"I didn't believe it at all," the talk show host tells Oprah Winfrey during a live broadcast

By Brian Orloff
Updated March 12, 2009 05:45 PM

When Chris Brown visited the Tyra Banks Show on Nov. 16, 2007, the R&B star revealed a pretty surprising piece of information: He had grown up with an abused mother. So, when Tyra Banks first heard the news that Brown had allegedly battered Rihanna last month, her immediate reaction was disbelief.

“First when I heard that this alleged thing happened, I didn’t believe it at all,” Banks said on a live broadcast of the Oprah Winfrey Show Thursday, which was dedicated to addressing domestic violence. “I was like, ‘It’s a rumor.’ ”

“When I found out about [the charges], I went back to that interview,” Banks told Winfrey. “I was like, ‘Oh my god, he’s repeating [the cycle of abuse].'”

The Tyra Confession

During the live segment on Thursday, Winfrey played a revealing clip from Banks’s show. In it, Brown, then 18, told the talk show host how damaging witnessing his mother’s abuse from ages 7 to 13 was for him. At the time, he told Banks that his only recourse was to have faith. “I prayed all the time,” he said. “I had the Bible under the pillow.”

“It affected me,” Brown added. “Especially [in my behavior] toward women. I treat them differently.”

Banks recalled her feelings after interviewing Brown. “It was gripping to me because he then went on to say that he was so scarred by it, that he wet the bed,” she said.

Oprah’s Reaction

“It’s so sad,” Winfrey said, responding, “because everybody knows – even when you grow up in an environment and disdain that environment – you really almost cannot help yourself until somebody helps you.”

“They have an opportunity to break the cycle,” Winfrey said.

Dedicating her show to the topic of domestic abuse, the talk show host widened her scope beyond the ongoing Chris Brown and Rihanna incident. She invited teens from across the country to share their stories. But Winfrey emphasized, the high profile nature of Rihanna’s case will help raise awareness about the prevalence of physical abuse in relationships.

“We need to try and evolve from this moment,” Winfrey said at the start of the broadcast, “not just be voyeurs in their life talking about what they should and shouldn’t do.”