Marlee Matlin Reveals a Darker Side

Actor William Hurt responds to Marlee Matlin's allegations of abuse in her book.

BySarah Netter, Jonann Brady and Lee Ferran via via logo
April 13, 2009, 10:30 PM

April 14, 2009 — -- It hasn't been an easy road to success, but Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin said she hopes sharing the bumps she had along the way -- including drug use and an abusive relationship -- will help others realize happiness is possible.

At just 18 months old, Matlin lost her hearing due to a bout with the roseola virus. Without hearing aids, she says she is absolutely deaf.

But that didn't stop her from netting a role at age 19 in "Children of a Lesser God" that earned her a Golden Globe and Academy Award for best actress.

While filming the movie, Matlin and her co-star, William Hurt, fell in love. In her just released, and very candid, autobiography, "I'll Scream Later," Matlin writes about her passionate and tumultuous two-year relationship with Hurt as well as her romances with other Hollywood stars.

But beneath the dazzling facade there were dark clouds. Her long relationship with Hurt was tempestuous and she says sometimes violent.

In a statement released by his publicist Tuesday, Hurt responded to Matlin's allegations that their relationship was abusive, saying "My own recollection is that we both apologized and both did a great deal to heal our lives. Of course, I did and do apologize for any pain I caused. And I know we have both grown. I wish Marlee and her family nothing but good."

Even as she was winning accolades for "Children of a Lesser God," Matlin said she was preparing to check herself into rehab to battle her drug addiction that began when she was 13.

In fact, the name of her book "I'll Scream Later" was inspired by her inability to react to her Oscar nod because she was in rehab.

Now happily married with four children, her demons seem long gone. But it was a certain dancing show that inspired her to write about her troubled past.

It Happened on Dancing With the Stars

Matlin said it was her turn on last season's "Dancing With the Stars" that led to her writing her new book "I'll Scream Later."

Matlin said she asked her four children for permission before signing up for last season's "Dancing With the Stars" and got a resounding yes.

"I became the coolest mom because of that show," she told "Good Morning America."But while her kids were impressed, others were inspired by the deaf actress who seemed to glide effortlessly along to the music she could not hear.

Soon, she said, e-mails began pouring in congratulating her and asking for more details about her life.

"I'd always thought of writing something," she said.

But some of the details in the book may come as a surprise to those who have always viewed Matlin as the sunny, happy actress she seemed to be in front of the cameras. Out of the Hollywood glare Matlin was dealing with life-changing demons -- sexual molestation, drug use and what she says was an abusive relationship.

"I was very rebellious," she said of her early involvement with drugs." I was very fiercely independent." Her drug use began with marijuana and escalated to cocaine, she writes.

As for her sexual abuse, she says she thought of her daughter when deciding to share that with the world.

"I have a daughter who's 13 and as I saw her growing up I remembered all those things that happened," Matlin said.

The actress was first molested by a babysitter when she was 11 and molested again when she was 15 bya teacher, she says in her book.

It turns out there's a lot about Matlin that her daughter -- and a lot of others -- don't know.

Matlin said that when she got word of her Oscar nomination she was in rehab at the Betty Ford Clinic. When asked for her reaction, trying not to give her location away, Matlin replied "I'll scream later," unknowingly giving herself a title for her future memoir.

And even though she looked happy on Oscar night, in her purple dress, holding her award, "It was all Hollywood," she said.

While she describes her relationship with Hurt as abusive, she credits him with pushing her into rehab.

"It absolutely turned my life around," she told "GMA." "And in all honesty, if it wasn't for William Hurt, I wouldn't be in rehab. And I wouldn't be here. In some way he was the one who encouraged me to go and help myself. And I guess that was a big turning point in my life."

Matlin is now encouraging anyone else who may be in the same situation to get out and get help.

"It's absolutely not worth the life that you lead whether you are in an abuse or mental relationship," she said. "There is a world out there that's better than the life you're in now."

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