Halle Berry Opens Up About Domestic Abuse

The actress shares her story about growing up in an abusive household and how she has struggled to overcome the trauma

Life hasn't always been a glamorous walk down the red carpet for accomplished actress Halle Berry. The 44-year-old big-screen beauty recently told CNN a secret that she'd kept for years: as a little girl, she saw her own mother being abused.

"Honestly, I think I've spent my adult life dealing with the sense of low self-esteem that that sort of implanted in me," says Berry, the first African-American woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress.

"Before I'm Halle Berry, I'm little Halle, who was a little girl growing in this environment that damaged me in some ways. And I've spent my adult life trying to really heal from that."

To honor her mother, Berry has been working with the Jenesse Center, a Los Angeles women's shelter that helps families torn apart by domestic violence. "I have a spot in my soul that understands the devastation that this causes a family and how hard it is to rebuild your self-esteem when you've suffered," says Berry.

The actress has been working with the charity to renovate run-down apartments, where women who have fled abusive relationships can begin a new life. She also likes to spend time in the shelter, where she can play with the children of abused mothers and reassure them that everything will be fine. The young kids, of course, have no idea she's a Hollywood star.

"I'm just regular old crackers to them," she laughs. "And I love being regular old crackers, I have to say." Watch the interview below.

Berry took some time off from the movies after giving birth to her daughter Nahla in March 2008. She's coming back to Hollywood in full force in 2011, starting with her Golden Globe-nominated performance as a stripper with multiple-personality disorder in February's Frankie and Alice.

What advice would you give children who were going through a trauma you’ve been through? Chime in below!

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