Singer Christina Aguilera has done a brave thing. She has opened up about the impact of the abuse she suffered as a child, her ability to parent, and why giving a voice to domestic abuse victims is essential. 

On the podcast Call Her Daddy, Aguilera spoke to host Alex Cooper about healing and how her childhood guides her approach to motherhood.

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Aguilera grew up seeing her mother, Shelly Kearns, abused by her father, Fausto Aguilera, a sergeant in the Army. The singer lived on Army bases when she was a child. 

During the podcast, she talked about how she heard the abuse in other homes and endured it on her own.  

“I grew up in a chaotic upbringing as a very young child, always feeling like a protector and all that, and always felt isolated in my situation,” said Aguilera, 42.

“The walls are paper-thin where we’re living, and you can hear abuse happening on the other side of the wall,” she said.

“It’s terrifying, and all you want to do is help, but a lot of times, even when you call the authorities, you don’t get the help that you need, and then the door shuts, and you’re with your abuser again,” she said on the Podcast.

Domestic violence: a silent epidemic

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. This equates to more than 10 million women and men in one year.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 34.4% of Latinas say they’ve experienced domestic violence at some point. That’s more than one in three women.

Child abuse and neglect may cause various psychological problems, leaving victims feeling isolated, fearful, and unable to trust. 

The abuse can have lifelong psychological consequences, manifesting as educational difficulties, low self-esteem, depression, and trouble forming and maintaining relationships. 

Christina Aguilera puts into words a dark reality

Witnessing her mother suffer, the singer has “so much compassion” for her. But the abuse still haunts Aguilera as an adult and colors her motherhood.  

“At 42, I’m still affected by this. It’s under the surface,” Christina Aguilera said. “Trauma never leaves you. You just figure out ways to try and heal it, and to me, it’s therapeutic to speak about it.”

“That’s why I’m so adamant with my daughter. I’m like, ‘First time somebody ever hits you, the first time somebody makes you feel not right about yourself, [you leave],'” continued the “I’m OK” singer. 

Aguilera said she realized something was wrong when she felt fear at home. 

“You have to listen to your body, and fear is something that you innately feel, so right then and there, something doesn’t feel good, and it’s not right,” she said.

It is not the first time she has spoken about the abuse. In 2019, she broke down in tears when she received an award from the domestic abuse shelter The Shade Tree, a 24-hour emergency shelter for women and children in crisis in Southern Nevada.

“I remember often having to up and escape in the middle of the night with my mom & little sister, having just the clothes on our backs, to drive cross country for shelter at my grandma’s house,” she wrote on an Instagram post. 

Aguilera lends her powerful voice to those who are voiceless and unheard. That is her deep-rooted purpose.

“It gives me a reason to understand why I went through what I did and why I was given this gift to share my voice and words with the world,” she told Cooper. 

The lyrics to Aguilera’s song “Oh Mother” narrates the journey towards healing. 

In the end, after all the pain, Christina ultimately thanks her mother and promises, “You got me, I got you.”