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Content warning: This story describes physical and emotional abuse.
In an interview with People, model and actor Robin Givens shared her reaction to the news that her ex-husband, Mike Tyson—whom she accused of physical abuse—would be the subject of an upcoming biopic featuring Jamie Foxx.
“I felt this drop in the pit of my stomach and was like, ‘Oh no, here we go again,’” the Riverdale actor told the magazine. “‘I felt like the world was crumbling again.”
Givens filed for divorce eight months after she and Tyson married in 1988, after which she publicly accused Tyson of physically abusing her. In an interview with Barbara Walters that year, Givens opened up about Tyson’s “extremely volatile temper,” and described their relationship as “torture...pure hell...worse than anything I could possibly imagine.” When Walters asked Givens if Tyson had physically hurt her, she said yes. “‘He shakes. He pushes. He swings. Sometimes I think he’s trying to scare me,’” she said.
Tyson later admitted to abuse during an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2009. “‘I have socked her before, and she socked me before, as well. It was just that kind of relationship,’" he told Winfrey.
In getting out of the relationship, Givens “emerged stronger than before,” People writes.
But Tyson has continued to attack her character both publicly (including in his memoir, Undisputed Truth, and his podcast of the same name) and privately. Givens recounted to People that, after they divorced, Tyson called her up and said, “‘I've decided I'm not going to kill you. I'm going to make your life so miserable you're going to slit your own throat die.’”
So when Jamie Foxx confirmed that he would be portraying Tyson in a highly anticipated biopic, Givens was understandably concerned—and she took action to defend herself. Last September, she had attorney Arthur Aidala send Tyson and Foxx a cease-and-desist letter to prevent her potentially defamatory portrayal in the film.
In her People interview, Givens said she’s “more than relieved” after sending the cease-and-desist—and, more broadly, that she felt strong enough to stand up to her abuser for the first time. And she’s hopeful that she can set an example for other survivors of domestic abuse.
“Now, I'm just trying to really give a voice to women that don't have a voice.”
If you are a survivor of domestic violence and need help, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). You are not alone.