5 Celebrity Survivors of Abuse and Violence

Many of us forget that celebrities are people too. They laugh, they cry and some have also been victims of abuse. Here are five South African celebrities who have survived an abusive past.

Surviving an abusive past is just one milestone in the long battle against violence against women and children. The other big step is speaking out against abuse and rape to ensure that there’s a larger conversation that could potentially help another victim. Here are five powerful celebrities who have used their voice to fuel the fight against domestic abuse and violence.

1. Kelly Khumalo

Kelly Khumalo
If anyone can say they have survived abuse, both public and private, it is singer/actress Kelly Khumalo. Resilience does not even being to describe the way she has risen above excruciating circumstances in the public eye. Khumalo became an advocate for women against abuse in 2014 when she spoke out about her own abusive past. Once considered one half of SA’s “it” couple with convicted murderer and rapper Molemo “Jub Jub” Maarohanye, the star spoke out about her ex who used to beat her even when she’d pay too much attention to their son. She released a book titled ‘The Kelly Khumalo Story’ and a reality TV show ‘Rolling With Kelly Khumalo’. Last year the star suffered another tragedy when her soccer player boyfriend Senzo Meyiwa, who was murdered at her home in Vosloorus in 2014. She survived negative attacks from media, fans and his family at the time and has used her experience to create awareness.

2. Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron began a youth HIV/AIds project titled 'The Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project'
Charlize Theron began a youth HIV/AIds project titled ‘The Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project’

South Africa’s most well-known actress Charlize Theron is no stranger to surviving abuse. The Oscar winning actress has spoken several times about her abusive past. Her late father regularly abused mother. When she was a teenager, she witnessed her mother shooting her father dead at their family home in Benoni. Her mother was not persecuted as authorities concluded it was self-defence. Charlize has since become a beacon of hope having started Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project, which helps keep South African youth safe from HIV/AIDS by supporting community-engaged organizations that address the key drivers of the disease. She has appeared in a South African commercial opposing violence against woman as part of the “Real Men Don’t Rape” campaign and helped the Rape Crisis Center in Cape Town when the government would not let them state the number of rapes committed in South Africa each year. Theron also helped design and signed a pair of shoes for the Stuart Weitzman charity shoe auction benefiting ovarian cancer awareness and research.

3. Florence Masebe

Florence Masebe
Former ‘Muvhango’ actress Florence Masebe might have not been involved in an abusive relationship but she is the ultimate survivor of violence in South Africa. The actress escaped a near death experience that left her with two bullets on her left wrist. She was driving home one evening when she was followed by a car with armed men who fired 26 shots at her outside her home. The actress remains a pillar of strength and survival after her 18-month old son tragically drowned last month.

4. Letoya Makhene

‘Generations’ actress Letoya Makhene is one of the newer voices to speak out against abuse and share her story. The actress revealed her nine-year battle with abuse within her marriage to ex-husband Privilege Mangezi. She told True Love magazine “I had to take care of the household and that made him very insecure. We began arguing, then things escalated to physical abuse.” She ended up divorcing him and has said that their relationship worked out better when they were apart.

5. Nyalleng Thibedi

Nyalleng Thibedi
‘Ashes to Ashes’ star Nyalleng Thibedi also spoke about her experience with domestic abuse at the hands of her partner. “When someone tells you that you’re unworthy, you’re a good for nothing, by the time the abuse gets physical, they have worked so hard at breaking your spirit, there’s no way it’s not going to affect you,” she told Enca in August. She added that she got out of the relationship when she realises she would lose her life.

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