"Sometimes girls are thinking, 'He hit me, he loves me.' That's not true," the "Real Housewives of Atlanta" star tells her three children.
"Real Housewives of Atlanta" star Shereé Whitfield has been putting off telling her kids about the domestic abuse she allegedly suffered while she was married to their father, Bob Whitfield, but she finally had the tough talk on Sunday night.
With the push of her life coach, Shereé sat her three kids down before her youngest, Kaleigh, headed off to her first semester of college in Washington, D.C.
"The National Coalition of Domestic Violence has reached out to me about being an ambassador," Shereé said to her children. "I'm sure y'all are on the internet and heard the story of the domestic violence in the household. I just kind of kept you guys away, didn't let you guys know what was going on. I just put on a happy face, but it was very toxic."
"How did you guys feel when you heard the rumors?" she asked.
Tierra, Shereé's oldest daughter, said she was "in shock." Kaleigh said she and Bob had actually spoken about it once.
"He tried to explain the story to me, but I just drove off," Kaleigh said. 'It was after a soccer game, so I didn't think it was appropriate."
Shereé then pressed her son, Kairo: "Were you shocked?"
"Yeah, because you never said anything about it," he replied
"You need to know that nobody deserves to be mistreated," Shereé said. "Sometimes girls are thinking, 'He hit me, he loves me.' That's not true. That's not the way life should be, and I don't want you guys to follow my footsteps. That's something I held in for 10 years, and I'm no longer doing that."
Shereé later told Bravo cameras, "I was worried about the image of their dad. I've protected this man for all of this time, but he didn't protect me. Opening up to my kids about the abuse -- I feel like we've gotten even closer, and I've learned to value myself more, to love myself more."
Shereé and Bob divorced in 2007 after seven years of marriage and 14 years together, but she kept the abuse under wraps until last season, when she broke down during a car ride with Bob, co-star Kenya Moore and former "RHOA" star Phaedra Parks.
"After we split, we were in Las Vegas," Bob said during the car ride. "I was driving her and she fell asleep, and I was like, 'Yeah, it'd be easy for me to take the seat belt off of you and hit the breaks.' So she can fly her ass through the window, you know?"
"I never hit her," he continued. "I don't do that. Have I ever physically touched you? Have I ever smacked you? Choked you? Have I ever choked you? For real, have I? I might have forgotten."
"You have," Shereé responded.
"Could you still breathe?" he asked. "I don't remember choking her, but if I did, I'm sorry, 'cause maybe I didn't choke you hard enough."
"The Real Housewives of Atlanta" airs Sunday nights on Bravo.