Oprah Gets an Earful From Robin Givens Over Tyson 'Sock' Interview
Robin Givens took Oprah Winfrey to task on Friday for allowing her ex-husband Mike Tyson to joke about domestic abuse during a chat with him last month.
When discussing his and Robin's 1988 interview with Barbara Walters, where Tyson claimed she was telling lies, the boxer grew angry. "At that particular moment, I truly wanted to sock her, but I just didn't do it," he told Oprah to laughter in the audience. "I have socked her before, and she socked me before, as well. It was just that kind of relationship."
The laughter and Winfrey's failure to rebuke Tyson bothered Givens, who is now a spokesperson for the National Domestic Violence Hotline. She says she was "really, really hurt" by the way Winfrey handled the interview.
"It's tough for all women to experience this. It's tough to have a man say it and feel that it's no big thing."
Givens recounted some of the fights she and her then-husband had had and said it was important for Winfrey to take a stand for all women.
With tears welling in her eyes, the actress said, "I wouldn't be honest if there wasn't a part of me that wanted you to go, when he said, 'Oh, I've socked her before...' 'That's not right.' And it wasn't right, it was painful ... He can say whatever about me... but there are so many women like me, in my situation, that I just feel when there is this laughter, if you are in that situation out there, it kind of lightens it."
Winfrey believes her studio audience laughed because "they were uncomfortable" and because Tyson used the old-fashioned word "sock" instead of the word "hit."
"I don't think that they were laughing at you, I think they were laughing at the term," she told Givens.
Nevertheless, Winfrey apologized profusely for not standing up for Givens and other abused women.
"In that moment, I will tell you, I felt that I should have said something. I felt that I should have said, 'Audience, that isn't funny' or, 'Audience, this is really serious,'" she says. "So I regretted even in that moment. ... I would say to you and to every woman who's ever been hit, I feel that I did not handle that as well as I should have. And I feel that I could have gone further and should have said more to clarify that what he was doing and what he was saying was wrong. So I apologize to you and to every woman who has ever been in that situation."
A relieved Givens said, "Thank you from the bottom of my heart."
Tyson and Givens' marriage lasted only a year, ending in 1989.
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