violence against women

Taraji P. Henson Opens Up About Leaving an Abusive Relationship

Taraji P. Henson. Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Empire star Taraji P. Henson opens up about finding the strength to leave an abusive relationship in her new memoir, Around the Way Girl.

Henson and her high-school sweetheart William “Mark” Johnson grew up together in Washington, D.C. They continued dating through college and had a son, Marcell, in 1994, according to Refinery29. Their relationship was fraught with violence, which reminded Henson of the abusive father she had grown up with. She writes:

“The next thing I knew, Mark’s balled-up fist was coming straight for my face. I pulled my hand from my mouth and looked at the blood on my trembling finger. I said, ‘You know what? I don’t have to do this — and I don’t have to hate you for it.’”

Henson then decided to leave Johnson, but allowed her ex to maintain a relationship with their son. Johnson was murdered in 2003. “With that separation, my forever man, my first love, was no more,” she wrote.

Taraji P. Henson Opens Up About Leaving an Abusive Ex