Taraji P. Henson's Story Reveals the Way an Abusive Relationship Actually Happens

October 5th 2016

Danielle DeCourcey

Actress Taraji P. Henson plays the tough ex-wife and former drug dealer Cookie Lyon on the hit Fox show "Empire." The character is know for overcoming obstacles with drama and style. Henson herself had to overcome a great obstacle in her own life: domestic abuse, and she recently opened up in a new memoir.

Taraji P. Henson's memoir offers some important insight about the way violent relationships develop and the common reasons women stay in them.

Henson's book called "Around the Way Girl" will hit shelves next week, but People got an early look and wrote about the Empire star's domestic abuse revelations. After Henson gave birth to her son in college, the father of her child, William LaMarr Johnson, allegedly hit her during an argument. In the memoir, she calls him Mark.

“The next thing I knew, Mark’s balled-up fist was coming straight for my face. I fell onto the bed crying and holding my mouth; blood seeped off my lips and across my teeth,” Henson wrote, according to People. “Droplets splashed across my shoes … slowly creeping into the fibers of my suede boots.”

Henson wrote that he hit her that one time, and she had to end the relationship.

“With that separation, my forever man, my first love, was no more,” she wrote, People reported.

Henson's story is like other women's stories of domestic violence.

After a video of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice hitting his then-fiancé surfaced in 2014, the hashtag #WhyIStayed, was created to discuss the reasons women stay in abusive relationships.

Women are still using the hashtag, and there are several characteristics about Henson's story that are common the in abusive relationships, and show up in the #WhyIStayed tweets.

1. Henson met Johnson when she was only 17 years old.

At that time Henson said that Johnson was not physically abusive but the relationship was "passionate but turbulent," according to People.

Teenage girls are the most at risk for abusive relationships. A 2011 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 23 percent of adult women who had been in an abusive relationship first experience emotional or physical abuse between the ages of 11 and 17 years old.

2. Henson and Johnson had a son.

Henson was in college when she had her son Marcell. Many women are afraid to leave abusive relationships, because they're afraid the person will hurt their children or they don't know how they will support themselves. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence lists "knowledge of the difficulties of single parenting and reduced financial circumstances" as a reason that women stay in abusive relationships.

3. Henson's father said they should work it out.

After an argument one night Johnson allegedly hit her, but her own father told her to try to work it out. Henson ended the relationship, but many women feel pressure from their families and communities to make the relationship work. "Unsupportive family and friends," are also a major reason women stay, according to the NCADV.

Henson wrote that she did eventually allow Johnson back in her son's life and their relationship was amicable, although they were never in a romantic relationship again, according to People. Johnson was killed in 2003 in a fight over slashed tires.

RELATED: This Hashtag Confronts the Side of Abuse We Don't Talk About Enough