Robin Givens addressed the Ray Rice scandal in a new interview released Friday, Sept. 12, after the former Baltimore Ravens running back was seen in surveillance footage knocking his then-fiancee (and now wife) Janay Rice unconscious. For the actress and activist, the issue of domestic abuse is deeply personal, as she herself experienced an abusive relationship in her past with ex-husband Mike Tyson.
"What's important about this video is that people can't deny it," Givens, 49, told Entertainment Tonight. "They can't say, 'Well maybe it didn't happen. What did she do?...What did she say? Maybe she was drinking.' We have to have this discussion because this can happen, it does happen, it happened to me and it happens to women quite a bit. And women die from this. So, we have to really begin to hold these actions and these men accountable."
Givens also penned a startling op-ed this week for Time magazine about the Ray Rice incident and how it brought back memories from her brief marriage to Tyson from 1988 to 1989. "When I saw the second video of [Ray Rice] actually punching Janay Rice unconscious, I thought, 'this is what happened to me,'" she wrote. "The only difference was that when I came to, a doorman was carrying me over his shoulder, out of my fiancé's apartment, and into a car."
The Twisted actress said the release of the footage was a step forward for all victims of domestic abuse. "It’s very difficult for people to wrap their minds around the concept of a man actually balling up his fist and hitting a woman," she wrote. "The video forces you to take it in. There’s no escaping. You can’t dance around it, you have to deal with it. That’s why video really becomes crucial for this cause, the fight against domestic violence… People say: 'That guy is so nice when he’s with me. What did you do? What did you say to him? He’s cool. I play golf with him. I can’t imagine him doing this.' Women are simply not believed."
She also addressed Tyson's career resurgence after his scandal, telling ET: "We're living in interesting times where we do have to be entertained and things can seem funny or entertaining…I think certain people shouldn't get a pass for what they've done."
Givens recalled one particular harrowing incident. "I remember being dragged down a hallway in a hotel in the Bahamas on a night I thought I was really going to die," she wrote. "Today there would have been cameras in that hall. Someone would know. I would be believed. Now the story gets to tell itself."
She also had some advice for women, like Janay Rice, who have been victims of abuse. (The football star's wife lashed out against critics on her Instagram this week in defense of her husband.)
"Women who are abused can see they’re not alone," Givens wrote in her Time magazine piece. "I only left my marriage when I felt like I was going to die physically or die emotionally. It’s just amazing what becomes your normal. One day you wake up with a knife at your throat. Another day, your shoes are all torn up. But I did leave and I didn’t take one dime from my husband. I left my house, and I even left my underwear. I just wanted my life. I was very confident that I could make my way on my own. And I did."
For help with domestic violence issues, call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.