Article Oct 20, 2016

You are no longer passing

Taraji P. Henson's dad gave her courage to leave violent ex

Actress Taraji P. Henson credits her father's honesty about his violent past with giving her "the strength" to end her own abusive relationship.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button star was raised by her mother Bernice Gordon in a rough neighborhood of Washington, D.C., after divorcing Taraji's dad, Boris Henson, when she was just a kid.

In her new memoir, Around the Way Girl, the actress reveals her father once "dragged" her mother "by her hair into his car while threatening to kill her", but she was oblivious to the abuse as a child, and only discovered Boris' bad behavior when he came clean to his daughter years later.

"Kudos to my dad for saying, 'Look, I'm flawed. I did this. It was wrong. I apologize'," she tells People magazine. "He told me, 'I hope you never, ever, have to go through that'. But that's what happened anyway."

Taraji found herself in a similar position as her mother in 1994, when she fell victim to domestic violence at the hands of her son Marcell's father, Mark Johnson.

"The next thing I knew, Mark's balled-up fist was coming straight for my face," she recounts in her book. "I pulled my hand from my mouth and looked at the blood on my trembling finger."

Her child was just two at the time, but Taraji found the courage to dump Johnson and kick him out of the house - and it's all thanks to her dad's own candid confession.

Reflecting on the incident to People more than two decades later, the 46-year-old shares, "I said, 'You know what? I don't have to do this and I don't have to hate you for it.'

"If he (her father) had hidden what he'd done and tried to pretend he was perfect, maybe we wouldn't have had the conversations we'd had, I wouldn't have had the strength to walk away."

Boris lost his battle with liver cancer in 2006, aged 58.