Growing up, Theron lived with her volatile, alcoholic father. When she was a teenager, her mother shot and killed her father in self-defence, PEOPLE reports.
Theron kept the harrowing incident quiet for many years.
“I just pretended like it didn’t happen. I didn’t tell anybody — I didn’t want to tell anybody,” she told Stern “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.”
The 41-year-old actress explained that she had also avoided sharing the news to protect herself from other people’s reactions, US Weekly reports.
“They don’t know how to respond to that. And I didn’t want to feel like a victim,” she said. I struggled with that for many years until I actually started therapy.”
In Theron’s eyes, her father’s addiction was most detrimental to her childhood.
“I think what more affected me for my adult life that happened in my childhood was more the every day living of a child living in the house with an alcoholic and waking up not knowing what was going to happen,” she recounted. “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.]”
In addition to years of therapy, Theron added that her mother’s strength was encouraging.
“I have an incredible mother… She’s a huge inspiration in my life,” she said.
The actress is currently doing press for her highly-anticipated action spy thriller Atomic Blonde.