Halle Berry Speaks Out About Her Experiences with Domestic Abuse: 'In the Quiet of My Mind, I Still Struggle'

Halle Berry opened up during a speech for the Jenesse center, a national domestic violence prevention and intervention organization

Photo: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Halle Berry claims that one of her life’s purposes is “to help others, especially women” after her experiences with domestic abuse.

“I saw my mother battered and beaten many years of my life and I felt helpless,” Berry said Wednesday at the “Imagine” VIP cocktail party to benefit the Jenesse Center, a national domestic violence prevention and intervention organization that provides services and outreach efforts to afflicted families and helps move them from crisis to self-sufficiency.

She continued, “And that’s what connects me to this organization. I have an understanding, a knowing. I feel like I have something that I can impart to these women. It seems like I’ve overcome it, but I really haven’t. In the quiet of my mind, I still struggle. So while I’m helping these women, I’m helping myself through it, too. And that’s largely why I’m here.”

Berry, 49, has previously spoken out about being abused, telling PEOPLE in 1996 that a former boyfriend hit her so hard her eardrum was punctured. Earlier this week, Berry’s former husband David Justice went on Twitter to thank Berry for “squashing all of the rumors” that he abused her – although the actress has not spoken out directly on the subject. Berry recently split from third husband Olivier Martinez.

In speaking about the difficulties of raising money for a shelter for abused women, Berry admitted that the cause is “not always that sympathetic,” and that it’s much easier to raise money for causes like childhood cancer, breast cancer and “every other affliction that affects every person walking the planet.”

“For some reason, I’ve found after 15 years of working with the Jenesse Center that when it comes to domestic violence people just say, ‘I don’t get it. Why don’t they just leave? This is ridiculous!’ ” she said at the event held at CAA partner Kevin Huvane’s Beverly Hills home. “I call [these women] addicts. They’re love addicts … they’re addicted to the pain. And they’re largely addicted to the pain because they’ve been taught nothing else. They haven’t been taught that they have self-worth or value. They often weren’t loved the way they should’ve been as children from their mothers or their fathers. People didn’t say the things they should have said.”

VIDEO: Inside Halle Berry’s Divorce from Olivier Martinez

This early lack of love has a profoundly damaging effect on the women and their families, Berry said, and often leads to their becoming victims of domestic violence later in life.

“They go into the world feeling knee-high to a bullfrog … and they’re not equipped to deal with that that is coming at them at rapid speed. They quickly become victims of predators who just prey on their insecurity and lack of knowing who they are,” she said. “And I am just tired of watching the women in our community suffer. I’m tired of watching them overlooked and made wrong and to be villainized for just trying to survive.”

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