"I'm not ashamed to talk about it," says the actress.
Charlize Theron isn't afraid to talk about her traumatic past, in hopes it will help others see they're not alone.
On June 21, 1991, her mother, Gerda, shot and killed her father, Charles, an alcoholic who was drunkenly threatening them with a gun. Charles shot at his wife and daughter three times through a door but missed miraculously. Gerda then retrieved her own handgun and shot Charles dead.
The shooting was ruled to have been self-defense, and Gerda faced no charges. Charlize was just 15.
"My father was so drunk that he shouldn't have been able to walk when he came into the house with a gun," the "Bombshell" star told NPR in a lengthy profile published Monday. "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," she explained. "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."
Theron went on to say she only knew her father "one way, and that was as an alcoholic." She described him as a "very sick man."
"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," she said. "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," she added. "It's unfortunately what happens when you don't get to the root of these issues."
If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free, confidential and available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.