|Robin Givens goes indepth about Mike Tyson's Abuse of Her
By John Benz (Mar 11, 2009) Doghouse Boxing
Last night on Larry King Live, Mike Tyson's ex-wife Robin Givens came on the show and discussed with guest host Joy Behar her violent marriage to the Former Heavyweight Champ. In the infamous Barbara Walters Interview from 1988, Givens discussed the abuse from Tyson that she was living with. Tyson was at the interview as well and just sat there as his wife told the viewing audience that Tyson hits her.
Givens who was on the show to discuss Rihanna and Chris Brown, discussed violence against women
and much more on Larry King Live. Below, I put together a transcript of the show.
Joy Behar - LARRY KING, HOST: The dirty secret of domestic abuse out it the open, right now on LARRY KING LIVE.
Good evening. I'm Joy Behar sitting in for Larry tonight. We're talking about Rihanna and Chris Brown and the allegations against him. They've called attention to the epidemic of domestic abuse in this country.
As you've just heard, the numbers are pretty appalling. And those are the cases we know about. It's believed one quarter of all assaults against women by male partners are never reported.
Joining me now is someone who lived it, actress, ex-wife of former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson and spokesperson for the National Domestic Violence Hotline, Robin Givens.
BEHAR: Thank you for coming to do the show with me.
GIVENS: Thanks you for having me.
BEHAR: I know you came up from Florida for this.
BEHAR: Very nice of you.
Does this story -- this Rihanna/Chris Brown, bring up bad memories for you?
GIVENS: Yes, it does. Yes. Yes.
BEHAR: Tell me how you've been feeling lately while you're watching this on television?
GIVENS: Well, you feel sort of -- even sitting now, you know, here with you, it shakes you up. You know, you begin to sweat. You know, you begin to feel sad all over. And I've -- you know, I go across the country speaking to different women, I mean all the time. So, you know, and it's hard to sit here. It's hard -- it's just -- it's very difficult.
BEHAR: Uh-huh. You know, you were saying to me before that it's always the same story.
What do you mean by that?
GIVENS: Well, it's interesting, like I said, I've spoken to women every -- Peoria, El Paso, you know, Findlay, Ohio. And the -- what's amazing is that I find that my story is their story, their story is my story -- down to the details. He dragged me down the hall by my hair. He pulled me out of bed by my panties. He would like to choke me. He would kick. You kind of go, hey that's me, too, you know?
I actually -- when I wrote my book, I was somewhere talking about something. And a woman came up to me and she said I wanted you to stop talking because I felt like everybody would know that you were talking about me.
BEHAR: Oh, boy. It seems -- and it's the same progression, too, it seems?
GIVENS: Yes, I think it's an interesting thing that happens. And it's very difficult to explain to someone. As soon as you go back, as soon as somebody hits you -- I was hit for the first time before I was married. And I did...
BEHAR: Before you were married?
GIVENS: Before I was married. And I did what you thought you should do, of course. You know, you don't take any phone calls. Three days, absolutely not. Absolutely not. All of a sudden, you start taking a phone calls.
BEHAR: Softening up.
GIVENS: Yes. And then all of a sudden, OK, let's meet and we'll talk. And then you meet and all of a sudden this person, this man that you love, that's claiming his love for you, is crying, you know?
And then you're consoling them. And it just becomes, I'll never, ever, ever do it again. It will never happen. I just love you so much. It's so hard for me to handle how much I love you. And it just begins.
BEHAR: And then -- so that happened before you were married.
GIVENS: That happened before I was married.
BEHAR: And then did it happen more than once before you were married?
GIVENS: No. Only once before I was married.
BEHAR: Oh, so you believed him?
GIVENS: Oh, I believed him. I believed him.
BEHAR: And it touched -- it must have touched you a little bit, too, like here's this big heavyweight champion crying and...
GIVENS: Yes. I mean I -- I grew up without my father. I mean I really took time to examine me and my choices and how I was in that situation. And this might sound very strange, Joy. It's difficult for me to even say. But to see a man crying like that and promising and professing his love, I thought well, he must love me.
BEHAR: This must be love.
GIVENS: He must love me. Yes, yes. I know that's difficult...
BEHAR: But you went...
GIVENS: ...but I really said this must be love.
BEHAR: When you say that to me now and you think back on it, what do you think -- what were you thinking?
What's the reality of that statement, that it must be love?
GIVENS: Well, the reality is that I -- for me...
GIVENS: ...for me is that I didn't have a model of what a good, healthy relationship looked like. I was actually the third generation in my -- my family experienced domestic violence.
BEHAR: Were you hit yourself?
Were you hit as a child?
GIVENS: No, I was never hit.
BEHAR: No one ever hit you?
GIVENS: No. No. Which is so interesting, because I ended up marrying -- I mean certainly my mother tried to create a safe, wonderful -- or my household was wonderful.
GIVENS: But I married a man like my father. And that's why when you -- in the opening, when you said the secret, the dirty little secret, you don't know how right that is. It's one of the reasons I wanted to talk about it. I'll talk about it anywhere. I'll write about it, talk to any woman, because it is in the darkness that it grows.
As soon as you start talking about it and you say -- a woman says, oh, you, too, or me, too...
GIVENS: You just feel a little bit lighter.
BEHAR: Tell me quickly, how was he like your father?
GIVENS: Well, I mean in the terms of the hitting, you know?
BEHAR: Yes. Yes.
GIVENS: I mean, you know, my mother had experienced that with my father. And certainly I experienced it. I mean my mother would say that she would play dead, you know?
BEHAR: She would play dead?
BEHAR: Just to get him away?
GIVENS: To make it stop.
BEHAR: To make it stop.
You know, you married Mike Tyson in February of 1988, right?
BEHAR: In the fall of that year, you and Mike sat down with Barbara Walters and -- to talk about the relationship.
Here's an excerpt. Watch.
(A VIDEO CLIP Is Played)
BARBARA WALTERS, HOST: What's it been like, this roller coaster?
GIVENS: It's been torture. It's been pure hell. It's been worse than anything I could possibly imagine.
WALTERS: Does he hit you?
GIVENS: He shakes. He pushes. He swings. He -- sometimes I think he's trying to scare me. There -- there's -- there's -- there are times when -- or there were times when it happened when I thought that I could handle it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BEHAR: That is a most interesting moment in that -- in that interview, which I've seen many times.
What was going on in your head during that interview?
GIVENS: Well, I was so numb. I mean, certainly, you know, I talked -- Barbara knew what was going on in our lives and encouraged me to be honest. I wanted to be honest and thought it would help other people.
But it's difficult for me to look at. I mean I'll be perfectly honest with you.
GIVENS: I've looked at it so many times and I, you know, you told me you were going to play it and, you know, my heart...
GIVENS: But, you know I had traveled back from Russia. We had traveled back the night before. And on a plane, he told me he was going to kill me.
BEHAR: He told you he was going to kill you?
GIVENS: Yes. And that he could kill me and get away with it and that it was still love. And very -- he said it very calm. And I tried to convince him there was no need to kill me. We couldn't -- you know, we don't have to be married anymore. And he said, no, I'm going to kill you.
And I mean there you're just so numb -- you become a shell, a little bit. I mean...
BEHAR: He was quiet.
BEHAR: By the way, this is, he was never convicted of anything, the guy, any of the... with you, nothing?
GIVENS: No. But he didn't -- no, no, no.
BEHAR: Just FYI.
BEHAR: I'll put that out there.
GIVENS: It's interesting, though. He had done an interview somewhere, I think for Jose Torres', I don't know, and somewhere else. I don't know specifically, but saying the best punch he ever threw was against me and that he punched me in the head and I bounced from one wall to the other.
And it was really amazing to me because he remembered it specifically. That was the first time I was hit. And he remembered it quite well.
BEHAR: He was a -- you know, I have to point out again, this is a heavyweight boxing champion.
GIVENS: Yes. He used to tell me he wasn't going to hit me...
BEHAR: How much did he weigh?
GIVENS: I don't know. He wasn't going to hit me in the face because he has to walk the streets with me.
BEHAR: Oh, he was counting on that.
GIVENS: And that he would -- knew how to hit me because he was a professional, things like that.
BEHAR: After -- after the interview, though, you stayed with him.
BEHAR: After that interview.
Why did you stay with him?
GIVENS: Well, he had said that he was going to get help. And we were -- I loved him. I wanted to make it work. I wanted to make it work. I wanted to do anything and everything I could for him. I mean I was -- I was very bonded. And it's hard to be bonded and save yourself at the same time. You just want to fix it, you know. You just want to fix it. I wanted to not let him down. I was going to be there for him. And it's hard to do that and -- and save yourself.
BEHAR: I want to go back to something that you were saying a minute ago about how after the Barbara Walters interview -- where you basically called him out in front of millions of people -- he seemed very contrite. You know, he was sitting there quietly like a little lamb.
And then what happened right after the interview?
GIVENS: I think it was Barbara's birthday. We had a birthday cake. And Barbara didn't come out with us to dinner, but we all want to dinner. Everything, you know, was OK.
BEHAR: Just the two of you?
GIVENS: No, it was a bunch of us.
BEHAR: A bunch of you?
GIVENS: It was the family and it was OK.
BEHAR: And how was he acting then?
GIVENS: Fine. Fine.
BEHAR: He didn't say to you...
GIVENS: But then when the...
BEHAR: ...how dare you do that?
GIVENS: Right. No. And then his friends started commenting on it. And, you know, oh, man, hey, you know, commenting on it. And then that -- he was upset then.
BEHAR: He was upset that night?
Did he hit you then?
GIVENS: No, not that night. A couple of days later.
BEHAR: A couple of days later?
BEHAR: So he was ruminating for the couple of days maybe?
GIVENS: Yes. I think his friends -- well, you know, everybody -- you know, you're young. You want to be -- he wanted to be cool and a man and macho and, yo, man, you know what she made you look like, whatever. Whatever.
BEHAR: And then Sat -- what happened on Saturday?
GIVENS: And then I think he was on the roof one morning. And somebody came (INAUDIBLE) and said you've got to get him off the roof. And he was throwing plates and...
BEHAR: Throwing plates off the roof?
GIVENS: ...things that became our -- not off the roof. Once he got -- I got him downstairs and back in the house and throwing things. And we all ended up -- a few of us. Myself, my mom was there, my sister, somebody else -- we all ended up in a laundry room off the kitchen with two little -- our two little Rottweiler puppies and hid out, which is -- became sort of the norm for us.
BEHAR: Did he...
GIVENS: And that's the thing, it becomes your norm.
BEHAR: Did the marriage -- the marriage end at that point...
GIVENS: No. No, he was trying...
BEHAR: Or did it go -- it went on again?
GIVENS: ...to get me -- I left then. I left then. And I had a hard time leaving for myself. I was in that laundry room and my sister who, for me, is like right from heaven, was crying, hysterically crying. And I remember looking up. And there was a certain quiet in her eyes.
And she said, how long are you going to put us all through this?
BEHAR: So she saw something that you didn't?
GIVENS: Yes. Yes.
BEHAR: She was more tuned into the horror of it than you were.
GIVENS: Yes. The horror of it. Exactly. Yes.
BEHAR: This is from your memoir, "Grace Will Lead Me Home," which I was reading, about the public fallout from your marriage. This is what it said: "When my," -- this is quoted: "When Michael threatened casually and with conviction, 'I don't have to kill you, I'll make it so bad you'll want to kill yourself. You'll have to leave home. You won't feel safe anywhere.' I believed him wholeheartedly and his words proved prophetic."
Those are -- that's a warning. That's a -- that's a real warning there.
GIVENS: Well, you know what happens (INAUDIBLE)...
BEHAR: I'll make it so bad you'll want to kill yourself.
GIVENS: What happened for me -- I don't know about other women. And I know you have people on talking later -- even talking now, you go back in time. I mean I can tell you -- I know -- I can see myself. I can feel myself in the bed when he called me up and said I've changed my mind, I'm not going to kill you, I'm going to make your life so bad and so miserable, you're going to slit -- I'm going to make you slit your own throat.
It's like it's been 20 years and I can sit here looking in your eyes and feel myself in that place.
GIVENS: It's -- it's a hard thing to get over. It was really hard for me. And people ask me why I talk about it. For me, if I can stop one person, shorten their time of healing -- I mean a lot of my time went to this in my life. I mean, when I was out of the woods, I experienced a serious sadness. It was like when I was finally safe and I was working, it was almost like your adrenaline had carried you through. And then finally, when there was no more adrenaline, I could see my life. I could see the horror that my sister...
GIVENS: And a sadness came over me.
And if I could -- if I can just shorten somebody's time for healing, I would do that.
BEHAR: Was there a moment in the relationship where he turned on you in this way?
You know, he said I'm going to make your life so miserable.
What was it about -- what was going on?
GIVENS: Well, I think, to tell you the truth, I think even the first time I was hit, it was a turn. I didn't see that first hit coming. I didn't see it coming.
BEHAR: Yes. You don't always see it coming.
GIVENS: And it became a game. It became a sick little game for him.
GIVENS: When he said I'm not going to fight any more, I'm just going to fight you. He didn't care about -- you know, it just be -- it...
BEHAR: I have to say again that Mike Tyson was never convicted for any abuse against...
BEHAR: ...against Robin Givens.
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