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Charlize Theron's Mother Shot And Killed Her Father In Self-Defense: "I'm not ashamed to talk about it"

Charlize Theron's Mother Shot And Killed Her Father In Self-Defense: "I'm not ashamed to talk about it"

'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.'

Atomic Blonde star Charlize Theron is not ashamed of her family's traumatic past. In an interview a couple of years ago, the 46-year-old candidly opened up about the night in June 1991 when her mother, Gerda Maritz, killed her father in self-defense at their family's home in South Africa when Theron was 15 years old. Speaking to Terry Gross on NPR's Fresh Air, the actress shared that her father, Charles Theron—who was an alcoholic—had come home drunk and carrying a gun that night. "My father was a very sick man. My father was an alcoholic all my life. I only knew him one way, and that was as an alcoholic... It was a pretty hopeless situation," she shared.



 

"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," Theron continued. "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. It's unfortunately what happens when you don't get to the root of these issues."



 

"My father was so drunk that he shouldn't have been able to walk when he came into the house with a gun," she recalled. "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. 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," Theron said. "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." This wasn't the first time the star spoke about that terrifying night. In a 2017 interview with Sirius radio host Howard Stern, she said she often told others her father died in a car accident because she didn't want to share the story.



 

"I just pretended like it didn’t happen. 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 said at the time, reports PEOPLE. "They don't know how to respond to that. And I didn't want to feel like a victim. I struggled with that for many years until I actually started therapy... I think what more affected me for my adult life that happened in my childhood was more the everyday living of a child living in the house with an alcoholic and waking up not knowing what was going to happen. 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 drink."



 

Theron added that her mother was similarly thick-skinned about the incident. "I have an incredible mother... She's a huge inspiration in my life. She's never really had therapy. So a mother who never really had therapy dealing with something like that—trying to get your child out of that. 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," she shared. "I think both of us have dealt with that night really well. I think both of us still have to deal with the life that we had—and that's what people don't really realize. It's not just about what happened one night."

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