Pretty TRAPPED actress Charlize Theron likens her abusive childhood to getting a bad tattoo - you just learn to live with it.

THE ITALIAN JOB star grew up with a violent and alcoholic father who was later shot by her mother in self defence.

Charlize, who is romancing British star Stuart Townsend, says, "You come to be at peace with as many of those things as you can. You don't necessarily heal from it completely. You don't get rid of it - it's like a tattoo.

"For the longest time I felt guilty because I was moving on with my life. Somehow I felt I needed to pay a certain price because it was so big. That went away because you grow up and you realise it's time to move on."

The beautiful former model prefers to keep her family's past out of the spotlight though, explaining, "The only reason I was never honest about this is that there are a lot of people in my life, including my mum, who didn't ask to be in the limelight.

"When it's a close friend it's different. It's like being in a relationship with somebody and living a lie. When I first told my friends it was such a relief because I thought, now they know who I am. But it's not that important to me to be understood by the world. I really feel like it's still nobody's business so I don't apologise for saying whatever I want about it."

21/07/2003 17:07