Debbi Morgan's Family History of Domestic Abuse

Season 5 Episode 512
Aired on 10/03/2015 | CC tv-14
For many years, Oprah says she was obsessed with the soap opera, All My Children. In the early '80s, the show made history when it featured daytime's first African-American super couple, Angie and Jesse. In 1989, Debbi Morgan, the actress who portrayed Angie, became the first black actress to win a Daytime Emmy Award.

From the outside, Debbi seemed to have a life worth emulating, but most people never knew the dark family secret she was keeping. In her memoir, The Monkey on My Back, Debbi writes candidly about the violent cycle of domestic abuse that existed in her family for generations. Debbi says her grandmother, mother and aunts all married men who abused them.

"Not only that, there were nine siblings, four of the five sisters married abusive men," she says. "And all of the brothers turned out to be abusive husbands, except for one."

Debbi admits that, for years, she also attracted violent men into her life. This pattern of behavior began when Debbi was just a little girl. "The first love of my life was this little boy named Butch, who I just adored. One day my father walked me to nursery school ... and I hear somebody saying, 'Debbi, Debbi,' and I'm like, 'Daddy, Daddy, here comes Butch!'" she says. "It's like in a movie in slow motion. I'm running towards Butch, and he's running towards me, he gets up to me and he goes pow and punches me in the stomach."

After Debbi recovered from the blow, she says she got up and went running after Butch. "Even though he had hit me, I looked at him as my protector, and anybody that I thought was going to be my protector and keep me safe, that's what I was drawn to," she says. "Until ultimately, I would find out that they were the person that I needed to be protected from."

Watch as Debbi shares more about her history with domestic violence.

Debbi Morgan's memoir, The Monkey on My Back, is now available online and in stores.