Charlize Theron on the night her mother shot and killed her father

"I didn’t tell anybody," said Charlize Theron when reflecting on the night her mother killed her father in self-defence on their family farm in Johannesburg.

Speaking recently to radio DJ, Howard Stern, the Oscar-winning actress explained that the incident, which took place in August 1991, was an extremely difficult situation to accept, let alone explain to others.

“I just pretended like it didn’t happen.  I didn’t want to tell anybody," she said.

"Whenever anybody asked me, I said my dad died in a car accident. Who wants to tell that story? Nobody wants to tell that story.”

Charlize was 16-years-old when her father, who was an alcoholic, physically attacked her mother and threatened Charlize's safety.

Responding to the threat, Charlize's mother shot and killed her husband in a move which was later ruled to have been self-defence, and did not result in any legal charges.

"I have an incredible mother," the Monster star told Howard. "She’s a huge inspiration in my life."

"She’s never really had therapy," Charlize continued. "Her philosophy was ‘This is horrible. Acknowledge that this is horrible. Now make a choice. Will this define you? Are you going to sink or are you going to swim?’ That was it."

Charlize, now 41-years-old, explained that her childhood was marred hugely by the uncertainty which often accompanies life with an alcoholic parent.

Recalling her formative years, she remembered: "Not knowing how my day was going to go and all of it dependent on somebody else and whether he was not going to drink or drink.”

Honing in on that night in August 1991, Charlize insisted that neither she nor her mother would allow the horror to define them.

"I think both of us have dealt with that night really well. I think both of us still have to deal with the life that we had –  and that’s what people don’t really realise. It’s not just about what happened one night."