“I felt this drop in the pit of my stomach and was like, ‘Oh no, here we go again,’” the actress, 55, tells PEOPLE. “I felt like the world was crumbling again.”
Givens was 23 when she wed the boxing champion in February 1988 — but they called it quits eight months later, amid allegations of physical abuse.
After the split, “I remember my ex-husband calling up and saying, ‘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,’” she recalls.
Givens shares her own experiences with domestic violence with organizations including the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and notes that “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 says.
“My story is your story. Your story is my story,” Givens adds.
“The marriage was eight months of my life and yet he’s still saying slanderous things on his podcast,” she says.
“He’s not physically hitting me anymore, but it hurts almost as much,” Givens tells PEOPLE.
We previously reported… Givens issued a cease & desist to keep her name, likeness and marital drama out of the upcoming Tyson biopic.
She reportedly served both Tyson and Foxx with documents demanding “that Mr. Tyson cease and desist from further defaming Ms. Givens, and to put those producing, writing and/or directing the proposed Tyson biopic, and those producing Mr. Tyson’s podcast, on notice that they are to refrain from portraying Ms. Givens in a false, negative and defamatory light.”
Givens’ attorney Arthur Aidala Aidala said of the project, “It was pretty extensive. It highlighted all of the past abuse by Michael of her in the media and in his one-man show and in his book and that we were going to take legal action if the movie was going to feature derogatory and slanderous remarks.”
A rep for Tyson says, “As of now, Mr. Tyson’s attorneys have not received any cease and desist but there isn’t nor has there been any intention of including his relationship with her in his biopic. He wishes her well in all her endeavors.”
“I’m more than relieved,” says Givens. “Now I’m just trying to really give a voice to women that don’t have a voice.”
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