1H with… Cindy Bruna: "I lived ten years in the hell of violence!"

Audience: Why did you write this book?

Cindy Bruna: It wasn’t just for me, it was also for women. Those who testified and those who do not dare to do so * and who perhaps need to hear a story similar to theirs to break the silence. That’s what happened to me when I interviewed a lady on Violence Against Women Day. I wanted to tell my story and that of my mother.

So you asked him for permission to write this book?

To her and my sister, yes. The three of us wrote it a bit because I needed their memories. It was not easy for my mother to tell her daughter about her suffering.

“I suffered his racist insults”

How long did your ordeal last?

Ten years. I was 4 years old when this stepfather came into our lives and it lasted until I was 15.

When did you feel it shift?

When we moved in together. He had been violent before, especially this time when he threw us out, but I was little, I thought it was a simple shouting match. Then began the insults, the intimidation, the blows towards my mother. When he came home drunk in the evening, my sister and I couldn’t sleep, we stayed up all night listening to intervene if the situation degenerated.

You also thought that “the problem is not him, it’s the alcohol…”

Yes, I thought he was sick, I didn’t want him to leave but to get better. But I understood that it was not the alcohol which made him violent, he was a violent man.

When did you stop being afraid?

The day I stood up to him. I was angry, it came out on its own. That day, I broke down, I no longer wanted to be his victim.

Did you also experience his racism?

I didn’t realize it because I didn’t know what it was. It had never been explained to me. This racism was uninhibited: it insulted us but, at the same time, it was not racist since he had married an African woman and was raising his mixed-race children.

“God has become my confidant”

At school, you had not been a victim?

Yes, when they called me “grilled baguette”. “Grilled” because I’m mixed race, and “baguette” because I’m very fine. But it did not affect me because I lived much worse at home.

You have found refuge in religion. Are you still a believer?

I discovered God when my grandmother arrived: I was 9 years old. I was baptized at 11, I chose it. God has become my confidant. Today, nothing has changed. He always accompanies me, as in a relationship.

You write moreover: “True love is peaceful, generous and unconditional.” Do you live today with Serge Ibaka, with whom you have just formalized?

Yes, it was not really planned elsewhere! But yes, completely. This is what I live and this is what I have always sought. I run away from anything malicious or toxic. When you meet a good person, you feel it and it’s deep.

Wasn’t your relationship with men affected by this story?

No, because I was lucky to have a wonderful dad. Even though he cheated on my mom, I had the image of a good man, with his mistakes and his flaws.

Are you afraid of becoming a mother?

No, because I am independent. My ambition comes from there. I try not to reproduce the pattern of my mother, who was in a precarious situation. She depended on him economically, that was also the problem!

When you were born, you appealed to Catholic help. Today, your life is the opposite?

Yes, I was able to shelter my relatives. I spoil my mother every day, she is protected and she is happy. I live between Paris and New York.

At first, you didn’t think you could make a job out of it, you didn’t feel “particularly beautiful”. When did you realize this?

I haven’t changed, I’ve always been tall, except that at school it was a source of mockery. Today, people think that’s good. Me, I make sure to cultivate this self-confidence. By writing this book, for example, I am stepping out of my comfort zone. I try to tell myself that anything is possible. This job allowed me to dream. I couldn’t dream when I was little. I limited myself, I saw myself in a completely different life. At the time, I would never have dared to say out loud that I wanted to make films. Today I say it.

Did this confidence also help you to face the modeling world?

At the beginning of my career, I suffered refusals because of my skin color. When I arrived in Paris, they explained to me that it was going to be more complicated for me because I was black! But, in 2013, I was the first black woman chosen for the exclusive Calvin Klein show. Today, I have this chance to be chosen for who I am.

* 3919: telephone number for women victims of violence 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Key dates

1. September 27, 1994

Cindy was born in Cagnes-sur-mer, in the Var, of Italian origin by her father and Congolese by her mother. His older sister is called Christy.

2. 2013

Her modeling career started with the Victoria’s Secret fashion show in New York: she now plays in the big leagues!

3. October 2021

Cindy formalizes her relationship with the basketball player, Serge Ibaka… and silences the rumors about her alleged adventures with footballers.

4. June 1, 2022

Cindy publishes a poignant book with Harper Collins, The Day I Stopped Being Afraid, about the violence she was co-victim of as a child.

See also: Kylian Mbappé: a bomb named Cindy Bruna in his arms…

Interview by Leslie Benaroch

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