Halle Berry spoke candidly and compassionately on domestic violence and abuse during an interview for "NBC Nightly News'" "Making a Difference" series, which has devoted this week to spotlighting the extraordinary charity work of celebrities.
For the past ten years, Berry has been a staunch supporter of The Jenesse Center, a Los Angeles-based shelter with six locations that provide comprehensive resources and support for victims of domestic violence. Women on the run from abusers can seek emergency shelter and transitional safe housing for themselves and their children, complete with meals. After immediate needs are taken care of, the women enroll in a vigorous program that aims to break the pattern of abuse by providing them with empowering vocational training, mental health counseling and legal services.
Berry details that her childhood was deeply affected by domestic violence, with a mother who was a battered woman, and that she herself struggled with issues of self-worth and chose men who were abusive. She emphasized that domestic violence can happen to anyone, that it is not an economic or class issue, but an issue of valuing oneself. She praises the Jenesse Center's staff and volunteers for their immense patience and commitment to giving back. Berry has also volunteered her time at the center, working with women one-on-one.
"They don't often see me as that person in the world, that celebrity side. They have issues that are much more daunting to deal with, and they don't care about celebrity -- they're just trying to live day to day. So I get to come here and just be a woman, a person who cares, someone who they can talk to and confide in."
Berry currently serves as the chairperson of the Jenesse Center's Year of Giving Campaign, which aims to raise $2.5 million. Berry's message to women who are in abusive relationships is simple:
"Get out. Just get out. You're so worth it, as women, as mothers, as people. If you can't do it for yourself, get out for your children, because your children deserve better."
WATCH Natalie Morales' full interview with Halle Berry:
Watch an abuse survivor from the center talk about meeting Halle Berry:
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