She revealed that at one point she was "very much afraid" of Tyson because of his violent outbursts.
Do you remember Robin Givens? She was once described by the media as "the most hated woman in America," according to Wikipedia. The reason? She blamed her ex-husband, the legendary boxer, Mike Tyson for a crime the people thought he could never do.
Givens accused the former heavyweight champion of domestic abuse during their marriage that didn't sit well with the American audience. Even though she had moved miles away from her past, the #MeToo movement brought her personal struggle into the limelight once again.
Remembering her traumatic time on The Wendy Williams Show back in 2018, she said that her experience with him has made her a "better person" who is "more compassionate, more loving.” She recalled a particular incident where she had to hide in a closet from Tyson along with some more people. One of them was her sister Stephanie who asked her through tears, “How long are you going to put us all through this?” That was a breakthrough moment for her, when she realised she couldn't stay with him any longer.
Givens and Tyson tied the knot back in 1988 and within 8 months of their marriage, the Riverdale actress filed for divorce citing domestic abuse. She took the decision after the professional boxer threatened to kill her after one of his violent fits of temper.
The Los Angeles Times reported that her attorney, Marvin Mitchelson revealed Givens' divorce petition in a conference and said, “Miss Givens is very unhappy about filing this action. She loves Michael Tyson. But there is continued violence, and she fears for her safety.”
This wasn't the first time that Givens spoke about her reality behind closed doors. According to Jezebel, during an interview with Barbara Walters on the show 20/20 in 1988, she said that her life with Tyson was “torture, pure hell, worse than anything I could possibly imagine.” She continued, “I think that there’s a time when he cannot control his temper, and that’s frightening.”
Revealing more details she said, “He shakes, he pushes, he... swings. Sometimes I think he’s trying to scare me... I mean, very, very much afraid.” While Givens recited her pain, Tyson sat next to her in disturbing silence.
It should be noted that Tyson in an interview with Oprah had said that he "truly wanted to sock her," at that time but did not.
In 2004, Givens opened up more about the abuse while talking to Oprah and disclosed that the abuse started way before their marriage. "After that, I said, 'I'm not going to see this man anymore,'" she said. She then went on to say that Tyson didn't leave her trail but started calling her claiming his love. "He was crying," she said and continued. "And I'm going to say something that might sound very, very, very, very strange: I honestly thought, 'Wow, this man must really love me.'"
The Ambitions actress gave into her love for him and married Tyson which only led to more abuse. Talking about how she hid the truth from everyone she said, "I knew that it was dangerous, and I knew that it had gotten so tough, emotionally, but we were just so in it together." She added, "It was such a cycle. The highs were so high and the lows were so low."
When Oprah asked her why she stayed with him she replied, "I wanted to love all of his hurts and all of his pain away... The love that I felt for Michael I still feel now. It's a love that doesn't go away. You know? It's a part of my heart that belongs to him."
Years later, echoing her reason for staying with Tyson, in the conversation with Wendy Williams, she said, “I think sometimes as people, women, perhaps men experience the same thing, you have a hard time sticking up for yourself, but it’s easier to stick up for people you love." What she said is true in the cases of many women who suffer from domestic abuse. It was the push from her sister that gave Givens the courage to finally leave Tyson.
Recently, the 55-year-old actress felt dragged down the dark memory lane once again when a biopic on the boxer's life was announced. People reported her saying, “I felt this drop in the pit of my stomach and was like, ‘Oh no, here we go again.’” She added, “I felt like the world was crumbling again.”
She feels that even though she escaped the marriage, Tyson has continued to “re-victimize her” and abuse her mentally by portraying her as the bad one in their marriage through his projects like his memoir, Mike Tyson : Undisputed Truth, and his podcast: Hotboxin' With Mike Tyson. “He’s not physically hitting me anymore, but it hurts almost as much," she said.
However, her kids, her work with organizations including the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and speaking to women who've been in her shoes has helped her overcome the trauma. "When I speak to women and I sit in shelters and I hold children, I realize that the details of our stories are the same," she said and added, “My story is your story. Your story is my story.”