Givens Tackles Her Family's Domestic Abuse History

Actress Robin Givens was a rising 1980s sitcom star with the hit television show "Head of the Class." But she is probably best known for her volatile and brief marriage to former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson.

Now, Givens has written a book chronicling her family's history of domestic violence called "Grace Will Lead Me Home."

The title comes from her grandmother's name, Grace, and it also was the end of her favorite prayer, Givens said today on "Good Morning America."

"The title is just coming home to safety," she said. "It's really coming into all that God intended you to be."

Givens said when she initially got into a relationship with Tyson, she was very young and unaware. "I had no idea what I was getting myself into," she said. "I was getting in over my head."

In the book, she talks about the domestic abuse she claims she endured while in the relationship. In a 1988 interview, Givens announced to Barbara Walters and the world that Tyson abused her and she was afraid of him.

"He gets out of control -- throwing, screaming," Givens told Walters.

"Does he hit you?" Walters asked.

"He shakes, he pushes, he swings," Givens replied. "He, sometimes I think he's trying to scare me. And just recently I've become afraid. I mean, very, very much afraid."

'Desperately Trying to Hang On'

Givens said she regrets that interview today.

"I was completely numb during that interview," she said. "I definitely wish that had not happened."

Even as she was admitting the abuse to the world, Givens was unready to admit it to herself.

"It's painful even to accept to yourself," she said.

Givens said she was a woman desperately trying to hang on. And after that infamous interview, Tyson threatened her life as they traveled home, she said.

But now, Givens said, she sees her relationship with Tyson as just part of an abusive cycle within her family. For three generations, the women in her family dealt with domestic violence. She believes it laid the groundwork for her future.

"So much of who we are starts before we are even born," Givens said. "You inherit both the strength and the weakness of that family."

Because she grew up in a fatherless home with a family history of abuse, Givens said she felt more susceptible to the type of relationship she had with Tyson. However, Givens had a different approach than her mother had.

"My mother's way of dealing with it was to make our lives perfect," she said. "Her way of dealing with it was we are going to be happy and never talk about it."

This included going about normal daily routines and even making sure the pancakes were perfect.

Givens said she decided to sit down, talk about her demons and move on.

"To love somebody who you feel can actually do you much harm, it's really confusing," she said.

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