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Charlize Theron Recalls the Night Her Mom Killed Her Alcoholic Father in Self-Defense

Charlize Theron
Charlize Theron attends “The Last Face” Photocall during the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival at Cannes, France in 2016. Stephane Cardinale/Corbis via Getty Images

Charlize Theron will never forget the night her mother shot and killed her alcoholic father in self-defense. During an interview with Howard Stern on Wednesday, July 19, Theron spoke candidly about growing up in a household with an alcoholic parent.

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“I just pretended like it didn’t happen,” she told Stern of how she dealt with her father’s death. “I didn’t tell anybody — I didn’t want to tell anybody. 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.”

Theron explained that she also didn’t want to experience people’s reactions.

Charlize Theron and Gerda
Charlize Theron and her mom Gerda attend the 17th Annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards in 2012. Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

“I didn’t want to feel like a victim,” she said. “I struggled with that for many years until I actually started therapy.”

The Atomic Blonde star, 41, told Stern that she started going to therapy in her “late 20s, early 30s” and realized that she’d come to terms with her father’s death, but it was the unpredictably of her father’s alcoholism that had affected her most.

Related: Charlize Theron’s Life as a Mom

“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 explained. “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.]”

The actress thankfully had her mother for support.

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“I have an incredible mother,” she concluded. “She’s a huge inspiration in my life. … Her philosophy was, ‘This is horrible. Acknowledge that this is horrible. Now make a choice. Will this define you? Are you going to sink or are you going to swim?’ That was it.”

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