Shereé Whitfield has rocked reality TV for some time now. She first appeared on Bravo’s hit series “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” back in 2008, but until recently, the show hasn’t been a source of much high drama.
In the public eye, Whitfield’s kept a firm grasp on her both real life and her reality career. That is, up until last season. The 47-year-old mother of three began filming with her ex-husband, Bob Whitfield, as the two started to communicate again. In fact, it looked as if they might rekindle the flame.
During a shockingly-candid conversation, however, Bob joked about physically abusing the mother of his children while cameras were still rolling. He told some of the show’s castmates, according to People:
“After we split, we were in Las Vegas. I was driving her and she fell asleep, and I was like, ‘Yeah, it’d be easy for me to take the seatbelt off of you and hit the breaks.’ So she can fly her ass through the window, you know?”
He also said he could not remember ever actually laying a hand on her, but when Shereé mentioned being choked he said:
“Could you still breathe? … Maybe I didn’t choke you hard enough.”
The comments were enough for both fans of the show and Shereé’s loved ones to conclude she was a victim of domestic violence.Itsbobwhitfield/Instagram
People reported that it wasn’t until the show’s Season 9 reunion that Shereé finally opened up about it, saying Bob had in fact been physically and verbally abusive— and the two had engaged in “physical altercations”:
“I would have never talked about this had it not come up. I suppressed it. I’ve not talked about it for 10 years. I’ve never talked about it. I wanted to protect my kids.”
On Sunday, viewers were given a front row seat to the emotional turmoil that followed the revelation of Bob and Shereé’s violent past — specifically, when it came to the mom sitting her children down about it. At the time their conversation was filmed, the kids had not yet seen the episodes which featured talk about their domestic violence.
Shereé sat down her three children: Kairo, 21 and Kaleigh, 18, as well as her daughter from a previous relationship, 32-year-old Tierra Fuller. Like any good mom, she raised her children teaching them right from wrong and how they should be treated.
But Shereé now needed to tell them she didn’t always live the way she taught them to:
“I’m sure y’all are on the internet, y’all heard the story about the domestic violence in the household. You know, I just kind of kept you guys away from, didn’t let you guys know what was going on. I just put on a happy face, but it was very toxic.”
She continued, saying (emphasis added):
“You need to know that nobody deserves to be mistreated. You know, sometimes girls are thinking, ‘He hit me, he loves me.’ That’s not true. That’s not the way life should be. I don’t want you guys to follow my footsteps.”
In an interview on the show, Shereé explained to People that she never came forward because she wanted to keep Bob safe. But she then realized her children needed to know the truth:
“I was worried about the image of their dad and I protected this man for all of this time. But he didn’t protect me.”
When she told her kids, her son said he had no idea his father abused his mom, saying she “never said anything about it.” And her oldest daughter agreed:
“I was in shock.”
However, Kaleigh, Bob and Shereé’s youngest child, said her dad had tried to tell her once:
“Me and dad talked about it. He tried to explain the story to me, but I just drove off. It was after a soccer game, so I didn’t think it was appropriate.”
The pain of domestic violence affects countless families across the U.S. and around the world, and Shereé’s story goes to show it doesn’t discriminate against wealthy families.
If you or anyone you know is suffering abuse, please call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.