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Actress Marlee Matlin is using the buzz surrounding her recently launched book to bring attention to abuse and domestic violence.

Her memoir, I’ll Scream Later, covers much of Matlin’s life, including her own battles with addiction and the physical and sexual abuses she has endured. But her message is that no one should put up with it.

In an interview on Larry King Live, Matlin made the point that much of her inability to help herself was due to ignorance. When a 16-year-old babysitter abused her as a child, she did not tell anyone because she didn’t know what to do, yet she couldn’t forget and found an escape in drugs. When her high school teacher traded molestation for passing grades, she thought the only thing wrong with the relationship was that he was married. When she was physically abused by a former boyfriend, she didn’t know that it was illegal, that she could ask a neighbour for help, that she could call 911.

“For anyone in this kind of relationship,” says Maitlin, “look, it’s hard. It’s hard to get out when you don’t know. I can understand it. You think you’re going to lose everything. You think you’re going to lose your life, you think your going to lose your job, you’re going to lose your friends if you tell somebody, which is not true. All you have to do is just turn the doorknob and walk out the door and talk to anyone you see and say, ‘I need help.’”

Now, with a successful acting career, happily married for 16 years and with four children, Maitlin’s message to anyone being abused is this: “I was able to overcome it all. How else could I be here today if I didn’t overcome it? Hearing this message can help [others], and they can do something on their own. It’s just as simple as that.”

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