In a sneak peek from The Meredith Vieira Show, airing today, Sept. 17, the talk show host gets shockingly candid about the domestic violence she suffered as a young woman.
Now, a happily married mother-of-three, the 60-year-old is opening up in response to the trending Twitter hashtag, #WhyIStayed, which started in response to NFL star Ray Rice's video-taped abuse against wife Janay Rice.
Many women are speaking out about their own experiences with assault in an attempt to explain why leaving an abusive relationship is anything but easy.
"What you realize when you read these tweets is that it’s a very, very complicated issue," Meredith says. "So, I want to explain to you why I stayed. I was in an abusive relationship many, many years ago as a young woman...I loved this guy. It started out we'd have a fight and he'd just sort of grab my arm."
But the abuse began to escalate. "It turned into pushing me into a wall and then it went beyond that to actually taking his hand and grabbing my face and saying, ‘I could ruin your career if I wanted to and no one would want you,'" the former Today anchor reveals.
Her friends and family didn't understand why she stayed, but Meredith thinks part of it was fear. "I was scared of him. I was scared if I tried to leave something worse could happen to me."
But the worst was still to come. "Then there was the night, we shared an apartment, and he threw me into a shower, naked with scalding water and then he threw me outside into the hallway," she shares. "I hid in the stairwell for two hours until he came again, crying, ‘I promise I won’t do this again.’"
The former Who Wants to Be a Millionaire host finally got an out from the relationship when she was offered a job in another state. "It’s not so easy to just get away," Meredith says. "You think it would be but it’s not."
Though if her daughter Lily, 21, were in that type of relationship, she'd want her to go. "Just go. We didn’t have shelters when this was happening to me, there was no hotline. I would say call the hotline."
Watch Meredith's emotional revelation below and tune in to watch her full discussion today (check your local listings for time and channel information):
If you or anybody you know is suffering from domestic abuse, call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at (1-800-799-7233).
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