I came back for my second season of RHOBH: This was my year to get real.
In Amsterdam, Yolanda inspired me during our dinner conversation when she asked us to dig deeper. I wanted to share this then. However, that dinner took an unfortunate turn, and it never happened. So, I waited for the right time again to open up to the ladies about this part of my past.
I’ve been very blessed in my life. I’m a wife, a mother, stepmother, actress, author, and many other things. But these aren’t the only labels that define me. I’m also a physical abuse survivor.
I consider myself a strong woman. I’ve played strong female characters throughout my acting career. I think most people who know me would describe me that way. Being “strong” doesn’t mean you can’t find yourself in an abusive relationship. It can happen to anyone. I know, because I’ve been in two of them; once when I was a teenager, and again in my 20s. I know what it means to be in a place where your self-esteem is so low that you believe, maybe even subconsciously, that you deserve to be mistreated. Or maybe you are under a delusion that you can somehow change a troubled partner’s behavior with your love.
Maybe people might say I don’t “look like” or “seem like” the kind of person that this could happen to. The truth is, there is no stereotypical victim.
Our country is in a domestic violence crisis. I was fortunate to leave my abuse in the past. Many people aren’t so lucky. Each year in the US, over two million women are victims of domestic violence. It doesn’t just affect women, but they are the majority.
If I can say anything to the many women and men out there who think there’s no way out, it would be: You are not alone. You can be strong. You can get help. You can leave.
I’ve only spoken about this publicly one other time. When I remembered where it was, I had to take a moment to reflect on the alarming cosmic sync-up. Turns out, I did an interview with a magazine about my history of domestic violence in reference to Nicole Brown Simpson, right after she was murdered.
It’s too strange to be just a coincidence that her death was brought up again, decades later, in the very same episode that I chose to bring my past abuse to light.
If anyone reading needs help seeking help, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)