In a new interview with Harper’s Bazaar UK, Angelina Jolie is giving advice to abused women ahead of the holiday season. The Maleficent actress, 45, spoke to the publication as part of the United Nations’ 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, and as a mother of six herself.
Years before filing for her divorce from Brad Pitt in 2016, Jolie was appointed Special Envoy of the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees—a role which has seen her advocating for victims of gender-based abuse and domestic violence, among others, since 2012. Speaking to Harper’s Bazaar UK, the UNHCR Special Envoy shared her advice for women who fear they will suffer abuse during the holiday season.
“Talk to someone. Try to find allies. Be connected for emergencies,” she told the publication. “For example, you can agree [on] a code word with a friend or family member, which tells them if you are facing an emergency. Begin to build a network and gain knowledge. It’s sad to say, but you can’t assume all friends and family will always want to believe and support you. Often it will be strangers who help. Or other victims, support groups, or faith groups. Above all, be careful. Only you really know the danger you are in, and until you find your support outside, you may feel quite alone.”
The actress, who shares kids Maddox, 19, Pax, 16, Zahara, 15, Shiloh, 14, and 12-year-old twins Vivienne and Knox with her ex-husband, went on to stress the toll domestic violence takes on victims—especially children. “If it has even crossed your mind that someone you know might be vulnerable in this way, try to stay close and present in their lives. Make it clear that you are there for them,” she told the publication. “Another thing we can all do is educate ourselves. Learn about domestic violence. Learn how trauma affects our health and can lead to biological changes, particularly in children. Take these issues seriously.”
“It’s on all of us,” she later explained. “People often don’t want to see abuse, even when it is right in front of them, because it’s easier not to.”
Jolie’s interview comes amid her ongoing custody battle with Pitt, who in 2016, was investigated after allegations of physical abuse in connection with an argument that broke out between him and the couple’s eldest son, Maddox, on a private jet. The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services brought the investigation to a halt in September 2016, a month after Jolie filed for divorce from Pitt.
Speaking to Vogue India, Jolie later revealed that her decision to divorce the Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood star was made for the “well-being” of her family. “It was the right decision,” she told the publication in June 2020. “I continue to focus on their healing. Some have taken advantage of my silence, and the children see lies about themselves in the media, but I remind them that they know their own truth and their own minds. In fact, they are six very brave, very strong young people.”