Charlize Theron On The Night Her Mother Killed Her Father In Self-Defense

The actress was 15 when her father came home and tried to shoot the family

While a guest on the podcast Fresh Air to speak about her new movie, Bombshell, Charlize Theron opened up about her childhood experiences of domestic violence and the night her mother, Gerda, killed her father, Charles, in self-defense when Theron was a teenager.

Theron was 15 in June 1991 when her father came home drunk and fired shots at his family through a closed door. To stop her family getting hurt, or worse, killed, Theron’s mother made the decision to shoot her father. “My father was so drunk that he shouldn’t have been able to walk when he came into the house with a gun,” she told host Terry Gross.

“My mum 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,” Theron said.


Of her father, Theron said she only knew him in one way: “as an alcoholic.

“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 explained.

“This family violence, this kind of violence that happens within the family, is something that I share with a lot of people,” Theron said. “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.”

If you or anyone you know needs help or advice, contact the Australian Helpline 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).

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